How To Prepare Your Car For Military Shipping

BlogWith 0 comments

‘How to prepare your car for military shipping’ is a topic that every service member should familiarize themselves with. Relocating due to military orders is a common occurrence for members of the armed forces, and it often involves the daunting task of transporting their vehicles to new posts, sometimes even overseas.

While the military car shipping process can seem like a stressful, complicated task, there are ways to simplify it and make it less daunting for military families and active duty service members. 

By being proactive, understanding the shipping process, and preparing your vehicle appropriately for transportation, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

This blog post will provide a comprehensive guide on preparing your privately owned vehicle for military car shipping services, including useful tips and insights from one of the industry leaders, Military Car Shipping.

Understanding Different Modes of Military Car Transport

how to prepare your car for military shipping, military pcs vehicle shipping

Transporting your vehicle for military purposes often involves decisions about the method of shipment. Each transport mode has unique benefits and considerations, largely influenced by factors such as your origin and destination points, your timeline, and your budget.

This section aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the common modes of military car transport, so you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs.

Road Transportation

Road transportation, often handled by a military auto transport company, is the most straightforward and commonly used method of vehicle transport for a military PCS. This typically involves your vehicle being loaded onto a car carrier or towed, then driven to the desired location. Let’s delve deeper into what road transport entails:

  • Accessibility: Road transport allows for door-to-door service, meaning your vehicle can be picked up from your current location and delivered directly to your new residence. This is particularly beneficial if your relocation area is difficult to reach by other modes of transport.
  • Flexibility: Road transport offers a significant level of flexibility. You can schedule your vehicle’s pickup and delivery times in a manner that best suits your personal timeline.
  • Tracking: Most road transport services provide tracking options. This means you can monitor the progress of your car’s journey, providing peace of mind throughout the process.
  • Costs: While road transport can sometimes be more expensive due to fuel and labor costs, discounts for military personnel can significantly reduce these expenses.

Rail Transportation

Another method for long-distance vehicle transportation is via rail. Trains can carry multiple vehicles at a time, making it a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.

  • Efficiency: Rail transport can accommodate a large number of vehicles simultaneously, making it an efficient method for mass vehicle transportation.
  • Eco-friendliness: Compared to road transport, trains emit significantly less CO2, making this method more environmentally friendly.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Rail transport can be less expensive than road transport for long-distance shipments, primarily when transporting multiple vehicles.
  • Limitations: However, it’s important to note that rail transport has geographical limitations and may not offer door-to-door service. It typically requires you to drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated railway stations.

Sea Transportation

When you’re moving overseas, sea transportation becomes a viable option. Your privately owned vehicle is placed inside a container and loaded onto a military ship for transportation to the destination vehicle processing center.

  • Global Reach: Sea transport involving a military ship is often the only option for international relocations when service members receive PCS orders to a new duty station overseas. It allows you to ship your vehicle to almost any location worldwide.
  • Safety and Protection: Your vehicle is stored inside a sealed container, providing excellent protection from the elements and reducing the risk of damage during transit.
  • Cost and Time Considerations: Sea transport can be a slower process and may incur higher costs due to port charges and customs duties. However, it’s a necessary expense for overseas military moves.

Air Transportation

The fastest yet most expensive method of shipping a car overseas or between duty stations is by air, typically utilized by the Air Force or other rapid deployment units. This is typically reserved for high-value vehicles or expedited delivery needs.

  • Speed: Air transport offers the quickest delivery times, making it an ideal choice if speed is your primary concern.
  • Security: Your vehicle is handled with utmost care and protection. It is securely strapped and stored in the cargo section of the plane.
  • Price: Despite its advantages, air transport’s cost can be significantly higher than other methods. This method is generally used for high-end, luxury, or classic vehicles that require special handling.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Military Shipping a Car to Hawaii

Preparing Your Vehicle for Military Shipping

military car shipping services, one privately owned vehicle

The process of preparing your vehicle for military shipping is vital to ensuring its safe and secure delivery. It involves a series of important steps to be completed before the car is loaded onto the carrier. These measures not only ensure compliance with Department of Transportation regulations but also safeguard against potential damage during transit.

1. Remove Personal Items and Aftermarket Parts From Your Vehicle

The first step to preparing your car for shipment involves a thorough clear-out. The Department of Transportation stipulates that auto shippers cannot carry anything categorized as “Household Goods” when moving from state to state. This makes it essential for you to remove personal items from your vehicle before shipment.

Similarly, aftermarket additions like DVD players, GPS navigation systems, and external speaker units should be detached and transported separately to prevent damage or theft during transit.

Remember to clear your trunk, too, as any excess weight could lead to additional charges starting at $250 for overweight cargo. Also, many auto shipping companies do not insure personal items left inside the vehicle, so it’s wise to clear out your car completely.

