Tips for Shipping Non-Running Vehicles

Many companies could not provide auto-transport service to non-running vehicles due to the frequent requirement of specialized equipment involved in providing such a service.

Equipment known as the winch is always a key requirement when trying to load a car that is inoperable into the transport carrier, as transport trucks don’t come with it. This means that the winch is an additional accessory.

Whenever you see phrases like “non-up” or “in-op” while researching how to move your non-running car, they all refer to vehicles that cannot move or start independently. Not minding the carrier option you chose, you will have to drive the vehicles to be shipped onto and off of the carrier. This does not apply to an inoperable or non-running vehicle, as you will instead have to load it by devising another means.

A winch is usually used to carry out this task, and it will be connected to the vehicle and raised slowly until the vehicle reaches the desired level before it is then secured. This is one of the reasons it is a special service rendered by some specific car shipping companies and not all. This post aims to discuss all you need to know to transport a non-running car.

Tips for Shipping Non-Running Vehicles

In this article

First and foremost, how can you identify a non-running vehicle?

Identifying a Non-Running Car

The word “non-running” car is self-explanatory. A vehicle that is not safe to drive or that does not run is known as a non-running vehicle. To transport such vehicles, there is a need to hire auto shipping services.

Most vehicles become inoperable as a result of an accident such as a collision, leading to mechanical failure. Other cases could be due to the beauty restoration process currently ongoing on an exotic car.

A vehicle will be considered non-running if it is not safe to drive, or there are issues while driving it. This implies that a car might startup but still be seen as inoperable based on an auto shipping company.

It is referred to as non-running if loading it onto a container, truck or ship is not possible. Non-running vehicles in most cases are exotic cars that are currently undergoing a restoration process or that have just been bought from a dealer/seller in another part of the country.

It is, however, recommended that you ship an inoperable vehicle with an enclosed transport option if the vehicle is highly valuable.

Below are some of the conditions referred to as a non-running car:

  • No key: Transmission of a vehicle being shipped with no keys should be set to neutral while the wheel is pointing straight. Because there are no keys, you will be required to hire a tow truck to load and unload the vehicle at the pickup and drop-off locations respectively.
  • Mechanical issue: The vehicle is considered non-running if the ignition doesn’t work all through the transport. A forklift or a roll-back tow should be used to load a nun-running car. A forklift is always present at the location where an auction is going on, as it will be used to load the car and will also be required for unloading when the vehicle reaches its destination.
  • Damage collision: A winch is generally the only option to load and unload a non-running car involved in a collision.

Shipping Non-Running Vehicle

The lack of winch in most carriers is a major difficulty being faced when transporting non-running vehicles. This is why it is important to inform your auto transport agent that you are having them transport a non-running car when filling a form online and during any interaction so they can be aware.

Avoid playing a gamble with the auto transport company by trying to disguise your non-running car as an operable vehicle because of the cost incurred on it; this may cause the company to deploy a carrier that has no winch to your location.

The cost of transporting a non-running car is just slightly different from the cost of shipping a running vehicle; so, why playing prank?

On getting to your location and they found out that your car is inoperable, they will not transport it, as they come without a winch, meaning that you made them wasted a trip, and this may cause your order to be canceled, as well as being charged an extra fee for inconveniences, and some drivers may even get upset about it. It is therefore expected of you to inform them of the running status of your vehicle to avoid an unnecessary issue.

Transportation of non-running car is as a result of the following:

  • Damaged interstate
  • In a major accident
  • Written-off vehicles
  • Parts cars
  • Broken cars

Method of Shipping a Non-Running Car

The steps involved in requesting car shipping service for both running and non-running cars are similar. There is, however, a further process that must be followed to ensure a smooth transition of your car.

You must ensure that your non-running vehicle is shipped by a reputable company, and to achieve this, follow the below processes:

Conduct your Research

Making sure you are being offered the best deal is so important regardless of the running status of the car you are shipping. This will require you to do some digging to hire the perfect auto transporter.

