Today I'm going to show you how to ship a car across country.

This is the ultimate guide to car shipping.

In this guide I'll cover:

  • What is car shipping across country
  • Shipping time (calculating)
  • How to transport a car
  • Average cost to ship a car
  • The cheapest car shipping way
  • Important things to know
  • The best auto transport companies
  • Lots more

Let's get started!

What is Cross Country Vehicle Shipping?

Cross-country vehicle shipping is basically moving your vehicle from one state to another or between cities through a shipping company.

There are basically two types of car shipping service providers.

You can work with a shipping firm that has its own fleet of shipping vehicles and equipment, or with a broker who would purportedly hook you up with the best auto shipping firms for a fee or commission.

Ship Car Across Country: open car hauler

(the source: https://www.ttnews.com/)

Regardless of who you get in touch with to have your vehicle shipped, your vehicle would be shipped along with a few other vehicles.

Having a shipping company transport only your vehicle is rare and can also turn out quite expensive.

Ship Car Across Country: enclosed car carrier for luxury cars

If your car is a classic or exotic model, get in touch with your shipping company to discuss your options.

How do Vehicle Transport Services work?

A reputed vehicle transport service provider would most likely have a huge carrier network encompassing the entire United States, which ensures your car gets shipped to any destination in the country from any point of origin.

Ship Car Across Country: how many carriers are there in the US

These companies know how unique the process of shipping a car is compared to shipping any other product.

Therefore, these shipping companies adopt a more customized approach to the process or get a bit more hands-on than regular shipping firms.

In other words, they have dedicated customer service departments, regular updates, around-the-clock monitoring, and proper insurance coverage in place.

How Long Will Car Shipping Take?

Generally, vehicle haulers cover several hundred miles a day, usually between 500 and 700 miles.

The vehicle delivery could take a day or more than a week, depending on how far the destination state or city is from the point of pickup, the place’s traffic congestion situation, etc.

Ship Car Across Country: new york to california los angeles auto transport

Here the shipping takes 5-14 days.

If you can spend a bit more money for shopping, some companies would gladly offer you expedited delivery and pickup services.

Ship Car Across Country: expedited shipping quora answer

(the source: https://www.quora.com/)

Regardless of how speedy the transport service is, you should know it would take longer than the time it would usually take for you to drive your car to the destination.

But then there are several drawbacks to driving a car across country (more on that in the latter part of this guide).

The following is a general guideline for the number of days it would take to have your car shipped across the country:

Ship Car Across Country: average car shipping time

  • Five to 14 days for shipping from the West Coast to the East Coast
  • Three to eight days for shipping from the East Coast to the Midwest
  • Three to eight days for shipping from the West Coast to the Midwest
  • Three to eight days for shipping from the North to the South

There are quite a few other things that need to be looked into before you could accurately estimate delivery time.

If a weekend falls between the point of pickup and the estimated delivery date, the delivery could take a day or two more.

Ship Car Across Country: car transport carrier meme

Yeah, it could be…

Also, you must consider the fact that the driver would have to head to several other locations for picking up other vehicles prior to heading to the locations of delivery.

Ship Car Across Country: how long to ship a car

Why so long? Because the carrier will drop other cars before this.

Also, drivers are legally allowed to drive only a specific number of hours a day.

Even if the driver wants to deliver your car to your new home quicker than scheduled, the law may actually prevent him from doing so.

The pickup and delivery times are accounted for in those legally allowed hours. In fact, deliveries and pickups take a significant amount of time during the shipping process.

Ship Car Across Country: carriers legacy

(the source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov)

The established and more reliable shipping service providers would invariably ask their drivers to call you a day before the delivery time.

The drivers would call you again and provide you with clearer details of the delivery once they come closer to the destination place.

However, things may still get delayed at this stage if the traffic situation is bad or the weather suddenly spells havoc in the city/town where the delivery is to take place.

Ship Car Across Country: bad weather to transport a car in new york

How to Ship a Car Across Country?

There are different variables involved when you are considering how to ship a car across country.

In fact, the choices you make during this stage would end up ascertaining how much you pay for the auto shipping service.

 

#1 Determine Car Delivery

 

There are a couple of pick-up/drop-off methods that would affect your car shipping costs.

Terminal-to-terminal car shipping costs are usually on the lower side.