2. Wash Your Vehicle and Document Its Condition

Before your vehicle is picked up for shipping, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned. This not only keeps the transport carrier clean but also makes it easier to identify any pre-existing damage like dents, scratches, or paint chips.

Once your vehicle is spick and span, take a walk around it to note any existing damage. While professional auto transport is a safe method, minor dents or scratches can occur, and it’s important to differentiate between pre-existing and new damage. Documenting these with photographs provides tangible evidence of your vehicle’s condition before it’s loaded for transport.

3. Maintain a Quarter-tank of Gas

While your car won’t be driven extensively during the shipping process, it will need to be moved during the loading and unloading phases. Thus, keeping about a quarter-tank of gas in your vehicle is advised. However, a full tank of gas adds unnecessary weight to your vehicle and can complicate the transport process, so aim to maintain just enough fuel for loading and unloading.

4. Handle Maintenance and Check Car Condition

To ensure that your vehicle is in its best shape before transport, consider scheduling a maintenance check-up. If your car is inoperable, this should be communicated to the transporter ahead of time so they can prepare the appropriate equipment. If your car is operable, a routine check can help identify any issues that might prevent it from starting, steering, or stopping when needed.

Key things to check before your car is loaded for transport include:

  • Detecting fluid leaks
  • Filling fluids to the appropriate level
  • Checking the battery charge
  • Ensuring tires are properly inflated
  • Recording the mileage just before the car is loaded for transport

5. Get Duplicate Keys Made

While the transport driver will need a key to unlock the car doors and start the vehicle, having a spare key is advisable. This serves as a backup in case the original key is misplaced during transport.

6. Understand the Bill of Lading

military members, car shipping companies

Upon pickup, the transport driver should present you with a Bill of Lading. This document records any existing damage on your vehicle and should be thoroughly reviewed and signed by both parties.

Once your vehicle is delivered, a second Bill of Lading should be provided, allowing you to check for any new damage. This document serves as legal proof should any disputes arise regarding your vehicle’s condition after shipment.

7. Disable Your Alarm

If your vehicle is equipped with an alarm, ensure it is disabled before shipment. In case the alarm is triggered during transit, the driver should be able to disarm it. However, if there are complications with your alarm system, it’s essential to inform the shipping provider beforehand.

8. Confirm Contact Information

Stay connected throughout the shipping process by confirming the driver’s contact information. Most drivers, depending on the company, should have a cell phone for communication during transit.

Alternatively, the shipping company should provide a method of tracking your shipment, either through GPS tracking or email correspondence with the driver. This ensures that in case of any delays, you’ll be updated promptly about your vehicle’s status.

By following these preparation steps, you can ensure a smooth and successful vehicle shipping process. At Military Car Shipping, we are dedicated to guiding you through each step to ensure a stress-free experience.

Costs and Discounts in Military Car Shipping

transportation office, does the military ship, vehicle inspection form

Navigating the costs and discounts associated with military car shipping can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the factors that influence pricing and being aware of potential discounts, you can secure a fair deal that accommodates your budget and needs.

An Overview of Costs Involved in Military Car Shipping

The costs associated with military car shipping can vary based on several factors. These include the distance of the transport, the size and weight of the vehicle, the season, and the type of transport service chosen (open or enclosed carrier). It’s essential to bear these in mind when budgeting for the shipment of your vehicle.

  • Distance: Generally, the farther the vehicle needs to be shipped, the higher the cost. This is due to increased fuel usage, more wear and tear on the transport vehicle, and potentially more time required by the driver.
  • Size and weight: Larger and heavier vehicles usually cost more to ship because they take up more space on the carrier and add weight, thus affecting fuel consumption.
  • Season: The cost can also fluctuate depending on the season. Typically, summer months may see a spike in prices due to higher demand.
  • Type of service: Choosing between an open carrier or an enclosed carrier can also influence the cost. Enclosed carriers, which offer more protection, are typically more expensive than open carriers.

Military Car Shipping’s Pricing and Transparency

At Military Car Shipping, we prioritize transparency and fair pricing. We provide comprehensive quotations that break down all costs involved in the shipping process so you are fully aware of where your money is going.

  • Quotation: Our quotations detail the cost of the transport, insurance, and any additional services you might require. They also take into account any discounts that may apply to your shipment.
  • Breakdown: In the quotation, you’ll find a breakdown of costs, including transport, fuel surcharges, insurance coverage, and any potential additional costs, such as expedited service if needed.
  • Transparency: We believe in maintaining complete transparency with our clients. Should there be any changes in the cost due to unforeseen circumstances, we will promptly communicate this to you and provide a revised quotation.

Discounts and Special Services for Military Personnel

As a token of our appreciation for the services provided by our military personnel, Military Car Shipping offers a range of special discounts and services.

  • Military discounts: Active-duty military personnel are eligible for exclusive discounts on our car shipping services. These discounts are our way of saying thank you for your service.
  • Seasonal promotions: From time to time, we run promotional offers that can lead to significant savings. These promotions often coincide with the holiday season or other major events.
  • Special services: We offer various special services tailored to the unique needs of military personnel, such as PCS moves, emergency transport, and storage options.

