How to Ship Your Car in the US: The Only Five-Steps Guide You’ll Ever Need

How to Ship Your Car in the US: The Only Five-Steps Guide You’ll Ever Need

Every year, around 30 million Americans embark on a journey that goes beyond mere belongings – it’s about uprooting, shipping dreams, and beginning a brand-new life from scratch in an unknown place.

To make this challenging transition a breeze, starting off on the right foot is important. And the safe transportation of your car is a top priority during the move, as it’s likely your one of the most prized possession among all household items.

In this blog, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to ship your car. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to learn everything you need to know about shipping your car. 

Let this guide be your go-to resource for a simple and non-problematic car shipping experience.

How to Ship Your Car in the US: The Ultimate 5-Steps Guide

Step 1: Decide How You Want to Ship Your Car?

Deciding on how to ship your car is a critical step, once done,  it can make the entire process a breeze. To save you time and effort we have done some homework for you. Based on the type of vehicle, distance, and budget these are your four options.

  • Self-Driving Option 
  • Hiring a Freight Broker/ Car Transport Company
  • Hiring a Professional Driver 
  • Tow Your Car with a Moving Company Truck

Option 1: Self-Driving Option


Driving your car during a move may seem appealing, giving you a sense of adventure, but the reality hits differently while moving across countries or cities. Unpacking and organizing your belongings at the destination can be exhausting.

While it may be cost-effective for shorter distances, moving is tiring, especially if you have a family. A two-day road trip followed by unpacking and adjusting to new surroundings can take a toll on you and your loved ones.

Ultimately, attempting to save time and money by driving yourself during a move may lead to wasting valuable resources. It’s crucial to consider the physical and mental exhaustion and the convenience of hiring a professional auto transport broker instead. In addition, your car will go through wear and tear, and could even suffer some damage along the way. 

In conclusion, it might seem like the cheapest option but you must factor in your time and the damage your car will go through.

Option 2: Hiring an Auto Transport Broker

Hiring an Auto Transport Broker

Network – Acting as intermediaries, auto transport brokers don’t have their own car carriers or drivers. This impartial approach ensures they explore multiple options and connect you with the best service providers from their extensive network, all while offering competitive rates.

Insurance Facility & Tracking – Auto transport brokers go the extra mile by providing facilities like insurance coverage and 24×7 tracking. You can rest assured that your vehicle is in safe hands throughout the journey, and they guarantee its delivery in the same condition as it was given.

Extensive Experience – With their vast experience and network, auto transport brokers are well-equipped to handle any unexpected issues that may arise. Contrary to popular opinion, these brokers aren’t anonymous drivers who will pick up your car over a call. These are established companies that have a network of thousands of drivers and they update you from pick-up to delivery.

From replacing resources to exploring alternative routes, they ensure a smooth and timely shipping process, leaving you worry-free.

If you want to skip the tedious task of comparing various auto transport broker options, consider hiring RCG Logistics for shipping your car. We not only offer the industry’s best rates but also provide top-notch services with a 99% success ratio and stunning reviews.

Option 3: Hiring a Drive-Away Company

Hiring a Drive-Away Company

Short Distance: Transporting a car over short distances with the help of professional drivers ensures you can rest during a hectic day. 

Highly Skilled in Various Driving Conditions: When you opt for drive-away service from a reputed company such as RCG Logistics, you can rely on their drivers as they’re skilled at what they do and familiar with the driving conditions.

Cost Effective: The drive-away option is cheaper as it doesn’t involve loading, unloading, and trailer fuel charges. However, it adds miles to your vehicle and might not be covered by insurance. It’s a good option if your vehicle needs to be shipped to a nearby location.