However, door-to-door shipping service is a convenient method and for most people, it’s worth the premium.

The following is a basic breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks attached to these car shipping options.

Terminal-to-terminal:

Such a transport type needs taking your vehicle to a designated drop-off place and picking the car up from another assigned drop-off spot.

Ship Car Across Country: terminal-to-terminal car shipping

(the source: https://newmobility.news/)

While this shipping option is usually inexpensive of the two, you will have to make your arrangements to send the car to the pick-up area and take the vehicle from the destination location.

Viewed through the shipping company’s lens, terminal-to-terminal shipping lets car transport firms deliver complete shipments from a particular location to another, decreasing their overall expenditure.

On the flip side, this means your car could be spending additional time sitting in the parking lot of a terminal all exposed until a complete load is ready for shipping.

Door-to-door:

As mentioned before, door-to-door vehicle transport is extremely convenient.

Ship Car Across Country: door-to-door car shipping

It entails the service provider picking up your car from your location of choice (typically your place of work or your home) and delivering it to your end destination.

Since this method increases the driver’s road time, this shipping method usually costs a bit more compared to the other shipping method.

Kindly note certain work or home locations may not be accessible by carriers since the roads could be a bit too narrow for their large shipping vehicles to get through.

I think you’ve got an idea 🙂

In such a scenario, you would have to set up a pickup or delivery location closest to your end destination.

 

#2 Car Transport Type

 

As aforementioned, there are two basic methods to ship your car: open-air and enclosed.

Both these car transport types have their pros and cons.

However, the transport type you end up picking hinges significantly on the car you are shipping.

Open-air transport:

Open-car shipping is the cheapest shipment option of the two.

An auto shipping company usually ships up to 10 vehicles in a single open-air trailer, so that it could decrease its per-vehicle travel expense.

Ship Car Across Country: open car carrier

Most car owners opt for this transport type since it’s inexpensive and also because of the sheer number of open-car shipping orders lends to some flexibility with the delivery dates.

However, open-car shipping exposes your vehicle to the elements.

Thankfully, the risk isn’t too prominent, and the chances of your car being delivered unscathed or in pristine to good condition is fairly high.

Ship Car Across Country: car damage after shipping in open car hauler

But it could be…

Moreover, any dings or paint chips that may happen are usually insured.

Enclosed transport:

Enclosed-car transport shipping, on the other hand, is more secure and safer than open-car shipping.Ship Car Across Country: enclosed car transport

Enclosed-car shipping safeguards your car from various weather elements.

If your car is high-end or you value your car more than an average car owner would, enclosed shipping is recommended.

Ship Car Across Country: Do i Need an enclosed car carrier Infographic

Moreover, the dedicated loading platform with enclosed shipping provides a gentler slope that enables safer car loading.

Such a car shipping method is ideal for exotic vehicles, collectibles, and class vehicles.

Also, there are extra shipping solutions offered within the enclosed carrier transport umbrella.

Ship Car Across Country: enclosed car transport cost

As far as shipping cost is concerned, you may end up paying 50 percent more than the cost for open-air shipping since the enclosed car transportation usually carries fewer cars.

 

#3 Auto Transport Quotes

 

Pricing is a major aspect of shipping a car across country.

Therefore, having a car shipping estimate in writing is critical.

The following are a few things to look into when perusing quotes:

Insurance:

An established shipping firm would include insurance costs in their shipping quote.

Make sure the insurance offered is secondary or primary to yours, and cross-check with your insurance company to ascertain if they would take care of the damages incurred during the shipping.

Ship Car Across Country: car transport insurance

Also, pay attention to Policy Expiration Date.

Keep valuables and personal items out of your to-be-shipped car as they won’t be covered under vehicle insurance policies in case there is theft or damage.

Ascertain if the insurance of the shipping company has a damage deductible component.

Have written copies of all things insurance-related, in case there is an accident.

Shipping rates:

People who ship their vehicle several hundred or thousand miles long should know how the shipping fees and rates are arrived at.

Some shipping firms charge per mile.

Ship-Car-Across-Country: price per mile central dispatch

And the cost is very different.

However, the rates would come down if multiple cars are being shipped from and to the same cities.

Delay policy:

Also, find out if there are partial or full refunds offered on the shipping cost if the delivery is delayed than normal.

