Hawaii Car Shipping: Costly Mistakes to Avoid and Proven Tips for Success

Brantley Kendall

28 Jul 2023 11 months ago

Are you dreaming of a paradise, with sunsets on the beaches and the soothing ocean breeze whispering tales of adventure? Hawaii is a destination that captivates those who seek a trip filled with breathtaking scenery and relaxed vibes. When preparing for your move, one crucial task is ensuring that your belongings, including your vehicle, make their way to the islands. While driving your car across state lines may seem like an option, shipping is the method to reach Hawaii.

Just imagine; you’ve meticulously planned every aspect of your relocation, from organizing your belongings to finding a place to call home. However, a single misstep during the car shipping process can turn your dream move into a nightmare. From sorting out logistics to selecting the auto transport company, potential pitfalls could lead to stress, delays and unexpected expenses.

Fret not! Our blog guides you on shipping your car to Hawaii while avoiding mistakes. We’ve compiled a list of tips based on expert advice and our real-life experiences that can simplify and make the car shipping process affordable, quick and hassle-free.

The Importance of Opting for Professional Car Shipping Services

Choosing professional car shipping services to Hawaii is a decision for anyone looking for an efficient way to transport their valuable vehicle. These companies are experts in their field, offering a journey for your car. By entrusting your vehicle to their care, you can know it will reach its destination unharmed. This allows you to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead. So when you need to move your car time remember the value of car shipping services. They provide a stress-free and worry-free transportation experience.

1. Ensuring Safety and Security

When transporting a car over distances, safety becomes a concern. Professional car shipping companies have experience handling vehicle transportation using cutting-edge equipment and techniques to guarantee the safety of your car throughout the journey. They employ enclosed carriers and advanced securing methods that shield your vehicle from elements such as road debris or inclement weather conditions, ultimately minimizing the risk of any damage during transit.

2. Benefit from the Expertise and Experience

Car shipping companies employ personnel skilled in handling various types of vehicles. These professionals undergo training, equipping them to tackle any challenges that may arise during the shipping process. Whether it involves navigating customs regulations for shipments or coordinating vehicle transports, their expertise ensures a seamless and efficient journey for your car.

3. Time and Cost Efficiency 

Trying to transport your car on your own may initially appear cost-effective. It often entails expenses and time-consuming tasks. Opting for car shipping services eliminates the need to dedicate time and resources to coordinate logistics. Shipping companies take care of everything from pickup to delivery, allowing you to focus on aspects of your move or trip. Furthermore, considering the costs of damages or accidents during self-transportation, the fees charged by carriers ultimately prove cost-effective in the long run.

4. Convenient Door to Door Service

Trusted car shipping companies offer door-to-door services, which means they collect your vehicle from your specified location and deliver it directly to your desired destination. This convenience saves you the trouble of having to drop off or pick up your car from a terminal, saving you both time and effort.

5. Insurance Coverage Ensuring Peace of Mind

Although damages during transportation are uncommon, unforeseen accidents can occur. Trustworthy car shipping services cover your vehicle while transported, ensuring you’re financially protected in any accident or damage. While shipping companies are experts at minimizing the risk of damages, insurance coverage brings peace of mind and assures you that you are financially secure.

6. Flexibility; Tailoring to Your Needs Professional car shipping companies understand that each customer has requirements. For this reason, they offer various services that can be customized to fit preferences. Whether you need enclosed shipping, expedited or standard delivery or even international transportation, these companies can adapt their services to meet your needs.

The Geographical Challenges of Moving Your Vehicle to Hawaii

The location of the Hawaiian Islands and their position in the Pacific presents a complex transportation process to import goods, including vehicles. Here are some of the implications and challenges involved;

