7 Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping Your Car

Auto shipping can be stressful, even for those who’ve had their vehicles shipped more than once. 

If you don’t know what to look out for, it’s easy to end up paying more than necessary. Or, worse, you could get ripped off by questionable auto shipping companies. You also have to consider the potential damage that can happen if someone unprofessional handles your car.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know so that your vehicle arrives safely. Here are seven mistakes to avoid when shipping your car.

1. Forgetting to Go in for a Last-Minute Mechanic Check

Some people don’t have time to bring their vehicle in for a quick mechanic check, and others might forget. This can happen if you schedule the car shipment at the last minute. However, an inspection is a crucial step because it enables you to verify the condition of your vehicle before shipping. 

Then, if the car incurs damage during transport, you have proof that the car was in tip-top shape. With documented evidence, you are more likely to receive compensation if you file a claim for damages.

While it’s best to get a professional to conduct an inspection before having your car shipped, you can also do this yourself. Below is a short list of things you should do with your car:

  • Disable the alarm.
  • Check for leaks in your car and repair them (or let the mechanic take care of them for you).
  • Make sure that the tire pressure on all wheels is just right.
  • Assess the body for scratches or dents.
  • Lock the car once done.

2. Leaving Personal Belongings in the Car

There’s a tendency for car owners to leave personal items inside the car during transport, whether deliberately or because they forgot.

Picture of valuables left in a car

Image Source

Regardless of the reason, the damage that your personal belongings could incur is not covered by your transport insurance. Likewise, if your personal property is lost during transport, you won’t be able to file a claim with your insurance provider.  

Therefore, don’t leave your items in the car. Always double-check the glove compartment, the trunk of your car, or corners of the seat for household items, money, or important documents.

3. Failing to Record Damage

Another mistake to avoid when transporting your car is not doing your due diligence when documenting its condition.

The good news is that most auto transport companies will ask you to fill out a vehicle inspection report. They will check your car’s physical condition and record the dents, scratches, and bumps it has in the report. You should be present during this procedure to verify that the information in the report is accurate.

However, not all companies perform this check. This is why you should keep records of your car’s condition yourself, just to be sure. Take pictures of the different parts of your car for documentation purposes.

Picture of a red white and black 1969 ford mustang mach 1

Image Source

The last thing you want to happen is for the vehicle shipping company to refuse to pay for damage they caused because you can’t prove it was their fault.

Once the car is delivered to your preferred destination, check it for any damage, such as scrapes or dents. You can cross-reference your vehicle with the car transportation company’s report and the pictures you took of it. Make sure to do this when the person who delivered the car to your location is still present.

If you can prove that the car sustained damage during transport, you should file a damage claim with the shipping company.

4. Not Comparing Shipping Quotes

Auto transport companies provide unique quotes for each of their clients. There are also lots of variables included in the shaping of your quote.

You may be getting an expensive quote with limited coverage if you don’t do your homework. And before you realize this, it’s already too late.

To get the most out of your car shipment, choose a few car shipping companies and get quotes from each one. Make sure that there’s no commitment with the company after getting the quote. From here, compare the prices and the benefits included to help you decide which offers the best value.

5. Not Providing All the Necessary Documents

Companies will require certain documents from you before moving your car.

Two documents you must have with you at all times are the bill of lading and the insurance terms and conditions. Other documents such as the title, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and photo ID, are at the company’s discretion.

If you’re transporting your car from one country to the U.S. or vice versa, you will need specific documentation such as the U.S. Customs & Border Protection Vehicle Export Cover Sheet.

Also, make sure you understand how the auto transport company will process and store those documents. This is to ensure no problems arise during the shipping process due to incomplete or mishandled records.

6. Failing to Check Insurance Coverage

Most auto shipping companies provide some form of coverage. However, it’s essential to check what a policy covers and where liability starts and ends.

You can request a copy of the car shipping company’s insurance certificate. Verify the certificate and its information with the Department of Transportation or your insurance company.

The auto transport company’s policy may cover for damages they cause. However, other scenarios, such as an accident caused by another driver on the road, or damage due to bad weather conditions, may not be included. 

Picture of a filled car transport trailer

Image Source

If something terrible happens to your vehicle during shipment, you need to know what kinds of damages are covered. If the included policy isn’t enough, you can opt for additional coverage to avoid the risk of high out-of-pocket expenses.

Consult your own insurance company to help you with added coverage for auto transport. You can also talk to the shipping company to help you get the coverage you need.

7. Choosing the Wrong Car Shipping Company

Some car shipping companies will do whatever it takes to close clients, such as lower the total costs or go out of their way to provide excellent customer support.

This is their way to secure clients. Later on, they might change their tune by not being as accommodating as before or, worse, reneging on your contract.

To cross these bogus companies off your list, you must learn how to pick the right shipping company that provides the best services for your vehicle. Below are things you can do to help you narrow down your list:

  • Check if the business is registered with the Department of Transportation (or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if you’re shipping a car across state lines). There should be a unique registration number for the auto shipping company.
  • Conduct a background check of the company and see if it’s truly legit. Check reviews online about the company. You can also search the Better Business Bureau (BBB). 
  • When comparing companies, talk to each one and learn more about how they will move your car. This could help you get a better feel for how they operate, their level of customer service, and how comfortable you are with them.

Shipping a car with peace of mind is a matter of doing due diligence before paying for the service. If you want to transport your vehicle from one place to another without the hassle, choose a company that offers transparency and quality service.


You can avoid most of these common mistakes when shipping your car by doing your research and due diligence. Of course, choosing a reliable car shipping company can make all the difference.

Guardian Auto Transport will guide you through the entire car shipping process so you can ship your vehicle safely and soundly. Our five-star reviews from sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau prove that previous customers are consistently happy choosing us for their car shipping needs.

Request a no-obligation quote today to find out how much it will cost to ship your vehicle. With Guardian, you know that your car is in good hands.