Whether you’re moving cross-country or going to an auto show, you might need a little help getting your car from point A to point B — especially if it’s a non-running car. Sometimes people need to ship classic cars that have been sitting in storage for years, move a vehicle with a dead battery, or relocate a car with collision damage.
Regardless of the reasons, understanding the ins and outs of auto transport for non-running vehicles is a must. Hiring one of the top car shipping companies is the best thing you can do for your car (and wallet), but even then, understanding the car shipping process and pricing factors will help you make a more informed decision.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to select the best shipping method, offer tips for preparing your vehicle for transport, and explain how to choose the right auto transport company.
Shipping an inoperable vehicle
You can’t just load an inoperable car on the back of a truck and call it a day. Unlike operational vehicles, non-running cars usually need additional equipment and handling for safe transport. Non-running car shipping requires a few more steps to safely relocate your car, whether you’re moving down the road or across the country.
Assess the car’s condition
What are your vehicle’s specific needs? Issues like flat tires, dead batteries, or any loose parts will affect the shipping process. Accurately assessing the vehicle’s condition helps you find the right transport carrier and necessary equipment.
Choose a reputable auto transport company
Selecting an experienced auto transport company is a must. Not all car shippers offer this service because it requires more equipment and labor, so look for highly-rated companies that have experience moving inoperative vehicles. An experienced provider will have the right equipment for the job, like winches, forklifts, and liftgates.
Decide on a type of transport
Do you want open transport or enclosed auto transport? Enclosed carriers give you more protection, so they’re ideal for classic car transport. The downside is that they cost a lot more. Most people go with open transport because it’s more cost-effective. It doesn’t offer the same level of protection, but it’s usually a solid option as long as you don’t have a delicate or high-value vehicle.
You’ll also need to decide on pickup and drop-off locations. Some companies offer door-to-door service, which is really helpful for non-running vehicles. However, door-to-door is more expensive, so it isn’t an option for everyone.
If door-to-door isn’t an option, you’ll need to go with terminal-to-terminal shipping. This is cheaper because the shipper transports the car to a delivery location, where you pick it up. The downside is that you’ll need some way of transporting the car back home, which usually requires a special trailer, loading equipment, or tow truck.
Request three free quotes
Always ask about the cost of shipping before committing to auto transport service. Reputable companies will always offer transparent, free quotes that break down all of the costs. We recommend requesting at least three quotes from reputable shippers to get a better idea of fair pricing.
Non-running car shipping options
Did you know there are several ways to ship an inoperable car? The best option will depend on the type of vehicle you have, its condition, and your budget. Let’s look at the most common ways to ship non-running vehicles so you can find the best fit for your car.
Open auto transport
Open transport is the most common and cost-effective way to ship your car. With this option, the shipping service loads your non-running car onto an open car carrier, which is a large truck that transports multiple vehicles stacked on top of each other.
While this is definitely a budget-friendly option, your car is exposed to the elements and road debris. Open transport might be too much of a risk if you have a classic car or luxury vehicle.
Enclosed auto transport
Enclosed auto transport is a smart choice for non-running cars that need extra protection. With this method, the shipper transports your car in a fully enclosed trailer, which protects it from weather, road hazards, and thieves. Sometimes your car is in a trailer by itself or with other vehicles. Ask your shipper which options they offer.
If you think this is the best method for you, check out our recommendations for best enclosed car shipping companies.
Flatbed transport is popular for oversized vehicles that need special handling. This type of transport is more flexible than open or enclosed transport because your car can be an odd size or shape. While flatbed shipping is more forgiving, it’s also more expensive than open transport.
The cost to ship a non-running car
Shipping a non-running car is usually more expensive than transporting an operational vehicle because shippers have to use more equipment and labor to move the car. Average shipping costs vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $650 to $1,200 to ship a non-running car.
Non-running car shipping factors
Car shipping quotes are made on an individual basis based on the details of your car and the shipment itself. Several factors play a role in your car shipping quote:
- Distance: The further the shipper has to move your car, the higher the cost. You can expect to pay more in fuel and labor costs for longer distances or cross-country shipping.
- Type of transport: Choosing between open transport, an enclosed carrier, or a flatbed truck will have a big impact on the final price. Open carrier shipping is often the cheapest and best option for most cars.
- Vehicle size and weight: Larger or heavier vehicles — like SUVs and trucks — usually cost more to ship because they take up more space.
