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How to Ship a Car You Bought Online

Updated: March 27, 2023
By: Jonathan Trout
Jonathan Trout
Content Manager
Jonathan is a former product and content manager for Retirement Living. His background spans sales/marketing, finance, and telecommunications. Jonathan’s expertise in consumer wellness and research-backed data stories helped educate seniors on financial planning, retirement, and community resources. Jonathan graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Environmental Sociology.
Content Manager
Edited by: Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
Sr. Content Manager
As Retirement Living’s senior content manager, Jeff oversees the product and publishing of all retirement, investing, and consumer wellness content on the site. His extensive expertise in brand messaging and creating data-driven stories helps position Retirement Living as a top authority for senior content and community resources.
Sr. Content Manager
How to Ship a Car You Bought Online

Buying a car online is simpler and easier than ever before. About 78% of buyers surveyed by Progressive have bought a car online. What’s more, they enjoyed their digital experience much more than in-person buyers. For many, the online car buying experience feels daunting. How do you ship it? And what are the fees associated with the transport? Follow our tips to find the best car shipping method and how you can save on the cost.

Research Car Shipping Costs

The three best ways to research shipping costs include:

  1. Using a Broker: f you would rather not spend your time researching car shipping companies, contact a broker or transport dealer. Transport trucks only move when filled, so a transport broker can quickly locate a car shipping company with an open slot if you want to receive your car faster. Car shipping brokers act like the travel agents of the car shipping world. Just like a travel agent can shop multiple airlines for the best deal, a car shipping broker finds pricing from multiple shipping companies to determine availability in your area. This service usually comes with a fee.

  2. Being Your Own Broker: f you have the time and energy, you can save cash by being your own broker. Contact several car shipping companies and inquire about prices and policies. The cost to ship a vehicle depends on the car’s weight and size. A lightweight, small car will be less expensive to ship than a heavy, larger vehicle.

  3. Finding an Auto Seller That Includes Shipping: Some websites and online auto sellers include shipping in the sale price. For example, eBay Motors has many dealers that allow shoppers to see shipping rates and options before they buy. Although shipping charges are an added cost, the dealer coordinates the transport, saving you time and trouble.

Tips for Shipping a Car You Bought Online

  1. Research Car Shipping Carriers

    Before choosing a car shipping company, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to check the carrier’s insurance records, verify their business licenses, and review any consumer complaints. Hiring a trucking company might save you a few bucks, but most do not specialize in transporting vehicles. When you’ve located a few potential companies, ask for rate quotes.

  2. Open or Enclosed Car Shipping

    Decide if you need open or enclosed shipping. Your choice depends on several factors like the rareness and value of the vehicle. Open shipping is more affordable, but enclosed car shipping offers additional protection from the elements during the trip.

  3. Save Money by Doing Some Driving

    The distance between the car’s location and your final destination will affect overall costs. If you live in the suburbs or a small town, you’ll save money by delivering the car to the nearest larger city and driving it home yourself.

  4. Seasons Affect Car Shipping Prices

    Shipping your online during the offseason when business is slower could help save money. Additionally, retirees who relocate according to the season (i.e., they go south for the winter) regularly ship their cars in March or April and again in September or October. Ask the broker if they can offer any seasonal discounts. Fewer people transport cars in the winter, which means a better rate for you.

  5. Remember Insurance

    Don’t forget to protect your vehicle with insurance before you ship. You can usually purchase this through the shipping company for a fee. If your personal insurance policy covers these scenarios, verify that the coverage is comprehensive, which should cover any damage that may occur during shipping.

  6. Patience Can Equal Savings

    The more flexible you are with ship dates could equate to savings. Priority shipping is more costly. Keep in mind some car shippers take as long as three weeks to deliver your car.

Shipping Your Car Through eBay

Several car shipping companies offer eBay their services if you purchase your car through the site. Sign into your eBay account and search “auto transport.” The results will list several car shipping services across the U.S. Just vet the services carefully. eBay warns criminals like to offer free shipping, claiming they have access to transportation resources through an employer or a military discount. Make sure the seller is a registered eBay Motors Dealer.

Remember, if you’re buying a car through eBay, you’re responsible for picking up your vehicle or hiring a car shipping company. If the seller is a registered eBay Motors Dealer, they may offer free shipping on eBay’s website.

Advantages of Shipping a Car You Bought Online

If you opt to fly to your car and drive it home yourself, prepare for a journey. You’ll need to factor in gas for the drive home, lodging, food, time off work, and more. The advantages of shipping your new purchase include:

  • No taking time from work
  • No airline hassles
  • No long cross-country drives
  • Mmore convenience – your car is shipped straight to your door

When it comes down to it, shipping a car you bought online is a faster way to get behind the wheel of your new ride. Plus, the price of shipping a car a long distance is likely equal to the cost of a plane ticket, gas, food, lodging and time off work if you were to drive with a friend or family member.