Car Shipping

Can I Pack My Car Before Shipping It?


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You are moving a long distance, and you’ve made the decision to ship your car rather than drive it. Great! Now you’re wondering if you can fill your car when you ship. Can you take advantage of that empty space inside your car and simply load up some of your belongings? Can you ship your car and your belongings together?

Here are some things to know as you decide what to do.


The answer to the legality of shipping items inside your car is a little bit muddy. Basically, according to the United States Department of Transportation, carriers must have a license to transport household goods (personal items). Most companies that focus on transporting motor vehicles do not have that license. That said, it’s “technically legal” for you to load some boxes into your trunk, but most companies have their own policies, rules, and restrictions. Check with the company shipping your car for you before you load it up.

Shipping your Car and Belongings Together

Some moving companies (not car shipping companies) will ship cars and household furniture together. In order to do this, however, they must have the right equipment. It tends to be more beneficial if you have a BIG move, rather than a small one. Ultimately, though it seems counter-intuitive, it will end up being more expensive to have a moving company ship your car.

Why? Because cars take up space. Movers can’t pack things on top of cars, although they will use planks to place things over your car. Cars require special equipment and padding in order to move them safely.

A moving company makes more money by loading several moves onto one truck. If they move a car, and lose that option, the higher costs will fall on you.

Most moving companies will recommend you hire a car shipping company for your vehicle. Do your research. Ask questions from reputable companies. Don’t forget to ask about their car stuffing policies as well.

Advantages to Loading your Car

Perhaps the biggest pro to shipping your belongings inside your car is that you can control the packing yourself. You choose the items that go in and how they are placed in the car.

Risks to Packing Your Car

It is important to be aware of the various risks that come with choosing to ship your belongings inside your car. Many car shipping companies allow up to 100 lbs. of items to be shipped in your vehicle. Including those belongings also adds the following risks:

  • The companies will not accept any responsibility if items go missing. The risk of theft is high, especially if your car is being transported in an open carrier. Car shippers make stops, and a car loaded with belongings is a tempting site.
  • Insurance companies will not cover any damage caused to the car because you filled it with your belongings. While some carriers provide smoother rides than others, things shift on the road. It’s a natural part of travel. Think of the warning you get when you fly, “belongings in overhead compartments may shift.” The same is true no matter how well you pack your belongings into a car. The cars themselves are fully insured during transport. The personal items, and any damage they cause, are not.
  • If the Department of Transportation should happen to inspect the transporter, they can seize your belongings. There are strict weight limits that apply to transporting vehicles, or anything. If they are overweight, the transport driver can be fined, and guess who will inherit that cost? You’ve got it, your own wallet.
  • The added weight will also include added costs. While companies may allow 100 lbs. at no additional cost, that can differ depending on the carrier. In addition, any weight over that will definitely guarantee a higher cost to you for shipping your car.

Best Practices

If you decide that the risks are worth it, and stuff some of your belongings into your car, here are some suggestions for how to pack properly in order to have a successful transport of goods:

  • Do not ship expensive items in your car.
  • Follow the “Below the Window” rule, and do not allow your belongings to be seen above the window. This helps keep your things safe from theft, and also guarantees that the transporters have a clear view when they load and unload your car.
  • The more you ship, the more your costs will go up—be aware of weight.
  • Check with your car shipping company before you put things in your trunk, many don’t allow it.
  • Never load anything into the driver’s seat. Cars are often driven in and off the truck, and that’s impossible if the seat is filled with your belongings.

Making Knowledgeable Decisions

Moving long distances, shipping all of your belongings including your car, requires careful planning and research. While you may think it makes sense to take advantage of the space inside your vehicle, this decision does not come without risks.

Before you do anything, seek advice from a company like ShipLux. Explore our services, and get a car-shipping quote.

Armed with facts and knowledge, you can make the right choice for both your finances, and the safety of your belongings.


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