Inexpensive Tips for Shipping a Car from Hawaii to California: Simplifying Hawaii Car Transportation to Los Angeles

Shipping a car to Hawaii can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to find the most cost-effective method. However, with proper planning and understanding of the process, you can ship your car without breaking the bank. This guide will walk you through the steps and considerations for finding the cheapest way to ship car to Hawaii, covering key aspects like choosing the right auto transport company, understanding the costs involved, and preparing your car for shipment.

Understanding the Basics of Car Shipping to Hawaii

Shipping a car to Hawaii involves several steps, including selecting a shipping method, preparing your vehicle, and choosing a reliable auto transport company. The goal is to ensure your car arrives safely and affordably. Here’s what you need to know:

Shipping Methods

Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) Shipping: This is the most common and usually the cheapest method. Your car is driven onto the shipping vessel and secured in a designated area. Upon arrival, it is driven off the ship.

Container Shipping: This method involves placing your car in a container before loading it onto the ship. It offers more protection but tends to be more expensive than RoRo shipping.

Auto Transport Companies

Selecting a reputable auto transport company is crucial. Look for companies with good reviews, transparent pricing, and experience in shipping cars to Hawaii. Companies like Matson, Pasha Hawaii, and Horizon Lines are well-known in this field.

Cost Factors

Several factors influence the cost of shipping your car to Hawaii, including the shipping method, the size and weight of your vehicle, the pick-up and delivery locations, and any additional services you might require.

Steps to Ship Your Car to Hawaii Cheaply

Research and Compare Quotes

Start by researching different auto transport companies that offer car shipping to Hawaii. Request quotes from multiple companies to compare prices and services. Make sure to ask about any hidden fees that could increase the overall cost.

Choose the Right Shipping Method

If you’re on a tight budget, RoRo shipping is likely your best option. It’s generally cheaper than container shipping and offers reliable service. However, if your car requires additional protection or you’re shipping other items along with your vehicle, container shipping might be worth the extra cost.

Book in Advance

Booking your car shipment well in advance can save you money. Last-minute bookings are often more expensive due to limited availability and higher demand.

Prepare Your Car for Shipping

Properly preparing your car can help avoid additional costs. Clean your car thoroughly, remove all personal belongings, and ensure it’s in good working condition. Make sure to leave only a quarter tank of gas, as more fuel can increase the weight and cost of shipment.

Opt for Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

Door-to-door service can be convenient but often comes at a higher price. If you’re looking to save money, consider terminal-to-terminal shipping, where you drop off and pick up your car at designated terminals.

Consider the Timing

Shipping rates can vary depending on the time of year. If possible, avoid peak seasons like summer and holidays when demand is higher and prices tend to increase.

Detailed Cost Breakdown

The cost of shipping a car to Hawaii typically ranges from $1,000 to $2,500. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

Shipping Method:

RoRo Shipping: $1,000 – $1,500

Container Shipping: $1,500 – $2,500

Vehicle Size and Weight:

Smaller cars generally cost less to ship than larger vehicles. The weight of the car also affects the price, as heavier vehicles are more expensive to transport.

Pick-Up and Delivery Locations:

Shipping from a major port like Los Angeles or Seattle can be cheaper than from a smaller, inland location. Similarly, picking up your car from a major Hawaiian port like Honolulu is usually less expensive than delivery to a more remote area.

Additional Services:

Extra services, such as expedited shipping, insurance coverage, and detailed tracking, can increase the overall cost. Weigh the necessity of these services against your budget.

Choosing the Right Auto Transport Company

Selecting a reliable auto transport company is crucial to ensure your car arrives safely and on time. Here are some tips for choosing the right company:

Check Reviews and Ratings

Look for customer reviews and ratings on websites like Transport Reviews, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Google. Positive reviews and high ratings are indicators of a trustworthy company.

Verify Licensing and Insurance

Ensure the company is licensed and insured. You can check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website to verify the company’s credentials.

Ask About Experience

Companies with extensive experience in car shipping to Hawaii are more likely to handle your shipment efficiently. Ask about their experience and success rate in shipping vehicles to Hawaii.

