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How to Ship a Car

There are plenty of reasons you might need to ship a car across Canada ¬– maybe you’re moving or you’re selling/buying a vehicle from another province, perhaps you’re surprising a lucky someone with a set of new wheels – the question is how do you do it? Luckily for you, this handy guide will take you through the entire step-by-step process of vehicle shipping so you’ll know exactly what to do and how to do it.

Step one: Research licensed companies

Do. Your. Homework. There are a lot of vehicle shipping companies out there and it’s important to find the one that best suits your needs. Research prospective companies online, explore car forums, even ask around to friends and family for recommendations, then start making a list. Be sure to look at each company’s credentials to ensure they are licensed and insured, check out their reviews and always, always, always read the fine print. Once you have a couple of options in mind, give them a call to compare quotes to see who gives you the best rate and the best vibe.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

There are a few factors that will impact the cost of vehicle shipment so it’s good to be aware of them right off the bat.

Distance – Shipping just one province over will be less expensive than shipping it across the country. Again, each company will have different rates so make sure you do your research to find the best one.

Size of vehicle – The bigger the car, the more expensive it is to ship. Larger vehicles take up more space in the carrier and will add more weight to the cargo.

Time of year - Because fewer people transport cars in the winter, rates may be lower. However, if inclement weather strikes, it could impact the amount of time it takes for your vehicle to arrive at its destination.

Some companies also provide time estimates as well as tracking, so if that’s an important feature for you, be sure to check with them to see what they offer

How long does it take to ship a car?

When it comes to vehicle shipping, patience is important. Unlike shipping a regular package, cars take much longer as they are much larger than your average package. It can take up to four weeks to ship a car in Canada, though be prepared to expect the unexpected. Weather can slow things down, as can your choice of transport.

Uncovered (or open transport – think; open transport truck) is suitable for any type of vehicle. The only caveat is that your car will be more susceptible to potential dents and debris. Closed transport on the other hand, offers the most protection as the shipping container is completely enclosed, however this option can be significantly more expensive than open transport.

Shipping a car by train can generally be faster and more cost efficient. During your vehicle’s journey across the country by train, there could be multiple stops to pick up and drop off vehicles, but they would all be scheduled ahead of time, keeping everything on schedule. If you ship a car by train, it is protected from the weather and it is rare to find any damage to the vehicle once it’s unloaded from the train.

Step two: Preparing your car for transport

Can you ship a car with stuff in it? Should you put gas in it first? What kind of condition should the car be in? Before you send your car off on its fateful journey, here’s a list of important things to check off first.

  • Ensure your car is in good driving condition so it can be loaded onto the carrier and shipped.
  • Keep about 1/3 of a tank of gas in the car in case it needs to be moved during transport.
  • Check that your E-brake and foot brake are fully functional.
  • Clear out any personal belongings or valuables as shipping companies are not responsible for lost or missing items.
  • Keep a copy of the vehicle’s registration and insurance in the glove box.
  • Give your car a good wash and wax before you send it on its way. Pro tip: Waxing your car can help protect it from dirt and debris during transport.

Step three: Inspection and insurance

Ready to roll? Make sure to give your car a thorough once-over before dropping it off for transport. That includes taking time-stamped pictures so you’ll know if any damage was caused during shipping. Finally, check with your insurance company to see what kind of coverage you have so there are no surprises. Also be sure to ask the shipping company about their liability insurance coverage. Though rare, damage during shipping can occur but if it’s documented properly, insurance should cover the repairs. Once you have everything in order, gather your paperwork to finalize the agreement with the shipping company, including the tracking information so you can plan for pick up.

Now you know everything there is to know (and then some!) about shipping a car in Canada. No matter what type of car you ship, whether it’s your current vehicle or a brand new ride, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the service intervals so you can take good care of it and keep it on the road for years to come.