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Car Shipping—How It Works

Looking to ship that new car you won on eBay? Moving back to school? Relocating for work? State-to-state, overseas, and everywhere else—get your car or truck transported quickly and safely with the uShip vehicle transportation marketplace.


Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Unless you’re a car dealer or a gear-head, you’re probably not familiar with how the vehicle transport process works. That’s OK!

uShip is here to help ease the process and answer any questions you might have. Before we make a deep dive into the logistics of car shipping, let’s start with some of the most common questions:

Q. Will my transporter pick up my vehicle(s) or will I have to bring it to them?

A. This is something you will work out with your chosen transporter. A lot of variables come into play here. Such as: is your vehicle being picked up from a private residency or a commercial business? Did you arrange for private (one car) transport or are you using a large volume transporter?

It’s common to arrange a convenient local meeting place with your transporter to safely load your vehicle if you are in a residential area. Navigating a large truck and trailer in crowded residential roadways is often difficult. Note: If the vehicle is not in running condition make sure your transporter knows this before booking.

Q. Upon delivery, will I go retrieve my vehicle at a specified site or will my transporter bring it to me?

A. Again, the definite answer to these types of questions can be answered by your chosen vehicle transporter. Communicate with them, providing them full-details of your transport needs before booking.

Q. Will my car be transported with other cars? If so, how will they prevent them from touching?

A. It is likely that your vehicle will be transported with other vehicles. However, multi-car trailers use several safety mechanisms in addition to your own car’s emergency brake and transmission (park) brake for automatic transmission vehicles or placing it in a drive gear for manual transmissions.

You do have the option to reserve a private transporter who will transport your vehicle alone. This option is the more costly of the two. If you would prefer to have your vehicle transported this way, be sure to note this in your listing to only attract those transporters who can accommodate your request.

Professional carriers are attentive to leaking fluids (oil, power steering fluid, etc.) and should take precautions if there is a suspected leak.

Note: Vehicle transporters are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to properly secure all cargo. Under the Cargo Securement Rules, stating that “…must be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle or other equivalent means to prevent rolling. The means of preventing rolling must not be capable of becoming unintentionally unfastened or loose while the vehicle is in transit.” 

Q. Will open trailer transporters provide coverings and necessary protections for my vehicle?

A. Covering a vehicle may be worse than having it uncovered, for this reason it’s not standard practice to cover a vehicle during transport. A loose cover can scratch and heavily damage your vehicle’s paint. In lieu of coverings, uShip recommends washing the exterior of your car very well and applying a layer of fresh wax. This will help protect your vehicle’s paint and serve as a good barrier against bugs, road salt, dirt and debris.

Q. Whose insurance pays for road hazard damage, such as a rock hitting my car?

A. If you have full coverage it’s likely you will be protected through your insurance provider. However, go over this with your transporter and your insurance provider before you hand over your vehicle for transport. Also, double check your written agreement before you sign anything. The responsible party will be listed in your insurance agreement.

Be sure to take high resolution photos of your vehicle prior to shipping. In the event that your vehicle is damaged during shipment you will want to submit these photographs along with your insurance claim.

Q. Should I empty my vehicle’s gas tank?

A. Yes! Empty the tank as much as possible, but make sure you leave a little fuel in the tank so that the car can make it to a gas station on the other end of its journey – a gallon should do.

In accordance with FMCSA regulation, hazardous materials, such as gasoline, are not permitted to be transported by a motor carrier. Take your car for an extra ride around the block or burn the tank off running around town. Either way, make sure your entire gas tank is emptied before your scheduled transport date.

Q. How do I ensure that my vehicle is empty if I need to drive it daily?

A. The week before shipping your vehicle be sure to put only a few gallons in your tank to avoid being in an awkward situation.

Q. How much time does vehicle transportation typically take?

A. This depends on where you’re having your vehicle transported to and how many other vehicles are being transported along the route. Your transporter will provide you with an estimated drop-off date and a great transporter will keep up good communication during the transport process.

Remember, if you have any questions that aren’t answered in this article reach out to the uShip Help Center.

Leading to the ultimate question: what will it cost to transport your vehicle?



The beauty of uShip is that you have options when it comes to vehicle transportation costs. It is up to you to decide what your shipping budget is and how YOU want to manage your shipping experience.


  List, Compare, and Book instantly.

