Transporting Your Car During a Move

A long-distance move may involve the need to transport a vehicle, especially if one member of the family will be driving a moving van. Before you decide whether it’s preferable to hire an auto shipping company or tow your own vehicle behind a truck or moving van, consider the following details.

Tow Dolly or Trailer: Choosing to Transport On Your Own 

Equipment can be purchased or rented to pull a car behind a moving van or behind your own vehicle. A tow dolly attaches to the vehicle you need to transport by securing the front wheels to a platform. Not every forward wheel drive (FWD) or rear wheel drive (RWD) vehicle can be towed with a tow dolly. You’ll want to check the owner’s manual, and know that for a RWD vehicle, you’ll need to disconnect the driveshaft. Also, according to U-Haul, the vehicle you are using to tow will need to have a hitch ball that measures 1 ⅞” or 2″. That specific rental company also requires that the towing vehicle be hard topped, have all lights operational, have mirrors on both sides, have a Class 2 tow hitch, and weigh at least 750 pounds more than the vehicle being pulled behind.

As opposed to a tow dolly, a trailer will keep all four of your towed vehicle’s wheels off the ground. For this option, rental companies will have different requirements for the weight of the truck doing the hauling and weight-carrying rating carried by the towing system. When towing a vehicle during a move, you’ll need to plan to drive more slowly than usual, with a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour.

Other safety considerations to keep in mind before choosing to tow your own vehicle include making sure the tires on both cars are properly inflated, the tire straps being used on the tow dolly are the right size for your vehicle, and you have access to level ground for loading the vehicle. You’ll also want to touch base with your insurance provider, as policy terms ultimately determine whether or not a trailer or items being towed would be covered in the event of an accident. Typically, if you own the tow dolly or trailer, your car insurance policy will include liability coverage, but it may need to be listed specifically in the policy paperwork. Some insurance policies will only provide coverage if the vehicle doing the pulling is owned by you. At times, though, the tow dolly or trailer itself needs comprehensive or collision coverage. A rental, however, will likely not be covered by your personal insurance policy. You’ll want to check with the rental company and make sure you understand any insurance offered on-site. 

Using an Auto Shipping Company

The value of paying a shipping company to move your car across the country is that you won’t have to worry about the difficulty or risk associated with towing your own vehicle. The peace of mind, however, will come at a cost. reported in 2019 that you can expect to spend between $600-$1,000 to ship a four-door sedan and $800-$1100 for a van, pick-up truck, or SUV. Other companies’ estimates suggest it could get as expensive as $2,000. If you ship your vehicle with a shipping company using an open carrier, keep in mind you may have to wait on the receiving end. These carriers make multiple stops because they are transporting so many vehicles at a time. Your car will also be exposed to dust and weather, but for most it’s worth the risk because an enclosed carrier costs significantly more. Summer prices will also be higher than winter because demand for moves during those months is so high. Keep in mind that you’re also handing over responsibility for an expensive item to an outside party, so take photos of your car to document existing conditions and existing damage before delivering it for transport. Also note that you will not be allowed to ship your vehicle with personal belongings stored inside. The service is for delivery of your vehicle, not also boxes and items that need to be moved.

When selecting a carrier, make sure the company is licensed and insured specifically for interstate moves. You’ll also want to check for any complaints that may have been filed against the company with the Better Business Bureau. If your car is a classic or luxury model, or simply especially expensive, you may decide that the transport company’s insurance isn’t enough. Speak with your personal insurance provider to see if your current plan will cover long-distance shipping or if it’s possible to add to your policy during the time of your move.