Engine Shipping - Guide For Manufacturers

Engine Shipping - Guide For Manufacturers

Engines are shipped across the U.S. by boat, rail, truck, and airplane every day. Because they’re classified as dangerous goods, this type of industrial equipment has to be packed strictly in a specific way that satisfies local and international standards. Engine shipping requires some experience to ensure maximum safety and security.

In this guide, we explain how to ship an engine by freight by examining standard industry best practices. This includes packing, documentation, and the various factors you’ll need to consider to ensure your equipment arrives in immaculate condition by its delivery date. The same regulations and procedures apply, regardless of whether you’re a hobbyist or business owner.

How to Ship an Engine

The two ways to ship an engine are LCL (less-than-container-load) or LTL (less-than-truckload). What you select depends on the shipment’s location, engine size, budget, and urgency. Both options entail your engine traveling in a container along with other shipments that aren’t large enough to fill their own. LCL customarily refers to cargo that travels on ocean freight carriers, whereas LTL shipments are transported on trucks.

Full truckload prices are completely dependent on the current market, which fluctuates according to the season and time of day. Price factors include; shipment weight, shipping lanes, route, fuel cost, location, origin, destination, type of truck, and a carrier’s general operating costs.

Less-than truckload prices are regulated by the NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association), which adopts a set of classifications to determine the cost of shipping cargo. Every LTL carrier service will establish a minimum shipping rate to ensure the job is worthwhile. Often, consolidating an engine shipment with other freight, rather than paying for an FTL (full-truckload), is more cost-effective in the following ways:

  • Eco-Friendly: LTL reduces the fuel and vehicles needed for shipment and ramps up environmental efforts. It saves your carrier time, gas and allows them to be greener because they can determine optimal travel routes.
  • Cheaper: You don’t waste money on half-filled delivery trucks. With LTL shipping, you only pay for the space and density your engine occupies.
  • Additional Safety and Security: Due to the industry’s highly competitive nature, LTL shippers work hard to maintain their customer appeal and ensure that all freight is carefully packed.
  • Quicker engine delivery time: There are fewer logistics with LTL in terms of stops and weigh-ins, so these shipments often have a quicker delivery time than FTL.
  • Greater flexibility: LTL shipping offers convenient delivery options like inside delivery, notification before delivery, residential pickup, freeze protection, or lift-gate services. This makes it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to meet their customers’ needs.
  • Tracking and visibility: LTL freight shipping services usually provide 24/7 shipment tracking and complete visibility of a load’s status.

How to Prepare Engine for Shipping

Transporting an engine requires some know-how to ensure it arrives without accidental mishaps. Most reputable carriers will likely advise using pallets or crates as the best way to ship an engine, but you’ll still need to prepare it beforehand. If not, your carrier is well within their rights to refuse the shipment.

Be sure to drain your engine of all fluids, including water, and then re-plug all fluid orifices. Engine fluids are highly flammable, so it’s crucial they are cleaned properly and thoroughly. We recommend placing an absorbent material underneath the engine when draining the oil reservoir, so it can soak up spills, as well as leaving it overnight to allow for residual fluid to flow out.

Crates for shipping

How to Pack Engine - Cowtown Express's Tips

If you are shipping an engine into a crate, ensure it’s appropriately secured inside. The use of engineered foam enclosures will prevent it from moving during transit. Most carriers will advise crates; however, if you’ve agreed upon pallets, you’ll need to take extra care by doing the following:

  • Place rags or absorbent mats on top of the pallet before the engine is positioned, as this will contain and soak up small drips, preventing oil from traveling elsewhere.
  • Engines with sumps should be placed in a car tire or similar ring-shaped component to ensure stabilization; otherwise, they can be laid down flat.
  • The best way to ship an engine is with high-quality ratchet straps or plastic or steel bands used by professionals. All straps and bands should be protected where they touch the engine to prevent chaffing. Please note that no carrier will risk the liability in transporting engines that are secured sub-par.
  • Once the banding or strap is tightly secured, shrink wrap can be used, so long as the driver can check the dipstick. If you can, as a precaution, use a dipstick to check there’s no oil left in your engine. The last thing you want is a further delay due to residual oil.