  • Distance and Isolation: Hawaii is situated more than 2,000 miles away from the nearest mainland city, making it one of the most remote places on our planet. This considerable distance introduces complexities when transporting vehicles to the islands.
  • Ocean Transportation: Due to this separation, vehicles must be shipped to Hawaii via sea routes. Shipping companies must use equipment and containers to ensure secure long-distance transportation.
  • Port Infrastructure: The Hawaiian Islands have ten harbors that handle a significant portion of cargo imports. Loading and unloading at these ports is crucial to maintain the supply chain and deliver vehicles on time.
  • Weather Conditions: The ocean journey towards Hawaii can be impacted by weather conditions such as storms and rough seas. Experienced shipping companies need planning and navigation strategies to ensure cargo safety and security.
  • Environmental Considerations: Hawaii’s dedication to preservation requires responsible shipping practices. Professional shipping companies adhere to regulations to minimize environmental impacts and safeguard the delicate marine ecosystem.
  • Scheduling and coordination: Efficient scheduling and coordination are crucial to maintaining a smooth supply chain and avoiding delays or disruptions. Proper planning and expertise in shipping are essential for ensuring seamless operations.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping a Car to Hawaii

One common mistake many car owners make is rushing into the process without research and preparation. To avoid this, it is important to start planning your shipping date. Take the time to consider factors such as the weather, your schedule and the availability of shipping companies. Not all car moving companies are equal. It’s crucial to dig into their reputation and customer reviews. Additionally, reaching out to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) can help verify their credentials, ensuring your car’s safety and peace of mind.

Here are some tips for conducting research and planning;

  • Begin the research and planning process ahead of your intended shipping date.
  • Get accurate quotes from car shipping companies to compare prices and services. You can do this through cost calculators or by contacting customer support.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is in working condition before handing it over for shipping.
  • Check that you have all necessary paperwork, including the vehicle title, registration documents and any additional documentation required by the shipping company.
  • It’s important to choose a shipping company with the licensing, insurance and experience in this specific type of transportation.  
  • Another key consideration is deciding between roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) or container shipping. This choice will depend on how much protection your vehicle requires during transportation.
  • Remember that shipping a car to Hawaii takes longer than transportation due to the distance involved and logistical considerations. It’s essential to plan for time.

Inaccurate Cost Estimates

One more common mistake people make is underestimating the car shipping cost estimates. Let’s understand how. Imagine you want to ship your SUV from Los Angeles, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. Based on research from car shipping companies, the average cost for this distance is around $2,000. However, if you underestimate the cost by relying on outdated information or incomplete research and assume it will be closer to $1,500, there can be consequences.

The consequence arises when you initiate the shipping process and receive a $2,000—$500 more quote than you anticipated. This unexpected expense can strain your budget. Affect aspects of your move to Hawaii.

It’s crucial to ensure estimates when budgeting for vehicle transport. More importantly, you should consider some other sort of expenses that you might otherwise overlook:

  • Fuel and Terminal Fees: It’s important to factor in fuel prices and terminal fees as they can significantly increase the cost.
  • Delays: If you rely solely on inaccurate cost estimates, you may opt for a cheaper shipping option that takes longer to deliver. This can result in delays and additional expenses such as accommodation and rental car fees during the waiting period.
  • Damage: Opting for a priced carrier with a reputable track record may increase the chances of damage occurring to your vehicle during transit. Repairing any damages could impose a burden.

Here’s a pro tip

Ensure that the quotes you receive include all fees so you understand the total cost upfront. Allow yourself time to research and compare quotes to avoid making last-minute decisions that could lead to costs.

Failure to Choose the Right Shipping

Choosing the wrong shipping method can be a wild ride you won’t enjoy. So, listen up to avoid this car shipping chaos! There are two key car shipping methods to Hawaii: open car transport on an open trailer or enclosed car transport on a covered trailer. The choice is crucial! If you go open but need protection, your car might suffer from bad weather. And if you choose enclosed when it’s not needed, you’ll spend extra cash unnecessarily. So, choosing the right transport option wisely can make the difference between a smooth and a bad journey. There’s door-to-port and port-to-port shipping too. Just make sure it suits your car’s needs and budget.

  • Door-to-Port Shipping: With this method, a reliable transport company will pick up your car from your location on the mainland and transport it to a designated port on the West Coast. From there, your vehicle will be loaded onto a ship and transported to the port in Hawaii.

Port-to-Port Shipping: If you can drive your car to a nearby port on the West Coast, this method might be more cost-effective. You’ll deliver your vehicle to the port, which will be shipped directly to the port you choose in Hawaii.

