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 https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat.
TSA Blog Team
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