White Vehicle on Beach Sand

12 Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping a Car to Hawaii


Relocating and moving all your belongings and life to Hawaii is a considerable undertaking that requires a significant amount of planning. Figuring out all the logistics involved can be pretty stressful, particularly when you’ve never done it before. 

This is why you must understand the mistakes to avoid when you’re arranging Hawaii car transport

Most important mistakes to avoid when you ship a car to Hawaii

1. Not giving yourself time to compare Hawaii car shipping quotes

While we’re not going to deny that shipping a car to Hawaii can be expensive, there’s no need to pay more than you should. A great way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to spend time comparing shipping quotes from several companies.

You’ll have no problems getting accurate quotes because most companies offer accessible shipping quotes for prospective customers. Here at SGT Auto Transport, for example, we have an online instant quote calculator. All you’ve got to do is input some basic details, and you’ll have a quote in seconds.

Get your quote here today!

Asking for lots of quotes from different car shipping companies might seem like a hassle. Nevertheless, it’s worth making the effort because you’ll be able to find the best price. 

There may also be the opportunity to leverage the overall shipping price because some companies are willing to negotiate to stay more competitive. 

2. Not performing a background check on the company you choose for shipping your car to Hawaii

Every company you approach is going to do its best to impress you because then you’ll pick them over their competitors. Some will provide excellent service while others will offer much lower prices. There are also going to be companies that will impress, to begin with, but not be true to their words. 

For this reason, you must do your research and perform a background check on the shipping company. Your car could be worth thousands of dollars, so you should want the best. The only way to be sure is to check whether a company is trustworthy enough to transport one of your most valuable possessions.

You should start by asking some questions directly, for example:

  • Does the auto transport company use its own carriers?
  • If it doesn’t use its own carriers, what safeguards and checks are in place to ensure the carrier is reliable? 
  • Do the drivers have the necessary credentials and experience to handle shipping your car?

You might think these questions will make you look pushy or irritating, but if the company is a reputable one, it won’t mind you asking. Our shipping advisors are more than happy to answer all the questions you might have. 

Once you’ve gathered all the answers to your questions you can check the details by looking for reviews on third-party platforms. From the reviews, you’ll be able to gauge whether the company is trustworthy. 

Another option is to ask previous clients for their opinions. It’s possible to do this by posting on community forums.

3. Choosing the cheapest auto transport provider

Many different costs are involved in providing a top-quality car shipping service to Hawaii. To start with there’s the fuel that has to be paid for, along with the use of a trailer, the driver’s salary, food, toll fees, and lodging for the driver.

A rock bottom price may seem very attractive, but don’t make your decision based on price alone. Companies offering lower-than-average fees are likely cutting costs in important areas or operating at a bare minimum. You might also be running the risk of the company not being able to cover the cost of any damage that occurs to your car during transport.   

4. Not preparing your vehicle

Preparation can be key to the success of your auto transport experience. Before the auto transport carrier comes to pick up your car, make sure you do the following:

  • Fill the gas tank of your car to no more than one-quarter full
  • Perform a maintenance check that includes checking the tires are properly inflated, fluids are topped off, brakes are operational, and there are no leaking fluids
  • Removing toll passes
  • Disable the alarm
  • Clean the interior and exterior of the vehicle and make a note of any damage    

5. Not removing all belongings before you ship your car to Hawaii

If you’ve never shipped a car before you might think it’s a good idea to put some of your personal belongings in your car. Perhaps it could be a way of saving money on your moving costs. 

When you’re shipping a car across the US mainland it is an option. However, when you’re shipping a car to Hawaii it is not permitted. You must remove all personal belongings before your car leaves the mainland. 

6. Not having the right documents ready

Documentation plays a vital role in the car shipping process, so make sure you've got the right ones ready. If documents are missing or incorrect, it could lead to delays in your auto transport service. 

Authorities and companies tend to be strict concerning documentation as it helps to prevent theft and ensure vehicles are transported to the correct destination.

In general, you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • Title and registration
  • Valid ID
  • Proof of insurance
  • Lien authorization

All necessary documents must be valid and up-to-date. It’s also worth noting that the documents needed can vary depending on the company. It’s therefore imperative that you ask the representatives ahead of time to ensure you have the correct documentation. 