Not Checking Insurance Coverage

Oh, you definitely don’t want to miss out on this one! Skipping the evaluation of car shipping insurance can be as risky as driving without a seatbelt. Imagine this; your car is sailing across the high seas, and suddenly, an unfortunate incident occurs, leaving you stranded with costly repair bills. Worry not! Ensure you thoroughly assess your insurance coverage for vehicle transport before embarking on the journey. It’s like strapping on a life jacket. This way, your precious wheels and wallet will be safeguarded from expenses. Here are some tips to help you check your insurance coverage before shipping your car to Hawaii:

  • Contact Your Insurance Provider: Call your car insurance provider and inquire about coverage during car shipping to Hawaii. Don’t hesitate; they’re there to assist you!
  • Verify Coverage Details: Take a look at the fine print of your policy and ensure it includes auto transport coverage for Hawaii. You wouldn’t want any surprises!
  • Ask about Specifics: Inquire about coverage limits, deductibles and any additional fees or conditions that may apply throughout the shipping process.
  • Explore Additional Coverage Options: If your current policy falls short, consider purchasing cargo insurance to guarantee complete protection for your vehicle during transit.

Incomplete Vehicle Preparation

Preparing a car for shipping is crucial for a smooth journey when transporting your vehicle to Hawaii. Neglecting this step can lead to issues during shipping. Let’s explore potential pitfalls and steps for a seamless process:

•       Check for Damages: With vehicle inspection before transport, you can check for any pre-existing damages and take detailed photos. This is crucial for future disputes or claim settlements.

•       Remove Accessories: Before shipping, remove non-permanent accessories like bike racks or spoilers to protect them from damage.

•       Fuel Safety: Ensure your gas tank is no more than a quarter full to meet safety requirements and reduce weight.

•       Disable Alarm System: Turn off your car’s alarm system to avoid disturbances during transport.

•       Tire Maintenance: Check the tire pressure for a safe and comfortable journey.

Ignoring Documentation Requirements

Meeting the documentation requirements keeps you on the legal course. This helps you avert any unforeseen penalties or bureaucratic tangles. Moreover, fulfilling the documentation needs brings insurance nirvana, protecting your precious cargo on its nautical escapade. Here are some ways to help you be document ready:

How to Avoid Ignoring Documentation Requirements?

  1. Research & Prepare: Research and gather all the necessary documentation for this epic voyage.
  2. Chart Your Course: Create a comprehensive checklist of required documents to navigate the choppy paperwork. A well-prepared itinerary leads to a smoother journey!
  3. Seek Expert Guidance: Consult reliable car transporters who know the intricacies and can guide you through the documentation process.
  4. Timely Submission: Submit all necessary documents on time to avoid any delays.
  5. Double-Check and Triple-Check: Before setting sail, meticulously review your paperwork like a skilled navigator. It’s the key to ensuring all is in order before the transportation begins.

Not Securing Personal Belongings

When considering shipping a car, individuals might feel inclined to maximize the available space by loading personal belongings into the vehicle. Before deciding, it is extremely important to comprehend the potential risks and consequences involved thoroughly. The removal of personal items from car shipping is of utmost importance due to its significant impact on ensuring a secure vehicle transport experience.

•       The potential for damage to cars is high due to the frequent movements, vibrations, and shifts they experience during transportation. Leaving personal items inside a car can result in inadequate security measures, which may increase the risk of damage. Regrettably, it is common for carrier policies to exclude coverage for items inside the car. Consequently, individuals may be responsible for covering the expenses of replacing or repairing these items independently.

•       The potential for theft arises due to the lack of inventory made by carriers regarding the items inside the car. This poses a challenge in providing evidence for the loss and claiming compensation. To minimize the theft risk, removing all personal belongings from the vehicle before entrusting them to the shipping company is advisable.

•       Comply with weight and placement requirements if the shipping company allows transportation of certain items. Note that the responsibility for any personal items shipped in the vehicle lies solely with the owner. The shipping company may not provide coverage for any potential losses.

