An In-Depth Guide to Shipping a Non-Running Car

Guide to Shipping a Non-Running Car

You’re thinking about shipping a non-running car. That means you have two questions you need to answer.

First, can you ship non-running cars?

We can answer that one with an easy “yes.” It’s possible to ship non-running cars just as you’d ship an operational vehicle.

Your second question is all about how to transport a car that doesn’t run.

Shipping a non-running car is more complicated than transporting an operational one. Your carrier needs to use special equipment to load and unload your vehicle. Hence, you need to find a carrier with the appropriate expertise to get the job done correctly. That’s where things can get a little more complicated.

This article offers an in-depth guide to shipping non-running cars, including the key steps you need to take and some of the issues that may affect the cost and viability of your shipping efforts.

Shipping Non-Running Cars

The Four Critical Steps

Preparation is crucial when you’re transporting a vehicle that doesn’t run. You need to know the specifics regarding the problems the car has and how they will affect the work your carrier needs to do to get the vehicle from A to B. By following these four steps, you can prepare correctly for the process.

Step No. 1 – Figure Out What’s Wrong with Your Car

It’s not enough to know that your car isn’t running. You need to know exactly what the problem is because the nature of the issue plays a role in how your carrier moves the vehicle.

Let’s say the vehicle’s engine won’t start, but its brakes and steering are still operational. In that case, your carrier may be able to use a winch and tow truck to transport the car to a shipping terminal. They can then load the vehicle onto a non-operational vehicle transport manually or via a winch.

That’s a relatively simple process.

But if you can’t brake, steer, or roll the car, loading it onto a transport becomes more complicated. Your carrier likely won’t be able to tow the vehicle, meaning they’ll need to load it onto a flatbed truck using a forklift. More challenges create more work, which adds to your cost.

By knowing what’s wrong with your car from the get-go, you can provide accurate information to your carrier to ensure you don’t face nasty surprises when they tell you about the cost.

Step No. 2 – Choose a Transport Type

The issues your car has also determine the type of non-operational vehicle transport you can use. Generally speaking, your choice comes down to the following three options:

  • Open
  • Enclosed
  • Flatbed

Each has pros and cons to consider.

Choose a Car Transport Type

Open transport is the most popular option, likely because it’s the most cost-efficient. However, that lower cost comes with the risk of exposing the vehicle to road debris. You may also find that you can’t use open transport if your carrier can’t load the car, as may happen if the vehicle doesn’t have operational steering or braking. This option may also be a poor choice if you’re transporting a classic car and want to keep its bodywork in perfect condition.

Enclosed transport involves surrounding your vehicle with a trailer or similar secure method. It’s safer than open transport because it protects your car against debris and minor impacts. However, it costs a little more and may not be an option if the vehicle doesn’t roll or steer.

Finally, flatbed transport will likely be your choice if the vehicle is entirely non-operational. Your carrier has to lift the car onto a raised bed behind a truck, typically using a forklift. The car is then secured in place and transported to its destination. Unfortunately, flatbed transport leaves your vehicle out in the open, exposing it to debris. Thankfully, being placed on a raised platform means the car is less likely to get struck by anything.

Your vehicle’s condition and operational ability, combined with your budget, determine which option you choose. Enclosed transport is ideal, though you may not be able to use it if your vehicle doesn’t steer or roll. Open transport is the cheapest, but it also leaves the car exposed. Flatbed transport costs more and is a little more complicated. Still, it may be the only non-operational vehicle transport option open to you if your car doesn’t steer or roll.

Step No. 3 – Tally Up the Issues That Determine Your Cost

Beyond the type of vehicle transport you use for shipping a non-running car, several other factors affect the amount of money you pay:

  • The car’s size and type
  • Where you want the vehicle dropped off
  • Distance
  • The speed of the delivery
  • The time of year

Using an auto transport broker is often the best way to determine your cost. These professionals take your requirements and get quotes from several licensed shippers, which gives you a solid overview of how much you can expect to spend.

We’ll dig deeper into each of these factors and how they affect your costs later in the article.

Step No. 4 – Check Your Carrier’s Insurance

You still want to insure your vehicle, even when shipping a non-running car. The car is still an asset that holds some value, meaning insurance is vital to ensure you’re protected if something goes wrong with the shipping process.

Most carriers offer insurance to cover damages between $100,000 and $1 million. The exact amount varies between carriers, so check their policies carefully to see if they provide the appropriate coverage. You may also consider taking out your own insurance policy for the process, especially if you’re transporting a valuable vehicle and don’t believe the carrier’s insurance provides the coverage you need.

Diving Deeper into the Factors That Affect the Cost of Shipping Non-Running Cars

We briefly covered some of the factors that affect the cost of transporting a non-operational vehicle in the above steps. You already know that cost varies depending on the type of non-operational vehicle transport you use. These other factors add to that base cost. Now, let’s look at the role each of those factors plays so you get a general idea of how much you can expect to pay for your vehicle.