Option 4: Tow Your Car With a Moving Company Truck

Tow Your Car With a Moving Company Truck

If you are running a little tight on the budget, this option of how to ship your car could be a clear winner. However, the catch is that it is the least safe option of all. Depending on the car’s size, attaching a moving van to the truck could be your ultimate solution. You should be aware of the potential risk you are getting into, as it could lead to damage to the car due to road and weather conditions.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Freight Broker/ Car Transport Company

If you decide to go for an auto transport broker or car transport company, you need to make sure you choose the right one. Here are five key steps to help you make the right choice.

A. Understanding the Car Shipping Process with an Auto Transport Broker

Understanding the Car Shipping Process with an Auto Transport Broker

On the discovery call with the transport company regarding how to ship your car, you must inquire about their plans, process, required license, professional staff, service area, insurance coverage, and potential delays. 

Lastly, before finalizing your decision, check the reputation of the transport company in the area by going through the online customer reviews. Once you have all the necessary information from the discovery call and have reviewed their reputation, you can confidently choose your preferred mode of transport.

B. Evaluating Suitable Transport Modes

Evaluating Suitable Transport Modes

Once you have chosen an auto transport broker, the next step is to explore the available choices for shipping your car across the country. Depending on the broker, they will explain the most suitable service for your needs.

At RCG Logistics, we offer 360 services from start to finish, ensuring a seamless and stress-free moving experience. Here are the options available to you.

1. Door-to-Door Transport 

Among all the “how to ship your car” options, door-to-door transport is the most suitable choice for delivering the car to a rural or remote location. Using this option, you can schedule the pickup of your car from your preferred location and specify the drop-off location. The rest is taken care of by transport brokers, allowing you to stay updated with 24×7 real-time tracking

Moreover, having your car shipped directly to your doorstep on a busy moving day is a relaxing experience. On the flip side, choosing the terminal shipping option requires you to make the extra effort of picking up the car from the terminal and transporting it to the destination. While this choice may save you some costs, it could also increase the overall hassle involved.

2. Cross-Country Car Shipping 

If you are planning a cross-country move or coast-to-coast relocation, opting for auto transport brokers is the best choice. The experts at RCG Logistics are familiar with road conditions, weather, and uncertainties that may arise during the 7-10 days journey. However, below are certain factors you need to take care of from your end.

Advance Booking: You can secure the most cost-effective rates by booking in advance.

Choose the Appropriate Transport Mode Based on Your Car: If your car is a luxury or high-value vehicle, enclosed transport provides added protection.

Timing: Plan accordingly, as cross-country auto relocation may take up to two weeks.

Trackability: Stay informed with real-time updates and online tracking with the auto transport broker throughout the journey.

Choose Experience and Reputation: Cross-country car shipping demands expertise and a reliable reputation due to its complexity. Check reviews and seek recommendations from friends to find the best auto transport broker.At RCG Logistics, our team consists of skilled professionals with decades of experience. We value your time and are committed to providing the best car shipping experience.

3. Open or Enclosed Car Shipping 

Open car shipping is viable if your car is old or used and doesn’t require extensive protection. It is a cost-effective choice as multiple cars can be accommodated in a single ride. However, it is less secure as the car is exposed to road and weather conditions. This option is suitable for shorter distances or cars that do not need special maintenance.

On the other hand, if your car requires a higher level of protection, such as a new, luxury, or vintage car, enclosed car shipping is the best choice. This method involves loading the vehicle onto a closed trailer that shields it from external elements and road debris. While it offers the highest level of protection, it may be more expensive than open transport due to the limited vehicle capacity in each transportation on the moving truck.

4. Non-Running Car Shipping

Shipping a non-moving or unsafe-to-drive car is possible, but it may involve extra costs and inspection requirements.

Transparency: Being transparent with your auto transport broker is rule number one to avoid potential losses. Also, provide accurate information about your car’s condition to help them plan and execute the shipping effectively.

Special Requirements: Discuss any special requirements for loading and unloading the non-running car. Considering enclosed transport can offer extra protection during transit.

Insurance: Lastly, don’t shy away from obtaining additional insurance coverage to protect against unforeseen incidents during transportation.