Among the things you should be looking for is the availability of the required service, affordability, and excellent customer service.

Contact Company

Making sure the auto transport company you just find is offering service for non-running vehicles. To do this, you will have to contact one of the company’s representatives because not all auto transport companies have the necessary equipment and the will power to deliver such service.

Compare Pricing

You will be issued an online quote form by most auto transport companies. A free quote will be sent to you once you fill in the required information about your vehicle.

There is an indication on most quote forms that allow you to choose the running status of your vehicle. During interaction with the representative, you can ask questions about the shipping cost.

How to Ship a Car that isn’t running

There are just a few different steps to follow when shipping a non-running car, although it is not that far from the process involved in shipping a running car. The steps will be discussed in this part.

To get the best quote for the shipping, it is always a nice idea to contact at least 3 to 5 auto companies for quotes so you can compare their services, customer services, and prices.

Preparing your Car for Transport

To get your non-running vehicle prepare for departure and to also reduce transport costs, there are few tips for you:

  • To avoid an element of surprise, get rid of every item in the vehicles. Doing this will save you from throwing things you might still need at rush-hour.
  • Clear out the gas tank. There is no need for fuel in a fuel tank of the vehicle to be shipped; it will just add to the weight, thereby increasing the transport cost.
  • Make sure you remove any accessories that are not essential, such as trim and spoilers. Reducing the weight of the car will increase transport affordability.

Choosing Shipping Method to Transport your Non-Running Car

Auto-shipping companies employ another means to load the non-running vehicle, as it cannot be driven onto the carrier.

The carrier option you chose for shipping your inoperable vehicle will determine what method to be used. The two major vehicle carrier options include:

  • Open Auto Transport: A winch will be used to load the car onto an open carrier. Winches can be hand-cranked or manual. A chain that is attached to the carrier will be used to pull up the car. Kindly note that the car will be exposed to the elements such as hail, weather conditions, and poor roads.
  • Enclosed Auto Transport: A liftgate will be used to load your vehicle onto an enclosed carrier if this option is what you choose. These liftgates will restrict the movement of the vehicle. Using them for low clearance cars is so much ideal, as damages are being prevented. The vehicle is being protected from all forms of elements, which include weather, hail, and poor roads.

Can you fix it first?

Consider fixing the car so you can save on money and future stress. For instance, if a damaged battery is the reason the car is not running, then, purchase a brand new one. You won’t be spending up to $70. The bottom line is you should be handling petty maintenance or repair tasks like this.

The reason behind the inoperable status of most cars is just a simple thing a car owners can handle which won’t incur many costs compared to what they will be charged for transporting it with the condition.

Before shipping your vehicle, be sure to identify why it is not running, as some may be beyond your power.

Factors that Determine the Cost of Shipping Non-Running Car

The cost of shipping a car is a major concern for those shipping it. The car model, the distance, carrier option, and the route are the variables involved in determining the cost. You should, however, not be worried about the cost.

The extra charge incurred on shipping non-running vehicles is just to make up for the professionalism the loaders or drivers applied to load and unload your car; hence, it worth it. You will be required to pay more in most cases.

The cost will be between an extra of $150 –  $200. Consider shipping with another company if the price quoted for you is beyond that. You can as well negotiate with them.

The higher price incurred is as a result of the inconveniences it gives the driver and the delay involved in loading and unloading by the carriers. This is the reason it is important to make efforts to fix your car so it can run again if possible.

Factors affecting the Price of Vehicle Shipping Estimates

When it comes to car shipping, the cost is the major concern for most people. Non-running cars are also included in this. Sometimes, you may wonder how the car transport rate issued to you by an auto company was determined.

The basic cost of transporting a car is between the range of $0.50$1 per mile, with considerations on the distance of the journey and the type of service you choose.

