Shipping a Non-Running Vehicle FAQ | American Auto Shipping

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Answering Questions About Shipping a Non-Running Vehicle

Answering questions about shipping a non-running vehicle

Everybody’s had to deal with a lemon before. You know, a car that just doesn’t want to stay running, no matter how hard you try. For most people, vehicles that don’t run are problematic because they lose their fastest mode of transportation.

But it’s also problematic when you ship a non-running vehicle. Now, it’s not like you can’t – that’s not what we’re saying at all! But shipping a non-running vehicle – and how it’s done – is something that does need to be understood, especially if it’s you shipping it.

There are a lot of different types of non-running vehicles – it’s not just cars that don’t start! This is why we’re writing this post for you today. It’s important to understand what exactly constitutes a non-running vehicle and what you can expect when it comes time to ship it.

You should know up front that shipping a non-running vehicle is not the cheapest way to ship a car. In other words, it costs more to ship a non-running vehicle due to the extra work that goes into loading and unloading it. You can avoid this price hike by getting the vehicle in running condition ahead of time, and we’ll talk more about that in a bit.

What is considered a non-running vehicle?

Any vehicle that cannot start or move under its own power is considered a non-running vehicle. In normal circumstances, vehicles are loaded onto and unloaded off of the truck by the driver literally driving them onto and off the truck. This is fast, convenient, and doesn’t require much of anything other than a driver’s license. It takes a carrier less time to simply drive the car on and off the truck than any other method, and is why moving a running vehicle is cheaper.

That said, there are other things that can make a vehicle be considered non-running. Or, at the very least, priced higher than a standard vehicle.

One of these is when the vehicle cannot be steered. If your vehicle is missing a steering wheel, or the linkages are out, it can be a problem. Vehicles like this usually need to be forklifted onto and off the truck, or, at the very least, winched.

These are two methods of loading a non-running vehicle, and we’ll cover more about that in the paragraph below. Simply put, though, a non-running vehicle is any vehicle that cannot do one of the following:


The auto transport industry is adept at moving all kinds of vehicles in all kinds of conditions. No matter what you’re shipping, we here at American Auto Shipping can help us out. Just let us know what issues the vehicle has so we can get the right carrier at the right rate.

So how exactly does a carrier ship a non-running vehicle?

Most non-running vehicles can be shipped on the same ten-car open haulers that running vehicles are moved on. As open transport is the auto shipping industry standard, it’s not surprising.

It’s not like a non-running vehicle suddenly morphs into a behemoth of a car that won’t possibly fit on a standard carrier. A non-running Ford Focus is just the same as your regular, run of the mill Focus that can start and move and drive.

But…the method that is used to load and unload a vehicle that is considered non-running may change depending on the specific issue.

If your vehicle doesn’t start, but everything else is fine, typically all that’s needed is a winch. A winch is a special motorized tool that allows a carrier to not have to start the vehicle. They just hook it up to the car and it drags the vehicle into position while the driver steers it.

If your vehicle doesn’t roll, that’s another issue. What’s the problem exactly? Are the tires locked, or is the vehicle up on blocks? Both of these issues will likely require a forklift to load and unload it, which can hinder your options for carriers if you don’t have one. We recommend getting wheels and tires on the vehicle in order to get it rolling.

Brakes are kind of the same issue. If a car can’t stop under its own power, carriers are going to be leery about driving them onto and off of the truck. Most simply won’t – they can’t stop, after all. The same goes for steering – if a driver can’t steer the vehicle it makes it harder for them to get the vehicle into the proper position. Just like with brakes and wheels, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle in steering shape before pickup.

Why is shipping a non-running vehicle more expensive?

Car shipping for a vehicle that is considered non-running is more expensive for several reasons, and depends on the reason why it’s considered inoperable.

The simple answer is: they’re harder to load and unload. So the extra work that a driver has to put into getting the vehicle onto and off their truck is the main factor when it comes to the expense of transporting an inoperable vehicle.

Here’s a quick breakdown. For vehicles that just don’t start, it’s about $150-200 more, depending on the carrier. They will likely need a winch, or someone there to help them push the vehicle onto and off of the truck.

For vehicles that don’t roll, it’s usually going to be a bit more. The same goes for vehicles that can’t brake or steer as well. This is because they will require a forklift to get them onto and off of the truck more than likely.

This is more common than you might think; forklifts can do a lot when it comes to getting a car onto or off a truck. With the way an open hauler is designed, it’s not that difficult for them to get a vehicle onto or off the truck with the right equipment.

However, not all carriers can drive a forklift or have a license to operate one. Some will waive some of the price if you have someone at pickup and delivery that can do it for them. However, the extra fee may go to the forklift operator at pickup or delivery, if you have to hire someone to do it.

Can I ship a vehicle without an engine? What about a chassis?

Typically, a vehicle without an engine is going to be a lot lighter, which can help with the cost a bit. At the same time, it will still take up a full space on the truck, so you may not save as much on the weight because it still takes up a full space.

That being said, vehicles without an engine are sometimes easier to load. It does, however, depend on what else is missing from the vehicle. Typically, cars without engines can still steer and brake and roll. If they can’t, that may be added cost to get it loaded.

Regarding shipping a chassis. These are trickier. Typically, a chassis can’t roll or brake or steer because it’s just the body of the engine. So there’s some cost that goes into that. At the same time, the lack of weight helps keep the per-mile cost down on the whole. Or, at least, it would, if a standard carrier took it.

Most of the time, however, a straight chassis – just the body and nothing else – will require a flatbed hauler. Carriers can’t just winch one of those onto or off the truck, and securing it gets trickier as well. This is where the cost comes into play – flatbed carriers may take it for a bit less since the weight is so low.

For these kinds of vehicles, however, make sure to speak to your representative. Give us a call any time toll-free at 800-930-7417 to speak to one. You can also get a quote to ship a non-running vehicle any time via our homepage, and you can read more about non-running vehicles right here on our website. You can also read up on more ways to save money shipping a car at our cheap car transport page.

Dave Armstrong
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