I will be shipping my car from California to Alabama and currently looking on Yelp for car shipping companies. I need to ask following questions:

1) Are there any precautions regarding paperwork I should complete before shipping my car?

2) Should I take pictures of the car before shipping it, just in case there is any damage upon delivery?

3) Suppose I see a damage after leaving the pickup/delivery destination; can I report it after driving the vehicle back home?

4) Any suggestions on which shipping companies I should consider?

5) Is it safe to put luggage in the trunk while shipping my car? Should I lock the trunk and give the company the valet key to drive the vehicle?

  • 1
    Don't hide anything in your car, especially not in a way that would prevent law enforcement officers inspecting the hidden goods without using heavy machinery (or having to blow up the car in a safe place if they suspect explosives).
    – Bent
    May 15, 2016 at 15:13
  • Also check with your local "better business bureau" to see if the shipping company has reported issues.
    – Max
    Jun 30, 2016 at 11:06

4 Answers 4


1: As long as you have tags, registration and insurance, there should be no other paperwork required.

2: Always a good idea, as proof of condition before shipping.

3: Once you accept the car and drive it off the delivery yard, they are absolved of claims for damage that you discover later. Always good to do a walk around before signing the delivery receipts.

4: Opinion based, not really allowed on this forum.

5: Depends on the shipping company, some consider personal effects to be extra cargo and charge accordingly. But if it is OK, I wouldn't put anything of value in there. The car company will likely want keys to car and trunk.

  • 4
    For the last point, they are likely to refuse if they can't verify what they are transporting across states - what if you stashed drugs or fireworks or something else in there? (especially something of which the legality of varies from state to state) May 15, 2016 at 14:44
  1. No additional paperwork is required, other than your normal car paperwork (tag, registration, insurance).

  2. You can take pictures, but before handing over the car to the delivery agent they will do a walk around to inspect the condition of the vehicle. You should also make sure you have insurance for the move (this is not the same as your normal liability insurance). Your delivery agent can assist you. This insurance covers any damage (or in the worse case, loss) of the vehicle during transport.

  3. No, you cannot. Once you have signed the documents and received the car, you have released the delivery agent of any liability. However, your car insurance may cover any incidentals.

  4. No answer here, this is based on your budget and timeframe and what is available in the market. It is best to ask locally.

  5. If you are adding additional goods, you need to declare them to the shipping agent. They may require extra permits to carry whatever is in the trunk (hazmat), they may need to adjust the type of equipment used, most likely you will have to pay extra for the movement and - most importantly - the liability has increased on the shipping agent so they will definitely ask you increase the insurance for the trip. You will also need to provide inventory of the items.

As an alternative, you may want to consider renting a trailer and driving the car yourself. Companies like U-Haul offer one-way trailer rentals.


First no matter what company you go with, your car is placed on a board where all trucking companies can see it and bid on picking it up. The trucking company you sign with might not be the one picking it up.

They also do not communicate well with the procedures. You will keep getting answers that a driver has not been assigned yet. So do not expect the pick up to be on the day you need it to be. Give yourself 3 days.

The driver will call to tell you when they will be there but do not rely on the company you paid to schedule the pickup.

Also, pay the dropping off driver with a cashiers check - many will ask for money which is ok if you trust the driver. There is also not much to track the shipment with either.


Not sure what you mean exactly by precautions about paperwork. It's rather straightforward in that regard and they shipper can walk you through that if you have questions.

I would definitely recommend taking a few photographs before shipping. Also photograph any existing dents or scratches to make sure they aren't made worse through transporting it.

The driver will go over the condition of the car when you pick it up and this is your opportunity to dispute any claim about the cars condition.

The company you choose should largely depend on where you're going. Do they have offices where you're shipping to and from? If you're shipping across the country, do they offer storage and have someone you can contact on each end if something happens? These are things to consider. I've used A-1 Auto Transport in the past with good luck, but it really boils down to who you're comfortable with.

My understanding is that most auto transport companies will not allow you to store anything additional in the vehicle since it could cause damage. In fact, I believe I was asked to make sure it was clean and empty before dropping it off. They'll need the regular set of keys to ship the car.

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