how to ship a car from a delearship

 How To Ship A Car From A Dealership

 How To Ship A Car From A Dealership

In the age of online shopping, purchasing cars from across town or even across the country has become increasingly popular. This shift has brought about a growing need for efficient and reliable car shipping services. Whether you’re relocating to a new city, expanding your car collection with a find from another state, or gifting a special vehicle to someone dear, understanding the nuances of car shipping is essential. This guide serves as your one-stop shop for navigating the car shipping process, providing expert tips on choosing the perfect shipping company, understanding the different shipping methods, coordinating with the dealership, and much more. 

Choosing a Car Shipping Company

Factors to Consider

One of the first and most critical steps in shipping a car is selecting the right shipping company. Several factors that should influence this decision are:

  • Reputation: Research the reputation of potential shipping companies through online reviews, testimonials, and industry forums. A company with a positive track record is more likely to provide a reliable service.
  • Experience: Choose a company with extensive experience in car shipping. An experienced company is better equipped to handle unforeseen challenges and ensures a smoother shipping process.
  • Customer Reviews: Read customer reviews to gain insights into the experiences of others who have used the services of the shipping company. This can provide valuable information about the company’s reliability and customer satisfaction.

Researching Auto Transport Companies

Research is key to finding the right car shipping company for your needs. Consider using resources like those mentioned below: 

  • Online Reviews: Utilize online platforms and review websites to gather information about the experiences of other customers. Look for patterns in reviews, such as consistent positive or negative feedback. Transport Reviews, Google, and the BBB are excellent starting points. 
  • Industry Websites: Explore industry-specific websites and forums that discuss car shipping. These platforms often feature discussions, recommendations, and warnings about various shipping companies.
  • Personal Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have experience with car shipping. Personal recommendations can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Shipping Methods

Open Car Transport vs. Enclosed Car Transport

The choice between open transport and enclosed transport is an important decision that is very dependent on your personal car shipping needs:

  • Open Car Transport: This is the most common and cost-effective method. However, it exposes the vehicle to the elements and potential road debris.
  • Enclosed Car Transport: This method provides additional protection as the vehicle is enclosed in a trailer. It is ideal for luxury, exotic, or classic cars, offering protection against weather and road hazards.

Factors Influencing Shipping Method Choice

Several factors should influence your decision on the shipping method:

  • Car Type: The type and value of the vehicle play a significant role. High-value or classic cars may benefit from the added protection of enclosed transport. If you’re purchasing a brand new car, you may want to consider an enclosed option if your budget allows. 
  • Budget: Open car transport is typically more affordable than enclosed transport. This budget friendly option is the most popular option with consumers. 
  • Desired Level of Protection: If you want maximum protection for your vehicle, especially in adverse weather conditions, enclosed transport may be the preferred choice.

Shipping Through Your Dealership vs. Through a Broker

Feature Shipping Through Your Dealership Selecting a Broker Yourself
Ease of use Easiest option Requires more research and effort
Choice of carriers Limited to the carriers that the dealership contracts with Access to a wider network of carriers
Transparency May not provide detailed information about the carrier or the shipping process More likely to provide detailed information about the carrier and the shipping process
Potential for lower rates May have negotiated lower rates with carriers due to their volume of shipments May be able to negotiate better rates with carriers than dealerships
Direct connection to the carrier Buyer has direct contact with the carrier, which can be helpful in case of any issues Buyer does not have direct contact with the carrier, but the broker will act as a middleman and step in to assist, should any problems arise
Overall experience May be more convenient, but may not be as flexible or cost-effective Requires more effort, but may offer more flexibility and potentially lower rates

Pros of Using a Carrier Through a Dealership

  • Convenience: The dealership handles all the arrangements with the carrier, making the process easier for the buyer.
  • Potential for lower rates: Dealerships may have negotiated lower rates with carriers due to their volume of shipments.

Cons of Using a Carrier Through a Dealership

  • Limited choice of carriers: Dealerships may only have relationships with a few carriers, restricting the buyer’s options.
  • Lack of transparency: The dealership may not provide the buyer with detailed information about the carrier or the shipping process.
  • Potential for hidden fees: Dealerships may add hidden fees to the shipping costs.

