A woman placing a suitcase in the the boot of the car

A Guide to Preparing to Ship Your Car


Our shipping advisors get asked lots of questions when people call to inquire about car shipping. One of the more common ones is, “Can you ship a car with stuff in it?” 

In this post, we’ll answer that question and give you some tips on getting your car ready for shipping. 

What are the rules about shipping a car full of stuff?

When it comes to shipping a car with personal items, it’s not always possible. With regard to legality, the Department of Transportation has not issued any specific rules. This means it’s down to individual auto transport companies to decide whether it’s permitted and to write their own policy on the matter.

You’ll encounter car shipping companies that will 100% refuse to ship a car with stuff in it. On the other hand, there are auto transport companies that are less strict, and you might be permitted to ship a car with a box or two in the trunk. A few companies don’t worry about shipping a car with household goods packed to the brim. 

What does SGT Auto Transport allow?

Ship your car with SGT Auto Transport, and you’re permitted to have a maximum of 100 pounds in your vehicle's trunk or cargo area. The items must be secured in a single box or suitcase.

It is possible to load more than 100 pounds of personal items in your vehicle, but you must provide an estimated weight of the items when you make your booking. 

The front seats and front seat floorboards must be empty and free of personal items. The backseat should also be clear unless you’ve spoken with a shipping advisor and arranged an all-inclusive rate for your auto transport service.   

Important tips when shipping a car with belongings

Now you know the answer to the question, “Can you put stuff in your car when shipping?” it’s time to give you some tips because there are some important caveats.

Firstly, the carrier’s cargo insurance does not cover your personal items. Anything you ship in your car is done at your own risk. 

Secondly, if belongings are bouncing around in your car’s interior and it causes damage, that damage is also not covered. Similarly, this kind of damage isn't covered if a thief catches a glimpse of what’s inside your car and decides to smash your car window to get your belongings.

If you want to ship some personal items inside your car, it’s recommended that you have your own auto insurance coverage on your vehicle and belongings together. 

Let’s give you a few more tips on what to remember when shipping a car with belongings. 

Ensure your personal items are secure and hidden

You must secure any personal belongings you leave in your car, so they don’t move around the vehicle during the shipping process. Any damage done to your vehicle as a result of your personal belongings moving around is not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. 

If you want to transport some belongings, put your stuff in boxes, duffle bags, or suitcases and make sure these are secured and not likely to move around. 

It’s also advisable to keep your personal belongings out of sight as best you can. Below the window line, means they won’t be easily seen. For optimum security, put your personal items and household goods in the trunk of your vehicle. 

During the auto transport process, your vehicle will be safely secured on a trailer and in the driver’s sight most of the time. However, the driver will need to take bathroom breaks, fuel up, grab a bite to eat, and sleep overnight. If your stuff isn’t visible, you’re not tempting a thief to steal them. 

Another good reason for storing your belongings below the window line is so the driver can safely drive your vehicle on and off the trailer. He will need to use the rearview mirror and clearly see through the windows.

Be aware that the driver may reduce to take your vehicle if your personal belongings are not secure, safely packed, and stored below the window line or in the trunk.  

Shipping a car with household goods has its risks

It’s not uncommon for people to ship their cars with stuff in them. It’s not usually an issue, but you must remember that it’s not 100% without risk. 

When shipping a car full of stuff, use your common sense

When you’re shipping a car with your belongings, use your common sense. If the belongings you’re thinking about shipping are sentimental or highly valuable, replacing them might not be easy if they’re damaged, lost, or stolen. It might be better if you don’t ship them with your vehicle. 

Does it cost extra to ship your stuff with your car?

If you’re thinking about shipping items in your car, check with the shipping company, as you may be charged extra. Each car shipment has a weight limit which is based on a vehicle’s make and model. Going over these limits by a significant amount could increase the cost, or you might even risk having your shipment rejected. 

With SGT Auto Transport, you can ship up to 100 pounds of personal items at no extra charge. 

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Preparing your car for shipping

The car shipping process is a relatively simple one. However, there are some things you need to do to prepare your car. As you’ve already learned, you must secure any personal items in the trunk of your car. Aside from that, you should also do the following:

Wash your car

When the driver arrives to collect your car, they’ll want to do a vehicle condition report. It will be much easier if your car is clean.

The vehicle condition report documents the current condition of your vehicle. If your vehicle is clean, they’ll easily spot any dents, dings, and scratches. 

You have to perform this vehicle condition check together with the driver. You might feel less rushed if you give your car the once over before the driver arrives.  

Clean the interior of your car

Your car will get jostled around during the transport service, so it’s a good idea to clean the interior and remove any items that are not secured. This might include cables, chargers, spare change, and air fresheners.  

Take clear photos of your vehicle

Once you’ve cleaned your car, it’s a good time to take photographs, not just of any damaged areas but all around and from different angles. These photos will be for your own records and will protect you should damage occur.  

Deactivate or remove any toll tags

If you have a toll tag in your car, it will likely pick up a fee when the carrier drives past the toll; gate. Your car is on a trailer, but the toll can’t recognize that. Either remove the toll tag or deactivate it to save you from any headaches and extra toll charges. 

Disable your vehicle’s alarm

Most modern cars have an alarm, which will be very annoying for the driver if it keeps going off. It’s better if you can disable it, at least for the duration of the auto transport journey. 

Check for any leaking fluids

You should check your car for any leaking fluids and get the leaks fixed, preferably before you ship your car. If your car has a serious fluid leak, the carrier may refuse to ship it. If the leak is only a small one, inform the driver so that they place it on the bottom level of the trailer. 

Don’t gas up

There only needs to be a small amount of gas in the tank during shipping. Ideally, the tank needs enough gas for the driver to load and unload your vehicle. Aim for around a quarter tank of gas. That should be more than enough. 

Remove or secure any custom accessories

If possible, you should remove any custom accessories, as this will reduce the risk of damaging your vehicle or the accessories themselves. Accessories include custom spoilers, side-view mirrors, bike or luggage racks, and antennae. If you can’t remove them, make sure they are secure. 

Check the vehicle’s battery, radiator, and tire pressures

Check that the radiator is topped off with antifreeze, the battery is secured and fully charged, and the tires are at the correct pressure. 

Repair any mechanical or engine problems

It costs less to ship a car that’s running compared with the cost of shipping an inoperable car. 

Are you ready to book your auto transport? Perhaps you’ve still got a few questions. Our shipping agents are waiting to hear from you on (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option.     


Are personal items insured?

No. If you ship personal items in your car, they are not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. 

Can I ship furniture in my car?

Some auto transport companies may allow you to ship furniture in your car, but generally, this is not permitted. Using a reliable moving company is the best way to transport your furniture. 

What if there is damage to my car and personal items cause it?

If personal items cause any damage, it will not be covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. Shipping personal items is done at your own risk. To reduce the risk of damage, you must secure the personal items inside your vehicle's trunk or rear cargo area, preferably inside a suitcase or box.  

Can you ship items outside of a vehicle? 

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), it’s not permitted to ship items, such as transmission or additional engines, outside of your vehicle if you’ve booked an open transport trailer. It is possible if you book enclosed auto transport, but the items must be crated. 


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