C. Determining Car Shipping Costs 

Determining Car Shipping Costs

Once you’ve decided on the shipping mode for your car, whether enclosed or open, the next step is to estimate the cost. The cost is determined by factors like the car’s weight, delivery distance, and chosen mode of transport. It’s important to research competitive rates and ask your broker for detailed quotes, including information about insurance coverage, possible delays, and any additional expenses.

At RCG Logistics we provide competitive and transparent car shipping quotes. You can simply visit our website, enter your destinations, and quickly get the quotes you need – it’s a simple, quick, and easy process!

D. Tracking Your Car During Transportation

Before your car is on the way, make sure to ask the auto transport broker for tracking details. With real-time tracking, you can monitor the progress of your car during transportation. This will provide you with peace of mind and allow you to be aware of any updates or changes that may occur along the way.

 E. Ensuring Car Insurance Coverage

Shipping your car from one place to another comes with risks like theft, accidents, and natural disaster. If your car is not protected with insurance while shipping, you may have to incur some out-of-pocket expenses. During such times,  having insurance coverage not only saves you from unwanted financial troubles but safeguards your car.

Step 3: Preparing Car for Shipping From Your End

Preparing Car for Shipping From Your End

Once you’ve chosen the auto transport broker for your car’s road trip, it’s time to get your car ready for the journey; these six steps will ensure your car is fully prepared before your anticipated move.

  1. Gather Your Vehicle’s Documents

Don’t forget to double-check all the required documents before handing over the car to your transport broker. Amidst the hustle and bustle of moving, it’s easy to overlook important details. To avoid any last-minute stress, prepare a checklist of necessary documents like vehicle registration, insurance, driver’s license, and proof of ownership beforehand to make this process easier and faster.

  1. Check and Clean Your Vehicle 

Before shipping your car, don’t forget to conduct a thorough check and cleanout. Remove all valuable belongings and personal items scattered throughout the car, including bottles, food packets, and electronics. 

Additionally, inspect the essentials like spare parts, spare tires, safety kit, and all required papers. Taking these necessary measures will not only ensure the safety of your car but also make the transportation process smoother for you and the auto transport broker.

  1. Check for Existing Damage and Document It 

Before shipping your car,  look for any existing damage and document it. If your car has undergone normal wear and tear, be honest with the broker and document it carefully. You can also make a detailed record of any pre-existing damage, including dents, scratches or other visible marks.

Documenting the existing damage is imminent in case of disputes or claims. The documentation can serve as proof and help your auto transport broker handle your car with care to that specific damaged area to avoid any other mishappening during transit.

  1. Perform Maintenance If Necessary

Performing necessary maintenance on your car is important before shipping it. Check for any leaks or inoperable conditions, and ensure that the following components are well-maintained:

  • Is the battery charged?
  • Are the brakes working properly?
  • Is there sufficient engine oil?
  • Do the lights and AC work?

Performing maintenance before shipping your car ensures that it is in good condition and reduces the risk of any mishaps during transportation. It’s recommended to take your car to a trusted mechanic and get a thorough inspection done before shipping it.

  1. Take Pictures of Your Vehicle and Odometer

Taking pictures of your vehicle’s exterior before shipping will help you document any minor wear and tear, such as scratches, bumps, or color fading. It enables you to compare the car’s condition before and after transit. 

Additionally, capturing an image of the odometer reading provides a clear and indisputable record of the exact mileage before the journey. This way, you can confidently address any discrepancies and ensure that the vehicle’s mileage is accurately accounted for throughout the entire transportation process.

  1. Empty the Fuel 

The last but not least step is to empty the fuel tank to prevent any accidents or fuel leakage during transit. Keeping the gas tank full during transit doesn’t make sense and can be hazardous. As a precautionary measure, leave it at quarter tank level to allow the driver to park and maneuver safely.