Cost of Shipping Non-Running Cars

Factor No. 1 – The Size and Type of Vehicle

The make and model of your vehicle affect the cost because they determine the size of the car. The bigger your vehicle, the more you can expect to pay to ship it. Larger vehicles weigh more, take up more space, and may present loading complications, especially if they can’t steer or roll. Your carrier factors these issues into their quote.

Factor No. 2 – Where the Vehicle Gets Picked Up and Dropped Off

You have two choices relating to where your vehicle is picked up and dropped off:

  1. Door-to-door shipping
  2. Terminal-to-terminal shipping

Door-to-door is precisely what it sounds like. Your carrier turns up at your chosen pick-up address, prepares your vehicle for shipping, and transports it to your chosen drop-off point. The process is fast and convenient for you because you don’t have to find a way to move the vehicle to a terminal. However, it tends to cost more because the carrier commits resources to a single vehicle.

You’re responsible for getting your non-operational vehicle to the carrier’s terminal with terminal-to-terminal shipping. The carrier then ships it, along with other cars, to the closest terminal to your preferred drop-off point. You then need to pick the vehicle up and transport it to your preferred location.

This type of shipping is generally less expensive than door-to-door because the carrier does less work and can transport multiple vehicles simultaneously. However, you have to factor in the cost and work involved in getting your non-operational car to a terminal. Interestingly, the cost of doing this can add up to the point where door-to-door shipping is more cost-effective. After all, you can’t simply drive a non-operational vehicle to a terminal.

Factor No. 3 – Distance

This factor is pretty simple. The further you transport non-running car, the more you’ll pay for the service. The carrier needs to account for the cost of more fuel and the potential of increased wear and tear on their vehicle transport. Furthermore, larger distances require more driving time. The carrier has to account for committing resources, including a driver and form of vehicle transport, to a single job for a longer period.

Factor No. 4 – The Speed of the Delivery

Do you want your car to get from A to B as quickly as possible?

Expect to pay more for the privilege because speed is a commodity that carriers charge extra for. If your carrier is tasked with getting your vehicle to its destination as quickly as possible, that may mean they need to take more challenging routes. It also means that carriers specializing in multi-vehicle transportation can’t move as many cars because every additional stop adds time to the journey. They’re making less money due to picking up fewer cars, meaning they may pass the cost onto you.

If you’re willing to wait longer, your carrier will usually offer a reduced rate. Longer delivery times allow the carrier to prioritize and arrange the logistics of the journey so they can maximize the profit generated from it.

Factor No. 5 – The Time of Year

Demand plays a critical role in the cost of shipping a non-running car. Naturally, most people want to ship their vehicles during the spring and summer months. The roads are safer, meaning there’s less risk involved. For that reason, you can expect to pay more for a spring or summer delivery.

Fall and winter deliveries cost less as carriers experience lower demand. They adjust their prices accordingly, at least in the case of multi-vehicle transports, because they want to fill their schedules. However, fall and winter driving presents more hazards thanks to rain, snow, and other bad weather elements, making driving more difficult.

So, your choice depends on how willing you are to accept the increased risk of fall and winter driving. If you’re determined to keep your vehicle as safe as possible, paying a little more for a summer delivery may be your best option.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping Non-Running Cars

Hopefully, the steps and cost factor explanations offered in this article answer most of your questions about how to transport a car that doesn’t run. These final questions are the most frequently asked questions that we didn’t cover in the main article.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping Non-Running Cars

How Do I Prepare My Car for Shipping?

Remove all of your valuables and personal possessions from the vehicle. Your carrier typically won’t take responsibility for any damaged or lost items you leave inside your car. If there are any loose parts that you need to keep inside the vehicle, secure them using tape, rope, or whatever method is most convenient to you.

When Might I Need to Ship a Non-Running Car?

You may need to transport a non-running car for several reasons, including:

  • The vehicle was involved in a major accident
  • You’re selling a non-running car for parts
  • The car was written off and can’t be operated safely on roads

Classic car lovers also use this type of service. For example, you may purchase a vintage vehicle with perfect bodywork that is missing vital internal components to get it up and running. Vehicle transportation services can get this vehicle to somebody who can repair it for you, restoring a classic car to its former glory.

Choose the Right Carrier for Safe & Cheap Move

Now you know what goes into shipping non-running cars, you need to select the right carrier for the job. Key things to look out for include extensive experience in shipping non-running cars and having the equipment necessary to accommodate the type of car you want to ship. Furthermore, search for customer reviews and testimonials online. A trail of happy customers tells you that your chosen carrier does an excellent job.


extensive experience in shipping non-running cars

Though cost is a factor, remember the old adage that you get what you pay for. A low-cost carrier may seem like they’re offering you a great deal. But if they don’t have the experience and skill required to keep your non-running car safe during transportation, you may end up paying more to fix issues later on.

At Ship Vehicles, we specialize in transporting all types of cars. This includes vintage and luxury cars that may be non-operational but are extremely valuable. We offer open and enclosed transport services. Plus, we work closely with our customers to ensure their cars get from A to B safely and with minimal fuss. Request a quote from us today to get an idea of how much it will cost to ship your non-operational vehicle. And if you can find a better price elsewhere, we offer a price match guarantee to ensure you get the best deal possible.