Failure to Choose a Reliable Shipping Company

Since several auto transport companies claim to be the best, it becomes difficult to select the right one. And a wrong choice of auto transport company can spoil your experience. Just follow the tips below to avoid this mistake and choose a reliable auto-shipping company:

•       Reputation and Expertise: Consider their reputation and expertise when entrusting your vehicle to a car shipping company. Look for companies with a proven track record of safe and timely deliveries. Check customer reviews on platforms like BBB and Consumer Affairs to gauge their service quality.

•       Pricing and Value: While cost matters, don’t overlook other factors. Choose companies with competitive pricing without compromising on service quality. Evaluate the value offered, including insurance coverage, tracking updates, and customer support.

•       Range of Services: Opt for a car shipping company with diverse services to meet your needs. Whether door-to-door or open/enclosed carriers, ensure they accommodate your requirements.

•       Licensing and Insurance: Verify proper licensing and insurance for interstate car transport. Look for US DOT and MC numbers. Ensure your vehicle is protected during transit.

•       Customer Service and Communication: Choose a company with excellent customer service and prompt responses. Clear communication ensures a stress-free shipping process.

Inadequate Communication and Updates

Maintaining communication with the shipping company is extremely important. It does not provide valuable updates but also brings a sense of peace and confidence throughout the process.

Insufficient communication can result in misunderstandings, delays and unexpected expenses. Without communication, you may miss out on crucial details or changes in the transportation process, which could ultimately affect your vehicle’s safe and timely delivery.

  • Regularly staying in touch with the auto shipping company ensures that both parties are well informed and contributes to a more successful car shipping experience.
  •  Transporting a vehicle involves traffic, weather conditions and mechanical issues that can cause delivery delays. By maintaining lines of communication with the shipping company, you can stay informed about any possible delays and adjust your plans accordingly.
  •  Some companies may impose fees for services such as storage or handling. By discussing these time charges, you can avoid surprises and clearly understand the total shipping cost.

Overlooking Timeframes and Scheduling

Overlooking car shipping timeframes and scheduling vehicle transport can lead to operational inefficiencies, increased costs, and inconvenience for transporters and customers. Proper planning helps secure a suitable pick-up and delivery date, avoid delays, and make necessary arrangements. Here are the reasons why timeframes and schedules should be given due consideration. For example, car shipping companies may require some lead time to assign a driver to your order and accommodate your preferred pick-up date. Planning ahead allows you to secure a slot with the transportation company that suits your schedule and ensures the availability of their resources for the transportation process.

•       Seasonal demand influences shipping times. Snowbirds and tourists may boost spring automobile shipping demand. You may minimize demand-related delays by organizing your automobile transportation in advance.

•       Flexible automobile shipping timelines save money. Auto transport firms provide several choices for delivery with a certain date frame. Flexibility lets you select the cheapest delivery option while meeting your deadline.

•       If you plan ahead, you can tell the car transport company about special needs or situations. For example, if you want to ship an expensive classic car, you might choose enclosed shipping with extra safety features. If you give the shipping company enough time to hear about your preferences, they can meet your needs.

Failure to Inspect Upon Delivery

Many car owners make the mistake of assuming their vehicle will arrive in pristine condition, overlooking the potential mishandling or damages during transit. To safeguard your interests and protect your investment, it is highly advisable to inspect your vehicle inspection upon delivery. This post-delivery inspection allows you to identify any issues or damages and take appropriate actions promptly. Here are some essential tips for conducting a thorough post-delivery inspection and reporting car transport damages (if any):

  • Carefully examine the car’s exterior, checking for any scratches, dents, or paint damage that might have occurred during shipping.
  • Inspect the vehicle’s interior for any signs of damage or missing items.
  • Test all the vehicle’s functions, such as lights, brakes, and air conditioning, to ensure they work correctly.
  • Look underneath the car for any signs of leaks or damage to the undercarriage.
  • Please take note of the mileage to ensure it matches the initial reading before shipping.

If you notice any issues or discrepancies during the inspection, immediately document them with photographs and report them to the shipping company.

