August 1st, 2023

Navigating the Potholes: Common Mistakes in Car Shipping and the Roadmap to Avoid Them

Embark on a smooth car shipping journey by sidestepping common pitfalls. Our comprehensive guide explores the ins and outs of car shipping, from selecting a reputable company to understanding state-specific regulations. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned shipper, our article provides invaluable insights into preparing your vehicle, handling pickup and delivery, and securing the right insurance coverage. Make informed decisions and enjoy a hassle-free vehicle transportation experience with our expert advice.

Navigating the Potholes: Common Mistakes in Car Shipping and the Roadmap to Avoid Them

Understanding the Basics of Car Shipping

When you’re preparing to ship a car, understanding the fundamentals is crucial. Shipping a vehicle involves transporting it from one location to another via a shipping company. Most commonly, these vehicles are transported on large trucks designed specifically for this purpose. Car shipping can be an intricate process, fraught with potential errors. However, with proper planning and awareness, it’s possible to avoid common pitfalls.

Overlooking Research on Shipping Companies

The Importance of Due Diligence

One common mistake people make when shipping a car is failing to research shipping companies thoroughly. Not all shipping companies are equal. Some provide excellent service, while others may not meet your standards or expectations. Conduct a comprehensive review of the company’s track record, customer reviews, and accreditations before finalizing your choice.

Beware of Low Quotes

A common trap is the temptation of unusually low quotes. While it’s natural to want a good deal, remember that you often get what you pay for. Lowball quotes often lead to subpar service or hidden fees. It’s best to receive quotes from multiple companies and choose one that offers a reasonable balance between cost and quality.

Inadequate Preparation for Car Shipping

Getting Your Vehicle Ready

Failure to adequately prepare your car for shipping is another common error. Ensure the vehicle is in good working order, remove personal items, and note any pre-existing damage. The car should be clean inside and out, with a quarter tank of gas or less. These steps will mitigate potential issues during transport.

Insurance Considerations

Many neglect to verify the shipping company’s insurance coverage. Accidents can happen, so it’s crucial to understand what the company’s insurance covers and what it doesn’t. Request a copy of the insurance policy and consider getting supplemental insurance if necessary.

Missteps During Pickup and Delivery

Clear Communication is Key

A common oversight is not being clear about pickup and delivery locations. Some areas may not be accessible to large transport trucks. Be specific about locations and communicate any potential obstacles to the shipping company ahead of time.

Inspect Upon Delivery

At delivery, remember to thoroughly inspect your vehicle for any damage that might have occurred during transport. Compare the condition of the car with the pre-shipping documentation you prepared. If you notice any discrepancies, report them immediately.

Neglecting Legal and State-Specific Guidelines

Know Your Legal Rights

Neglecting to understand your legal rights and the responsibilities of the shipping company is a misstep. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides resources that outline what to expect from a shipping company. Familiarize yourself with these before shipping your car.

Understanding State-Specific Guidelines

Each state may have different regulations for vehicle transportation. It’s important to understand these laws before shipping your car to or from a state. Review local laws and requirements to avoid unexpected roadblocks.


Shipping a car doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By avoiding these common mistakes – overlooking research on shipping companies, inadequate preparation for car shipping, missteps during pickup and delivery, and neglecting legal and state-specific guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to ship a car?
The cost can vary based on multiple factors such as distance, vehicle size, time of year, and the type of shipping (open or enclosed). Typically, it ranges from $500 to $1,500.

2. How long does it take to ship a car?
Shipping times can vary, but on average, coast-to-coast shipping in the U.S. can take about 7 to 10 days.

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