Awaiting Car Transport Pick-Up

Your Car Shipment: Why It’s Not a Moving Van

Although preparing for a car shipment doesn’t have to be complicated, there are certain requirements you’ll want to be aware of. One of the most misunderstood regulations about auto transport is packing your vehicle. I decided to dedicate this post solely to this topic to hopefully give you the clearest understanding of the logic behind packing rules. Here are 4 reasons you may want to think twice before packing personal items in your vehicle:

Weight Restrictions

Most people assume that packing your vehicle with personal items shouldn’t be an issue. This is only partially correct. For starters, adding items to the car adds weight. Most people probably think about how they’ve packed their car with heavier loads, why is it different for a car shipment? Wouldn’t it be easier?  Adding weight to your car puts stress on a carrier’s weight restrictions; the industry standard is set at 100 lbs of additional personal items. When it comes to any type of shipment, the trailers aren’t just weighed for overall weight, but for each axle. Although the gross weight of a shipment can be 80,000 lbs, each set of axles can’t weigh more than 34,000 lbs. When loading drivers anticipate the weight of the vehicle, not hundreds of additional pounds.  If a car is overpacked and overweight, it can cause delays and fines when the driver stops at a weight station. Packing your vehicle over what the regulated weight limit can also mess with the loading process of the entire shipment. When a driver sets up their load, they plan as if each car will be empty. If a car is packed with more than 100 lbs, it can stress the whole load, as mentioned above about axle weight. To give you a better visual, 100lbs is about the size of 2 large suitcases. If a driver isn’t able to fill their carrier because one or two of their vehicles are overweight, they most likely will charge over-packing fees to help cover lost income.

Car Shipment Liability

There are a few liability factors that have to be considered when it comes to packing personal items for a car shipment. Your vehicle wasn’t technically made to be hauled more than once, maybe twice. There are holes manufactured on your undercarriage that are used for the tie downs during transport. These points aren’t designed for the stress of extra weight in the vehicle. This can cause failure at those tie-down points which can lead to damage to your vehicle and possibly others on the load. Another consideration is what you pack. Your vehicle will probably not be sitting flat during transit, but rather on various tilts or angles. This increases the possibility that the personal items may shift and move causing damage to the items or the interior of your vehicle. This is also why it’s not recommended to send breakable or delicate items in your auto shipment. Your items aren’t covered by the type of insurance the carrier has either. The carrier’s insurance is written to cover your vehicle only. Since the carrier does not inspect or inventory those personal items there is no insurance available to cover them. Carriers also won’t haul a car or SUV that has a bike rack or a truck with items in the bed. These items can come loose due to vibration, causing damage not only to your vehicle but the others on the carrier and on the road. Children’s car seats and baby carrier bases are the only exceptions.  

Adding weight to your car puts stress on a carrier’s weight restrictions; the industry standard is set at 100 lbs of additional personal items

Visibility for Safety

Even if you’re items don’t weigh over 100lbs, it doesn’t mean you can fill the car to the dome light either. The reason for this is because car carriers don’t wench or pull vehicles onto the carrier, but drive them onto the ramps. This is the same whether you choose an open or enclosed carrier. The space on a car shipping trailer is very tight, and drivers need as much visibility as possible to avoid errors and damage. You wouldn’t want to drive your car with limited or no visibility, would you want a driver to drive your car onto a restricted space with the same? This is why most brokers say that items may only be loaded into the trunk or cargo area of a vehicle below the window level.

Authority and Regulations

Each type of semi you see going down the road has a specific operating authority issued by the U.S. D.O.T. There are two different common types: Motor Carrier of Property and Motor Carrier of Household Goods. The driver who picks up your car will only have Motor Carrier of Property. The FMCSA definition for this is ‘An authorized for-hire Motor Carrier that transports regulated commodities (except household goods) for the general public in exchange for payment.” The FMCSA describes household goods as “personal items that will be used in a home.”  Each type of authority comes with its own set of requirements, which don’t overlap. This is why the items you do decide to pack can’t be covered by the carrier’s insurance. The carrier will pass through several weigh stations along the trip. When passing through these, U.S. D.O.T. officials could choose to enforce this regulation. This can cause not only delays but fines each time they are checked by the U.S. D.O.T. during your transport. No carrier will have both authorities because they are costly and have different requirements to maintain. There are also some items that are actually illegal for the carrier to transport across state lines. The list of items that can never be packed under any circumstances is prescription medicine or other drugs, firearms, alcohol, valuables, or any type of perishable food items. These items require specific permits issued by the U.S. D.O.T. and if found in your vehicle will be confiscated and result in fines.

You wouldn’t want to drive your car with limited or no visibility, would you want a driver to drive your car onto a restricted space with the same?

Knowing what personal items to pack inside your vehicle is one way to be prepared for your car shipment. It’s good to remember what can be packed, what could probably be packed elsewhere, and what absolutely cannot be packed. All these requirements are just the carriers following the U.S. D.O.T. and FMCSA rules so that your vehicle arrives safely. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure a better car shipment experience, both inside and out of your vehicle.

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