With Military Car Shipping, you can rest assured that you’re getting a fair, transparent, and competitive deal. We aim to make the process of shipping your car as straightforward and stress-free as possible while providing excellent value for your money.

Read More: Military Movement Overseas? – Here Are Some Mistakes to Learn From !!

Why Choose Excellent Services of Military Car Shipping?

At Military Car Shipping, we take pride in offering exceptional, tailor-made services to our military personnel, accommodating their unique requirements, and providing reliable solutions. We go above and beyond to ensure a hassle-free experience, ensuring the safety of your vehicle as our priority.

Personalized Services for Every Need

Our range of services caters to the diverse needs of our clients, providing flexible solutions that can be adjusted according to individual requirements.

  • Door-to-door Service: Our door-to-door service ensures maximum convenience, collecting your vehicle from your home and delivering it right to your new location. This way, you don’t need to worry about coordinating vehicle drop-off or pick-up at transport terminals.
  • Terminal-to-terminal Service: For those who prefer a cost-effective alternative, we offer terminal-to-terminal services where you can drop off and pick up your vehicle at one of our numerous, secure nationwide terminals.
  • Expedited Shipping: If you’re pressed for time, our expedited shipping service ensures that your vehicle gets to its destination as quickly as possible. This service comes with an extra cost but provides fast, efficient delivery.

High Quality, Reliable Transport Options

We provide multiple transport options to suit different needs and budgets, ensuring the safety of your vehicle throughout the journey.

  • Open Carrier Shipping: Our most popular and cost-effective option, open carrier shipping, provides safe and reliable transport for your vehicle. While your car will be exposed to the elements, rest assured that this is the same method used by car manufacturers to deliver brand-new cars to dealerships.
  • Enclosed Carrier Shipping: For those seeking additional protection, especially for luxury, classic, or custom vehicles, enclosed carrier shipping is the perfect choice. Your car is transported in a fully enclosed trailer, protecting it from weather conditions and road debris.

Dependable and Experienced Team

Our highly trained team has extensive experience in handling all aspects of military car shipping.

  • Drivers: All our drivers are thoroughly vetted and have a proven track record of safe and reliable delivery. They’re equipped with the skills to handle various vehicle types, ensuring your vehicle is in good hands.
  • Customer Service: Our dedicated customer service team is here to guide you through the process, answer any questions, and provide support whenever needed. They’ll keep you updated on your vehicle’s status, ensuring a transparent and efficient process.

Commitment to Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do at Military Car Shipping. We work hard to provide a seamless, stress-free experience, from obtaining a quote to delivering your vehicle to its destination.

  • Transparent Pricing: We provide detailed, all-inclusive quotes without any hidden charges. Any changes in cost due to unexpected circumstances are communicated upfront, ensuring you’re never caught off guard.
  • Insurance: Your vehicle’s safety is our top priority. All vehicles shipped with us are insured, giving you peace of mind knowing that in the unlikely event of damage, you’re covered.
  • Regular Updates: We provide regular updates throughout the shipping process, ensuring you always know the status of your shipment.

At Military Car Shipping, our commitment is to provide the exceptional service and care that our military personnel deserve. Trust us to handle your vehicle with the utmost respect and professionalism, providing a smooth, efficient service that meets your unique needs.


Shipping your vehicle can seem daunting, especially when you’re in the military and often on the move. However, by preparing your car appropriately, understanding the costs involved, and choosing a reputable company like Military Car Shipping, the process can be smooth and worry-free.

We understand the unique needs and challenges faced by military personnel and are here to make your car shipping experience as hassle-free as possible. Whether it’s a domestic or international move, trust us to take care of your vehicle as if it were our own.

Reach out to us today for a personalized quote, and let us handle the rest.


How far in advance should I schedule my car shipment?

We recommend scheduling your car shipment as soon as you know your move date. Typically, two to three weeks in advance is a good timeframe. However, we understand that military life can be unpredictable, and we are flexible and able to accommodate last-minute shipments when necessary.

What type of documentation is needed to ship my car?

You will need your vehicle registration, proof of ownership, and military ID. If there are any specific requirements based on your destination, we will guide you through the process.

Will my vehicle be insured during transport?

Absolutely, we provide insurance for all vehicles during the shipping process. The insurance covers any damage that might occur during transport, offering you peace of mind.

Can I ship my motorcycle or other recreational vehicles?

Yes, at Military Car Shipping, we have the capability to ship a variety of vehicles, including motorcycles, ATVs, RVs, and even boats. Contact us for more details and a custom quote.

What if I’m unavailable when my car arrives at the delivery location?

We aim to coordinate delivery times with you to ensure that you or a designated representative are available to receive the vehicle. In case you’re unavailable, we provide secure terminal pick-up options for your convenience.