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12 of the Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping a Car


Shipping your car can be stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you’re unsure what you’re looking for or how the process works, you could end up with a less-than-enjoyable auto transport experience.

You could end up paying more than is necessary or get ripped off by a less-than-reputable auto shipping company. There’s also the risk of damage occurring if someone unprofessional ships your car. In addition, there are some car maintenance mistakes new car shippers commonly make.

In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the more common mistakes you should do your best to avoid when shipping your car.  

Not doing enough research

It’s not unusual for people to Google “Auto Transport companies”  and book with the first company they find. 

However, there are some unscrupulous operators so you must do sufficient research. You’ll find plenty of useful information in our blog. 

Bait and switch pricing is a common ploy these unsavory companies use. Once they have possession of your vehicle they let you know there’s been an issue and you’ve got to pay an additional amount of money. If you want your shipment to continue, you may be asked to pay several hundred dollars. Not paying only results in them holding your car and you might have to take them to court to get your car back. 

Other companies might refuse to pay for the damage they caused to your car. Some companies have poor customer service.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom because there are some trustworthy, professional, and reliable auto transport companies out there. 

Do your research and you’ll find them. The first step is to contact the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to check if a company has a valid license and insurance record. You’ll also be able to check whether any complaints have been made.

Use review sites such as Consumer Affairs, TrustPilot, BBB, Transport Reviews, and Google reviews to see what a company’s customers are saying about their service. 

Not comparing shipping quotes

When you request a quote from an auto transport company, you’ll find it’s unique. Many variables affect the cost of shipping your car and every customer is different. 

It’s a good idea to request quotes from several companies and to compare them carefully. Compare the prices but also the features of the auto transport service that are included. 

Here at SGT Auto Transport, our quotes are fully inclusive. There will be nothing extra to pay and that’s guaranteed. 

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Trusting “too good to be true” promises

There are lots of things that can happen during the auto-shipping process, many of which a carrier has no control over. These unpredictable things include inclement weather, traffic delays, and road construction which make it impossible for an auto transport company to guarantee delivery on a specific day. 

A reputable car shipping company will provide customers with a three-to-five-day window, depending on how far they have to ship your car. 

Choosing cheap services over quality

Going for the cheapest option is a very common mistake people make when shipping their cars. Saving money comes with the risk of a company being illegal and the car shipping experience being a bad one. 

Go for quality rather than price and your vehicle will be shipped without any complications or stress. 

5. Not choosing the right auto transport method

There are a few different ways you can ship your car. The method you choose depends on the value of your car. Your options include:

  • Enclosed auto transport: This auto transport method provides complete protection for your vehicle and is recommended for owners of custom, antique, luxury, sports, classic, and expensive vehicles. 
  • Open car shipping: This is the most popular way to ship a car. It is secured on the back of an open trailer. 

Waiting until the last minute

If you choose to ship your car last minute, you run the risk of not finding a company that will treat you and your car with the best care. 

On the other hand, if you plan in advance, you can compare prices, services, and reputation and pick the best company for the job. If your dates are flexible, it also means there are more options and availability, and a lower final bill. 

Booking during peak season

During the summer and at the start of the new year, car shipping companies are very busy. If you can avoid these times of the year you can save money. There will also be more options for carriers who have a spot on their trailer for your car. 

Forgetting a last-minute mechanics check

There are lots of reasons why someone might forget to get their vehicle checked by a mechanic before shipping. One reason for these car care mistakes might be that they don’t have the time. Others might completely forget about this essential step in the car shipping process, especially if they’ve made their booking last minute. 

A last-minute inspection is crucial because it’s proof that your car was in tip-top condition and you can verify this before you ship your car. 

Damage rarely occurs, but if it does, you’ve got proof that your car was in good shape. If you ask the professional mechanic for documentary evidence, you’re more likely to receive compensation if you file a claim for damages. 

It can also be very beneficial for you if you’re not sure what is proper maintenance on a car and want to be certain your car is roadworthy. 

You can avoid the most common car maintenance issues by getting the following checked:

  • Check for any leaks and get them repaired
  • Make sure the tire pressure is correct
  • Check that the battery is fully charged
  • You need to be certain that the brakes are in good working order 

Leaving your personal belongings in your car

It’s very common for car owners to leave personal items in their cars during transport. It might be because they simply forgot or they did it deliberately. 

Whatever the reason, you run the risk of damaging your personal belongings during the auto transport process. It’s important to note that any damage caused to or by your personal belongings is not covered by the carrier's cargo insurance. Similarly, if your personal property becomes lost, you’re not going to be able to claim with your insurance provider. 

It’s always best to remove all personal items from your car. Make sure to check the trunk of your car, the glove compartment, and behind and under the seats. Your car may have some household items, money, or important documents that you’d forgotten about.  

Not providing all the required documentation

You may be required to provide certain documentation before shipping your car. Two very important documents you must have in your possession are the bill of lading and the carrier's insurance terms and conditions. 

Other documents may be required, such as the vehicle registration, title, proof of insurance, and photo ID, but these are usually at the company’s discretion. 

Failing to check insurance coverage

Typically, an auto transport company will provide some form of insurance coverage. However, it’s down to you to check what the coverage is and whether it meets your needs. It’s also vital to understand where liability starts and ends. 

Request a copy of the auto shipping company’s insurance certificate and verify the information with the Department of Transportation.

Generally, a carrier’s insurance will cover the damages they cause. However, it might not cover accidents caused by another driver on the road or damage due to bad weather conditions. It’s therefore important that you check and understand the insurance coverage carefully.  

Failing to record damage

Another common mistake is not to do your due diligence when documenting the condition of your car. 

A reputable carrier will always ask you to complete a vehicle inspection report together with the driver. You will both check the physical condition of your car and record any scratches, bumps, and dents in the inspection report or the bill of lading

You must be present when your car is collected and again when it is delivered. It’s your responsibility to verify that the information in the report is accurate.

It’s also a good idea to keep records of your car’s condition yourself, just in case the company doesn’t perform this check or the paperwork goes missing. Take lots of pictures of your car, from as many different angles as possible. 

When your car is delivered, make sure you are present to check it for any damage. Look closely for scraps or dents. Because of the pick-up inspection report, you’ve got something to compare it with. You must cross-reference and check the information while the driver is still present.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are lots of ways you can trip yourself up and end up with an auto transport experience that you don’t ever want to repeat. Our website is packed with lots of helpful information that will help you make your car shipping experience one you want to talk about with everyone you meet. 

If you’ve got any questions, want to ask about prices or request a quote, or are ready to make your booking, our shipping advisors are waiting for your call on (864) 546-5038. Your other option is to use our Live Chat option.  

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