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Shipping your car doesn’t have to be challenging if you follow a few tips to get the most from your carrier

Key Takeaways

  • Shipping a car can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be
  • Clean your car beforehand
  • Don’t sneak additional items into the vehicle
  • Prepare the vehicle for shipment
  • Get everything in writing
  • Select the right type of transport
  • Find a reputable carrier
  • A brokerage like Mercury Auto Transport can make the process easy


Transporting a vehicle is a relatively straightforward process that involves paying an auto shipping company to deliver your car to another part of the country or even overseas. Many of these shipping vendors are experienced and handle the job without any problems whatsoever. However, things can occasionally go wrong during shipment that lead to your car arriving at its destination in less-than-optimal condition.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize potential issues. The better you prepare your car and gather the necessary paperwork, the fewer problems you’ll encounter.

Here are six steps you can take to make sure shipping your vehicle goes smoothly.

1. Clean it beforehand

It sounds simple but washing and cleaning your car’s exterior and interior before shipment goes a long way toward protecting it.

Washing the outside of the vehicle ensures that you can see any dents or scratches that appear during shipping, giving you recourse through your shipping insurance policy. Dirt can cover this damage, so you might not see it until it’s too late.

Cleaning the vehicle’s interior should include removing any loose items that could shift during transport. Loose items could fly around during the shipping process and damage windows or interior components. Keep in mind that most insurance policies won’t cover damage to the inside of the car.

2. Don’t sneak additional items into the car

It might be tempting to put a set of golf clubs or even some luggage in the trunk of your car during shipping. After all, you might save on airline baggage fees and other transportation costs by doing so.

This practice isn’t advisable, though, for a couple reasons.

First, insurance won’t cover damage to items you put in the trunk. If you have an expensive set of golf clubs, you’re better off paying to transport them on a plane because at least they’ll have coverage if they’re damaged.

Also, the items you’re shipping in the vehicle could damage the car’s interior components. You don’t want to end up with dents or broken pieces inside your trunk when your car finally arrives.

You can avoid damaging your car and personal items by keeping these goods away from your vehicle during shipping.

3. Prepare the vehicle for shipment

It’s essential that you prepare your vehicle as well as possible for transport to avoid potential problems. 

For example, some simple maintenance like checking the tire pressure and inspecting the vehicle for leaks before loading it onto the truck makes it more likely the car will arrive in drivable condition.

You’ll also want to disable the alarm, lock the doors, and keep the gas below a quarter of a tank. Locking the doors and disabling the alarm are self-explanatory, as the driver will have no way to disable the alarm and leaving a car unlocked could invite theft. A full gas tank adds weight to the vehicle, which could make the shipment riskier.

Following these tips leads to an overall smoother shipping process.

4. Get everything in writing

How much will it cost to ship my car?

What does the insurance cover?

Are there any hidden charges?

Make sure you ask these questions and get all the answers in writing from your shipping provider, so there aren’t any surprises later on.

Getting a bill of lading is also a good idea because it’s a legally binding document proving that the shipping company received the vehicle and noting its condition.

Without documentation, you might not have recourse if your shipment goes awry.

5. Select the right type of transport

As you go through shipping quotes, you’ll see a few different transport types available. Choosing the ideal one for your circumstances will lead to better outcomes.

The most common way to ship your car is on an open transport carrier. These trucks are responsible for about 90% of auto shipments because they’re cost-efficient and can move high vehicle volumes at once. There’s a good chance an open carrier will be your transportation method when sending your car to another part of the country.

Another option you might consider is enclosed auto transport. Your vehicle will sit in a trailer throughout the shipment with this method, protecting it from road debris and most weather-related issues. Enclosed transport is more expensive, but it can limit damage when shipping a rare vehicle.

A final shipping type is on a flatbed truck. Sending your car on a flatbed is more expensive than the other options and is the least common shipping method. Still, there’s a chance you might use this form of transport if your vehicle won’t fit on a standard car hauler. 

Carefully go over your shipping options to ensure you select the transport type that meets your car’s needs.

6. Find a reputable carrier

Selecting a reputable carrier is perhaps the most crucial aspect to consider when shipping a car. By going with an experienced vendor who provides realistic timelines and takes proper care of your vehicle, you can count on the vehicle reaching its destination in the same condition it left.

Reputable carriers will also offer comprehensive insurance policies and guarantee your pricing before the vehicle ships, providing peace of mind throughout the process.

Auto transport you can trust

Mercury Auto Transport is a car shipping broker that presents offers from FMCSA licensed and insured carriers. Accepting one of these offers provides you with a guaranteed price, bumper-to-bumper insurance, and door-to-door service you can trust. There are never any hidden fees.

Contact Mercury Auto Transport to receive your quote or to speak with a professional car shipping representative.


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