If you decided to move or buy a vehicle from a private party or dealership in another state you definitely need to know how the process of car shipping works.

We're here to tell you the whole picture from the beginning to the end with all underwater rocks.

Different Types of Transportation & Trailers

What do we usually know about car shipping? That some driver comes and load your vehicle on the truck and then deliver it to your destination location.

But it’s only a tip of an iceberg.

The first step for car shipping is to choose the transportation type which suits you best.

Car Shipping

Trailer types can be:

1. Open

Open transportation means that your vehicle is going to be transported on an open trailer and exposed to the outdoors. They have built-in ramps that make the loading and off-loading process easier. These trailers are using power hydraulics to raise or lower the ramps.

This type of car shipping is the most important. An open car carrier trailer is any trailer without sides.

And what about trailers?

Open trailers:

  • single-vehicle hotshot trailer

single-vehicle hotshot trailer

It is a pickup dully with a tow trailer, which is usually a single level.

One of the biggest advantages of a small truck like a hotshot or a single level multi-car carrier is that it can get to places that are not accessible to the big multi-level multi-car carrier trucks.

  • single-level multi-car trailer

single-level multi-car trailer

This trailer can be used for shipping RV, Travel Trailer, big Pickup truck, or SUV.

  • multi-level multi-car carrier trailer

multi-level multi-car carrier trailer

This the most commonly used auto transport trailer.

If you need to ship a car across the country for private or business needs it’s your choice.

2. Enclosed

It can be a soft side or hard side trailer.

The vehicle in the enclosed trailer is safer from the outdoor conditions (for example weather).

Enclosed trailers:

  • single-level single-vehicle enclosed trailer

single-level single-vehicle enclosed trailer

This type of trailer is used for transporting luxury vehicles or for short distances.

  • single-level multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

single-level multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

This trailer can transport up to 3 vehicles at the same time.

  • multi-level multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

multi-level multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

This trailer can transport 6-8 vehicles at the same time.

These trailers are pulled by powerful semi-trucks and are loaded and unloaded just like an open carrier with adjustable deck ramps.

3. For inoperable vehicles

In the case if you’re vehicle is inoperable the driver needs to know from where to where it’s going.

If it’s going from an auction or port, they will load the vehicle by a forklift.

Fork-Lift-Loading-for inops

If it’s going from residence the driver needs to have a winch to load it on the trailer.

Winch for loading inoperable vehicle

If you there is help on the pickup and delivery locations you can use the driver even without a winch.

Also, everything depends on the condition of the vehicle.

Usually, it should roll, brake, and steer.

You can use both open and enclosed trailers for this type of shipment.

4. For motorcycles or ATV/UTV vehicles

There are two ways to ship your motorcycle or ATV/UTV vehicle.

You can use open and enclosed trailers.

An open trailer means your vehicle may share the shipping truck with a few other vehicles and they will be openly exposed to the elements for the entire journey.

Loading ATV

On the other hand, the enclosed trailer means the vehicle will stay inside the truck or in its own container, safe from any outside elements.

Motorcycle loading in enclosed trailer

5. For boats

Depends on the size of the boat it can be an open or enclosed trailer.

If it’s already on the trailer it’s better to hire a pickup truck that will tow your boat anywhere you need.

If it’s not, it can be transported on a flatbed, hotshot, hard side or soft side enclosed depending on the size.

Shipping a boat on flatbed

Thirteen feet, six inches is a number when it comes to overland transportation. If your boat has a tower, arch, pulpit, or bridge that will be any taller than this once the boat is on its trailer, it will need to be removed.

It also has to be secured to the boat and protected with padding.

6. For heavy or farm equipment

To transport some heavy machinery the carrier will need dimensions.

Your equipment can be towed or it may require a special trailer.

It can be hotshot or a step-deck but depending on dimensions the driver might require permits.

Shipping heavy equipment

This is especially important if your load qualifies as oversized or overwidth.

And now types of transportation:

  1. Local
  2. Across country
  3. International
  4. Door to Door
  5. Terminal to Terminal

Types of car shipping infographic

All these kind of shipments we can easily handle.

Comparing Prices and Companies

We’ve already discovered different types of transportation & trailers, what should we know next?

I will tell you. The best way to choose the company is to compare prices and check their reviews.