- Timing: If you need expedited shipping or guaranteed delivery by a certain date, the shipper will probably add a rush fee to your invoice.
- Vehicle condition: Sure, the car isn’t running, but certain problems could increase the cost. For example, flat tires and extensive collision damage might mean your car requires specialized equipment to move, which drives up the price.
- Time of year: Pricing varies by season and demand. For example, shippers usually charge more during the busy summer season when everyone is moving and demand is high. However, some will charge more for shipping in snowy or icy conditions. Try to ship your car in the winter or spring to get the best weather and pricing.
- Insurance: Some car insurance policies cover shipping, but others don’t. Your auto shipper will likely offer some kind of buy-up for insurance, which some people think is worth it. Just keep in mind that this insurance often comes at an additional cost.
How to find a non-running car shipping company
The single best thing you can do to protect your car is to work with a reputable car shipping company. Follow these quick tips to find a good car shipper:
- Check online reviews. Any reputable company will have a mix of positive and negative reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. It’s also good to look for reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and to check the shipper’s registration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
- See if they ship non-running vehicles. Not all companies do! Check their website for a list of services. Make sure the company has experience specifically with transporting non-running vehicles.
- Consider their service options. Does the shipper offer the exact services you want? Not all shippers offer add-ons like door-to-door delivery or enclosed vehicle transport, so look for a provider that has everything you want.
Companies that can ship an inoperable vehicle
Need to find a company that ships inoperable cars? moveBuddha readers say these auto shippers are the best options for car shipping:
SGT Auto Transport
89% of users select this mover
MoveBuddha readers consistently rate SGT Auto Transport as the best car shipper for the money. They have all-inclusive pricing, so what you see in your quote includes everything. They offer door-to-door service in the Lower 48, as well as exact pickup dates.
Ship A Car Direct
89% of users select this mover
This company ships inoperable cars as long as they can brake, roll, and steer. Ship A Car Direct comes with $500 complimentary damage or loss coverage, which could be helpful if you opt for open transport. They also allow you to ship 100 pounds of personal belongings in your car for free.
Sherpa Auto Transport
89% of users select this mover
This car shipping company offers a Price Lock Promise, for fixed vehicle shipping pricing. Sherpa Auto Transport throws in a free car wash before delivery, too.
Tips for shipping a non-running car
It takes a little bit more planning to ship a non-running car. Run through this quick checklist to prepare your car for shipping:
- Document the car’s condition. Make sure you know exactly what doesn’t work in your car. Take photos if there’s existing damage and include a written description of everything. This will make it easier if you need to submit an insurance claim later.
- Ask about loading and unloading requirements. Some companies will only ship inoperable vehicles if they can brake, roll, and steer. Before booking an auto transport company, ask if they have requirements for non-running cars.
- Communicate with your shipper. Inoperable cars are a little tricky to transport. Always communicate any quirks about your car with the shipper so they protect your car at all times.
FAQs about shipping an inoperable vehicle
What is the best way to ship a car that won’t start?
The best way to ship a non-running car is to hire a car transport service with a winch and other specialized loading equipment. Most auto shipping companies will transport your car via open transport, which moves the car on a shared transport truck with other vehicles. If you don’t want to hire a tow truck, you may need to pay extra for the shipper to offer door-to-door shipping.
How do you ship a car with no engine?
Many car shipping companies will ship non-running cars. However, some require that the vehicle be able to brake, roll, and steer. Your best option is to hire a car shipping company that has experience shipping cars without an engine. Ask if they have the necessary equipment to load and secure your car before booking with them.
Can you ship a non-running car from Hawaii?
Yes, you can ship a non-running car from Hawaii, but it requires a little research. You need to find a shipping company that can ship a car to Hawaii (or from the state), and that also ships non-running vehicles. Companies like SGT Auto Transport often offer this type of service.
What are the requirements for shipping a car?
Every car shipping company has its own requirements. You’ll likely need to meet these requirements:
- Provide documentation, like proof of ownership and registration
- Book service and pay a deposit (although not all shippers require deposits)
- Show your ID
- Get a car inspection
- Meet import requirements (this is usually required if you’re moving to an area like Hawaii)
What is the cheapest way to ship a car?
Open transport is the cheapest way to ship a car. You can save more money by shipping in either the fall or spring, opting for terminal-to-terminal delivery, and choosing flexible delivery dates.
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