7. Being unavailable at the pick-up or delivery location

Being present when your car is picked up or delivered is critical to the process. Not only that, but you should also be present when your vehicle is moved, stay in touch with the carrier, and supervise the entire shipping process. 

There are times when it’s not possible to be present, in which case you can appoint a third party to act on your behalf. However, they must be over 18 years of age. You must also make them aware of the process and the part they have to play concerning the inspection.

8. Believing promises that are “too good to be true”

The auto transport industry is very unpredictable. Lots of things can happen during your shipment such as bad weather, heavy traffic, detours, and road construction. All of these, and more, can increase the time it takes to ship your car to Hawaii.

All these factors make it virtually impossible for an auto transport company to guarantee specific delivery dates. However, you may still encounter a company that promises such a thing. 

In general, you can expect a reliable car shipping company to give you a three-to-five-day window, although it does depend on the distance of your shipment. 

9. Not recording current damage

You should always make a note of any existing damage on the bill of lading. When your car is delivered, you should inspect it and compare its condition with the copy of the Bill of Lading.

There’s a very small chance that damage may have occurred, but it does happen on rare occasions. Should you notice any damage, mark it on the Bill of Lading.

Make sure you do this because it makes it possible to file a damage claim with the auto transport company. If you don’t make a note of the damage, you’ll be unable to file a damage claim.  

10. Failing to keep in touch with the carriers 

Always give your contact number to the carrier so they can keep you informed of any delays.    

11. Making your booking last minute

Of course, there are going to be situations in which you may need to book a last-minute car shipping service, but it’s best to avoid this if possible. If you leave your booking until right before your deadline, you may not get a car shipping service that meets your requirements perfectly. 

If you give a shipping company plenty of time they’ll be able to find the right carrier at a price that suits you. 

The recommendation is that you book 2-3 weeks ahead of your shipment. This will guarantee the availability of a carrier and improve the chances of you receiving your vehicle on the preferred delivery date.

12. Not reading car shipping terms and conditions

 While terms and conditions are not the most interesting thing to read, you must familiarize yourself with the car shipping terms and conditions. If you fail to read them, it means you’re in the dark in terms of your rights and responsibilities. 

If you don’t feel like reading them, ask the car shipping provider to walk you through the main shipping terms. 


How much does it cost to ship a car to Hawaii?

It would be very difficult to give you an exact price for shipping your car to Hawaii because every customer is different. Several factors affect the overall cost. The most common of which are the size, weight, and model of your car. You’ll find it more affordable to ship a sedan than an SUV.

Other factors that influence the cost of shipping a car to Hawaii include the pick-up point and final destination. In addition, when you want to ship your car and how you want to ship it (open or enclosed auto transport), also greatly affect the cost. 

Does the military ship your car for free?

In some cases, the military will cover the cost of shipping your car to Hawaii. In most cases, this will include active-duty members and those who receive permanent change of station orders. If you want to know whether it applies to you, it’s best to ask your superiors whether you qualify. 

It’s worth noting that the military typically only covers the cost of shipping one car. 

Is it possible to ship a car to Hawaii?

Yes, it is possible to ship a car to Hawaii although the process is slightly different than shipping a car across the mainland USA. 

Your vehicle will be picked up and then delivered to a port on the West Coast. It’s then loaded onto a ship and travels across the ocean to its Hawaiian island destination. 

Shipping your car to Hawaii can take several weeks as there is a vast ocean that separates the mainland and Hawaii. There could be delays due to unforeseen circumstances such as changing weather conditions. 

What do I have to do with my car when it arrives in Hawaii?

If you’re staying in Hawaii permanently, you must register your vehicle within 30 days of its arrival. To have it registered, you must first get a safety inspection certificate. 

Final thoughts

Shipping a car to Hawaii is a delicate process that requires lots of planning and research. The common mistakes discussed above can be avoided if you want to make the process easier and smoother for you. Many of the mistakes might seem simple but are nonetheless common and can lead to you paying a high price further down the line.   

For all your vehicle transportation needs, SGT Auto Transport is an auto transport management company you can rely on. We don’t make empty promises and always do our best to accommodate your needs. Speak to our shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038 or using our Live Chat option.   

Get a quote banner