Not Reading and Understanding the Contract


Often overlooked in the excitement of sending their car to a new destination, the contract outlines essential terms, conditions, and responsibilities that the owner and the shipping company must adhere to throughout the process. Neglecting to read and understand the contract can lead to misunderstandings, unexpected costs, or disputes, jeopardizing the shipping experience. To avoid such issues and ensure a smooth and trouble-free car shipping process, car owners need to take the time to thoroughly read and grasp the details of the contract before agreeing to it. Let’s explore some valuable tips to keep in mind while dealing with the shipping contract:

  • Take the time for a car shipping contract review from start to finish, paying close attention to the fine print and any clauses that may affect your responsibilities or liabilities.
  • Understand the terms and conditions, including pickup and delivery schedules, insurance coverage, and potential fees or additional charges.
  • Clarify any ambiguous points or terms with the shipping company, seeking explanations or modifications if necessary.
  • Ensure that all verbal agreements or promises the shipping company makes are explicitly included in the written contract to avoid misunderstandings later.
  • Pay attention to the insurance coverage provided by the shipping company, and consider purchasing additional coverage if needed to safeguard your vehicle adequately.
  • Familiarize yourself with the process for filing claims in case of any damages or issues during transit, and understand the timeframes involved for resolution.

Keep a copy of the signed contract for your records and reference throughout the shipping process.


In conclusion, shipping a car to Hawaii might seem difficult, but don’t worry! With the right knowledge, you can avoid mistakes and have a smooth experience. We’ve discussed common problems car owners face and shared tips to keep your vehicle safe during the journey.

One important thing to remember is to check your car after delivery. Take time to inspect it for any damage that may have happened during shipping. Also, ensure you understand the shipping contract to avoid misunderstandings and unexpected costs.

Choosing a reliable car shipping service is crucial too. Going for the cheapest option may put your car at risk, so consider a trustworthy company like Sakaem Logistics, known for its professionalism and customer satisfaction.

Lastly, don’t forget about insurance coverage. It provides peace of mind and financial security if anything goes wrong during transit. By planning carefully and making wise decisions, you can ensure your car arrives safely in Hawaii.

Common Questions People Also Ask (PAA):

What is the average cost to ship a car to Hawaii?

 The average cost to ship a car to Hawaii can vary depending on factors like the size of the vehicle, the shipping method chosen, and the departure location. On average, it can range from $1,000 to $2,500.

How long does it take to ship a car to Hawaii? 

The shipping time to Hawaii depends on the departure port and the chosen shipping method. Generally, it takes about 2-4 weeks for a car to reach Hawaii from the mainland U.S.

Is it cheaper to ship a car or drive it to Hawaii?

 In most cases, shipping a car to Hawaii is more cost-effective and convenient than driving it. Driving to Hawaii is impossible due to the ocean between the mainland and the islands.

Can I ship personal items in my car to Hawaii? 

Yes, some car shipping companies allow you to ship personal items in your car to Hawaii. However, there are usually restrictions on the amount and type of personal belongings allowed.

What are the different car shipping methods to Hawaii? 

The common car shipping methods to Hawaii include Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo), where the car is driven onto the ship’s deck, and Container shipping, where the car is placed inside a shipping container for added protection.

How do I choose a reliable car shipping company for Hawaii transport? 

To choose a reliable car shipping company for Hawaii transport, research their reputation, read customer reviews, check their licensing and insurance, and compare quotes from multiple companies.

Are cars insured during the shipping process to Hawaii? 

Yes, reputable car shipping companies typically provide insurance coverage for the vehicles during the shipping process to Hawaii.

What documents do I need to ship a car to Hawaii? 

The required documents may vary, but typically you will need the car’s title, registration, and photo ID. Check with the shipping company for any additional requirements.

How should I prepare my car for shipping to Hawaii?

 Before shipping your car to Hawaii, you should clean it thoroughly, remove personal belongings, ensure it has minimal fuel, and check for any existing damages, making a note of them.

How do I track the progress of my car during transport to Hawaii?  Most car shipping companies provide tracking services. You can use the tracking number provided by the company to monitor your car’s progress during transport to Hawaii online or through their customer service.

Brantley Kendall