A classic car is a companion unlike any other. Beautiful, unique, and likely the result of countless hours of hard work, it’s pretty much a member of the family — it just happens to live in the garage. Every once in a while, however, your classic car deserves to get out and show its stuff to the rest of the world. That’s what car shows, parades, and meet-ups are for. While some of these events happen in your own backyard, some of them happen in different states. Getting your classic car to these events requires interstate travel, something that’s risky (if not altogether impossible) for many classics. The solution? Shipping.
Car shipping is the process in which one vehicle is moved by another, larger vehicle. It can be accomplished by either booking scheduled transport with a car shipping company, or even by towing your classic from point A to point B yourself. In this guide, we’ll focus on the former — though we’ll leave a few notes for those who want to give the DIY route a try. Read on for everything you need to know about properly shipping your classic car, and check out our highly rated car shipping service here at Direct Express Auto Transport.
How to Choose the Right Car Shipping Company
Depending on where you’re shipping your car from (and where you’re shipping it to), you’ll have anywhere from a handful to a trunkful of car shipping companies to choose from. It’s important to do your research to ensure that you get the best option for your vehicle, your timetable, and your budget. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Contact companies directly. To get a good idea of the quality of service offered by a given company, it’s important to reach out. Start by exploring companies’ websites to see what kind of shipping services they offer. You want to make sure they ship to and from your departure and destination cities. If you’re shipping a classic car, you also want to make sure they offer covered shipping trailers. Covered transport will protect your car and keep it clean during the drive. Once you have this information, it’s time to get quotes to see which car shipping companies fall within your price range. Finally, if you have any questions, we advise emailing or calling to talk directly to their customer service team. Good customer service is often an indication of good shipping — and bad customer service often comes hand in hand with slipshod shipping practices.
- Read reviews. Reading reviews from real customers will give you the best idea as to whether any car shipping company is worth its weight in automobiles. Trustpilot is a great place to start. There, you’ll find verified reviews from customers who have used a given shipping service in the past.
- Figure out whether you’re dealing with a broker or a carrier. There are two types of car shipping services: brokers and carriers. Brokers find you a trucking company to ship your car. They can find you the best price among companies. And more importantly, car transport brokers can actually find you a carrier making your run. Carriers are companies with their own fleets, but finding one that will have the shipping times, routes, and covered trailer options you may need for your classic car might be like finding a needle in a haystack. It is far less stressful hiring a broker to find the right carrier for you.
Preparing Your Classic Car for Shipping
Whether you are shipping your classic car with a car shipping company or transporting it yourself, there are several steps you should take to ensure that the ride goes as smoothly as possible. Keep your car in great condition and save yourself the headache with these preparation tips.
- Clean your car. It might seem strange to clean your car right before it enters a trailer or cruises exposed on the open road. However, cleaning your car will make it easier to identify any imperfections before it’s shipped. That way, when it arrives at its new destination and you clean it again, you can determine if there are any new damages.
- Remove all items from your car. You don’t want to lose anything, and you certainly don’t want to miss any essentials while your classic car is in transit. Take all items out of your car before shipping it to give yourself peace of mind and to improve gas mileage for the trip ahead.
- Give your driver written instructions. If you’re not the one towing your car, it’s a good idea to provide some written instructions to the truck driver responsible for it. After all, this driver will need to load and unload your car from the trailer—which can be tricky with classic cars that don’t drive like newer models. If there is anything strange and essential to the operation of your classic car, write it down and mention it to the truck driver.
- Charge your battery and leave your tank quarter full. If your car does not run at any point on the car shipping journey, you may find yourself incurring a few extra fees from the car shipping company. To avoid this, and to save yourself from making any unnecessary pit stops, be sure to charge your battery and leave your tank quarter full before shipping your car.
- Check your antifreeze level. If your classic car is going to be traveling through freezing temperatures, it will need antifreeze. This will keep your engine block from cracking in the cold, and it will keep you from going crazy just before the car show.
Other Factors to Consider When Shipping Your Classic Car
We’ve covered how to book the right car shipping company, and we’ve covered how to prepare your classic car for the journey ahead. In this final section, we’ll a cover a few miscellaneous essentials that are important to address before shipping your classic car once and for all.
- Make sure that the proper equipment is being used. When you drop your classic car off for shipping—or when you are preparing to load it into your very own trailer—it’s important to make sure that the proper equipment is being used at all times. Most important are nylon straps and/or wheel nets, which will prevent damage to the chassis.
- Choose uncovered or covered shipping. Shipping your car in an uncovered trailer may be the most affordable option, but it is also the riskiest. Uncovered transportation will expose your car to dust, debris, and other environmental hazards on the road. Unless your car is already in need of restoration, we recommend going with covered shipping, which will keep your car in an enclosed trailer while it travels. Most classic cars ship Enclosed trailer, especially in route to shows.
- Understand the implications of a car that doesn’t run. Many classic cars are works-in-progress, and many don’t run at all. Shipping non-functioning cars can be difficult for certain shipping companies, some of whom don’t have trailers with winches to properly load non-running cars. Even for those that do, non-running cars require considerably more labor that running cars, so many car shipping companies will charge extra to accommodate these vehicles. To understand where your non-running classic car stands before your book, contact your car shipping company of choice to ask whether they ship (and charge more for) non-running cars.
- Don’t book based on price alone. When it comes to bargain-level pricing in the car shipping industry, most deals are too good to be true. Ultra-low cover prices often come with a catch: excessively long shipping times, extra fees, sub-par equipment, or all of the above are some of the most common. That being said, some companies use intelligent logistics and extensive shipping networks to keep prices competitive, but even these will fall within a reasonable range. Your classic car deserves better than cut-rate—if a price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Most classic car owners would prefer that their vehicle arrive at the show on a Thursday, or at the latest, Friday. Car shipping brokers (and carriers) cannot guarantee delivery dates. It is best then to aim for delivery one week in advance. Yes, that will add to the expense. But imagine the expense and stress of being at a Classic Car Show … without your classic car? And on the flip side, after the car show on Sunday, it may be several days before a carrier is available to transport your vehicle back home. Everybody should have a backup plan.
Learn More and Ship Your Classic Car with Us
Want to learn more about classic car shipping? Our team at Direct Express Auto Transport is here to help. Visit our Blog for extensive car shipping resources, or reach out to speak with a member of our team directly. Ready to book car transport for your classic car? Use our Online Quote Calculator to secure an affordable, 100%-transparent quote in seconds. With a 94% 5-star rating on Trustpilot, plus shipping to all cities in the lower 48, and thousands of happy customers nationwide, we have service you can count on backed by results you can trust. Choose one of our covered shipping options to keep your classic car in immaculate condition, and ship with our team here at Direct Express Auto Transport today!