Planning to transport your car across the United States can be a stressful process and requires thorough research and organization. Properly prepping your vehicle for shipment will take you a considerable amount of time.
In this ultimate guide we’ll show you exactly how to ship vehicles across country. We’ll cover everything from average shipping time, the costs associated with shipping a car, how to book an auto transport company and some general important things to be aware of.
What is Cross-Country Vehicle Shipping?
Essentially, cross-country car shipping refers to moving your vehicle from one city to another or one state to another by partnering with a shipping company. When it comes to car shipping service providers, you basically have two options.
You either work with a broker who will connect you with the best auto shipping companies near you for a fee or you can hire a vehicle transport company with its own fleet of haulers, transports and shipping equipment.
Regardless of which option you select, you’ll have the opportunity to decide on having your car shipped alongside other cars or in its own private transport. While private, enclosed transport can be rather expensive and is less common, it’s a great option for owners of classic, exotic or rare vehicles.
How Long Does Cross-Country Car Shipping Take?
Depending on the distance between pick up and drop off, weather conditions, traffic congestion and time of year, the delivery of your vehicle could take only a few days or longer than a week. For example, if you’re looking to ship your car from New York to Los Angeles, the shipping will typically take anywhere from five to fourteen days. However, for convenience and if you have a higher budget, you can always opt to purchase pickup services and expedited delivery through your auto shipping company.
While the actual delivery time will be influenced by several factors, you can reference the below for a general guideline.
- West Coast to East Coast: 5-14 days
- East Coast to the Midwest: 3-8 days
- West Coast to the Midwest: 3-8 days
- Northern States to Southern States: 3-8 days
When speaking with your transport company, always ask for an estimate of shipping time so you can properly plan and schedule your time.
How to Ship a Vehicle Across Country?
From preferred car delivery method, to quotes, pickup and preparing your vehicle for transport, let’s examine all of the factors and choices involved in shipping a car across country.
Car Delivery Method
When scheduling with your car shipping company, you have a few pick-up/drop-off methods to choose from that will directly impact your shipping costs. Here’s an overall breakdown of the benefits and disadvantages associated with each individual shipping options.
- Terminal-to-terminal shipping. This is the more affordable option among the delivery methods an involves dropping off and picking up your vehicle from a designed location. While less expensive, you will have to make your own arrangements for getting the vehicle to the drop-off location and retrieving it from the destination.
With this option, your car may be spending additional idle time in a terminal parking lot, exposed to the elements until ready for shipment.
- Door-to-door shipping. Door-to-door is the most convenient option and, for many people, worth the added cost. The shipping service provider will pick up and drop off your vehicle from your location of choice. Whether this be at your home, office or any other desired location, they will follow your instructions.
However, keep in mind that if the area is too narrow or not easily accessible to your carrier, you may have to decide on a more suitable location.
Type of Vehicle Transport
In addition to the car delivery methods, you have two options for the physical shipment of your vehicle: open-air and enclosed. The type of transport you choose may depend largely on the car that you’re transporting.
- Enclosed transport. Enclosed transport is the most secure and safest option but also can be pretty expensive. This method keeps your car safe from weather conditions or various road hazards. Enclosed shipping is typically recommended for antique, high-end or any car of high value.
- Open-air transport. The more affordable option of the two, open vehicle shipping will usually ship up to 10 vehicles in one trailer. This decreases the overall expense for the owners of the vehicles and allows for more flexibility with delivery dates.
However, in an open-air trailer, your car is exposed to the elements. The risk of your car being damaged is very rare, and the chances of your car being delivered in the same condition as when it was dropped off, is fairly high.
Quotes for Auto Transport
Quotes and pricing are major pieces of shipping a vehicle across country. Questions about shipping costs are almost always the first to be asked by people looking to transport a vehicle. Depending on your car shipping company, they may charge a flat shipping rate or per mile.
In general, the average cost to ship a vehicle across the United States is $950. Whereas, the highest average cost is $1,200 and the lowest $700.
For more information on what factors influence the price you can expect to pay for cross-country car shipping and how to get the best deal possible, check out our article on “How Much to Ship a Vehicle Across The US?” We always recommend contacting your auto shipping company as early as possible to start the conversation, gather a quote, begin making arrangements and ensure that you receive your desired pickup and delivery dates.
Are There Discounts for Shipping a Vehicle Across Country?
Most auto transport companies offer a wide variety of discounts that you may be eligible for. If you’re looking to save some money, make sure you ask your vehicle shippers what discounts you may qualify for.
Depending on the particular shipping company you’re partnering with, they may offer some of the following discounts:
- First-time shippers: If this is your first experience with auto transport or your first time working with a particular company, some companies offer a special discount.
- Senior discounts: Since most seniors have to get by on a fixed income, auto transport companies typically offer a major discount to their senior customers.
- Student discounts: If you’re moving your vehicle to or from school during summer and fall months, several car shipping firms offer discounts for educational purposes.
- Military discounts: Many vehicle transport companies provide discounts to members of the military and their families to make their frequent moves convenient and cost-effective.
- First responders: Cross-country vehicle shipping discounts for first responders.
- Return customers: A lot of auto transport companies love to reward their return customers by offering them a shipping deal for their loyalty.
- Multi-car shipments: If you’re shipping more than one vehicle at a time, many car shipping firms will bundle the shipment and offer significant discounts.
How Do I Prepare My Car for Transport?
In order to properly prepare you vehicle for shipment across country, you should engage in the following tasks:
Clean your car. This may seem like a no brainer but you should always clean the outside and inside of your vehicle prior to transport. Make sure that all personal items are removed as most transport carriers are not licensed to move household belongings across states.
Make sure that the tank is only a quarter full. A tank that is anything more than a quarter full may cause you to pay an additional fee for removal. Also, extra gas adds to the cars overall weight, increasing the final shipping costs.
Inspect and document any damage. Take plenty of pictures of your vehicle’s current condition before and after it has been delivered. These photos will come in handy if, in rare cases, you need to file an insurance claim for damage that took place during transit. Include any and all damage in your bill of lading final report.
Perform any necessary maintenance. Make sure that the vehicle is in good working condition. Look for leaks, check tire pressure and make sure that all fluids are topped off.
Hiring an Auto Shipping Company
In order to ensure that the process of shipping your vehicle across country is as smooth as possible, you need to hire a reputable auto transport company. It’s always recommended to gather at least three quotes from car shipping firms to determine that you’re getting the best price and avoiding scams. A price that is too low is often a red flag and one that is ridiculously high could indicate that you’re being ripped off.
If you’re looking for an exceptional auto transport company, look no further than Ship Vehicles. When you partner with us, we always guarantee that you’ll receive the best price without compromising our quality of service. Fill out our online request form or give our office a call at (877) 310-6434 for your free, no-obligation quote. Our team of experienced, professional vehicle shipping experts are always standing by to answer any of your questions and help get the process started for shipping your vehicle across country.
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