Hawaii Living: What About My Car?

Hawaii Living: What About My Car?
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You're moving to Hawaii but what about your car, truck, or SUV? How do you ship a car to Hawaii? Read on to find out.

• General: DIY / How-To • General: Educational • General: Transportation

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Once the excitement of moving to and living in Hawaii settles down there is a lot of cold, hard reality that sets in. Part of that is just getting your stuff to Hawaii, and part of that stuff is often a car, motorcycle, truck, suv or other vehicle type. Not sure where to begin with that, then keep reading while we cover the basics and options.

Ship Or Sell?

The first thing to figure out is if your car is worth sending off to Hawaii. I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, yea, of course I want my car in Hawaii!" I understand that, but you first need to make sure it's worth the cost of getting it to Hawaii.

You see, if you have an old car or any type of "beater" that's on its last legs then selling it or donating it may be a better option. You can then take that money and the money you're saving on shipping and buy a car on the island you'll be living on.

For many, this is often the smart way to go. Of course, if you have a newer car or one that is worth at least a few thousand dollars then shipping it to Hawaii might make the most sense. You have to really detach yourself personally from the car and just focus on what's logical here. Cars don't last forever and unless you plan on keeping it for at least a couple of more years then selling it may be better for you.

Another tip is to not focus on what it's worth when you sell it, but how much you can save by not shipping it. You may only get $500 selling it, but could save over $2000 by not shipping it. That's $2500 that goes towards a newer car when you arrive in Hawaii. Not sure what your car is worth? Check Kelly Blue Book to get an idea.

Shipping Options & Costs

So your car is worth shipping, now let's cover the options. Or should I say option, because you only have one option which is to put your car on a boat.

In terms of companies that ship cars to and from Hawaii, you do have a few to choose from and they are Pasha Hawaii, Matson, or a site like ShipMyVehicle.com (which likely will use Pasha or Matson).

Each one will have different prices and that price will depend on many factors. The biggest will be your location, type / size of the vehicle, and final island destination. Obviously, larger and heavier vehicles tend to cost more. As for location, if you're closer to the west coast of the mainland (California) it will be cheaper than if you're in the mid-west, for example.

Why? Because if you're not in California they have to first transport your car to California and that's an added coast. That part will be done on an auto-transport (like you see new cars being delivered on) or you can save money by dropping your car off in California yourself.

When considering a shipping company, ask how well your car will be protected. You don't want your car out at sea and unprotected from the elements for days at a time. Saltwater can be nasty to a car so opting for a shipper that guarantees your car will be in the interior of a ship, protected from the weather, is a good idea. I've read some major horror stories about cars that got shipped to Hawaii in the elements come full of rust.

Top tip: Consider driving to California then hopping the final plane to Hawaii to save some cash. You'll save on car transport costs as well as enjoy a cheaper and shorter flight to Hawaii.

Although prices vary quite a bit, you should expect to pay somewhere between $1000 and $1500 for most cars coming from the lower 48 states of the USA. The higher end of that scale could go well over $2500 if shipping from a place like Alaska to over $5000 if from another country.

Shipping Requirements

There are quite a few requirements before you can ship your car. Each company will have different procedures and requirements and will give you complete directions. Just to give you a rough idea of what's in store, we'll outline a few of the requirements you're likely to deal with.

  • Clean your vehicle inside and out and make sure it's not leaking any type of fluids.

  • Disconnect any third part additions like car alarms that might go off or simply drain your battery.

  • Remove everything from the car that isn't part of the car itself. Meaning, you can't use your car as a cheap way to ship your stuff to Hawaii. Remove everything, even stuff from the trunk. Child car seats should be allowed to stay in the vehicle.

  • Gather up and keep your drivers license, shipping reservation information and bill of lading, vehicle registration, vehicle title, proof of insurance, extra key / fob, and other paperwork with you. You'll need this when you ship it and to pick it up.

  • Remove gas to 1/4 or less of a tank. This means driving it until it's below that amount as shippers don't want hundreds of fuel filled cars weighing their boats down and creating bigger fire hazards.

Shipping Process

You're almost there, so let's walk through how this all works.

  1. You make a reservation to get your car shipped and pay your fees.

  2. You get your car ready for shipping (cleaning it out, etc).

  3. Deliver it to the dock or to the auto transporter that will drive it to the dock for you.

  4. It will likely take a few weeks for the car to arrive in Hawaii. Plan for a rental in the mean time if needed.

  5. Once you're in Hawaii you'll make a reservation to pick up your car on the island of your choice. Bring everything they ask you to bring or you'll be sent away!

  6. Get your car at your reservation time and drive away.

  7. You'll have 30 days to get your vehicle registered in Hawaii. To do that you must first get a vehicle safety inspection. These are done at some gas stations and auto repair shops. Somebody will check your car to make sure it's safe and put a sticker on it if it passes. If it fails you'll need to get the failed items fixed and then have it inspected again. Safety inspections are required to be done annually. Once passed, you can register it through a local DMV center to get your Hawaii license plates and also to switch to a Hawaii Drivers License.


So there you have it, you now know how to ship your car to Hawaii. Better yet, you now know to do some research and first make sure it's worth your time and money to ship your car over here! Just to toss in my own personal experience, as I talked about in this forum post, I used Pasha Hawaii and had a great experience with them in shipping my car from Arizona to Oahu. If I had to do it again I'd happily use Pasha again.