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"How Do I Ship That?"

How Do I Ship Engines & Transmissions?

Engines and transmissions are heavy, bulky items that contain hazardous materials like oil and other liquids, which means they can’t be shipped using courier services such as USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Despite these initial hurdles, engines are actually one of the easier freight items to ship.

Whether you’re an auto parts dealer, an amateur mechanic, or a hot rod hobbyist, there are several ways to move or ship engines and transmissions across the country. The shipping experts at TSI are here to help. Read our comprehensive shipping guide to learn more about the ways to ship engines and transmissions, or jump directly to special considerations and other important shipping tips and guidelines by clicking the menu below.

1. How To Ship Engines & Transmissions

Read about five common ways to ship engines & transmissions, including pros and cons and when to use each method. 

2. How Much Does It Cost to Ship Engines & Transmissions?

The cost of shipping engines & transmissions depends on what shipping method you choose.

3. Recommended Shipping Method

Shipping long distance? Find out which shipping method is best for your move.

4. Special Considerations

Engines are fragile and contain hazardous materials, which can make them difficult to ship safely.

5. Mistakes to Avoid

Keep your engines & transmissions safe throughout the shipping process by avoiding these mistakes.

6. How To Pack Engines & Transmissions

Pack your engines & transmissions the right way with our step-by-step instructions.


1. How To Ship Engines & Transmissions

Due to their weight and the hazardous materials they contain, engines and transmissions can feel challenging to ship for many vendors. Thankfully, they are sturdy machines that can tolerate the shipping process with relative ease.

Whether you’re shipping auto parts for personal reasons or are a business shipping parts to customers in other states, you have two shipping options to choose from. The method that is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances—the number of engines and transmissions you are shipping, their weight and dimensions, and their value will all impact the type of shipping method that will work best for you. These methods include:

  1. Rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping
  2. Consolidated freight

Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods:

I. Rideshare or Peer-to-Peer Shipping

Rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping services involve paying someone who is travelling in the same direction your equipment needs to go with enough extra space in their vehicle to transport your items. With rideshare services, you are often given a selection of different vendor options. The person picking up your equipment may be:

  • A large logistics company
  • A single truck owner/operator
  • A regular person on a cross-country road trip

To connect with a peer-to-peer shipping partner, you must first post your shipment on an online marketplace like Roadie or uShip. Potential partners will then submit quotes, which you then approve, reject, or continue to negotiate. This process provides you with an opportunity to evaluate their experience and expertise, negotiate a lower price, and figure out the details for packing, loading, and unloading your equipment.

Because anyone can sign up for peer-to-peer shipping, the vendors may or may not have experience moving valuable or hazardous items like engines and transmissions, and it’s up to you to vet their ability, expertise, reliability, and trustworthiness.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Can be cost-effective for long distance transport You may not be working with a professional—there’s no guarantee of expertise or experience, and there’s less accountability if something goes wrong
More direct method of travel means less handling May not have as many potential partners to choose from since engines and transmissions are large,  hazardous items that have regulations to follow during shipping
Can be used to ship just about any type of large item Need to pack your equipment yourself
  May need to provide loading and unloading assistance
  May not be able to track your shipment
  No insurance available to cover value if your equipment gets damaged

How much does it cost to ship an engine using peer-to-peer shipping

Like other methods of shipping, peer-to-peer shipping costs vary based on the amount of equipment you are shipping, the size and value of the items, and whether you need any additional services, such as packing or loading. Typically, the cost is between $100-$300+, but it can be higher if you are transporting a lot of high value items.

When to use peer-to-peer shipping services

  • You are confident handling the draining, crating, and/or palletizing process yourself
  • You are confident that your chosen partner is capable of shipping and handling engines or transmissions
  • Your items are travelling less than 150 miles

II. Consolidated freight (LTL) shipping

Shipping engines and transmissions using consolidated freight services such as less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping means your equipment will share space on a truck with shipments from other people or companies heading in the same direction. You typically only pay for the space your equipment takes up on the truck, so consolidated freight can be a cost-effective option for long distance moves. Plus, consolidated freight shipping services are always provided by licensed and insured shipping companies, which means you can rest assured that your valuable equipment is in good hands.