 

#4 Scheduling Car Pickup and Delivery

 

The quicker you make the arrangements to ship your vehicle, the more flexible and convenient things become.

In other words, you would be able to compare and choose from multiple car shipping carriers and also be able to price-compare their services.

Ship Car Across Country: car carriers

When a schedule is in place, a few factors would affect your price.

Distance:

You should probably know by now that your shipping costs would increase with transport distance.

Shipping rates could fluctuate based on the shipping company you choose.

Therefore, do your research about different carriers to ascertain how much you would be charged based on distance alone.

Time of year:

During peak months, you must expect to shell out more money than standard for the shipping.

Ship Car Across Country: holidays car transport

Prices for shipping a vehicle during the warmer months of the year could go up by at least $200 per trip.

If you are in the beginning stages of vehicle transportation planning, enquire about peak rates and learn if the broker or carrier offers any discounts during off-seasons, which would potentially lower your average shipping expenditure.

If you find a carrier that does offer such discounts, book a shipping trip with them since you would be able to save a significant amount of money in the process.

Delivery time:

You would most likely pay more if you want your vehicle a few days in advance.

If you are flexible about delivery time, you can expect to pay less than normal for the shipping.

Ship Car Across Country: expedited auto transprot

Usually, you would be provided a three- or two-day pick-up window, followed by a relatively accurate delivery date.

If you want your car picked up by or on a specific date, most firms would be able to warehouse your car in their premises for an extra fee.

For rushed shipping, you would end up paying at least $200 more above flexible shipping costs.

#5 Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport

There are certain things you must do prior to getting your car shipped.

Clean your vehicle:

Vehicle transport carriers are not licensed to move your household goods across states or cities.

Ship Car Across Country: personal items

In fact, the DoT (Department of Transportation) would penalize an auto shipping firm if personal items are found in the cars on their shipping trucks.

And you would most likely end up footing that bill.

Shipping additional goods in your vehicle isn’t just illegal by law, but the weight added to your car would also increase your shipping costs as well.

Certain car transport firms even recommend not shipping a car with a full gas tank since that would also add to the car’s weight and the final shipping costs.

The carrier would invariably recommend filling the car with fuel that’s more than enough to drive it from the delivery spot to the customer’s place.

Inspect your vehicle for any damage:

Snap a few pictures before shipping and after the car has been delivered.

These images would come in handy if you would like to file an insurance claim for damages during transit.

Though such damages are highly unlikely, it’s recommended you put them down on your bill of lading final report.

Ship Car Across Country: auto transport bill of lading

If you fail to do so, you may end up paying for the repair costs from your own pocket.

Ship Car Across Country: hail car damage

(the source: www.carsguide.com.au)

Remove personal belongings:

Removing all personal items from your car would prevent information from getting into the hands of the wrong people during transportation.

Car Shipping Cost

The cost of shipping or moving a car between cities or states hinges heavily on the distance to be covered.

To get a clearer picture of what your costs for shipping a car would be like, get multiple quotes from different service providers.

Car Shipping Rates

The actual costs for shipping a car vary across service providers.

For instance, a company could charge you $2 a mile for short 1 to 500-mile trips or charge a flat fee of $600 for a 350-mile trip.

Ship Car Across Country: auto transport cost

This way we see the cost per mile almost $1! And that is quite a bit expensive for a such route…

If the number of miles to be covered is more – for instance, 500 to 1500 miles – the rate per mile could go below a dollar, or you could be charged close to $900 for 1000 miles.

The rate for longer distances (more than 1500 miles) comes down further, close to $.60 per mile or $800 for a trip spanning 1500 miles.

Ship Car Across Country: how to calculate car shipping cost

Cheapest Way to Ship a Car

Most certainly, terminal-to-terminal service combined with open auto transport would be the least expensive way to ship your vehicle across the country.

Ship Car Across Country: terminal-to-terminal car shipping

Since open car transporters can carry a maximum of 10 vehicles on a single trailer truck, operators are able to save significant money on oil, fuel, and transport expenditure.

If you’d like to save more money, look for shipping options during the offseason, which usually is between late fall and late spring.

The most popular and busiest period to ship a vehicle is during early fall and summer.