Prices depend on the distance, year, type, and size of the vehicle, condition, locations, type of shipment, trailer used, time of the year, the situation on market.

On what depends the price during car shipping infographic

Pro Tip

Don't pay anything before the vehicle is actually picked up. Some companies might give you a low price just to get their hands on your deposit money and charge you without even finding a truck. They will raise the price after all.

If open carriers usually charge $0,50/mi, enclosed carriers take $1/mi, for towing away they will take around $1.5-$3.5/mi and trailers like step-deck or hotshot for heavy equipment – $1.5-$4 per mi.

Price depends on Trailers Infographic

For example:

Now the total price transporting a 2019 operable Toyota Camry from Los Angeles, CA to New York, NY on open 9 car hauler will be around $1250 and at the same time for inoperable – $1450.

And if it’s an operable 2019 Ford F-150 it will be around $1550 total.

If the vehicle is not from Los Angeles, CA but from Santa Paula, CA the transportation cost will increase because it’s far from the regular driver’s route and from the big city.

As we told, size, year, locations, and condition of the vehicle are important.

To compare prices you can simply request a couple of quotes from different companies.


Request a quote

Check if it’s door to door, without any hidden fees, with insurance included.

You can check reviews at the different websites, the most popular are BBB, Trustpilot and Transport Reviews.

Reviews Trustpilot Transport Reviews BBB


Be aware of companies without any reviews and companies with a lot of negative reviews.

You can check ours by following these links: BBB, Trustpilot, Transport Reviews.

How to Make a Request

There are two types of auto shipping services offered: auto shipping brokers and vehicle shipping load boards.

Load boards allow you to post your own transport request and connect directly with the drivers to set up your own transport.

To have an opportunity to post your car on such a load board as Central Dispatch you’ll need to have the carrier, broker, or dealer license.

Central Dispatch

A broker handles all the details for you—contacting the driver, setting the time, coordinating the shipment, ensuring on-time delivery, etc.

You can easily call the company or visit their website and make the request.

The information needed to provide a quote:

  • first and last name
  • phone #
  • e-mail
  • zip codes for pickup and delivery
  • 1st available pickup date
  • vehicle condition
  • trailer type
  • year, make and model of the vehicle (also it’s type)

how to make a quote for shipping a vehicle


The company will check the current situation on the route, from where to where exactly the vehicle is going and provides an estimated price.

Pro Tip

The price that the company will tell you from the beginning can not be final. The price should be confirmed by a carrier according to the current situation on the market.


Vehicles are insured against in-transit damage caused by carrier negligence or equipment failure by the auto transporting truck that we assign.


These auto shipping and car transport trucks, by law, carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance and between $30,000 to $50,000 in cargo insurance per vehicle.

This will cover any damage caused during transport.

Usually, carriers offer $100,000 insurance from bumper to bumper 0% deductible for an open trailer.

And $250,000 insurance from bumper to bumper 0% deductible for an enclosed trailer.

How to Arrange Shipment

We recommend scheduling your auto transport anywhere from two days to two weeks in advance.

We are often able to ship your car on the very same day, but providing us with a longer lead time allows us to schedule your vehicle transport better.

You want the most current pricing, and you get that by staying within two weeks of your first available date to ship.

Believe it or not, a request of $50-$75 too low can really hold up your order if there are plenty of other cars available to ship at the higher pricing.

To avoid that, try not to book more than a month in advance and preferably within two weeks, because seasonal changes can impact the current pricing.

Once you requested the quote from a shipping company, you’ll definitely receive a phone call, a text, and e-mail.

There are two ways to book an order: online or over the phone with the shipping manager.

Both ways are good but over the phone, you’ll be able to ask all questions you might have.

How to make an order for car shipping 1

How to make an order for car shipping 2

To book an order the sales manager will need:

  • first and last name
  • phone #
  • e-mail
  • exact pickup and delivery addresses
  • both phone numbers for pickup and delivery
  • contact names and phone numbers for both locations
  • 1st available pickup date
  • vehicle condition
  • trailer type
  • year, make and model of the vehicle (also it’s type)
  • signed contract
  • credit card information
Pro Tip

Usually, companies take the credit card information to have some kind of insurance that you're working with them only. If you're working with a couple of companies it will be hard to find the driver.