LTL freight is ideal for transporting auto parts such as engines, transmissions, hoods, etc. There are typically a few different levels of service for shipping your auto parts. At TSI, we offer both economy service and air-ride suspension:

Economy Service

  • You drain all fluids and pack your engine
  • You help load your engine onto the truck
  • Curbside delivery
  • Liftgates are available for both pickup and delivery

Air-ride Suspension

  • Ideal for high-value, vintage, or custom engines
  • Two-person moving crew loads the part, secures it onto an air-ride equipped truck, and provides a liftgate and pallet jack for delivery

Advantages

Disadvantages

Variety of service levels to choose from Can be more costly than other methods
Experienced shipping professionals will transport your equipment May have longer timelines while you wait for the truck to fill with cargo from other shippers
Insurance is available  
Can provide guidance and equipment to help load and unload  

How much does it cost to ship engines and transmissions using consolidated freight?

Consolidated freight shipping costs for engines and transmissions vary significantly depending on the unique circumstances of your shipment. The size and distance of your shipment will impact the final cost, as will additional services such as custom crating or expedited service. However, on average LTL shipping engines will run you approximately $285-$750.

When to use consolidated freight

  • Long distance transport
  • You need assistance crating and palletizing your auto parts
  • You want the safest and most reliable method of shipping
  • You’d like to have your shipment insured

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2. How Much Does It Cost to Ship Engines & Transmissions?

The cost of shipping your auto parts will depend on what shipping method you choose:

Method

Cost

Peer-to-peer shipping $100-$300+
Consolidated freight $285-$750+

TSI TIP: When contacting potential carriers for quotes, make sure you have the following information available:

  • The dimensions of your shipment (length x width x height)
  • The weight of your shipment. If you have to estimate, err on the side of caution and estimate high.
  • Pickup and delivery ZIP code
  • Details about pickup and delivery locations. For example, is there a dock or a forklift? Is it a residence or a garage?
  • Type and model. The more detail you can provide beyond a generic classification like “engine”, the less likely it is that your cargo will be subject to a re-weigh or re-classification.

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3. Recommended Shipping Method

Because you’re working with experienced professionals, consolidated freight is always the most reliable method for shipping your engine or transmission long distance.

When you ship something using consolidated freight, your items will share space on the truck with other freight that is heading in the same direction. You only pay for the space your cargo takes up on the truck, which keeps your costs lower while offering the greatest amount of protection. Freight shippers have the most experience shipping this type of equipment and know how to transport auto parts like engines and transmissions safely.

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4. Special Considerations for Shipping Engines & Transmissions

If you are looking into how to ship engines and transmissions, you likely fall into one of two groups:

  1. Auto shops and car dealers shipping parts to customers in other states
  2. Hobbyists, collectors, or DIY mechanics

So how do you keep your auto parts safe when they may have to contend with less-than-ideal conditions throughout their journey? Here’s what you need to consider:

Size & weight

Engines are heavy, often weighing upwards of 150 lbs. For this reason, selecting good, durable packing materials is essential to ensure they arrive at their destination in good condition. Make sure your pallet is undamaged, and that you only use high-quality packing materials to secure your engine or transmission to the pallet.

Fragility, age & condition

Auto parts are typically very durable pieces of machinery, but they are susceptible to dings, dents, and other damage, especially if they are older. Carefully packing these items will ensure they arrive safely. 

Liquids & grease

Before shipping, engines and transmissions need to be drained of all fluids, capped, and cleaned externally as much as possible to prevent damage to their packing materials and other items in the shipment. Any leftover liquids can also cause injury to anyone who comes into contact with your cargo.

