Shipping a Non-Running Car: Can You Do It?

It’s easy enough to ship a running car, but what about a non-running car? Shipping a non-running car may be possible given the right circumstances, transport company, and preparation. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know to secure transport for your non-running car:

What Is the Industry Definition of a Non-Running Car?

While you may think that the definition of a non-running car is completely obvious, that’s not necessarily the case. You see, based on the industry definition, a non-running car can be both a car that doesn’t run at all and a car that doesn’t run effectively or safely. This means that, according to the industry definition, your “running” car might not actually be considered running and is instead a non-running car.

Essentially, a non-running car is much more than a car that won’t start. For example, a car might be able to start but might not be able to move due to extensive collision damage. Another car might not have all four wheels, have faulty brakes, have a dead battery, etc. In all of these scenarios, the car would be considered non-running and would be more challenging to ship as a result.

How Do Transportation Companies Transport Non-Running Cars?

Although shipping a non-running car is more challenging, it’s still possible using two different methods of transport: open auto transport and enclosed auto transport. Let’s explore both of these different methods so that you can choose the right one for your car.

Open Auto Transport

Open auto transport is actually the most common method of auto transport and it involves a trailer that’s open on the sides. These days, most of these trailers are actually double-deckers — allowing them to transport up to ten cars at a time. Since these trailers are open at the sides, they aren’t able to offer much protection to the vehicles on board — leaving them exposed to the elements and road debris.

That being said, this method of auto transport is still quite safe and in most cases, you will just need to give your car a good wash after it arrives. This method of auto transport is also cheaper than the alternative of enclosed auto transport since drivers are able to transport several cars at the same time. As a result, this method of auto transport is ideal for regular non-running cars.

For example, say that your Hyundai Elantra no longer runs but needs to be transported — open transport would be your best bet. Or say that your Honda CRV needs to be transported after a collision — open transport would be fine here as well.

Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed auto transport involves a trailer that’s completely enclosed on all four sides. This method of auto transport offers more safety and security to the vehicle during transport since it’s no longer exposed to adverse weather conditions, dirt, and other road debris. However, this method of auto transport is quite expensive since enclosed trailers aren’t able to fit as many cars.

In fact, some enclosed trailers are designed to only fit a single car. This means that you would be solely responsible for all transport costs instead of effectively splitting them with other vehicles on the trailer. And since this method of transport is so expensive, it’s usually reserved for expensive cars.

For example, say that you have just acquired an antique Chevrolet Corvette that doesn’t quite run yet, you may want to consider using enclosed auto transport to keep it safe and sound throughout its journey. Or say that you have a Jaguar XJ that needs to be taken into the shop and fixed up, you may want to consider using enclosed auto transport for such a valuable car.

Will Transportation Cost More for Non-Running Cars?

Unfortunately, transportation almost always costs more for non-running cars compared to running cars. This is because auto transport drivers need to invest more time and energy into the shipment of non-running cars. If your car doesn’t run, it can’t simply be driven onto the trailer as is done with running cars. Instead, drivers will need to very carefully and creatively load and unload the non-running car onto the trailer.

Depending on any damage present on your non-running car, the driver may also need to drive more cautiously along the way to prevent further damage, lowering their speeds, making them more inefficient, and eventually cutting into their bottom line.

Transportation costs for non-running cars are also higher due to the simple law of supply and demand. The fact of the matter is that most drivers would easily choose to transport a running car over a non-running car. So in order to incentivize drivers to choose your non-running vehicle over other running ones, you often need to pay a premium price.

Which Other Factors Affect Transportation Rates?

Even though the state of your car clearly affects the cost of transportation, there are additional cost-related factors to consider when arranging transport for your non-running car. Specifically, distance, route, type of car, transportation method, and shipment time can affect how much you’re charged for transport.

1. Distance

Aside from the working status of your car, the biggest factor that’s going to affect the cost of your transportation is going to be distance. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Shorter distances mean less time on the road for drivers and lower gas costs. Conversely, longer distances mean multiple days on the road for drivers and expensive gas costs.

Most auto transport companies will charge you to ship a car per mile. However, the rates charged vary depending on the total amount of miles so the more miles driven, the lower your rate will be.

Let’s put some real numbers into the equation. For distances of less than 500 miles, the average cost is $780. For distances between 500 and 1,000 miles, the average cost is $960. For distances between 1,000 and 1,500 miles, the average cost is $1,290. For distances between 1,500 and 2,000 miles, the average cost is $1,530. For distances between 2,000 and 2,500 miles, the average cost is $1,600. And for distances over 2,500 miles, the average cost is $1,590.

Keep in mind that these are just averages for running cars and shipping a non-running car will likely cost you about $100 more depending on the condition of the vehicle.

2. Route

Another factor that is going to affect transportation rates is the route taken by the driver. There are two different types of auto transport services to choose from: door-to-door service and terminal-to-terminal service.

Door-to-door service is the more expensive choice as the driver comes to you based on the pick up and drop off locations you chose. With this service, you’re paying for convenience as you’re able to get the car directly picked up and dropped off from your home or workplace.