Ship Car Across Country: average auto transport cost (seasons)

Generally, door-to-door service is expensive compared to terminal-to-terminal service, since the latter needs less driving time and the customer is not looking for maximum convenience.

Ship Car Across Country: why door-to-door auto transport

At times, however, door-to-door car shipping service would be cheaper than terminal-to-terminal due to the terminal charging the trucking firm storage fees.

Discounts

You can find out if you are eligible for any shipping discounts.

Most auto transport firms offer a range of discounts on their services.

If you are on the lookout for inexpensive car shipping, make sure you check in advance whether you qualify for the same.

Auto transport companies usually offer the following discounts:

Ship Car Across Country: discounts infographic

  • Military discounts:

Several auto transport firms provide discounts to members of the military to help them make frequent moves at the lowest possible price.

This discount is also offered as a mark of respect to the military and recognition of their services.

  • Student discounts:

Several auto trucking firms provide discounts during the fall and summer if you are moving cities or states for educational purposes.

  • Senior discounts:

Since seniors survive on fixed incomes and usually have to conform to a strict budget, several auto transport firms would offer seniors a sizeable discount.

  • First-time shippers:

If you are shipping your vehicle for the first time with a particular company, some car shipping companies would provide you a discount.

  • Return customers:

Some auto transport firms recognize returning customers and appreciate their loyalty by offering them a discount on their second or third car shipping deal with them.

  • Multi-car shipments:

Most companies would discount your shipping cost if you are shipping more than one vehicle with them simultaneously.

  • First responders:

Several auto transport firms provide discounts to first responders.

  • Early bird:

Some shipping companies would offer you a discount if you sign the shipping agreement with them within 24 or 48 hours of having received a quote.

  • Vehicle fleets:

If you are into the business of cabs or want to ship multiple vehicles at the same time, you would be able to score a discount from a car shipping firm.

Just make sure you enquire about bulk discounts with your carrier or broker beforehand.

Important Things to Know About Cross Country Shipping

Shipping a car across cities or states is no easy decision to make.

A car is invariably the most expensive good an individual owns after their home, and some could be sentimentally attached to their car too.

Therefore, when shipping a car across the country, you need to consider multiple things and/or be wary of the following.

Ship Car Across Country: reliable car transport broker company

  • Date

If possible, book your shipping as early as possible or much before the date of shipping.

Unlike traditional product shipping, car shipping doesn’t happen overnight.

You’ll have to wait before you get assigned a date for car pickup.

Generally, the waiting window is four weeks long.

  • Shipping period

Generally, car shipping doesn’t take as long as carriers claim.

However, these companies seek more shipping time so that they could have some leeway if the shipment encounters issues along the route.

  • Shipping type

You can choose between open auto transport or enclosed transport.

If you are split between choosing the shipping type, consider factors such as your car model/make, shipment, location, and actual price.

  • Price

If price is a major point of contention, it’s recommended you ship your car on a carrier that can transport four to 10 cars simultaneously.

However, you would have to wait a bit longer than usual for the delivery of your car.

Also, you would not be given an exact delivery date, but a shipping window.

  • Reviews

Go through the reviews of companies before you put your car on the road.

Besides asking friends and family members, also check out car forums and car review sites to be certain of a car shipping company and its service.

Ship Car Across Country: bad company reviews

To avoid this…

  • Brokers

Be wary of brokers. Brokers are individuals or companies that bid your shipment requirements to different shipping companies.

When engaging with a vehicle transport broker, you would most likely not know what car shipping company your vehicle is getting assigned to.

If you’d like to have clarity about who is shipping your vehicle, it’s recommended you stay away from these brokers.

  • No deposits

If a car shipping company asks you to pay a deposit sum, you should become wary since reputable and exclusive car carriers would usually not ask for a deposit.

They would instead ask for payments at the time of picking up or dropping your car.

 

Best Car Shipping Companies and How to Choose Them

There is no dearth of auto shipping companies but choosing good service providers from the bunch can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for in these companies.

Besides comparing quotes, it’s important you choose your car transport service provider based on the company’s location, expertise, and reviews.

You would have to conduct some investigation and research well in advance to find out which auto carrier makes the shipping process easy, quick, and painless.

You should look to ship your car with a company that is experienced and credible.

