How to ship a car: All you need to know about it

Learn how to ship your car in 3 quick, simple, and easy steps

There are several reasons why you might be wondering how to transport a car. You might have bought your dream car online and need to know how to ship a car overseas to get it home. Perhaps you’re relocating because of a promotion or a new job and need to know how to ship a car from state to state. There may be some of you who are heading south for the winter and want to know how to ship a car cross country.

Whether you need to know how to ship a car in the US or overseas, we’ve got you covered. Read on for everything you need to know about how to ship a car.

How to ship a car in 3 easy steps

All it takes to ship a car is three easy and simple steps: First, you have to get a quote from an auto transport company and book your shipment. Second, your car will be picked up from the desired location. Third, your car will be transported and delivered to you.

Whatever the reason, knowing the process of how to ship a car will put your mind at ease and is the reason why we’ve created this auto transport information page. We’re going to share all the details, so you’ll appreciate how easy, stress-free, and smooth the process is.

White phone with red writing in it

Step 1

Get a quote and book your order

If you want to know how to ship a car across the country or anywhere else, getting a quote is the first step in the process. Contact us today to get your free instant quote. Use our instant online quote calculator, all it takes is just a couple of minutes of your time. Alternatively, you can speak directly with our shipping advisors at (917) 563-6616  or use Live Chat.


When you contact us to find out how to move a car, we’ll ask for some simple details. You’ll need to provide the city and state where you want your vehicle to be picked up, the city and state where you want us to deliver your vehicle, the make, model, and year of the vehicle. You also need to let us know whether it is running or not, how you’d prefer to ship your car, and when it will be ready for pick-up. In the auto transport industry, this is known as the First Available Pick-up Date.

When you’re choosing how to ship a car to another state and beyond, you get to pick from open car transport and enclosed auto transport. The most common and economical way to ship your car is open car transport. The carrier uses an open trailer to transport your car, but this does leave it exposed to the elements. Don’t worry about this because it’s a very safe and secure method that  80% of our customers use.

Choose enclosed auto transport, and your vehicle will get the maximum protection possible as it will be transported in a covered trailer that protects your vehicle from dirt, debris, moisture, salt, and the weather. Such extra protection does come at a higher price. On average, it costs between 30% and 40% more than open car transport. When owners of luxury, antique, custom, classic and antique vehicles are wondering how to transport a car, enclosed auto transport tends to be their service of choice. 

An essential part of how to ship your car is getting a quote. The quote you receive from us is all-inclusive. In other words, the price includes all taxes, fees, and full insurance coverage. Work with us, and you’re dealing with a transparent company that puts you under no further obligation to take the process any further. You make no upfront payment, and all our services are door-to-door, which is the ultimate in convenience.

Something else you should know when you’re working out how to transport a car is that we have a price match promise. It works like this. We’ll do our utmost to meet your expectations if the price you get is not what you expected. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if the price you get from one of our direct competitors is better because we’d appreciate the opportunity to match it.

As soon as you’ve got a price that you’re happy with, you move on to the next stage in the process of how to transport a car which is making a booking. You do this in one of several ways. The easiest way is to click on the link in the email we sent to you. You can also schedule your booking directly by calling (917) 563-6616 Finally, you can book using our Live Chat service or by email.

When you’re working out how to move a car, another important consideration is how you will pay for the auto transport service. We offer two payment options to choose from. 

  • Option #1: Discounted Price

We take a small partial payment from your credit or debit card when we confirm your booking. Upon delivery of your car, you pay the outstanding balance. Final payments can be made to the driver in cash, with a money order or cashier’s check. 

  • Option #2: Regular Price

We take the total amount when we confirm your booking. You can pay with cash, credit or debit card, or via PayPal. This payment secures your place on the auto transport trailer, and there is nothing left to pay upon delivery of your car.

With your booking confirmed, it’s time for us to work our magic. We’ll find the best possible auto transport carrier for your needs. We have an extensive network of trustworthy, reliable, and thoroughly vetted carriers we can call on. We’ll soon be able to find one that meets your requirements. We’ll contact you to let you know when we’ve found a suitable carrier so that we can confirm the details, let you know more about how to ship your car, and confirm your pick-up date. You’ll also receive an email with the carrier’s contact details.

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How long is my quote valid for?

Our Quotes are valid for 7 calendar days but you can update your quote or get a new one at any time.

Please, keep in mind that this is a very dynamic market and rates change on a weekly basis. This is why we cannot provide a quote that is valid for longer than 7 calendar days. We believe in fair pricing and want to give you the most accurate price. You can always contact one of our experienced car shipping advisors via phone at (917) 563-6616 or via Live Chat to get a new car shipping quote and speed up the process of your shipment.

Can you guarantee a pick-up date?

Yes, we're able to offer a guaranteed pick-up service.

If you need to make a specific arrangement to ship your vehicle, or last minute shipment, we are able to help you out but keep in mind the following:

  • The price might be different due to the urgency of the order;
  • We can guarantee pick-up dates between Monday to Friday;
  • Guaranteed pick-up is mainly applicable for open car transport. However, in some rare cases we can arrange a guaranteed pick-up for enclosed auto transport;
  • We highly recommend you book your guaranteed pick-up as far in advance as possible.

What does First Available Pick-up Date mean?

The First Available Pick-up Date is the date when your vehicle is ready to be picked up. Once we have a carrier assigned for your shipment we will specify the exact shipping date of your shipment.

Can I get a quote if I don’t know the exact address?

Yes, you can get a free, instant quote from our website's online calculator, via phone (917) 563-6616 or Live Chat. You'll need to provide your pick-up and delivery city/ZIP codes. You don't have to provide the exact pick-up and delivery address at the time of getting your quote. However, you will have to provide it at the time of booking your vehicle shipment.

