Shipping a car and belongings together across country

Shipping a car and belongings together across country

A question that’s often asked by people who want to ship a car across country is whether you can ship a car with stuff in it. It seems like a smart thing to do because you might save a few bucks when you’re relocating.

If you happen to be wondering the same thing we’re going to dive deep into the topic and provide you with an answer. 

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Can you ship a car with stuff in it?

You’re generally allowed up to 100lbs of personal items in the trunk or cargo area of the vehicle being shipped. All items must be contained in a single box or suitcase. If you’d like to ship more personal items, you’ll need to speak with the car shipping advisors of the company you’re shipping your car with.

Is shipping a car and belongings across country legal?

In a word, yes! There’s nothing to say you can’t ship a car and belongings together across country. When it comes to shipping a car with items inside, auto transport companies tend to have their preferences and there are usually some stipulations.

As the rules stand at the moment, car shipping companies can ship household or personal items in a car they’re transporting. 

You can ship boxes or personal items in the cargo area or trunk during the car shipping process. 

Best practices for shipping stuff in your car

Here are some great tips to help you avoid any issues and keep the car transportation process running smoothly.

Only place items in the trunk

You should pack nothing in the cab of your vehicle. Because the cab has windows, anyone looking in will be able to see what’s inside.

Both front seats and front seat floorboards must be empty and free of any personal items. The backseat must also remain empty. However, we allow this if you get in touch and arrange an all-inclusive rate for any items placed there. Per Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements, we’re not allowed to ship anything outside the vehicle on an open transport trailer. This is possible if you ship with an enclosed auto transport trailer. Items such as transmission or an additional engine can be shipped outside of the vehicle, as long as you crate them. 

If you are shipping a vehicle to or from Hawaii, there are no exceptions. You are not allowed to ship any personal items inside the vehicle.   

Lack of insurance

Car shipping companies do not insure any belongings shipped with your vehicle. It’s therefore essential to remember that any items you pack in the trunk of your car are vulnerable to theft throughout their journey across the US. Carriers also have to stop at rest areas, giving burglars the perfect opportunity to break in and steal your belongings. 

Some companies do allow you to ship a certain number of items inside your car, but the following limitations tend to apply:

  • Items must be below the height of the window but preferably inside the trunk.
  • The total weight of the goods must not exceed 100 pounds.
  • Prohibited items include drugs, alcohol, explosives, firearms, flammable items, or anything illegal.

If you choose to leave items in the car, make sure you inform the carrier and the driver. A trusted and professional auto transport company may not be bound to insure your things. Still, they will be committed to providing you the best service possible and do everything they can to keep those items safe. 

Below the window rule for shipping a car with personal items

If you want to ship more than the usually permitted 100 pounds of personal items in the trunk, you will have to pay extra, depending on the size of the items and your car. You must load all additional items below the window level, and the driver’s seat must be clear. This is so the carrier’s driver can drive your vehicle on and off the truck. 

The risk of theft is high when shipping a car with personal belongings

It’s not usual for car shipping drivers to go from one destination to another without stopping and taking a break. They will make frequent stops at rest areas. If you pack your car to the brim with personal items for everyone to see, there’s a considerable risk of theft. There are people who would try anything to get inside the car and steal your items, whether they’re valuable or not.

If you pack the items below window level it decreases visibility and reduces the risk of theft. Pack the items securely in the trunk of your car and it reduces the risk even further. 

Damage to your car

When you think about it, a car being transported by a truck and trailer is not necessarily going to be a smooth ride. The trailer is bound to vibrate a little and shift from side to side. Your car is secured throughout the journey and covered by the carrier’s insurance. However, the same does not apply to any personal items you want to ship.

If your items are not secured in a suitcase, box, or bag, they can easily shift around and damage your vehicle. Similarly, the items could become damaged or indeed break which means you’ll have to get them fixed or replaced. The best option is not to pack any personal belongings or items in your car that could possibly break.

Pros and cons of shipping a car and belongings across country

Shipping a car with personal belongings in it means you get to save yourself some extra space in your moving truck. You’ll be able to load a few household items and valuables you want to pack yourself. It ensures they’re safely intact and not being rattled and jostled around when the movers load and unload them off the moving truck. Store a box of items in your trunk, possibly some clothing or your precious Tiffany lam (well packed of course). 

On the downside, interstate car transport with personal items tends to be limited to 100 pounds of additional weight, if you want it free of charge. If you’re shipping a car with personal belongings that weigh more, it will cost you extra or might not be allowed at all. Whatever you want to do, you must communicate with the car shipping company. Ask whether they allow additional weight, shipping a car with personal items, and what specific rules they have.

Also bear in mind that there is a risk of theft, especially if you’re shipping your car cross country via open car transport. 

Getting your car ready for shipping

If you want your car shipping experience to be the best there are things you need to do to prepare it for the shipping process. As well as securing any personal items in the trunk of your car, you should do the following:

    1. Wash your car: This is an important thing to do because when the driver arrives to pick up your vehicle, he’ll do a vehicle condition report with you. The report documents the current condition of your vehicle including any existing damage. It’ll be much easier to see the dings, dents, and scratches if your vehicle is clean. It’s a good idea to note any damage before the driver arrives, so you don’t miss anything because you feel rushed.  
    2. Clean the inside of your car: Your vehicle may get jostled around a bit during transport. To avoid things getting tossed around it’s best to clean the interior and remove everything not secured. This includes air fresheners, spare change, electronics, cables, and chargers.
    3. Take pictures of your vehicle, inside and outside: After your car is nice and clean it’ll be the perfect time to take any pictures. Don’t just take pictures of the damaged areas. Take a selection of clear images of the vehicle from different angles. You can never have too many photos for your own records to protect you in the rare event damage occurs. 
    4. Disable the alarm: The carrier’s driver doesn’t want to be bothered by an alarm that keeps going off.
    5. Deactivate or remove toll tags: If you have a toll tag in your car it will very likely pick up a fee, even if your car is on a trailer. To avoid any headaches and expenses, remove the toll tag or deactivate it. 
    6. Don’t gas up: You only need to leave enough gas in the fuel tank for the driver to drive it on and off the trailer. It’s best if your car has a 1/4 tank of gas or less.  
    7. Check for any fluid leaks: Check for any fluid leaks and if possible, have them fixed before the carrier picks up your vehicle. If your car has a bad leak, the driver may refuse to accept the vehicle. If there is only a minor leak make sure you let the driver know so your vehicle can be placed on the bottom row of the trailer. 
    8. Check tire pressures, radiator, and battery: Check the tires are the correct pressure, the radiator is topped off with antifreeze, and the battery is fully charged and secured. 
    9. Secure or remove any custom accessories: To prevent damage to your vehicle or the accessories themselves it’s always best to remove them if you can. The accessories we’re referring to include luggage or bike racks, custom spoilers, antenna, and side-view mirrors. 
    10. Repair any engine or mechanical problems: If your car is in good working order it will cost less than a car that is not running.

If you’re planning to ship your car anytime in the future and want to know more about the services we provide, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can speak directly with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038, or you can use our Live Chat option. They will be happy to answer any questions you might have about shipping a car and belongings together across country.  

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