auto transport

Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes When Shipping Your Car

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  • When it comes to shipping your car, there are some common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. 
  • From pick up to delivery, it’s important to know the facts and what to expect ahead of time.  
  • The experts at RoadRunner Auto Transport explain what to look for when shipping your car.  

Many people who ship a car are doing so for the first time. Most people go into the process completely unprepared. Taking the right steps to research the auto transport companies you are considering can help you save money and frustration. Then, taking the correct steps to prepare for your shipment can help you save time and energy.

One of the easiest ways to avoid making mistakes is to start planning your shipment well in advance. If you know you need to ship your car, you should start doing your research at least two months in advance. Then, you should book your shipment at least a month in advance.

If you’re shipping your car across the country, or state-to-state, make sure to read our full guide on cross-country car shipping.

In addition to that, here are the most common mistakes to avoid when shipping your car:

Mistake #1: Not Being Ready

When the driver comes to pick up your car, you need to be ready for the process. Your car needs to be clean so they can inspect it and take note of any existing damage on the bill of lading. You also need to have the proper documentation ready for them to check.

This includes photo identification (valid license or passport), your e-mail confirmation of your booking printed out, your insurance certificate, proof of vehicle ownership as well as the vehicle’s registration.

Mistake #2: Not Doing Enough Research

A lot of people will just Google “auto transport” or a similar search term, and immediately book with the first company they find. However, there are, unfortunately, a lot of unsavory companies out there. Some companies will offer bait and switch pricing; then after they have possession of your vehicle, will inform you there has “been an issue” and that you need to pay an additional amount. This can total several hundred dollars in order for your shipment to continue. If you do not pay, they will hold your car, possibly until you take them to court.

Either way, you will be without your car for a while because of this.

Some companies will damage your car and refuse to pay for it. Others might have poor customer service. However, there are good and trustworthy companies out there when you need to ship a car. You just need to do the research to verify they are trusted before you book your car shipment. Use sites like Consumer Affairs along with Google reviews to see what past customers have to say about a vehicle transport company.

Additionally, make sure to contact the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to check if the car shipping carrier you’re interested in has a valid license and insurance record and if any complaints have been made about them.

The more research you do ahead of time, the better.

shipping a car

Mistake #3: Trusting “Too Good To Be True” Promises

Auto transport is a process where unpredictable things can happen during the course of a shipment. This includes traffic delays and inclement weather delays. It is realistically not possible for an auto transport company to guarantee a single day as a delivery date.

Any reputable or semi-reputable car shipping company will give you a three- to five-day window, depending on the overall distance of the shipment, and when they will drop off your car at its destination.

Mistake #4: Leaving Personal Items In Your Vehicle

If you leave personal items in your car during shipment, they will not be covered by the shipping insurance if they are lost or damaged. So, if you leave any valuables in the car and they go missing or get damaged, you will need to cover the entire cost of replacing them. Do yourself a favor and remove any valuable items from your vehicle before it gets picked up for shipping.

vehicle shipping

Mistake #5: Not Recording Damage

Always write down any damage incurred during the shipment on the bill of lading. Once your car is delivered, you will need to conduct your own visual inspection. This way you will ensure that no damage occurred during the transport of your vehicle. Unfortunately but rarely, damage does occur. However, if it does, mark it down on the bill of lading during your inspection at delivery. This way you can file a damage claim with that particular car shipping company. If you don’t do this when your car is delivered and the driver is still there, you won’t be able to file a damage claim.

And you will end up paying to repair the damage yourself.


The auto shipping process can be simple and easy or complicated and frustrating. It all depends on how prepared you are for your vehicle to be picked up and delivered, as well as how few of the previously mentioned mistakes you make. Use this guide from the very start of the car shipping process when you are gathering quotes and researching companies, all the way until your car has been delivered safely.

Avoiding these missteps could save you thousands of dollars and a ton of time too.

To get an idea of how much shipping your car will cost you, make sure to check out our free car shipping calculator.

This advice provided by RoadRunner Auto Transport, a leader in nationwide door-to-door auto shipping services. Their dedicated team of shipping professionals will arrange and transport your vehicle with care from start to finish. RoadRunner Auto Transport provides reliable car shipping for both individuals and companies, moving thousands of vehicles on a monthly basis. 

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