Below are the factors as discussed in detail:

1. Type of Vehicle:

Moving a general 2 or 4 door car will cost less compared to shipping a bus, RV, Van, or boat. This is due to the difference in the weight of the vehicles. The weight of the vehicle to be shipped is a major factor to be considered, especially, when the shipping distance is far.

Transporting motorcycles will only cost around 50 cents/mile. For instance, it will cost around $300 to ship a motorcycle between Columbus, OH, and Philadelphia, PA which is approximately 470 miles, while it will cost about $450 for a different type of car on the same distance. It would cost more shipping an RV due to its size and weight.

2. Distance & Location:

The other two major factors that determine the cost incurred on shipping a car are probably location and distance. You will get to see how impactful mileage is if you are paying an auto company to transport a vehicle from one state to another or region to another.

Standard shipping from Seattle, WA to New York City, which is about 3,000 miles will cost beyond $2,000. Transporting a car from San Diego, California to Jacksonville, Florida which is slightly above 2,000 miles could cost you $2,000 or below that.

3. Shipping Routes:

Transporting a vehicle through major routes between United States metropolises will be cheaper than transporting it between smaller cities and suburbs.

It is possible to pay just $700 for transporting a vehicle from New York and Florida despite the distance which is above 1,000 miles. This is because the route is one of the major transport routes on the eastern region between northeast and southeast.

4. Delivery Method:

Open carriers and enclosed carriers are the major vehicle shipping methods. Many vehicles are loaded onto a trailer in an open-air auto carrier option.

The vehicle is protected from any damage while maintaining privacy in an enclosed shipping option. The enclosed shipping option is a premium option that is perfect for shipping highly-priced, valuable and luxury vehicles.

5. Season:

The season at which a car is being shipped is often overlooked by many people; meanwhile, the price is also being given based on the season of the year the car is to be shipped.

During spring and summer, the car shipping business is at its peak, as most people move from their current location to a new place either for work, school, or vacation.

This implies that there will be an increase in demand for trucks, and an increase in demand means the shipping companies will give higher rates, as they have to transport vehicles through busy routes.

Note: The typical difference in the cost of shipping running and the non-running car is between the range of $150 – $200.

Example of Non Running Vehicles that may Ship

There is no limit to the type of non-running vehicles that you can ship. Regardless of the size of a non-running vehicle, car shipping companies know the best way to transport them effectively. This may include SUVs, cars, trucks, and other models. Even large-inoperable vehicles are welcome as well.

All that is needed is the height, length, weight, and width of the car. There is a special vehicle shipping page on each company website where you can get more information on shipping large vehicles.

There is no need to worry about what you can do to cover the identity of your newly restored inoperable vehicle; it can also be shipped enclosed. With the help of the liftgates and winches present in carriers, they will conveniently ship inoperable vehicles in an enclosed carrier.

Is the Condition Report necessary for Damaged Cars? Will There Be Inspection?

A condition report will be made by logistics base on request if a vehicle is purchased from another state and it has not been seen physically by a transporter. It may be hard to inspect vehicles with serious damage as a result of a collision.

You may not find removal items and accessories in the cars when picking them up at relief auctions. Be sure to give the company a prior notice to inspect certain vehicle items to quicken the process. Adequate planning and special equipment are required when shipping a non-running vehicle.

Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth transition of your vehicle:

Hire the right company:

This is being repeated. The auto transport company must have full knowledge of the loading and unloading of your non-running vehicle.

A company with an experienced and professional driver should be hired to handle the task. Experienced do hire only the best. Transferring your vehicle to its destination safely and promptly to every reliable car shipping company.

Explain the car’s condition:

To ensure your car is being transported properly as expected, you have to tell the auto company about its running condition.

Inform them that the car is not running during booking. With this, they will be fully prepared with the necessary equipment before they come for pickup. This will also eliminate the chance of being charged an extra fee.

