Matson Car Shipping Review

Matson is an auto transport company based in Honolulu. The company specializes in ocean transport, with destinations including Alaska, Guam, Micronesia and, unsurprisingly, Hawaii. Unlike a lot of companies you might be looking at to ship your car, Matson is the actual carrier and not an aggregate or broker - they’ve got their own fleet of ships. And if you’re shipping the car because of a move, they can even handle your household goods.

How Matson Car Shipping Works

Matson Car Shipping uses a fleet of ships to transport cars and other freight. When you ship a car with Maston, you can choose between several different options. There’s open shipping, where your car gets driven into what is essentially a giant garage on the ship. It’ll ride with a few hundred other cars to its destination. If you’d like a little more protection for your car, you can ship it in an auto frame or a closed container, which will help keep it from getting damaged if something should slide around during transit.

In the continental United States, Matson sails from Oakland and Long Beach. Tacoma is a third option, but your car will be transported by truck to Oakland if you choose that city. You’ll need to deliver your car to the terminal or a nearby Matson lot for shipping - that means if you don’t live close to one of their terminals, you’ll need to drive it there yourself or arrange for a transporter.

Where Does Matson Ship To?

Matson can ship your car to or from Hawaii, Alaska, Guam or other Micronesian islands, or ports in the South Pacific (Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Auckland), and the US Mainland. You can expect shipping to take between 3 days on the low end, if you’re shipping between Alaska and the West Coast, to 33 days on the high end if you’re shipping between the West Coast and Hawaii.

Matson Car Shipping Costs and Quotes

Matson makes it easy to get a good idea of what you’ll pay to ship your car. Unlike many shipping websites, their prices are disclosed up front on a single page. Prices range from under $1,000 to ship from Hawaii to the mainland, to nearly $6,000 if you’re shipping from Saipan to Hawaii. We’ve put together a table of shipping rates for you to check out:

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Active duty military members can get a $100 discount on those prices. Shipping to Guam or Hawaii will add an invasive species fee imposed by local governments. That fee will be 75 cents per 1,000 pounds. Of course, if you choose enclosed shipping, expect to pay more than for the RoRo, or Roll On, Roll Off open garage option.

Is Matson A Good Car Shipping Company?

We think Matson is generally a good company. Their open pricing policy on their website helps drive that supposition, as does their A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Obviously, no company is perfect, and their reviews reflect that, but despite that, we don’t get the impression that Matson is a company to be avoided.

Matson Car Shipping Reviews

Matson’s car shipping reviews are somewhat mixed, with a 3.5 out of 5 star rating on Yelp. But several of the reviews we checked seemed to be critical of things beyond the company’s control, such as this one from Rick R. complaining their car failed a government agricultural inspection for having mud under the fenders:

"When I got to the port, the man reached under the tire wells and found gritty mud, not surprisingly since it had been raining all morning. He said it wouldn't pass the agricultural inspection. I found a hose and sprayed under each tire well and then returned. To my surprise, there was still a little mud, so I tried to wipe it off with a rag. The man seemed okay with that, but three hours later we were called and told our car did not pass the inspection. We had to go back and pick up our car, and now we have to wait an additional week to ship it."

We have trouble really counting that sentiment against the company; National governments are often motivated to be concerned about visitors and their belongings bringing unwanted pests into their countries.

On the other hand, there’s this displeased review from Daniel B., who says all 3 of the vehicles he shipped with Maston ended up with problems.

"I shipped 3 cars with this company,I will never again ship with them again. If they don't do what's right and fix what was broken and stole from my Motorhome. I had a brand new generator installed professionally in my motorhome and it was stolen at the port as I dropped it off and picked it up at the port in Long Beach and picked it up in Honolulu and it was ripped out damaging my vehicle and my fully loaded truck was damaged and the side step for the lifted truck ripped off. My wife's BMW was also not treated with care or respect and was damaged also on the way. I am just trying to get my generator replaced, that cost $280 and they won't stand on integrity and replace it. I did not even ask for all the other damages to be covered."

