4 Steps to Ship a Non-Running Car

A flatbed tow truck with a classic car during the ship a non-running car process.


It is possible to transport a car that isn’t running, but the process will be slightly different from usual.

Shipping a car is typically a straightforward process. You begin by choosing a carrier, making the necessary arrangements, and bringing the car to wherever they are picking it up. 

Your carrier will then drive the vehicle onto the transport truck, ship it to your desired location, and move it back off the truck. 

But what about when the vehicle won’t start or has another issue that prevents you or anyone else from driving it?

While this scenario complicates things a little bit, it’s still possible to ship a non-running car if your chosen carrier has the necessary equipment and expertise. 

Here’s a look at the four steps you’ll need to take before shipping a vehicle you can’t drive onto the transport truck.

Key takeaways

  • Shipping a car that doesn’t run is possible
  • You will encounter some additional steps
  • The process begins by selecting the right carrier
  • Mercury Auto Transport can streamline the process


1. Determine what’s wrong with the car

Before all else, you’ll have to identify precisely what’s wrong with your vehicle because that will determine how the carrier will load the car. 

If your vehicle’s brakes and steering work fine but the engine won’t start, a tow truck and winch could be the best solution. This method involves hiring a tow truck to bring your vehicle to the shipping terminal. From there, the carrier will load your car manually or by using a winch. 

You can sometimes make this scenario more manageable by selecting a door-to-door shipping service where the carrier will pick the vehicle up from your home.

Cars that don’t brake, steer, or roll complicate matters because you can’t physically push the vehicle onto a transport truck. There could be challenges when attempting to tow the car, as well. 

You might have to load your car onto the tow truck or flatbed using a forklift to bring the vehicle to the shipping terminal. A flatbed or enclosed trailer might be the only option for shipping your vehicle, too, depending on the scope of the damage. 

Start the entire process by figuring out what’s wrong with your car, then you can begin making your vehicle transport decisions based on its issues.

2. Select a transport type

No matter the issues you’re experiencing with your vehicle, you’ll have to decide on a transport type. 

As always, your three choices are open, enclosed, and flatbed. 

Open transport is the most cost-efficient and popular method on the market. The main issue is that your vehicle could be exposed to debris from the road, so it isn’t the best option if you’re moving a classic car and want to keep the paint in mint condition. You could find that open transport isn’t an option if the carrier can’t get your vehicle onto the truck, as well.

Enclosed transport is when the vehicle is placed inside a trailer or other secure environment during shipping. This method costs more than open transport, but it’s also safer because the car is protected throughout the process. Note that enclosed transport might not be possible if your vehicle won’t steer or roll.

Flatbed transport puts your vehicle on a raised platform behind a truck. Your vehicle is in the open during transport with this method, but it’s a little more flexible because your carrier can lift the car onto the bed and secure it. Flatbed shipping might be your only option if your car won’t roll or steer. 

Consider all your shipping options before making a selection to ensure you end up selecting the transport type that best meets your needs.

3. Figure out the cost

After narrowing down your needs, it’s time to determine how much your car transport will cost. Multiple factors go into the price, including:

  • Distance: Longer distances will cost you more money.
  • Vehicle size: A larger vehicle takes up more space on the truck and weighs more, leading to higher fees. 
  • Time of year: Summer tends to be more expensive for vehicle shipping than winter.
  • Speed of delivery: Rush delivery isn’t always possible, but it’ll cost you extra when you receive it.
  • Carrier type: Enclosed and flatbed shipping will cost you more than open transport. 
  • Drop-off location: Door-to-door shipping may be more expensive than terminal-to-terminal before you include terminal fees (which can add up).

The easiest way to compare costs is to use an auto transport broker. These brokers will ask about your needs and send you quotes from licensed shippers, ensuring you can secure the exact type of vehicle shipping you need at a cost you can appreciate. 

4. Get some insurance

Even if your car isn’t running, you’ll want insurance on it. After all, the entire reason you’re shipping it somewhere is that it still holds some value, so protecting the asset should be a priority. 

The auto transport carrier you select will usually have some insurance covering your vehicle for damage between $100,000 and $1,000,000. However, if you’re shipping a high-value or rare car, it’s a good idea to inquire about the specifics of the insurance policy before you begin.

It’s wise to sign up for additional insurance if you don’t believe your vendor’s policy is enough because you’ll want your vehicle to have optimal levels of protection.

Choosing your vehicle transport vendor

You’ll want to inform your auto transport carrier of your needs before beginning the process. That way, you can be confident the vendor has access to the equipment necessary to ship a non-running car. If the car rolls and steers, there’s a good chance the carrier can push the vehicle into place, but you’ll want to inform them of the issue from the start. 

Mercury Auto Transport is a car shipping broker that can put you in touch with vendors in your area. We’ll present you with offers from carriers licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration, giving your assurance that your vehicle is in good hands. Contact Mercury Auto Transport today to discuss your car transport needs.



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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.