Preparing the Paperwork to Ship an Engine

Engines fall under freight class 70, along with car parts and accessories. The shipping industry considers them dangerous goods due to their flammable parts and combustion chambers. Any manufacturing engine shipping requires a dangerous goods declaration form, which includes this vital information:

  • The shipper’s information
  • The consignee’s information
  • The Hazard Classification
  • Engine specifications
  • The UN or ID number
  • Handling and packing instructions
  • Authorization
  • Dates and signatures

On top of this, you’ll need to provide a data safety sheet, which outlines how to deal with the shipment in the unlikely event that it ignites. You’ll also need to make sure your engine is correctly labeled with large hazard communication stickers that clearly identify the risk your shipment poses.

If you are shipping overseas, you may also require the documents below to get through customs clearance. Most provide surety that the engine is legitimate and will be purchased when it arrives at its destination.

  • Export and import license
  • Proforma invoice
  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Insurance certificate
  • Bill of entry
  • Certificate of origin
  • Letter of credit

Engine shipping overseas may necessitate other country-specific documentation required for export and import. Poorly organized shipping documentation can delay cargo, affect shipping costs, and even result in fines from customs or authorities.  For this reason, it’s usually best to hire a third-party shipping company to handle your shipment, as they will be familiar with the correct admin and process.

How Long Does it Take to Ship an Engine?

Shipping an engine can take anywhere between one and 14 days, depending on whether it’s traveling by road, plane, or ship. For instance, crossing the Pacific Ocean is 12 hours by plane and roughly two weeks by container ship. If you’re shipping by truck, and the weather is bad, or the driver has to traverse challenging terrain, a trip that may take one day might end up taking several more.

However, distance and environmental factors aren’t the only factors when it comes to truck transportation. There are also laws that prevent drivers from traveling at certain times of the day, and credible shippers will never prioritize driver safety above swift delivery times. Most truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving time per shift, with a mandatory 10 hours break. Therefore, a 24-hour trip will actually take three days.

When selecting an appropriate shipping mode for your engine, you’ll want to consider:

  • Time: Seasonality, AKA peak season, will always affect shipping time.
  • Urgency: The delivery date will impact whether you can afford a delay, if standard shipping times are appropriate, or if you need to expedite your engine.
  • Budget: While airtime convenience is prized, it comes at a high price, which isn’t always conducive in the long term.
Time of shipping

How Much Does It Cost to Ship an Engine?

We’re often asked, “how much does it cost to ship an engine?”  Like shipping any other goods, there are many factors involved in determining price. First off, you’ll want to understand how different carriers charge for engine shipping.

  • Airlines bill on the chargeable weight or density.
  • Sea carriers charge per container (sometimes weight) and destination.
  • Rail or road carriers charge based on distance and size.

If you’re shipping out of the country, customs and destination fees will also apply. Warehousing fees at ports are also more expensive, as are cross-docking and warehousing. At Cowtown Express, we aim to provide competitive pricing determined by; distance, weather, time of year, shipment size, handling requirements, security, insurance, and fuel prices, to name a few.

The best way to determine cost is by contacting a shipping company for an engine shipping quote; truthfully, if you’re not a professional shipper, there are too many variables to attempt to estimate the cost yourself, and there’s really no need to.


As you can infer, engine shipping is a complex process for any individual or company to undertake if they’re not professional freight shippers. This is where Cowtown Express comes in as the nationwide solution for domestic ground transportation across the U.S. ​​We have over 35-years of freight experience, combined with a state-of-the-art fleet to accommodate all your trucking needs.

We work with a vast network of vetted carriers to meet every aspect of over-the-road freight shipping, whether it's cross-docking, warehousing, or expedited freight. Over the years, we’ve built long-term strategic relationships with trusted carriers, which help optimize supply chains. You can count on us for freight safely delivered on time, every time! To request a no-obligation quote or start a conversation, give us a call at 817-696-9458!

No items found.