USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling with Vehicle Parts

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Car parts

More frequently than you might imagine, travelers contact TSA to find out if they can pack automotive or other vehicle parts in their checked or carry-on bags. We regularly hear from travelers who work for racing teams or car dealerships, and those who have purchased a vehicle online or at an auction. Vehicle parts, like batteries, are governed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety and hazmat rules as well as TSA security rules, so this week’s travel tips are designed for those who want to park vehicle parts in their carry-on or checked bags.

In general, TSA permits auto and vehicle parts in carry-on or checked baggage after they’ve been properly screened and if there is no fuel or traces of fuel present. Car engine parts may be placed in checked luggage only if the parts are packed in their original box and free of hazardous chemicals such as gasoline and oil.

If you must bring a vehicle part as carry-on baggage, please keep in mind that the size and shape of the item could cause security concerns and should fall within your airline’s carry-on baggage restrictions. Individual airlines may have more restrictive rules on items packed in carry-on or checked baggage, so we recommend that you contact your airline to find out if additional restrictions apply.

When a dangerous or hazardous material is found during TSA’s checked baggage screening process, TSA notifies the airline and the airline makes the decision to remove it from the bag. Airlines may or may not notify a passenger that hazmat was found in their checked baggage and removed prior to departure.

Here are some additional rules and tips:

  • Shock absorbers are allowed in checked baggage as long as they do not have sealed, compressed gas cylinders or hazardous materials. If the shock absorbers are sealed with compressed gas, they will not be allowed in checked baggage. Even if a shock absorber is not sealed with compressed gas, if it contains a residue or vapors of oil or gasoline, it is considered a hazardous material and will be removed from checked baggage by the airline.
  • Car batteries are prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage, per FAA hazmat regulations.
  • Vehicle airbags are prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags, per FAA hazmat regulations.
  • If the vehicle parts you’re planning to pack are used or you aren’t sure you can remove all hazmat residue or vapors, we recommend that you ship them to your destination using a parcel shipping service instead.

For more information on FAA rules on hazmat for air travel, read their Is It Safe? information sheet.

The regulations governing the transport of hazardous materials aboard commercial aircraft are regulated by the Department of Transportation's Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). If you have any questions regarding hazardous materials regulations that could pertain to an item you want to pack for air travel, please call PHMSA at (800) 467-4922 or visit their website at

TSA Blog Team

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.


Submitted by Anonymous on


Great information, but can you point me to the TSA regulations on what my 15 year old daughter should wear to avoid verbal assault and sexual harassment from TSO's at the airport?

Submitted by RB on
TSA: America’s Morality Police

“The TSA has a new mission, apparently: to make sure young women are wearing appropriately modest attire."

"Here’s what happened, as my daughter described it in text messages to us: she was at the station where the TSA checks IDs. She said the officer was "glaring" at her and mumbling. She said, "Excuse me?" and he said, "You’re only 15, COVER YOURSELF!" in a hostile tone. She said she was shaken up by his abusive manner.”

And I thought TSA was suppose to be protecting us from terrorist but it turns out that TSA and its 65,000 strong corps of Morality Police employees are the terrorists.

If there was not good reason to correct the mistake that is TSA I think this case tips the scale and proves TSA is not an organization that embraces the United States Constitution.
Submitted by Diaperdad on

why does most of the prohibited stuff carried on for flights makes sense.
are people not using their heads? dont answer that.
people these days are like 2 year olds, impulse and like the character bart simpson, do what you feel until you get caught.

Submitted by Diaperdad on

dress your daughter appropriately. Your post did not note how old she is

Submitted by Wintermute on

Who's version of "appropriate?" The girl in question was dressed quite modestly in my version. I'm sure most people would find the same.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This is a good post, Lynn.

I hope this same professional attitude can be used in posts addressing privacy or abuse incidents by TSA screeners.

Thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's funny how critics believe every negative story about TSA; but anything which could be perceived as positive is met with nothing but scrutiny and disbelief. Sad.

Submitted by Cjpyatt on

So many people are waiting for the government to take care of them and tell them what to do! Can't we just use our own brains and skills to do all of that?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"are people not using their heads?"

The people who think naked body scanners that have never detected anything dangerous and have a 100% false positive rate make us safer are, as you note, not using their heads.

Submitted by Anonymous on

care to explain the recent article on the consumerist about screeners acting contrary to published guidelines and retaliatory actions?

Submitted by @SkyWayManAz on

Anonymous said...

Clearly a failed policy that does nothing to keep anyone safe. If the parents are truly up to no good how does giving one a pat down prove anything? If the man had a bomb on him he'd have volunteered his wife for the pat down (file that under things not to say at the airport). Either the item is dangerous or it's not. Nitrate swab, even with the high false positive rate, would have been a better indicator than a pat down. If positive opening one at random selected by the screener still would have been safer. If it was only one it might not have to go to waste either depending on feeding time. At best the response is very thinly disguised "Do You Want to Fly Today" in legalese boilerplate. Anyone with half a would brain shake their head.

