Buyer Tips Used Cars

5 Major Shipping Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Your Used Vehicle

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 05/08/2021

Congratulations! You just got a great deal on your dream car! But now it has been rejected as a runner at the port due to shipping pitfalls you could avoid.  


The only option now if you must ship RORO is to forklift it. Basically exporting as a non-runner; for an added fee of almost $700USD too! Yeah, just great! All the money saved at the auctions – wiped off in an instant!


This could happen to anyone and any vehicle. What’s most annoying in this case was that before buying it was obvious the vehicle wouldn’t go as regular RORO. You just didn’t know.  

So what are the obvious shipping pitfalls to avoid and unforeseen costs when exporting your vehicle? 


There are a few shipping tips to consider before purchasing your vehicle that will ensure you avoid most shipping pitfalls and have your vehicle shipped to you in record time. 


What are Shipping Pitfalls?

These are challenges that you may face while shipping your vehicle. These challenges can lead to increased charges not budgeted for and delays in receiving your vehicle due to rejection from the shipping company. 

You can inspect your vehicle before purchase by arranging for a physical inspection or purchase of the vehicle’s history reports.

Arranging a physical inspection comes at a cost while the VIN reports are less expensive but they are only as good as the last record entered or made available and may have omissions. 


Before making your purchase, you need to carefully inspect the vehicle you intend to purchase. Where possible, physically, otherwise, visually by taking a close look at the pictures provided with the vehicle listing and watching out for any of the obvious signs listed below. 


1. Titles

The title is legal proof of ownership of a vehicle and contains the vehicle’s important identification information. This will be picked up by the shippers from the auction houses, but if the vehicle has an unsatisfied lien or the seller has not provided the title, a vehicle will be listed as a pending title. 

If this happens, the vehicle would not be accepted for export at the ports. The inconvenience here for an international buyer who has nowhere to store the vehicle for the 30 – 45 days time frame required to process and make the title available, is the added storage costs and the redelivery fee to the port. 



Suffice to say, no vehicle can be shipped until the title is received. Most car listings will indicate this clearly in the vehicle specifications and missing it could prove costly.


2. Batteries

This is a critical shipping pitfall when purchasing a vehicle. The battery of your purchased vehicle must be accessible for visual inspection at the terminal before shipping. 

If the battery and the cables cannot be accessed and disconnected or if it looks damaged, the vehicle will be rejected.

If the battery of the vehicle is in a location other than in the engine compartment, the location of the battery will have to be written and put on the windshield.


3. Hybrids/Electric/LNG 

Hybrid cars combine either gas or diesel with an electric motor. Shipping lines like Grimaldi, as of writing this will outrightly reject any Hybrid vehicle, used or new for export as a RORO-able unit.

In addition,  other shipping companies reject hybrids and electric vehicles and may also not load them on their RORO vessels. 

These restrictions were put in place because of a series of onboard fires on RO-RO vessels that affected many shipping companies from 2005, the most recent being Grimaldi lines

As of writing this, Sallaum shipping lines on the other hand will accept Hybrid cars. If you are unsure, it is advisable to avoid hybrid vehicles or be prepared to export by container shipping altogether.



4. Flood & Fire Damage

Another shipping pitfall is purchasing flooded, fire-damaged, or evidence of fire or flooded vehicles. Most shipping companies reject such vehicles as runners or none runners on RO-RO but may accept them as containerized shipment. 


5. Mechanical & Physical damage

Vehicles with oil leaks, flat tires, no steering, damaged driver and passenger area should be avoided. This hinders access to the vehicle when shipping. 

Make sure to inspect the car thoroughly before making a purchase, to avoid shipping pitfalls at the port. Also, the keys to the vehicle must be visible and readily accessible.

All this can be found in the vehicle’s history report which is accessible once you sign up and make a deposit. 


Further Reading

  1. Quick and Helpful Maintenance Hacks for Used Cars
  2. Shipping a Car From the U.S. to Nigeria: A Simple Guide
  3. 5 Major Physical Damages to Look out for Before Buying a Used Car from Online Auction


In conclusion, it is advisable to speak with an Auto Auction mall representative before proceeding with any purchase to confirm current port acceptance criteria to avoid these shipping pitfalls. 

Feel free to send us an email or chat with us to get started on your next vehicle purchase.