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Shipping Your Car to Your Next Assignment

Posted on: March 05, 2020

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Sometimes you have a cross-country journey to get from one assignment to the next. There may be times when you can’t or just don’t want to do that much driving. One option available is to have your car transported. There are some things to consider before entrusting your four-wheeled friend to a stranger.

The first question you need to ask yourself is do you really need to ship the car? Are you just tired of driving and want a break? Are their personal concerns such as not wanting to cover long stretches of unknown territory by yourself? Maybe you don’t want to navigate mountains or through snow-covered passes during the winter.

In most cases, car-shipping companies do not let you pack your car before it is loaded on to the transporter. When looking at the costs of shipping your vehicle, factor in the cost of getting your needed supplies, clothes, and other things that don’t fit in a suitcase or carry on to your new home.

Two Options for Carrier

You have two options for the carrier. You can use an open transporter like those you see making deliveries to car dealers. The other is a closed carrier where your vehicle is fully enclosed.

Open carriers are cheaper. They hold between seven and nine cars to spread costs across more people. Although you might think open carriers would take longer, the fact there are so many of them makes it easier to schedule and they are often quicker to your destination. The main downside is that your car is exposed to the elements, so there is risk of damage.

Closed carriers are the best protection for your vehicle, but are also the most expensive. This option can cost as much as 80 percent more. For this reason, it is only suggested for those that have a very expensive car or a custom paint job.

Cost for the Trip

The cost of the trip is based on many factors including:

  • Distance
  • Weight and size
  • How quick you need delivery
  • Type of carrier
  • Time of year

If you want door-to-door service, it will be more expensive than taking it to a terminal. However, if you pick it up from them you have the extra hassle of meeting the car at the pick-up. In addition, there may be extra fees, so make sure you ask about all charges when getting a quote.

Get quotes from multiple shippers because the cost can vary widely. For example, getting your four-door sedan from one coast to the other might be between $400 and $2,000.

Finding a Company

There are many ways to find your company. Searching “car transporters” and similar terms can give you a list of those who perform the service.

Yelp and similar apps and websites will have ratings and reviews from previous customers. If there are other travel nurses in the hospital, ask if they have used, or know someone, that has used car carriers.

Check in with your insurance agent. If the transfer will take a week or two, they might be able to cut things like liability coverage and save you money. They will advise you on any supplemental insurance needed.

Getting Bids

After narrowing your list down, contact them for more information. You are going to want to have a bid on how much it will cost and when and how they want to be paid. It is suggested you ask if they have appropriate insurance, and technical information on getting your car ready and picking it up at the other end. See which delivery date is the best given your time lines.

Readying Your Car

Having decided on who you are going with, there are things you need to do to get your car ready. These include:

  • Wash the exterior of your car
  • Inspect your car for damage, take pictures of any existing problems and the entire car in case there are new dings when you pick it up
  • Check for fluid leaks
  • Leave only about one-quarter tank of gasoline
  • Remove all personal items from the car
  • Disable the alarm system

When You Pick It Up

When you pick it up, give it another close inspection inside and out for damage and document concerns. Don’t sign the condition report or Bill of Lading until you are comfortable, have noted problems on the form, and have information on filing a claim. If you can’t take delivery in person, designate someone you trust to take care of it for you.

Kurt Ullman, RN, BSPA, MHA
About Kurt Ullman, RN, BSPA, MHA

Kurt Ullman is a long-time RN and medical writer. He holds an associate degree in nursing from Purdue University as well as a bachelor's degree in public affairs-mass communications media and a master's in health administration, both from Indiana University.

He has 10 years of experience as an RN, mostly in psychiatry. He has also worked for six years as a staff writer and editor in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. Since beginning as a freelance medical writer in 1985, he has had well over 1000 articles published in numerous magazines and other publications for both professional and consumer audiences.

He has earned the APEX Award for excellence in news-writing twice and received a Bronze Award and three Merit Awards from the Health Information Resource Center’s National Health Information Awards program. He also has won the Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence Award from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.