Whether you’re moving across the country or attending a major car show, auto shipping can save a ton of effort, time, and money. But before you send your vehicle out to its new destination, you need to know a few things. In this article, Caravan Auto Transport provides tips for a seamless, drama-free car shipping experience.

Things To Know Before Shipping Your Car

Don’t be caught off guard by any potential issues. Learn more below.

How Much It Costs

This depends on several variables, including the type of vehicle, location & destination, time, scheduling requirements, and the type of shipping option. In general, there are two kinds of shipping: enclosed transport and open transport.

Open shipping is cheaper than enclosed shipping. For cross-country delivery, the average rate is approximately $1000 to $1500. The first 500 miles typically costs $1 per mile. Once you eclipse that distance, the rate drops per mile. Keep in mind that though an open carrier is more cost-effective, an enclosed carrier provides added protection for your vehicle.

The Shipping Company’s Reputation

As with any service, it pays to do your research. Google “auto transport” and you’ll be flooded with company after company promising top-notch delivery. But, of course, not every outfit can stand behind the words. Look at their reviews (Yelp, Consumer Affairs, etc.), website, and talk to them on the phone. This will give you a much better indication of trustworthiness.

Keep an eye out for any warning signs. If a company isn’t willing to answer a question, for instance, that could be a huge red flag. With Caravan, the whole process is streamlined. We connect customers with our network of fully vetted, qualified, and experienced car shippers. We’ve even ranked them according to our propriety algorithm, so you can find the best auto transporters in your city or state.

About Booking Early

Auto transport can be tricky, especially if you wait until the last minute. Try to book a service as early as possible. There are several factors that can cause issues (including schedule changes), so it’s best to give yourself and your company of choice ample time.

A coast-to-coast delivery can take about a week. Also, keep in mind which season of the year you require transport. Peak months are during the summer, and it can be quite difficult to hire a company (especially if you require special handling) on short notice. If you’d like to save money, consider delivery during off-peak months.

Insurance Coverage and Other Questions

Standard insurance coverage is great for your car, but it won’t cover the delivery of your vehicle. That’s why it’s crucial to go with a reliable company. Inquire about your potential carrier’s coverage, and ask for a copy of their insurance policy. In some cases, you’ll be able to find it on their website. If coverage doesn’t seem to be adequate, ask about increasing it.

Also, be sure to ask about your quote. Does it include fees and insurance? What exactly are the services included with the quote? Is it fixed or can the rate fluctuate? Also, ask when, how, and who you need to pay. As with many things, you get what you pay for. Don’t solely look for the best price. Consider the reliability and reputation of the company first, then cost.

Being Present for Pick Up and Delivery

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s an important point. You’ll need to be present when your auto is loaded, so you can inspect it and sign off on the paperwork. If you’re unable to be there, you’ll need to find someone that can fill in for you. The same goes for when your car arrives at its final destination. Anybody of age with the key can perform this duty.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle

Okay, so now that you know what to keep in mind, let’s check out the actual steps for preparing your vehicle for transport.

1. Gather Documents

Once you’ve selected a carrier, they will require a set of documents. You’ll need to provide them with the following: vehicle registration info, proof of insurance, bill of sale (or other proof you own the car), original title, and driver’s license or passport.

2. Fully Clean Your Car 

Next, it’s time to clean. Washing your vehicle might not seem like it matters too much, but it will help to reveal any previous damage (as well as help with documentation – more on that below). Be sure to clean inside and out.

3. Remove Items

While you’re washing your ride, take out any valuable or personal items. Stuff that you place in your car is not covered by insurance, so be sure to remove anything that is not necessary for the delivery of your vehicle.

4. Take Photographs

Once you’ve washed it, take plenty of photos of your auto. You’ll want to take a mix of zoomed out and zoomed in shots, covering all sides of the vehicle. Make sure that you take pics of the exterior as well as the interior.

5. Document Pre-Existing Damage

Along with photos, you’ll want to create a written record of any pre-existing scratches, dents, and other damage. Ensure that your carrier makes an official note. This will be a lifesaver in the event of an insurance claim. 

6. Perform Necessary Maintenance

First, check tire pressure, battery function, and fluid levels. Any maintenance – oil change, tire replacement, and so on – should be taken care of prior to loading the car for transport.

7. Provide a Key to the Transporter

Either you or someone you designate will need to meet with the transporter – it’s not required to show proof of ownership at this point. A handy tip is to have a duplicate of your keys, so you can hand them a spare one.

8. Sign Off and Wave Goodbye

Whether you or someone else is present for car pickup, a Bill of Lading (a receipt of freight services) will have to be signed.


Looking for a fully qualified (and affordable) auto shipping company? Caravan Auto Transport takes all the hassle out of booking one! Click here to learn more and grab your free estimate today. We make auto transport easier!

Find out how much it costs to ship your car!