Federal law prohibits auto transport carriers from shipping personal belongings packed into a car they transport. Carrier vehicles must go through weigh stations, and authorities may fine them for having a load that exceeds the weight of the cars they haul.

That said, some auto transport providers may allow you to place some small items in the trunk, but only if it’s under a strict weight limit. That limit is sometimes as low as 50 pounds, but typically no more than 100 pounds.
It’s also important to know that the more weight getting hauled, the more it will cost. So, while it seems logical to put belongings in a shipped vehicle – especially for long moves such as Texas to California or New Jersey to Florida – it will cost more and there is a limit to what you can do.

Reasons for Restrictions

The Department of Transportation forbids shipping a vehicle packed with personal items. , according to Movers.com, which adds that the fine can reach up to $10,000. Because of this, most auto transport companies have strict rules around packing items into shipped vehicles.

Again, talk to the auto transport company you use. They may allow you to put a few small items into the car. They likely will recommend a place out of sight, such as the trunk.

Auto transport companies also will not take on the liability for any personal items placed into the vehicle. Every auto transport company has carrier insurance that protects your vehicle while it is in the car of the transport company. However, this does not cover any household goods or personal items placed into the car. Your auto insurance may not cover damage to these items, either.

Another consideration is this: If your vehicle is damaged by personal items carried inside of it during transport, insurance carriers might deny your claim.

Things Not to Pack in a Shipped Car

If the auto transport company allows you to place small items in your car, put them into the trunk where they are not visible (the transport company might require this, anyway). This is a safety issue and will lower the risk of someone breaking into a vehicle. Theft is a very rare issue, but on longer journeys like Virginia to Arizona with multiple overnight stops, personal items in a car might attract attention if visible.

If the auto transport company allows you to pack items, keep these tips in mind.

  • Don’t place anything of high value into the car.
  • Place the items in the truck so no one can see them through the windows
  • If you pack a fragile item, properly pack it to ensure it is protected as it will shift during the moving process
  • Stay well below the weight limit
  • Always inform your auto shipping company if you put anything into the vehicle

In most cases, it’s best not to pack anything at all into your car. If you plan to do so, check with your auto transport company. If they allow it all, they will impose strict weight limits. And know that whatever you pack is likely not covered by insurance.