After building your vehicle transport listing you will have the option to submit your listing to our online marketplace for bids or to accept an instant quote. Every shipping customer’s transportation needs are different. Take the time to learn about each option and then decide confidently which is best for you!

car shipping pricing options



On uShip you are able to see instant live quotes from a number of vehicle transporters in your area. Choosing to book your transporter through instant quotes can be the faster option. Booking through instant quotes also allows you to quickly see the wide scope of pricing options available in our marketplace. Simply pick the price that best fits your shipping budget and hit “Book”. It’s really that easy.

Car Transport Quotes


Choosing to put your listing up for quotes in our marketplace puts the power in your hands. This listing method may take a little more time, as you won’t want to accept the first quote you receive. Though, it can be well worth it for your pocket! Once your listing is live in the marketplace, vehicle transporters will reach out to you with pricing and any logistical questions they may have. For this reason, it is important to have a well-built listing. A well-built listing ensures that you only attract the best-fit transporters to offer a quote on your vehicle transport.

Car Bids



Earlier we walked you through creating a listing and deciding which listing process is best for your shipping needs. Now, let’s discuss how to build the perfect auto transport listing.

From measurements to photographs, building the perfect listing comes down to one thing: detail.

The perfect detailed listing includes:

  • Take good quality photographs of your vehicle– quality pictures are very important and allow transporters to feel confident in a lower quote.
  • Gather precise measurements of your vehicle– vehicle transport trailers are loaded with precise measure—everything is planned for so everything fits in its place. For this reason you will want to provide as many details about the size, make and model of your vehicle.
  • Dates– specifying whether your listed shipment dates are flexible or concrete will ensure only transporters whom are available on those dates will bid for your shipment. The more flexibility you have on dates the more bids you are likely to receive.
  • Vehicle loading and unloading abilities– it’s difficult for a large vehicle transport trailer to navigate through neighborhoods, for this reason make sure you are able to designate a meeting location for your transporter to load and unload your vehicle on each end of its journey. If your vehicle is not in running condition, and thus cannot be transported to a meeting destination, note this in your listing.
  • Transport specifics– if you have any specific needs for your vehicle transport, list them!
  • Origin and destination points– Transporters plan their routes according to available shipments, picking up and dropping off along the way. If your pick up or drop off is along the ways likely you’ll get quotes at a discounted rate. No transporter wants tonsil a half empty trailer across the country. Work with them and your pocket will thank you.

Make your listing as detailed as you can. Let prospective transporters know exactly what you’re looking for and what your shipment will require. Will you be able to meet the transporter offsite with the car? Would you prefer an open or enclosed trailer transport? How flexible are you on dates? These are things you should think about when building your listing. Answering these types of questions will help ensure you receive quotes from only the best fit vehicle transporters.





Whether you choose to book by car transport quotes or introduce your listing to our online marketplace to receive quotes, you will want to research any prospective transport before booking. The most important step in the vehicle transportation process is research.

At uShip we believe the most informed shipping customers get the best shipping experience. For this reason, we encourage all of our shipping customers to fully research each carrier before booking.

To help with this step uShip clearly lays out a detailed transport history, live customer feedback, regulation compliance and a five-star rating system in each and every Carrier Profile.

Below is an example of a top-rated vehicle transporter Carrier Profile:

Car Transporter Feedback

A lot goes into making a vehicle transporter a Power Carrier. Things such as: great communication, positive customer reviews, extensive transport history and compliance with FMCSA regulations all combine to make a great carrier. Look for these types of things as you’re scrolling through each prospective carrier’s profile.

uShip also recommends researching your prospective vehicle transporter in the FMCSA’s SAFER System

Knowing whom you’re entrusting your vehicle to is the key to shipping with confidence.


Legally authorized vehicle transporters are required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance under FMCSA insurance regulation. Before booking your chosen vehicle transporter make sure they also offer cargo insurance.

Cargo insurance ensures that after your deductible, your transporter will be responsible for covering any damages that might have occurred to your vehicle during transport. Cargo insurance coverage terms and deductibles vary based on your transporter’s insurance provider. Look for this information in your vehicle transporter’s Carrier Profile then discuss these details, along with any questions you may have, with them and their insurance provider before you hand over your vehicle.

Legally, your vehicle transporter is required to provide you with a written certificate of insurance detailing the policy that applies to you specific shipment. This written proof of insurance should be in your hands before transport. Note: a written certificate of insurance is NOT a Bill of lading. These things are two separate documents, however, both very important.

Feel free to verify the information on the certificate with the noted insurance company or the Department of Transportation.

We recommend obtaining additional cargo insurance independently. It is also wise to take photo evidence of your vehicle’s condition prior to shipment. To learn more about uShip Cargo Insurance, visit our Cargo Insurance page for a detailed explanation.