Moving a Motor Vehicle

You’ve decided to take your car with you to your new home. If you’re a two-car family and you’re already driving one car to your new home, or, you choose not to drive it for other reasons, there are several ways of transporting your car.

Finding a reliable car shipper, like finding a reliable mover, requires research. Get references from friends and acquaintances and check out the companies’ consumer ratings with the Better Business Bureau. You can also research vehicle transport companies with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) if you have their name and US Department of Transportation (DOT) license number.

Research five auto transport companies, and then have three of them give you estimates for moving your car. If you are undecided how you want to ship your car, ask for quotes for the different options. Find out how long it will take for your car to arrive. Remember: don’t necessarily choose the company that gives you the cheapest quote. Reputation and reliability are important as well.

Shipping Options

Ship it with your moving company.

Some household moving companies will move your car. They will load it onto the moving truck with your furniture and belongings. Since household moves are charged by weight, this can be a very expensive way to move. Also, make sure that they are licensed and insured to transport vehicles.

Have someone drive it.

There are auto transport companies that offer the option of having your car driven to your new home. This may be the least expensive way to move your car, but it does add mileage and wear and tear on your car. But your car avoids being loaded, unloaded and chained down on a big truck which can also potentially damage your car.

Ship it on an open transport.

Shipping a car on an open car transporter is the most common way of shipping. It is less expensive than a closed transport, but keep in mind that this can expose your car to rain, snow, dust and flying debris on the road.

Ship it on a closed transport.

Shipping your car in an enclosed car transporter is the costliest way to ship it, but will keep it protected from the elements. Your car will be completely enclosed during the shipping process.

Shipping door to door vs. terminal to terminal

It is less expensive to have your car shipped terminal to terminal than door to door. You bring your car to a storage location where it is loaded on a carrier. You will pick your car up at a similar place at your destination. This will save you some money over having it picked up and delivered door to door. But sometimes massive auto carriers can’t drive onto residential streets, so picking up at a terminal might be easier.

Preparing Your Car for Its Move

Clean your car inside and out.

Remove all personal belongings from your car and trunk. Auto transporters are legally prevented from shipping a car that has personal belongings inside. Remove any parts that are not permanent, like a roof rack. Retract or remove antennas. Disable alarms. Make sure that your car is cleaned externally, so that when it is inspected, all dents and scratches can be seen.

Service your car.

You may want to have your car serviced before the move. Most companies will only take cars that are operable. Non-operable cars require special arrangements which can cost more. Make sure your battery is charged. Have the coolant/heating system in working order for your new home’s climate.

The Inspection

The shipping company will conduct an inspection of your car before and after moving to check the condition of the car. You will need to be present to sign the original condition report. Read it carefully before signing.

Receiving your car

Be there to inspect your car when it arrives, whether it’s delivered to the terminal or to your home. Check your car very carefully to be sure that its condition and mileage match what was noted on the original inspection before the move. Note any damage on the original inspection report, and have the driver sign it.

Shipping cars overseas

Shipping your car overseas is more involved. Check out the laws of your destination company for imported cars. Call the consulate of the country to find out about customs and taxes, and regulations in general. Consider whether you’ll be able to have your car serviced and repaired there, and the cost of gas.

Use a company that has experience shipping cars overseas in order to get the best service and guidance.


Ask to see the shipping company’s insurance policy in writing. Understand what is covered and what is not in case of damage or loss. MoveInsure can insure a shipped automobile, as well as other motor vehicles such as a motorboat, motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles and ATVs. Purchasing enough insurance at the outset can save you a lot of trouble and heartache in the long run. For more information, see MoveInsure Coverage Options.