We don’t need any charges upfront but once the driver is assigned, we will need to authorize partial payment from the credit card (usually it’s $100-$300, depends on the carrier’s insurance) before the pickup.

We will charge it only after the pickup.

How to Prepare your Car for Shipment

1. Wash your car

Dirt and dust can easily hide scratches or dents. Before the pickup of your car, wash it thoroughly, and when the driver comes to inspect the vehicle, check it together on any pre-existing damages.

2. Remove all personal belongings from the vehicle

During the transportation things might be tossed a bit, so to prevent damages, we advise removing everything from the vehicle.

3. Disable the alarm

If there is an alarm system, it must be disconnected prior to dropping off or the alarm remote must be provided.

4. Fuel

Leave less than a quarter tank of fuel. Your vehicle will be transported, not driven and if you fill the tank, it will make the vehicle heavier and may cause problems during transportation.

5. Check for leaks

If your vehicle has an aggressive leak, the car shipping company may refuse service. It may damage other vehicles and causes dangerous situations during the shipment.

6. Remove Tags and Plates

No one will actually drive your car, it will be on the trailer, so if anything happens during the transportation, you may need all the items.

7. Photos

Take pictures of the car before the shipment to cover yourself in case of any damages.

8. Keys

You should provide the selected carrier with the keys, so he can load and unload the car from the trailer.

How to Prepare Vehicle for Shipping Infographic

The Shipping Process Itself

Car Shipping is very simple. Feel free to check our other articles here.

Once you submit the required paperwork, the transport of your vehicle will be scheduled according to the dates on your shipping order.

You should receive a call from the carrier anywhere from 10 to 24 hours in advance of your pick up date.

When the driver picks up your vehicle, he will do a detailed inspection of your automobile and will present you with a Bill of Lading document.

The same Bill of Lading will be present on delivery so you can re-inspect the car.

The reverse happens at the delivery point.

The driver calls in advance, you’ll walk around the vehicle to see if there is any damage and take delivery upon your approval.

The Check-list how to ship a car in 2020 inforgraphic

Delivering is the final step in the process, and also the simplest part.

Once your vehicle has been assigned and picked up, not too much can go wrong.

Once the vehicle is picked up, you can estimate that it will take roughly 1 day of transit time for every 500 miles distance.

Delivery Time Estimate Guide

100-500 miles takes 1 or 2 days; 500-1000 miles takes 2 or 3 days; 1000-1500 miles takes 3 or 4 days; 1500-2000 miles takes 4 or 5 days; 2000-2500 miles takes 5 or 6 days; 2500-3000 miles takes 6 or 7 days

Depending on the distance, weather conditions, and population centers it could be a few days or weeks until a vehicle reaches its destination.

The carriers usually estimate about 10 days on coast to coast trips, but they frequently arrive earlier.

The Department of Transportation has strict safety laws. Pickup and delivery can be estimated within the quoted 2 to 3-day window.

Oftentimes there are unforeseen occurrences which is why you must allow a 2 to 3-day window from the quoted dates.

These are situations that are out of the control of the driver.

Experience has shown that there is approximately a 90% pick up and delivery is exactly as quoted.

Please make a note that if any company assures a guaranteed date you may be disappointed.

Truck with a boat on the road vehicles shipping

Actions after Delivery

This part is the simplest.

If you’re happy with the service the company provided, they will really appreciate it if you leave a couple of reviews for them to help other clients make the choice.

If you Love what we do Please Leave a Review

If your vehicle was damaged.

At the delivery, please inspect your vehicle with the driver to see if any damage occurred during transport.

Please notate all damage on the Bill of Lading (A vehicle inspection report) before signing for the release of the vehicle.

Ask the driver for a copy of the Bill of Lading and take pictures on-site of the damage for claim purposes.

Then please contact your sales manager to get the claim process started.

Pro Tip

Please note that any damage to the interior caused by personal items is not covered with insurance.


We hope that this article was useful and you’ll use all-important tips.

We will be happy to transport your vehicle from anywhere to anywhere for the lowest possible price with no charges upfront.

Even during the hard situation in the world, we keep working as usual for you to have the ability to transport your vehicle at any time.

Thanks for reading this article.

Feel free to request a quote now!