Make sure the trucking company you pick is bonded, insured, licensed, and in compliance with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), which is basically a DoT branch that oversees transport of vehicles.

Ship Car Across Country: reliable car transport company (FMCSA)

Go online and check the reviews and ratings of a service provider. Joining hands with a reputable carrier is a solid initial step toward a successful car transport.

What is the Best Way to Ship a Car Across Country?

Unfortunately, there is no single or simple answer to this question.

The best way to ship a car across country depends a lot on your preferences, schedule, and budget.

The first thing you should do is zero in on a car shipping company for the job.

Ship Car Across Country: and there are plenty of companies

Once done, you may have to look into a few other things.

Spend some time with the carrier’s representative or engage with them via email or phone.

You would have to go over several details during your interaction with the shipping company representative.

After having made contact to set the job up, record pertinent details such as drop-off and pick-up dates, the direct contact information of the carrier’s representative, and the actual shipping quote.

For the ideal experience and minimum hassle, it’s recommended you engage with only one company.

Corresponding with two or more companies at the same time could lead to added complications, paperwork, costs, and also amount to delivery delays.

Once all the paperwork and formalities are taken care of, the carrier would get in touch with you shortly prior to its transport vehicle is ready to pick your car up.

Before the driver could roll with your car, you must file a car inspection report with the driver to accurately record the condition of your vehicle before it is taken aboard.

AKA Bill of Lading.

The same process should be carried out at the time of vehicle delivery.

How to Decide Between Shipping a Car or Driving It Instead?

To make the decision between shipping your car using a mover service or driving it yourself, you must consider the following.

 

#1 Driving Distance

 

The actual road distance between the pickup point and destination place should be considered.

To know more, take the destination area’s detailed map, examine the region’s topography, typical traffic patterns, road infrastructure, available roadside amenities, etc.

Decide on the course you’ll take. It need not be the shortest possible route but should be the easiest, safest, and/or the most convenient way possible to reach your new place.

Compute the exact mileage.

Once you are certain of the exact route and driving distance, you would be able to estimate:

Ship Car Across Country: driving vs car shipping service

  • The amount of fuel you’ll need;
  • Road tolls and the money you’ll have to spend on gas (diesel fuel prices in certain regions could be higher compared to the national average);
  • The time it would take to reach the new location driving (at a 60 to 70 mph average speed).

 

# 2 Seasonal Considerations

 

Driving across country during January is completely different than taking the road in May.

In other words, the exact month or time during the year you move should also be considered before you choose between driving across country or shipping your car.

This is more so the case if you are heading to the country’s northern regions.

The adverse weather situations during winter would make driving a challenge – the heavy snowfalls, chilly winds, and icy roads would cause you significant trouble.

Bad Weather

All of these would result in major delays and present great risks to your personal and vehicle safety.

Moreover, spending days on the road in freezing temperatures could damage sensitive items you may be transporting in your vehicle.

Cross-country shipping is a much more convenient and safer option during winter.

You would be able to avoid any potential issues caused by the roads and travel comfortably and quickly to your destination place.

Ship Car Across Country: open and enclosed car carrier

To protect your car from the elements, you may ship it in an enclosed vehicle.

Moreover, since business is not at its best during the winter months, your shipping expenses would be lesser too.

 

#3 Time Concerns

 

The total time you have to spare is another major factor to consider when choosing between shipping and driving.

Driving cross-country takes its time and spending multiple days on the highway is something you may not find cost-efficient.

Flying to the new place (and shipping your vehicle with an automobile transport carrier) would let you join your new workplace the next day itself.

When you’re moving from one coast to another, you would spend at least four days on the road.

And if you are driving all by yourself, you’ll have to make frequent stops to rest and make sure you complete the trip safely.

Bad weather and heavy traffic conditions are certain to cause major delays.

Costs

More than time and weather, it’s the cost factor that makes people choose to ship over driving their car to their new home.

Car shipping costs depend on your vehicle’s size and weight, the insurance type you want, the existing fuel costs, the definite shipping distance, and the specific transportation route.

Ship Car Across Country: the biggest vehicle in the world

Yeah, it’s very big

According to experts, the actual cost is correlated with demand.

When the number of vehicles moving on a particular date is high, the price goes up too.

Costs of shipping also vary based on the vehicle type.