Pros of Selecting a Broker Yourself

  • More choice of carriers: Brokers have access to a wider network of carriers, giving buyers more options.
  • Transparency: Brokers are more likely to provide buyers with detailed information about the carriers and the shipping process.
  • Potential for lower rates: Brokers may be able to negotiate better rates with carriers than dealerships.

Cons of Selecting a Broker Yourself

  • More legwork: Buyers will need to do more research and legwork to find a reputable broker. 
  • No direct connection to the carrier: Buyers will not have a direct relationship with the carrier, as they won’t be employed by the dealership. That being said, a good broker will act as a middleman and step in to assist, should any problems arise. 

Coordinating with the Dealership

Informing the Dealership of Shipping Arrangements

If you’ve chosen to go the auto shipping broker route and have selected a shipping method, it’s crucial to communicate effectively with the dealership:

  • Provide Details: Share the details of the shipping company, including contact information and any specific instructions for the pickup process.
  • Coordinate Pickup Times: Work with the dealership to coordinate pickup times that are convenient for both parties. Ensure that the dealership is aware of the arrival schedule for the shipping company.

Shipping Costs and Considerations

Factors Affecting Shipping Costs

Shipping costs can vary based on several factors. Understand the key elements influencing the overall cost:

  • Distance: Longer distances typically result in higher shipping costs.
  • Vehicle Type: The size, weight, and type of vehicle can affect shipping costs. Modified vehicles may require specialized carrier equipment. Additionally, inoperable vehicles are much more expensive to transport than operable vehicles. Be sure to let your transport company know about these factors if any apply. 
  • Shipping Method: Enclosed transport is generally more expensive than open transport.
  • Gap Coverage Options: Choosing a gap coverage plan, should your broker offer that option, may increase overall costs.

Obtaining Shipping Quotes

To make an informed decision, obtain shipping quotes from several companies.

  • Research Multiple Companies: Request quotes from several reputable car shipping companies to compare pricing and services.
  • Provide Accurate Information: Ensure that the information provided for the quote is accurate and comprehensive to avoid any surprises later.

Additional Costs to Consider

In addition to the base shipping costs, be aware of potential additional expenses:

  • Terminal Fees: Some companies charge terminal fees for drop-off or pickup at specific locations.
  • Customs Clearance (for International Shipping): International shipments may involve customs clearance fees and paperwork.

Preparing Necessary Paperwork

Proper documentation is essential for a smooth shipping process. Ensure you have the following paperwork prior to the shipment of your vehicle. 

  • Bill of Sale: Provide a copy of the bill of sale to the shipping company as proof of ownership.
  • Registration Certificate: Include a copy of the vehicle’s registration certificate to confirm its legal status.
  • Insurance Documents: Provide documentation of insurance coverage for the vehicle during transit.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping a Car

Not Researching Shipping Companies Thoroughly

Choosing a car shipping company without thorough vetting can lead to a less-than-ideal experience. Take the time to investigate and verify the reputation and reliability of potential companies.

Not Getting Multiple Quotes

Obtaining quotes from multiple car shipping companies is crucial for ensuring competitive pricing and quality service. Don’t settle for the first quote; compare options to make an informed decision.

Not Providing Accurate Vehicle Information

Inaccurate or incomplete information about the vehicle can lead to delays and miscalculations. Provide detailed and accurate information regarding the make and model of your new vehicle, along with any modifications, if you decide to work with an auto transport broker, to ensure a smooth process. They will need this information in order to select the best carrier for your car. 

Saving Money on Car Shipping

Shipping During Off-Peak Seasons

Consider shipping your car during off-peak seasons or weekdays to potentially lower shipping costs. Companies may offer more competitive rates during periods of lower demand.

Choosing a Cost-Effective Shipping Method

Opting for open car transport instead of enclosed transport can result in significant cost savings. Assess your priorities and budget to determine the most suitable shipping method for your needs.

Ask About Discounts

Many brokers will offer a variety of discounts for senior citizens, students, military, etc. Some offer multi car discounts or repeat customer discounts. Be sure to ask what discounts are available when booking with an auto transport broker. 


Navigating the car shipping process can seem daunting, but with careful planning and informed decision-making, you can ensure a successful and hassle-free experience. This comprehensive guide has provided you with the necessary knowledge and tools to make informed choices throughout the entire shipping process. Now you’re ready to confidently ship your car from a dealership, knowing that your vehicle will be in safe hands and will arrive at its destination safely and on time.