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5. Mistakes To Avoid When Shipping Engines & Transmissions

  • Not draining fluids - Liquids can leak out of an engine or transmission and damage the packing materials, making your components less safe and less likely to survive any serious jolts, bangs, or bumps during transport. They can also freeze and thaw in pipes, causing cracks and other damage, and potentially even injury.
  • Using low quality packing materials - Due to their weight, engines can’t be crated or palletized using previously-used, worn, or damaged packing materials.
  • Not checking for and documenting damages - Before your item is picked up by the carrier and before it is wrapped, check it over for damage. Take pictures of any damage you find—these photos will be helpful if your auto parts are damaged during transit and you need to make an insurance claim.
  • Improperly securing the engine to the pallet - Because of its weight, there is potential for an engine to break free from its pallet and cause damage to itself and other items on the truck. Make sure it is properly strapped down to the pallet and consider securing it with 2x4s and screws if necessary.
  • Not covering it after securing it on the pallet - If you opt not to crate your engine before you put it on the pallet, you will need to cover it with cardboard or moving blankets to protect it from dents and dings. Cover it up after you strap it down, but before you shrink wrap it. Shrink wrapping the covered engine will secure it in place on the pallet so it can’t shift or tip over, causing damage to the engine or other cargo.
  • Not leaving the fluid intakes accessible when packing - When wrapping the engine, make sure you leave access to the fluid intakes so carriers can check the dipsticks and ensure they have been properly drained.

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6. How To Pack Engines & Transmissions

While every auto part may have its own unique requirements for safe travel, they are typically very similar in nature and require the same considerations regardless of their respective types or brands. If you don’t feel confident packing them yourself, ask your shipping company if they provide packing services. It may be easier, faster, and safer to have them handle the packing and shipping process from beginning to end.

Packing materials

  • Pallet
  • Crating materials, if necessary
    • Appropriate size crate
    • Nuts and bolts
    • Foam enclosures, spray foam, or foam filler
  • 80 to 120 gauge Shrink Wrap
  • Cardboard or moving blankets
  • Ratchet straps
  • Screws

Packing instructions

Once you’ve acquired the necessary packing materials, you can begin packing your engines and transmissions.

For engines, follow these steps:

  1. Drain all fluids, then clean the engine. Oil, grease, water, transmission fluid, etc. all need to be removed from auto parts before shipping. Carriers will refuse any auto parts that are dripping because they can damage the packing materials and other items they are transporting. If you’re not sure how to drain the fluids from your engine, check out this tutorial from youtube or consider contacting a professional for assistance:

  1. Clean the engine of excess oil or grease.
  2. Crate it. A crated engine is freight class 70. This method is typically a little costlier than shipping on a pallet, but it is the preferred method of most freight carriers since it offers more protection, and it takes less effort to pack:
  • Secure the engine inside the crate with engineered foam enclosures to keep it from shifting during transit
  • Use nuts and bolts to assemble the crate—this will make it easier to open.

AND/OR

  1. Palletize it - A palleted engine is freight class 85. This is the most commonly used method for shipping an engine, but not all freight carriers will accept uncrated engines so be sure to check with your carrier first to see if they will ship using this method, otherwise you could find yourself having to reschedule pickup and facing a “dry run” fee. To properly palletize your engine:
  • Place the engine on the center of the pallet, with at least 4 inches of space on each side
  • If you do not want the engine sitting directly on the oil pan, stabilize it by screwing 2x4s to the pallet
  • Secure the engine to the pallet using ratchet straps
  • Cover the engine with an insulating material such as cardboard or moving blankets
  • Shrink wrap the entire pallet
  1. Attach the completed bill of lading.

For transmissions, follow these steps:

  1. Drain all fluids. Oil, water, transmission fluid, etc. all need to be removed from auto parts before shipping. Carriers will refuse any auto parts that are dripping because they can damage the packing materials and other items they are transporting.
  2. Remove easily damaged components, such as side shift consoles, and pack these components safely in a separate box.
  3. Clean the transmission of excess oil or grease.
  4. Palletize it - A transmission, regardless of how it is shipped, is freight class 85. It can be crated, but typically also requires palletizing during the shipping process:
  • Place the cleaned and drained transmission, crated or uncrated, in the center of the pallet
  • Secure it in place using ratchet straps
  • Cover the transmission in double-walled cardboard
  • Wrap the entire pallet and transmission in shrink wrap
  1. Attach the completed bill of lading.

Conclusion

Due to the nature of engines and transmissions, your long distance shipping options are limited. Their weight and classification as a hazardous material leaves you with two options:

  • Rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping
  • Consolidated freight

When it comes to shipping engines and transmissions, your best bet is to select a consolidated freight partner who is familiar with the ins and outs of shipping these items.

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TSI offers personalized engine and transmission shipping services. 

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