Shipping a sedan would cost you anywhere between $500 and $1,200.

Small van transportation costs could fall in the $800 to $1,500 range.

Enclosed shipping costs would be at least 50 percent more than open-air shipping.

If you want your vehicle to be delivered on or before a specific date, the price would go up.

Having your vehicle shipped in a big multicarrier would take longer but will be cheaper.

If you go the driving route, fuel costs wouldn’t be your lone expense.

You would also have to spend on parking fees and road tolls, lodgings and meals along the route, and vehicle servicing (car servicing before the trip, flat tire scenarios enroute, etc.).

Ship Car Across Country: parking

The cost of your vehicle’s wear and tear must also be considered since a few thousand additional miles would put significant strain on your vehicle.

Driving across the country also means a week off without pay, tipping opportunity costs significantly in favor of car shipping.

Safety

When moving across country, the safety of your family members and your personal safety would no doubt be your major concern.

When driving cross-country, there are several safety-related and other types of risks involved.

For instance, your car could break down midway, you could be involved in a road accident, you could fall asleep behind the wheel, etc.

Moreover, your vehicle would be susceptible to several security issues and threats – from auto thefts to road accidents.

Shipping your car is a significantly safer option.

Auto transportation services would limit your vehicle’s wear and tear, safeguard your car from unfavorable weather situations, and minimize accident risks.

Ship Car Across Country: car additional items

For maximum safety, make sure your car is shipped enclosed – vehicles on open-air trucks are unprotected from the elements and quite vulnerable to break-ins and damage.

Therefore, the premium you pay for enclosed trailer shipping will be worth it, particularly if you are shipping a luxury or high-end vehicle or moving during winter.

Shipping your vehicle would not just decrease risks of car damage, but you and your family would also not be susceptible to potential safety hazards.

When shipping a vehicle across country, you may take a train or fly to your new place.

Ship Car Across Country: auto transport by plane

Both train and air travel are considered safer compared to road travel – the chances of a train accident or plane crash are considerably lesser compared to a traffic accident possibility.

In other words, you’ll be much safer on your way to your new house if you don’t take the road.

Convenience

If you are transporting your vehicle across country, you would want that done in the cheapest and safest way possible.

At the same time, you would also want the shipping process to be as convenient as possible.

Organizing and doing house moves is difficult and taxing enough already.

You would, therefore, not want to put up with complex car transportation problems atop the existing issues.

A trip by the road to your new house would take a good amount of planning – selecting the ideal route to drive, booking hotel stops, etc.

Ship Car Across Country: why should you choose a car transport company instead driving a car

Car shipping firms would manage transportation of your car from the start to the end – you would only have to prep your car for the shipping and be there for inspection before shipping.

Once done, you can be certain of your car arriving at your new home’s door (or the terminal in the new city) in its original condition or the state it was in pre-shipment.

Not to mention, there would be no mileage increases.

You will not have to worry about traffic issues, road conditions, hotel stays, car failures, etc.

You need not take a break from the office and spend several days in your car, on the road.

When you let a car shipping service do its job, you arrive at your new destination or your new house easily and quickly.

There are really professionals!

You would have the energy and time to unpack, explore the new area, set up your house, etc.

Professional car shipping firms have several thousand miles of professional driving experience, along with the correct equipment for the task.

These professionals would have invariably undergone expert training and acquired their CDL certification.

If they come across undulations during the shipping process, they would have the know-how to deftly handle the situation.

Moreover, all professional vehicle shipping firms offer adequate insurance, so that you could be at mental peace while your car is being shipped.

Conclusion

Shipping your vehicle across country would save you energy, time, from traffic woes, and from any possible issues on the road.

Your job as the car owner or customer is to pick the right auto shipping service provider for the job.

Seek recommendations from your friends, family, and co-workers.

Get shipping quotes from multiple service providers.

Make sure the estimates you get are realistic and reasonable.

If it’s too high, you can almost be certain of being ripped off. If the quote is too low, expect sub-par service.

Go through the shipping company’s insurance terms, services, prices, etc. before zeroing in on one.

Once you have narrowed down your choices and locked in on a service provider, make sure you book the service at the earliest so that you could be almost certain of convenient pickup and delivery, price discounts, and favorable shipping agreement conditions.

Get a Free Quote Now!