Shipping a non-running car

May 4, 2017
Vasilka Atanasova
auctions auto transport

What is a non-running vehicle?

A non-running, or inoperable vehicle, is a term used in the auto transport industry for any vehicle that can not be driven on and off the car carrier safely on its own power

You may know already that the primary method of loading and unloading vehicles is driving them on/off the carrier. A vehicle is considered inoperable when it does not start and can not be moved under its own power.

  1. We consider a car inoperable if there is no key and we can not start.
  2. A vehicle that starts but has flat tires is also considered non-running.
  3. A vehicle that starts, has good tires, but no brakes, is also labeled inoperable.

As you can see, the definition of a non-running vehicle is much broader than you might have thought.

A car with a dead battery usually would be considered inoperable as well. However, transporters often carry a set of jumper cables for occasional jump starts. If the car fails to start regardless, or jumper cables are not immediately available, your vehicle will be labeled inoperable, which means the price to ship it goes up.

Before you ship an inoperable car

It often makes sense to fix the car, if possible before shipping it, as this will reduce the cost of transportation.

  • If you don’t have a key to start the car – order a copy.
  • If the only issue is a dead battery, look into replacing it. The cost of a new battery runs between $50 and $200.
  • Flat tires are always better to be fixed or changed; getting a new set of wheels for your car is always good.

Depending on what classifies your vehicle as inoperable it may be cheaper and faster to transport it if you can get in a driving condition. If repair before shipping is not feasible, then you’ll have to go through with shipping a non-running car. Keep in mind that not all carriers carry equipment necessary to transport non-running vehicles.

The price to haul an inoperable vehicle is always higher.

If a car does not start due to mechanical problems – a carrier will use a winch to load it. It doesn’t come standard on transport trucks and can be difficult to operate sometimes. Therefore, the winch must be properly installed and driver trained to use it.

If the car does not start at all and does not roll and steer, hauling it will be even more expensive because then the auto transport company will need a fork lift to load it onto the carrier. When a carrier has to pick up a car from a salvage auction, a forklift is usually available. But an adequate size forklift will also be necessary to unload a vehicle at delivery. Therefore, it’s important you relay the information on the vehicle’s condition to your auto hauler.

So, you see it now – additional equipment, driver skills – it all comes at a price. For successful vehicle transport, it’s essential to have access to the right equipment and knowledgeable people. Also, keep in mind that many companies would not want to ship a non-running vehicle which makes it harder to find a carrier. One more reason for a higher cost.

Cost to ship a non-running car.

We are sure it’s clear to you by now that vehicle’s condition will affect your cost to ship your car due to additional time, labor and equipment. But that’s not the only factor that determines what your total will be. The cost will also depend on the distance your car will travel, pick up and delivery locations, vehicle make and model, type of carrier (open or enclosed), and last but not least – supply and demand fluctuations. We recommend requesting multiple car shipping quotes. It will help you position an average cost to haul your vehicle. Think twice before you settle for the lowest quote.

An unusually low price may well mean a longer waiting period until a hauler is interested in your load. Carriers look to make the most money from every shipment; therefore, higher paying loads usually ship first. If you are in a hurry, think twice before you settle on the lowest quote. Some people also think that by withholding information about a vehicle’s condition will help to keep the car shipping cost down. Wrong. It’s critical for an auto transporter to have the right information on the operability of your vehicle.

Don’t hold back any information. Issues may arise if the driver comes to pick up your vehicle unprepared (without proper equipment). Besides dealing with an upset driver, you may face delays, a dry run fee, and possible order cancellation. You sure wouldn’t want that.

If you search online, look beyond the first page of Google. And don’t get discouraged when you see that there are hundreds of companies out there. Make sure to check the business is licensed with USDOT and FMCSA and has adequate insurance.  Browse our website to learn more about the auto transport process.


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