Identify the car’s fault:

Knowing why your car does not run is also a part of informing them about the running condition. Fixing the problem might be simple. Fixing the car and shipping as a running vehicle will come at a cheaper price than otherwise.

If the problem is just flat tires or a dead battery, you need not worry. You should, however, find out the working and faulty components so you can inform the auto shipping company if it is a wrecked vehicle. Check the brake, the steering, and the rolling status.

Make a reservation ahead of time:

Adequate planning is required when shipping a car, especially a non-running vehicle. Both you and the auto shipping company have to make proper preparations. You may be required to handle some tasks before shipping.

You get the best rate in terms of transport, preferred pickup, and delivery time when you book earlier. Summer is the busiest time for them in the auto transport business, note that.

Get your car ready for shipping:

To make sure your vehicle is ready for loading and shipping; there are things you need to do as well. Securing of the entire loose parts on the car is important. You are to remove all your belongings and personal items from the car, as the company will not bear any loss or damage of items.

Frequently Asked Questions

How early should I book the vehicle transportation service?

It is always advisable to book early if you wish to get your ideal dates. Most companies recommend booking at least a month in advance, especially if you are planning to have your car transported during the busy season (summer).

Those who are planning vehicle transport at the last minute will find it a lot harder to get a suitable pickup date and time. You may have to choose an inconvenient weekday, as it may be the only slot the company has available.

Booking early is also helpful in getting a better price, as most companies charge full price or even higher rates if you are only booking a few days in advance.

How long does a car shipment take?

Most car transportation services take between seven to ten business days for deliveries that extend beyond your state. The further away your destination, the more time it will take for your non-running car to arrive.

It is important to ask the company about their range of delivery dates when you are making the booking. Most vehicle transport services do not promise a specific date, but they will give you a range of dates as the estimated arrival window.

Transporting a non-running car may take slightly more time, as it is a specialized service, compared to transporting regular vehicles.

What if I am busy on the pickup or delivery dates?

It is strongly recommended that you personally oversee the pickup and delivery of your non-running vehicle. Companies understand that you may be unable to get away from work or other commitments, which is why you can accept pickup or delivery through a trusted representative.

Inform the service provider ahead of time, and ensure your friend or family member inspects the car and reads the relevant paperwork before signing over the vehicle to the company.

One of the drawbacks to sending someone in your place is that you have to rely on them to deal with the transportation company’s agent. It is important to talk with the agent as they inspect your vehicle at pickup, and ensure the vehicle is in good condition when it is delivered.

What is a Bill of Lading?

The Bill of Lading is an official document that lists the make, model and condition of the vehicle that is being transported. All the relevant information about your vehicle, pickup address and delivery address should be listed on the Bill of Lading.

Other information includes the contact details of the client and transportation company, along with an estimated arrival window for the vehicle. Both parties must sign Bill of Lading to confirm they accept the details listed on the document.

Can I leave some of my belongings inside the car for transport?

No, it is not recommended that you leave any personal belongings inside the vehicle that you are shipping. Transportation companies recommend that you empty and clean your vehicle before the pickup time.

Leaving personal belongings is an insurance issue. If you were to lose an item, you would not be able to claim compensation, which could result in significant losses on your part.

How can I accurately file an insurance claim for damage to my vehicle during transit?

It is imperative that you take photographs of your vehicle on the pickup date. These photos are proof of the physical condition of your car, and they should match up with the notes made by the transportation company’s representatives.

Then you can compare those photos and their notes to the vehicle’s condition when it is dropped off. If you notice any new scuff marks or dents, you can take photographs of them and send the before and after shots to the insurance company.


Transporting a non-running vehicle is very overwhelming and can as well be confusing and bring a sense of doubt. It may seem farfetched to get it repaired or put it away forever. With reliable car transporter, however, you do not need to be burdened. There are a lot of car shipping companies you can choose from. You can request a free quote by contacting us to get the best assistance on what to do with your non-running truck, car, or other vehicles. Stay tuned for more informative posts on this page!

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