Submitted by Anonymous on

we leave everything to the government, how about our responsibility.. we want to travel safe, we should exercise common sense. and we lessen the problem. always remember these people who work at the airport are trying to protect us, so we can reach our destination safe.

Submitted by Anonymous on
"Clearly a failed policy that does nothing to keep anyone safe."

Not a failed policy at all. The TSA staff must set rules. Show a dominant over travelers. Create a fear. The is basic crowd control. For on inconvenienced family, how many were cowed to obedience to the rules and instructions?
Submitted by Wintermute on

Anonymous said...

"always remember these people who work at the airport are trying to protect us, so we can reach our destination safe."

Some of them are there because they actually think they're helping prevent another terrorist attack, but some are there because it pays better than flipping burgers and they can't get jobs elsewhere. Yet others are egotistical maniacs who like the authority it gives them over the travelling public. But nothing they do actually helps protect us from terrorists. Only us refusing to be terrorized does that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Remember who stopped the Flight 93 terrorists, the failed "shoe bomber", "underwear bomber", & "Boston bombers".

Not law enforcement bursting into homes, assault weapons drawn. Not the TSA violating our rights, privacy, & dignity.

It was regular people like you and me. Present bloggers excluded.

Submitted by Jacobo Abadi on

ynn, your comments regarding automotive gas shock absorbers are wrong. They can be checked as baggage because they are covered by Hazardous MAterials Regulations (HMR)173.306(f)(4), and the IATA/CIAO Special Provision A114

please read following link

Submitted by Anonymous on

Really, these posts are worse than youtube comments. Why are you reading these, internet user? Turn off your computer and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors, call an old friend or something.

Submitted by Guitarist on

In 2 days,I will be traveling from Newark,NJ Airport to Honduras. It's a 2-leg flight which I will make the connection in Houston. Question: I am bringing my father several automotive parts for his truck:2 new hydraulic front shock absorbers, 2 new ignition coils and 1 new instrument gauge cluster panel. Given the airlines (United's) limitation on checked baggage - i.e.,50 pounds, I do not want to have to compromise my clothing space and weight for these items so I am putting them in a carry-on bag. In reading both TSA and United's baggage policies regarding restricted items, I can not find anything that indicates these items would not be cleared for carry-on (clearly I understand this is contingent on no evidence of gas or hazmat materials residue). In posting this comment to the blog, I am looking for TSA to confirm this is OK for me to do. Thanks!

Submitted by Ozzy on

To Guitarist, so what happened? were you able to take those car part in your carry on? I don't see any response to your question from TSA! I wonder if I can put two used motorcycle exhaust mufflers in my checked in luggage. Once I tried to take a used steering pump in my suitcase and they took it out, destroyed it, my loss was almost $200.00. Some people here say use your head, use common sense. Rules and regulations are not always stand on common sense!

Submitted by James on

Actually were you able to take those car part in your carry on? I don't see any response to your question from TSA! I wonder if I can put two used motorcycle exhaust mufflers in my checked in luggage.

Submitted by Guitarist on

I was able to carry the new autoparts in both my carry-on and checked luggage. I carried a new truck dash in the carry on given it's delicate dials and the plastic shield...not wanting it to be crushed or cracked. The new starter and shocks we're in my checked bag. I wrapped all in bubble wrap with the purchase receipt attached from the vendor. When they opened my carryon they did swipe it for traces of petroleum. They did open my checked luggage too. Given things were new, and labelled properly and nothing oozing or dripping is probably why all the parts cleared. As I understand from TSA policy, anything with a chemical/petroleum residue on it will not pass the check point so you may want to consider shipping them instead of getting to the airport and having them confiscated.

Submitted by Blake Anderson on

thank you is useful information about TSA can anybody tell in detail about hazardous materials which are not allowed during checking....

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can I take a motorcycle computer in my checked bags? (Usted)

Submitted by Cindoi on

I hope this same professional attitude can be used in posts addressing privacy or abuse incidents by TSA screeners.

nice post, I like it

Submitted by Roy Led on

Hi everyone,

Regarding shocks for your car. I purchased a pair of those mini gas shocks called lift supports that keep your trunk or hood open on your car. Would these make it through without being confiscated via checked baggage? They're brand new. I'm traveling from Austin back to Canada.

Cheers and sorry,

Your fellow Canadian.

Submitted by Anonymous on

CAn you take a motorcycle exhaust on a plane?

Submitted by Mazdayar Vatcha on

I was carrying Shock Absorbers after having completely released the compressed air in them. Even then, they were removed from my bags. This despite the rule saying that Shock Absorbers CAN be carried if they have no compressed air in them.

Someone else has commented that Shock Absorbers with compressed gas can be carried as they conform to (HMR)173.306(f)(4) and IATA/CIAO Special Provision A114

I'd be very grateful if someone could clarify.

Submitted by Alexandre Farias on

Hi, i had my car gas shocks removed by aircraft operator. Is my airline responsable for taking possession and disposing of it? Tks,

Submitted by Horacenen on