Terminal-to-terminal service is the more economical choice as you drive your car to an auto transport terminal. These terminals are usually located in large metropolitan areas. This service is easier for drivers since they can load cars from a single location rather than driving all around to different locations before having to load them one by one. However, this service can be more difficult for customers as they have to arrange transport back from the drop off location and over to the pick up location that may be far or hard to get to.

3. Make and Model

Believe it or not, but the make and model of your car can also affect the overall cost of transport. This mostly relates to the size of the vehicle. For instance, larger cars like trucks, vans, and SUVs of any model are going to be more expensive to transport since they are going to take up more room on the trailer. Alternatively, smaller cars like sedans are going to be less expensive to transport since they are more compact, take up less space, and allow more vehicles to be loaded onto the trailer.

Again, let’s use some real numbers to show you how the model of your car affects the price of transport. The average cost to ship a car is about $1,150 whereas the average cost to ship an SUV is $1,280 and the average cost to ship a truck is about $1,450.

And while you may think that make doesn’t matter, it may if it’s a luxury brand. As we previously discussed, luxury brands often utilize enclosed auto transport to keep them safe and secure throughout the trip. Paying a bit more for enclosed auto transport is worth it to keep more expensive luxury cars safe.

4. Transportation Method

We’ve already discussed open transport and enclosed transport, but it’s still important to show how much these different transportation methods will affect the cost of your transport. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay about 40% more for enclosed transport. The average cost of open transport is about $1,080 and the average cost for enclosed transport is about $1,500. This equates to a difference of $420 or about 40%.

5. Shipment Time

Finally, shipment time is going to affect the cost of your auto transport in a couple of different ways. For starters, if you need expedited shipping, expect to pay more for this service. In an ideal world, you could snap your fingers and instantly transport your car from the East Coast to the West Coast. Obviously, that’s not how things really work.

Instead, you need a driver to transport your vehicle from point A to point B and these drivers are limited on how long they can drive. Federal regulations limit drivers to 11 hours of driving time a day. After driving for 11 hours, they must spend at least 10 hours off duty. So let’s say that a driver maintains a speed of exactly 60 miles per hour for 11 hours — that equates to about 660 miles without taking into account traffic, construction, and other issues that can slow drivers down.

Additionally, the timing of your shipment can also affect how much it’s going to cost based on the basic laws of supply and demand. The peak time for the car shipping industry runs during the summer, so if you’re trying to ship your car during this time, expect to pay higher prices since more competition for a limited number of drivers is going to cause rates to increase.

At the same time, shipping your car during the winter might not be the best move either. This is because more severe weather occurs during the winter and can affect both the cost and the timeframe of your shipment. As a result, it’s best to try to ship your car in the spring or the fall to avoid peak shipping season while also avoiding many potential weather issues.

How Can Customers Help Facilitate Their Car’s Transportation?

While the auto transport company you choose to transport your non-running car has an important role in the process, you do too. Here are some things you can do to help facilitate your non-running car’s transportation and ensure that the entire process goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Book Early

The first thing you can do to help facilitate your car’s transportation is to book your transport as early as possible. While booking early is always recommended, it’s even more important for non-running cars since it can be harder for transport companies to secure drivers for these types of shipments. If possible, you should try to book at least two weeks out so that the transport company has enough time to arrange your shipment.

2. Know Why Your Car Doesn’t Run

The second thing you can do to help facilitate your car’s transportation is to know exactly why your car doesn’t run. It’s generally not a good idea to put a car with unknown issues onto a trailer for a cross-country journey. As a result, you may need to take your car to a mechanic to determine what the issue is if you can’t figure it out on your own.

This is because auto transport companies will need to take certain precautions for certain issues. For example, a car with four flat tires will need to be tied down differently than a car with four properly inflated tires. Alternatively, a car with extensive collision damage will need to be handled differently than an intact car. Finally, a non-running car with engine issues will need to be loaded differently than a running car with a working engine.

3. Inform the Company About Your Car’s Issues

Once you know exactly why your car doesn’t run, you need to inform your transport company about the car’s issues. Try to be as detailed as possible when speaking with them and provide them any documentation you have from mechanics, if possible. Present them with all the information they need to safely and securely ship your non-running car.

4. Properly Prepare Your Car

Finally, you need to properly prepare your car for transport. The first thing you should do is remove all your personal belongings from the car in addition to any exterior accessories. From there, you should give your car a good wash on the outside and a good clean on the inside. After the car is emptied and washed, inspect it and take plenty of pictures and videos to thoroughly document its condition before transport.

Before your car is transported, try to leave as little gas in the tank as possible as gas only adds to the weight of the car which can then add to your transport costs. Finally, lock up the car and be ready to hand the keys over to the driver when it’s time to go.


Shipping a non-running car is no problem for Carvaygo. Carvaygo has a network of 40,000+ independent car haulers across the country who provide fast, safe and effective transport of personally owned vehicles. A wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM, an award-winning vehicle logistics provider trusted by some of the world's largest automotive manufacturers around the world, Carvaygo was designed to be a technologically advanced vehicle shipping operation. Carvaygo's relationship with RPM lets our customers benefit from RPM's strength and experience.

Carvaygo was built from the ground up using the latest technology to make your experience fast and frictionless. Carvaygo is an easy and reliable way to have your vehicle shipped affordably anywhere in the continental U.S.

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