Get Everything in Writing

Make sure to get a written contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the shipment, including the total cost, shipping method, estimated delivery time, and any additional services.

Preparing Your Car for Shipment

Proper preparation is essential to ensure your car is ready for transport and to avoid any additional charges. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare:

Clean Your Car

Wash your car thoroughly inside and out. A clean car makes it easier to inspect for any pre-existing damage.

Document Existing Damage

Take detailed photos of your car from all angles and note any existing damage. This documentation can be useful in case of any disputes regarding damage during transport.

Remove Personal Items

Remove all personal items from your car. Auto transport companies are not responsible for any personal belongings left inside the vehicle, and these items can add weight, increasing the cost.

Check for Leaks and Mechanical Issues

Ensure there are no leaks and that your car is in good working condition. Address any mechanical issues beforehand to avoid problems during transport.

Disable Alarms

Disable any alarms to prevent them from going off during shipment, which can be disruptive and potentially lead to additional charges.

Fuel Level

Leave only a quarter tank of gas in your car. This is sufficient for loading and unloading while keeping the weight to a minimum.

What to Expect During the Shipping Process

Understanding the shipping process can help you stay informed and prepared. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect:

Booking Confirmation

Once you’ve chosen an auto transport company and booked your shipment, you’ll receive a confirmation with details about the pick-up and delivery dates, shipping method, and total cost.


On the scheduled pick-up date, your car will be inspected and loaded onto the transport vehicle. You’ll receive a bill of lading, which is a receipt of the shipment and a contract between you and the transport company.


During transit, your car will either be driven onto a RoRo ship or placed in a container. Transit times can vary but generally take about 7-14 days from the West Coast to Hawaii.


Upon arrival in Hawaii, your car will be inspected again before being handed over to you. Make sure to inspect your car thoroughly for any damage and compare it with the pre-shipment documentation.

Tips for Saving Money on Car Shipment to Hawaii

Here are some additional tips to help you save money when shipping your car to Hawaii:

Be Flexible with Dates

Being flexible with your shipping dates can help you find lower rates. Avoid peak times and consider off-peak seasons for better deals.

Bundle Services

Some auto transport companies offer discounts if you bundle services, such as shipping more than one vehicle or using additional transport services.

Negotiate Prices

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price with auto transport companies. Some companies may be willing to offer discounts to secure your business.

Use Discounts

Look for any available discounts, such as military, student, or senior discounts. Many auto transport companies offer these special rates.

Consider Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

As mentioned earlier, terminal-to-terminal shipping is usually cheaper than door-to-door service. If you can manage the logistics of dropping off and picking up your car at the terminals, this option can save you money.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

A: Shipping a car to Hawaii typically takes between 7 to 14 days, depending on the departure port and the shipping method used.

Q: Is it cheaper to ship a car to Hawaii or buy a new one there?

A: It depends on the value and condition of your current car. Generally, shipping is more cost-effective if your car is in good condition and suits your needs. However, if your car is older or in poor condition, buying a new one in Hawaii might be a better option.

Q: Can I ship personal items in my car?

A: Most auto transport companies advise against shipping personal items in your car. These items are not covered by insurance and can add to the weight of the vehicle, increasing shipping costs.

Q: What documents are required to ship a car to Hawaii?

A: You’ll need the car’s title and registration, a photo ID, proof of ownership, and any lienholder authorization if applicable. Check with your chosen auto transport company for any additional requirements.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the type of car I can ship to Hawaii?

A: Generally, most types of cars can be shipped to Hawaii. However, there may be restrictions on oversized or modified vehicles. Check with your auto transport company for specific guidelines.


Shipping a car to Hawaii doesn’t have to be an expensive or stressful process. By understanding the various shipping methods, choosing the right auto transport company, and preparing your car properly, you can find the most cost-effective way to get your car to the islands. Remember to research thoroughly, compare quotes, and follow the tips provided in this guide to save money and ensure a smooth car shipment. With careful planning and the right approach, you can ship your car to Hawaii affordably and with confidence.

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