Step 4: Checklist for Handing Over Your Car to the Auto Transport Broker

Checklist for Handing Over Your Car to the Auto Transport Broker

Creating another checklist before handing over your car to the broker is a savior. It helps you stay organized and avoid missing any paperwork or contracts. Tick off all the boxes on this checklist to avoid any potential hiccups during shipping.

Verify the Identity and Credentials 

Before handing over the car keys, make sure to ask for the identity proof of the transport company to confirm that they are the right person. You can also verify with your point of contact for reassurance.

Sign Necessary Paperwork and Contracts 

It is imperative to carefully read and understand the contract before signing it. This step ensures legal protection and avoids potential headaches. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about payment methods and expected delivery time.

Get a Copy of the Bill of Lading (BoL)

The Bill of Lading (BoL)  is a critical legal contract between you and the car shipment company. It acts as a receipt and provides essential information about the shipment, such as pickup and delivery locations, your vehicle’s condition at pickup, and any special issues or requirements.


As mentioned in this article earlier, make sure that the auto transport broker provides insurance coverage for your vehicle during the shipment. This helps protect your car from any potential damage or loss during transit.

Confirm Pick-Up and Delivery Details

Double-check the pickup and delivery dates and locations to avoid any confusion or delays during the process. This step guarantees a seamless and trouble-free car shipping experience.

Stay Prepared for Unexpected Delays and Changes

Be prepared for unexpected delays and changes once the car is shipped. Factors like weather, road conditions, distance, and the weight of the carriage can impact timely delivery and may cause further delays.

Step-5: Receiving Your Car at the Destination

Receiving Your Car at the Destination

After the long wait, when your car is finally shipped, your job isn’t complete yet. The final inspection awaits, and only after that can you truly relax and breathe a sigh of relief.

  1. Inspect the Car Thoroughly Upon Delivery

Upon the car’s arrival at the destination, take the time to inspect it both inside and outside thoroughly. Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as scratches and dents on the exterior. Verify that the door handles are functioning properly and examine the entire interior, including the seats, music player, and AC, to ensure everything is in order. Also, consider taking a test drive to confirm the car’s condition further.

  1. Confirm Any Changes in the Car’s Condition by Comparing it with the Photographs

After thoroughly inspecting the car, refer to the photographs taken before shipping to compare the condition. This comparison will help you identify any new dents, scratches, or minor wear and tear that might have occurred during transit. If you notice any discrepancies, report them immediately to the auto transport broker for resolution.

  1. Sign the Final Documentation

Once your car is safely delivered, you’ll need to sign several important documents, including delivery confirmation, insurance papers, and a pre-shipment inspection report. The inspection report verifies that your car hasn’t incurred any damage during transportation. Take some time to review and sign these documents carefully, comparing the car’s condition with pre-shipping pictures and records. 

  1. Provide Feedback and Review the Shipping Experience

Now that your car has been successfully shipped, you can agree that the process is not easy and requires a lot of coordination, patience, and management. It’s time to give credit where it’s due and provide honest feedback to others like you who might need the services of an auto transport broker. 

If there are areas that could be improved, don’t hesitate to share your suggestions. Leaving a review on their social media handles and other profiles can also help the business get recognized and appreciated for their services. Your feedback can make a difference for others who are planning to ship their cars as well.

Conclusion: Why Choose RCG Logistics to Ship Your Car?

When it comes to shipping your car, RCG Logistics should be your go-to choice.  We offer customized solutions based on your specific needs and have a vast network of trusted professionals on hand. With real-time tracking and comprehensive insurance coverage, you can rest assured that your vehicle will be delivered securely and on time.

With RCG Logistics your move will be comfortable, knowing that your car is in good hands and will be delivered safely to its destination. With two decades of experience under our belt, we’ve honed our expertise in providing customer-oriented solutions, making sure to tone down your discomfort to zero and alleviate your stress amidst the chaos of relocation.

Choose RCG Logistics for all your car shipping needs and experience their exceptional service firsthand.

About the Author: RCG LSS



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