As someone who likes traveling but doesn’t like renting cars, I often times use car shipping companies to get my car where it needs to be. This was the case last summer when I ended up going on a business trip to Hawaii. I learned several valuable lessons when I had my car shipped there that I’d like to share with you so that you can make the process as easy as possible.

1. Empty Your Car

This is something a lot of people forget but before you ship your car, you need to empty it of all of your personal items. The reason for this is that most car shipping companies will not be held liable if something goes missing. This could be due to a thief breaking into your car or an employee of the shipping company that has sticky fingers. While this is a very rare occurrence, there’s no need to tempt anyone by having valuables in your car. Make sure you check the glove box, center console, trunk, and any other areas where items could be tucked away.

Also, don’t forget to empty your car’s fuel tank to around 1/4 or less. This is because fuel is heavy and it can increase shipping costs depending on how your shipping company is charging you. If for some reason you can’t use up enough fuel before your shipping date, consider using a siphon to remove the excess fuel.

Lastly, make sure that your car alarm is disabled or removed entirely if you have one. While this might make you uneasy, just remember that your car is extremely safe from thieves while being transported by a car shipping company making it nearly impossible to steal.

2. Get Your Paperwork Done First

There is a moderate amount of paperwork that goes into shipping a car to Hawaii or elsewhere. You’ll need documents such as:

  • Vehicle Title or Lien Holder Authorization Letter
  • Picture ID
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Vehicle Registration
  • and a Bill of Lading

When shipping to or from Hawaii, you’ll also need:

  • Lien Holder Authorization
  • Absent Owner Authorization

If all of this talk of paperwork is making your head spin, don’t worry, it isn’t as complicated as it sounds. You probably already have most of this and just need to compile it. For the documents you don’t have at the moment, you won’t have a hard time getting them as long as you plan ahead.

3. Plan Ahead

Speaking of planning ahead, this is something that’s really important when it comes to shipping your car to Hawaii. This is because not only do you have to get your car across the ocean, but you also have to get it to the port. While it is cheaper to drive your car to the port itself both for drop off and pick up, this may not be possible depending on your circumstances.

For example, if you live in South Carolina and need to get your car shipped to Hawaii, you’re going to want to hire a shipping company to get it to the drop-off port unless you’re planning on going on a multi-day road trip. Picking your car up yourself in Hawaii after taking an alternate mode of transportation is a little easier since the islands are smaller so you’ll likely have less distance to travel to get to the port.

4. Decide Which Method to Use

When it comes to getting your car to the port for drop-off, you basically have two options: closed and open. Closed is when your car is shipped in a closed container and is the safer but more expensive option. If you have a fancy sports car, classic car, or some other kind of vehicle that must be protected at all costs, this is the option you want.

On the other hand, if 100% protection isn’t that big of a deal, open shipping carriers are just fine. While your car will be exposed to a small degree of road debris and whatever the weather decides to throw at it, it will be safe from collision and theft for the most part.

As for getting your car across the ocean, you will have to decide whether to put your car in a container or not. Putting your car in a container is once again the safer option and offers 100% protection. However, it may not be necessary since open transportation for cars going to Hawaii is typically designed to protect your vehicle from sea spray and other debris. That said if your car is of high value or can’t be driven for whatever reason, then using a container is your best bet though it will cost more.

5. Ask about Quotes and Payment

There are several things you want to discuss with your car shipping company before having your car shipped to Hawaii. Firstly, you want to get a price quote from them. To do this, make sure you have all the information they will need to give you an accurate quote such as the time frame you’re looking at and the specific destination of your car. While some companies can give quotes just by knowing the pickup and drop-off locations, most of the time more specific info will help you to get a more specific price quote.

You’re also going to want to ask about how payment will be rendered. In some cases, you’ll need to make a deposit while in others you may be able to work out a payment plan. Either way, make sure you know what the terms of payment will be so that you don’t experience any surprises.

6. Being Prepared is the Best Strategy

Transporting your car to Hawaii is not a hassle, it really isn’t. I can vouch for this through personal experience. However, you can make the process go more smoothly by having all of your information and paperwork done well in advance. This also gives you time to work out a time frame with your car shipping company so that they can have your car delivered on time. Also, if you feel lost, don’t worry. Your car shipping company can walk you through the entire process and help you every step of the way. If you ever have a question, just ask and they’ll be happy to help you.