How to Ship a Luxury Car

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When a person possessing a high-end expensive automobile plans a move, the first thing that probably crosses his mind is how to ship a luxury car. Investing a significant amount of money into collecting or driving a specialty or luxury car, would mean protecting that investment at all costs. We understand that putting trust in a company to safely transport your Lamborghini Aventador can be a nerve-wracking process. So, here is some helpful information and tips on luxury car shipping.

How to Ship a Luxury Car

What is a Luxury Car?

The term "Luxury Vehicle" is used as a blanket term to cover that of many different vehicles. The term itself suggests higher quality equipment and parts, optimized performance, detailed design, impeccable construction and generally innovative in one way or another. The bottom line: you will have paid top dollar for a vehicle under these parameters.

Usually, all the sports cars, antique cars, and high-end models are included in the luxury category. There are many companies that supply such luxury cars, like BMW or Mercedes, while other luxury vehicles are categorized as such based on monetary value and public opinion, regardless of the manufacturer.

In the U.S., a luxury car is classified based on segments: entry-level, mid-level, high-end and ultra. Mid-level cars include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Jaguar XF and the Lexus GS, for example. Examples of ultra-luxury cars would be brands like Rolls Royce, Maybach, Bentley and Maserati.

Shipping options for luxury vehicles

Unless you are moving down the street, you probably won't be driving your luxury vehicle yourself. This also means you most likely won't be trusting another person to drive your car to your new home, as you would with a driveaway service, nor would you have your expensive vehicle transported by train. So, you'll need to hire a company to ship your luxury car for you. This way, your vehicle will be in the hands of experienced auto transport companies that handle your car professionally, carefully and responsibly.

If you choose to have your vehicle shipped via trailer (for those who have vehicles that need to be shipped domestically), you have two options:

Open air trailer

These trailers are usually around 70 to 80 feet long, and have multiple vehicles, usually two vehicles high, securely chained to the trailer that is pulled by a large truck. While this is the least expensive option, your vehicle will be exposed to the elements, and can be vulnerable to various road debris and extreme weather conditions. Therefore, this option would not be recommended for your higher end luxury car, but if you do choose this method, be sure to look into any added insurance so the company will take responsibility for any damage that may occur during transportation.

Enclosed trailer

For your luxury, antique or sports vehicle, this shipping method provides added protection and security for your one-of-a-kind vehicle. These containers have four walls and a roof, and are built with shockproof materials to withstand any damage caused by outdoor elements. They are also made to withstand high pressure.

More often than not, luxury car shipping is done via air freight or by boat when being shipped internationally, as many people do not move their high-end vehicles domestically.

Air freight shipping

You can ship your luxury vehicle by air internationally or domestically, and your automobile will end up at its final destination much quicker than shipping it by ocean. For very timely and specific shipping needs, you may even be able to ship your vehicle by charter plane instead of potentially having your vehicle delayed in transit for various reasons. While this option can cost thousands of dollars, it is an option that provides a very exclusive and speedy experience, ensuring your exotic vehicle will reach your destination unscathed.

Ocean freight shipping

This method is used for shipping most vehicles overseas, and generally takes place in two methods: a roll on/roll off service, or container service. The roll on/roll off service is when your car is driven or rolled onto the ship, then securely fastened within a containment desk. The container service, however, offers added protection by putting your automobile inside an enclosed container, then rolling the container onto the ship before leaving.

You can read more about overseas auto transport to get more details.

Preparing your vehicle for shipping

Unfortunately, you won't be able to simply pass the keys over to your freight company and say "see you later" when shipping your vehicle. There are a number of important steps you will need to take prior to your vehicle being transported.

  • Your car must be completely empty. This means any personal belongings or non-factory equipment must be removed prior to shipping. Remove all items from any consoles or glove boxes.
  • If there's any loose item found in the car like the antenna, remove it.
  • Wash your vehicle to allow for an accurate inspection of any preexisting damage.
  • If you are using a roll on/roll off service, your vehicle has to be in running condition, and you need to give a set of keys to the?auto transport?service. Make sure you have an extra set of keys for yourself as well.
  • Generally, your car must not have more than ¼ to ½ tank of gas in it.
  • If you are shipping your vehicle overseas, customs requires you to have 3 notarized copies of the vehicle title. If there are any liens on the vehicle, a notarized letter from the lien holder is needed to authorize the exported vehicle. All aforementioned documents must be present at the port the vehicle will be leaving from.
  • Record any and all damage already existing on your vehicle prior to scheduling your shipment (if any).
  • It is a good idea to perform any regularly scheduled maintenance on your car before transporting it-this includes topping off fluids, checking brake lines, ensuring a fully charged battery, etc.
  • Turn off any anti-theft system installed in your vehicle.
  • Go over your shipping company's policies to make sure you are being compliant with the company.

Other tips

  • Most car shipping companies have high-tech GPS tracking devices so they can keep you informed about your vehicle's location at any time.
  • Your car insurance does NOT cover your vehicle while being shipped. Read more about auto transport insurance and explore the options. Be sure to ask your potential auto transport company about different coverage options as well.
  • Make sure your potential car shipping company is insured and registered with FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and also with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • It usually takes about two or three weeks for your vehicle to arrive at an overseas destination- make sure you plan your move accordingly. Some companies may expedite your shipment for an additional fee.
  • Make sure you know what questions to ask your car shipper while getting your estimate - this will help you get the most accurate information and estimate possible.

Shipping cost

The cost to ship your car is based on the size of your vehicle, the value and how far it will be shipped. If you need to compare auto transport quotes, start here at by filling out a free quote form.

For domestic shipments, you should expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $2,000 to ship your luxury vehicle with door-to-door service. To transport an Alfa Romeo from New Jersey to Miami, for example, would cost approximately $900 in an enclosed container. Shipping a Bentley from San Diego to Miami would cost approximately $1,700.

Luxury car shipping by air will cost considerably more and can range from $15,000 to $18,000 depending on the distance. Many cars being shipped using this method are put in auto shows or are used for racecar events.

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on May 28, 2013

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