That’s a bit more concerning, but complaints of that nature appear to be relatively uncommon. And there are lots of good reviews as well, such as Danny R.’s:

"Every time I come to handle business here may it be for payments or shipping of a vehicle, the ladies here are always so friendly and I must say the customer service here is outstanding, they have gone out of their way to help me resolve whatever the situation may be, I have been using Matson for over twenty seven years now and I will continue to do so, I have never never been disappointed and have trusted them with some of my most valuable possessions."

And another, from Ed E.:

"Really good customer service and they make your time there as smooth as possible. When I shipped my vehicle, you come up to an area and someone will ask you if you've quarantined for 14 days. Please keep this in mind if doesn't apply to you and just let the representative know.

Then they'll direct you to a room to get your paperwork squared away. Pick up and drop off is simple. You'll go to the lot, meet another representative and show you where to park or pick up your vehicle. Then you'll go back inside, show your paperwork and then proceed to drive off the lot to have your papers verified a final time.

I found Matson to be more cost effective and they honor a military discount. I won't be using other companies, but Matson. Mahalo!!!"

Do We Recommend Matson?

Yes, especially given that there are a limited number of actual car shippers which operate in the regions Matson covers. In other words, if you go with a regular shipping broker, odds are pretty good your car will end up on a Matson ship anyway. But we would caution that you should be clear about everything expected of you when using Matson for car shipping. That includes any governmental requirements such as having a completely clean car. Read their website’s information carefully, and don’t be afraid to contact them and ask for clarification of anything you’re not sure about.

Read more on How to Ship a Car to Hawaii.

Read more about our picks and recommendations for the Best Car Shipping Companies.

Golden Wrench Winners for Best Car Shipping Companies

4.9 of 5

AmeriFreight is one of the most prominent and well known names in the auto transport industry. With coast-to-coast delivery and discounts available for military, seniors and students, AmeriFreight remains a big player in car shipping.

4.5 of 5

Sherpa Auto Transport is a very trusted name in the car shipping industry. With door-to-door delivery and a large array of auto transport options available for the consumer, Sherpa is a great choice.

4.9 of 5

Montway Auto Transport is a very well known name in the car shipping world. This company simplifieds the car shipping process and even includes the cost of insurance in the price. Their quote process is simple and they sustain excellent reviews within the industry.

4.1 of 5

Easy Auto Ship is a newer player in the car shipping game, but very respected. This shipper has excellent reviews and many options to choose from, including motorcycle, classic and international shipping options.

4.1 of 5

This nationwide shipping company is based in Chicago and is one of the only options available that offers a refundable deposit, should your plans change. They have a very easy quote process in place, even though they have not been in business as long as some of the other companies in the industry.

4.0 of 5

This well known auto shipper uses a trusted network of approved carriers and can ship your car to far away destinations like Alaska and Puerto Rico. They are known for high quality service and reasonable pricing.

3.8 of 5

This very reasonably priced company is a meta-search shipping option. uShip will provide you with quotes from multiple shipping companies to find the best deal for your needs. They have good reviews and many options available.

3.9 of 5

This nationwide auto transport company offers real-time, online vehicle tracking and instant quotes for the consumer. They are known for reasonable prices and a large list of shipping options.

3.1 of 5

Ship a Car Direct maintains a large network of qualified drivers, and is able to offer very reasonable prices. The company maintains excellent ratings and review, and offer many options for consumers.

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FAQ

Does Matson ship cars to Portland?

No. Matson’s car shipping ports on the West Coast are Long Beach, Oakland, and Tacoma.

How often does Matson ship cars to the Big Island?

Matson has several ships that service Hilo. You can get a current schedule at this website.

What is the best company to ship a car to Hawaii?

The best company depends on your needs; We recommend reading our Best Car Shipping Companies article, as well as checking reviews and ratings on your own.

Is it worth it to ship your car to Hawaii?

Oftentimes it is; unless you’re driving a really old heap, it’s probably cheaper to ship it than to buy another one once you get there.

What is the cheapest company to ship your car?

Price depends largely on transport options (RoRo/Container), destination, and capacity. The least expensive company today might not be the cheapest next month. For more on cheap car shipping, check out our article The Cheapest Way to Ship a Car.

Can you put a car in a Matson container?

You can ship a car in a Matson container, but Matson staff will load it for you.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.