How to Ship a Car Across the Country

by Contributor

Moving is a hectic time - shipping your car only adds more stress. Here's how to do it easily.

Decide when you want to move the car. It takes about the same amount of time as driving the distance yourself, but weather and other factors could easily combine to create a trip that takes a week.

Call several moving companies and tell them what kind of car you want to move, the locations you are moving from and to, and when you plan to move. Ask if the companies can provide you with references.

Check your top three choices with the Better Business Bureau.

Line up your move at least two weeks in advance. Make sure someone will be available on the pickup date to release the car to the carrier.

Ask the mover what kind of insurance coverage the company has and if there's a deductible. Read the insurance policy carefully and ask for a copy.

Watch the mover carefully on moving day. The mover should fill out a bill of lading, which includes a report of the condition of your car before loading. Don't sign the form unless you agree with the report. Some unscrupulous carriers will note scratches and dents where there aren't any, just in case new ones appear during the move.

Have a cashier's check handy with your deposit or prepayment to give to the mover on the pickup date. Some companies want to be paid at the office, so make sure you know well in advance how payment will be made.

Ask for pickup and delivery time estimates. Get any promises - including what the company will do if the promises are broken - in writing.

Remember that a car carrier is about 75 feet long. It may be impossible for the driver to get the rig into an apartment complex driveway. Even some residential areas pose problems with wires, trees and local laws. In that case, the driver may ask you to bring the car to a nearby parking lot.

Remove all of your personal belongings from the car. They are not covered by the carrier's insurance.

Check the car at delivery and note any problems on the delivery report. Once the car has been signed for, you will have a hard time making a claim for damages not noted at delivery.


  • check Carrier drivers have road conditions, weather, traffic, checkpoint inspections and other pickups and deliveries to worry about. They do their best to deliver vehicles on time but can't control many of these factors.
  • check Find out if your insurance company will cover your car while it's being moved. Most movers insure up to the Kelley Blue Book value against theft or damage, but you will be required to purchase additional insurance if your car is worth more than that.


  • close Read the shipping order and bill of lading. These documents tell you what the mover is and is not responsible for.

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