Is my vehicle insured during car transport?

Your vehicle is covered under the motor carrier’s insurance policy from the time of pick up to the time of delivery. Our company always pre-screens the motor carrier to ensure to check that it meets the insurance requirements of the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) regulations. 

How much your vehicle will be insured for depends on the motor carrier’s coverage, the type of trailer, and the value of the vehicle. Usually, open car carriers have cargo insurance coverage between $100,000 and $150,000. Enclosed car carriers offer cargo insurance between $250,000 and $3,000,000. We will provide you with the carrier's certificate of insurance upon request.

Hawaii vehicle shipments are subject to the ocean freight liners' insurance limitation so please contact one of our experienced car shipping advisors via phone at (917) 563-6616 or via Live Chat, in order to learn more.

Want to know the cost of shipping a car with us?

A truck loading a car and a man in front of it

Step 2

We pick up your vehicle

How to ship your car step #2 is the pick up of your vehicle. The carrier assigned to your shipment will contact you a few hours ahead of time to let you know they’re on their way. You will need to confirm that commercial vehicles can access the pick-up location. Before they contact you, check whether there are any restrictions, overhead power cables, or low-hanging branches that will impede the carrier’s truck and trailer.


Don’t be too concerned if there is a problem, because you can easily arrange a more suitable location. You may, for example, know of a nearby street that’s wider where you could meet. A pick-up where you work or at a nearby parking lot might also be more suitable.

Upon the carrier’s arrival, you both check your vehicle for any existing damage, such as dents, scratches, or dings. You record these on the Bill of Lading and then sign it to confirm you’re happy with the information. You’ll be given a copy of this vital document for safe-keeping. When you receive your vehicle, you’ll need it to compare the condition of your vehicle. 

All the necessary documentation is now complete. You’re almost ready to move on to the third step in how to ship a car. But, before that happens, you’ll be able to watch the carrier load your vehicle onto the auto transport trailer. Then they’ll be on their way. 

At any time throughout your car’s journey, you’ll be able to check on its progress. You’ll receive regular updates by email, Live Chat, or phone, and you can also check in with the driver.

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What should I do to prepare my vehicle for transport?

In order to prepare your vehicle for transport we recommend you:

  • Disable all alarm systems installed in the vehicle;
  • Remove all loose parts;
  • Secure or remove all fragile accessories;
  • Secure or remove all attached accessories;
  • Wash your vehicle so that you can properly do the condition report when the driver picks up your vehicle and fill out the BOL;
  • Remove your toll transponder, if any;
  • If your service is standard make sure you don't have more than 100 lbs of personal items in your car;
  • Make sure you provide the carrier with a set of keys.

Can I change my First Available Pick-up Date?

Yes, you can change your First Available Pick-up Date via phone at (917) 563-6616, Live Chat or email before or after booking. If you want to change your First Available Pick-up Date before booking, simply generate a new quote with your desired pick-up date. If you want to change your First Available Pick-up Date after booking, you'll have to contact us directly. However, if you change your First Available Pick-up Date after a carrier is assigned, your deposit would be considered non-refundable if the assigned carrier cannot accomodate the change.

What is a Bill of Lading (BOL)?

The Bill of Lading (BOL), also called the "Condition Report", is a required document that serves as a receipt of freight service. You will be given this document by the carrier who picks up your vehicle. The information regarding your shipment will be pre-filled by the transport company. You'll need to inspect your vehicle and mark any visible damages with the carrier at the time of pickup as well as at the time of delivery.


What is top load placement?

A typical auto transport trailer has 2 levels (decks). Top load is when your vehicle is loaded on the second level for extra protection. You'll need to let us know prior to scheduling a carrier if you would like this service. Top load placement will protect your vehicle from small rock chips, dust and potential oil leaks. This is an add on service so please let one of our shipping advisors know if you are interested in this.

There is a blue car next to the blue house

Step 3

You receive your vehicle

How to ship a car is not a long, drawn-out process, and before you know it, the carrier will be getting in touch to let you know they’re just a few hours away from the delivery location. This is merely a courtesy call. However, they’re also informing you so you can make sure you’re available to receive your car. Don’t worry if you know you’re going to be busy because it is possible to make alternative arrangements. You can nominate a third party to act on your behalf. The only stipulation is that they have to be 18 years of age or older. The third-party could be a work colleague, neighbor, relative, or friend.

When your vehicle is unloaded, the driver will ask you to check the condition of your vehicle and compare it with the Bill of Lading. If you chose the Discounted Price payment option, now is when you hand over the final payment to the driver. You can pay in cash, with a money order or cashier’s check.

How can I track my vehicle while in transit?

We have a dedicated status update department that follows up with carriers on a daily basis. You can contact our dedicated Status Update Team by phone at (864) 743-0823 or Live Chat.

Customer feedback on how to ship a car with SGT Auto Transport

SGT Auto Transport delivers on-time, reliable, car shipping and excellent customer service

Chris M.
Great experience - deliver was faster than expected. Thank you!!!
Doug P
This was the best transport company I have used from start to finish. Everything was smooth and the people were great.
Gary Paduana
I had a great experience going with SGT to ship a vehicle approximately 1400 miles. They arrived on time, loaded up quickly, and met me on the receiving end at my convenience.
Jeff Sundin
They made it easy to transport a car from Oregon to Alabama and returned calls fairly quickly. Thank you for the efficient service.
Mike B.
This is the second time I used SGT and I was just as happy with my service this time as the last time. Very responsive and competitive prices.
Robert B.
Was great all around experience, driver was great and professional at pick up. Good outfit to work with

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