Shipping a car across the country: A how-to guide for auto shipping  

Brantley Kendall

10 Oct 2022 2 years ago

There are currently over 4848 businesses in the auto transport industry in the USA. All these companies provide services for long and short distance vehicle transport. 

An auto transport service can greatly help anyone who wants to move their vehicle from one place to another, whether across the country or even within their city.  

When choosing an auto transport service, it’s important to research and compare different companies. You’ll want to consider costs, insurance, and reviews from other customers.

This blog explores what an auto transport service is, why it is, and things to remember before hiring them. We will also learn about the different services these shipping companies offer.

What is an auto transport service?

Auto transport services are the perfect way to ship a car or vehicle across the country or even the world. But what is an auto transport service? Well, it’s a company that specializes in safely and efficiently moving your car from one place to another. If you’re moving to a new city and need to transport your vehicle, an auto transport service is the best option. These companies can handle everything from the pick-up to drop-off, including paperwork, so you don’t have to worry.

What are the different auto transport options?

When it comes to auto transport, there are two ways to ship a car: open auto shipping and enclosed auto shipping. Both have advantages and disadvantages and are often used in different situations.

Open auto shipping

An open carrier is a truck with the sides and back removed, exposing the top. Experts load your car onto an open carrier, then transport it to your destination. Open carriers can carry up to 10 vehicles at a time, so your car may travel with other vehicles. This is the most affordable and easiest option.

Open car shipping

Enclosed auto shipping

Enclosed auto shipping involves shipping your vehicle in a fully enclosed trailer. This offers more protection for your car, but it is more expensive. If you are sending a luxury or classic car, or if you are concerned about the safety of your vehicle, enclosed auto shipping may be the best option.


Ultimately, the decision of the type of shipping comes down to your budget and level of comfort. If you want the cheapest option, go with available shipping. If you want the safest option, go with enclosed car shipping.

What are the different kinds of auto transport services available?

Various auto transport services are available to meet the needs of different customers. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Door-to-door transport involves the company picking up your vehicle from your home or business and delivering it to your desired destination. This is the most convenient type of service, but it is also the most expensive.
  • Terminal-to-terminal transport: This service involves you dropping off your vehicle at a designated terminal and then picking it up from another terminal at your destination. This is a less expensive option than door-to-door transport, but it is not as convenient since you have to drop off and pick up your vehicle yourself.
  • Guaranteed pick-up and delivery: The Company guarantees to pick up and deliver a vehicle within a certain time frame. This service is the best bet for urgent or for time-sensitive shipments. For example, if a customer needs to have their car shipped from Los Angeles to New York within two weeks, they can use a guaranteed pick-up and delivery service.
  • Expedited auto shipping: Expedited auto shipping services help you get your vehicle to its destination as quickly as possible. You can use this service to ship a car across the country in a hurry. Expedited shipping services typically cost more than regular shipping services but offer several benefits worth the extra cost. For example, let’s say you need to ship a car from Los Angeles to New York City. A regular shipping service might take a week or more to get the car to its destination, but an expedited shipping service could arrive in just a few days.  

How much does it cost to ship a car?

On average, shipping a car in the USA will cost between $500 and $2000. The exact cost will depend on the factors mentioned below.

  • The type of vehicle being shipped: A smaller sedan will cost less to ship than a large SUV or truck.
  • The size and weight of the vehicle: Heavier and larger vehicles will cost more to ship a car.
  • The distance being shipped: Shipping from California to New York will be more expensive than shipping from Texas to Oklahoma, for example.
  • Shipping method: Enclosed shipping is usually pricier than open-air methods but affords greater protection for your vehicle during transport.
  • Insurance costs: You’ll likely have to insure your vehicle during shipment in case of any damage that may occur en route. This can add quite a bit to your overall costs.
  • Time of year: Believe it or not, seasonal changes can affect shipping costs. For example, demand (and thus prices) for shipping cars is higher during the summer months leading to increased prices.
  • Pick-up and delivery location: If you need your car shipped to or from a remote location, it will likely cost more than if you’re using a major city as your starting/ending point.
  • Operable vs. inoperable vehicle: If your car isn’t running, it will need to be transported on a flatbed truck, which is more expensive than shipping an operable vehicle.

Ways to get a free auto shipping cost estimate

You can get a free auto shipping cost estimate in a few different ways.

  • Contact a few different auto shipping companies and request estimates from each one. This can be a bit time-consuming, but it will give you a good idea of the range of prices.
  • Use an online quote tool. You need to fill in a few basic details such as the car’s make, model, date of delivery, and so on. These tools are usually provided by auto shipping companies and allow you to get an estimate based on your specific shipping needs. This can be a great option if you don’t have the time to contact multiple companies for estimates.
  • Ask for a free estimate from a company you consider using for your shipping needs. This is usually the best option, as you can get an accurate quote based on the specific details of your shipment.
Free auto shipping

Benefits of hiring an auto transport company

There are many reasons to work with an auto shipping company. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Cost savings: The provider will typically have economies of scale that allow them to offer lower rates than you could get on your own.
  • Convenience: A good shipping provider will make the process easy and convenient. They will pick up your vehicle and deliver it to your door.
  • Peace of mind: A reliable shipping service provider will ensure safe and secure vehicle delivery.
  • Flexibility: These companies can offer you flexibility in terms of shipping options. You can choose the shipping method that best suits your needs, for example, open car shipping and enclosed carriers.
  • Insurance: The shipping companies will typically have insurance to cover your vehicle in the event of damage or loss during shipping. This can provide you with financial protection.
  • Customer service: These companies will typically have customer service representatives available to help you with any questions or concerns. This can be helpful if you have any problems or questions during the shipping process.

What should you look for in an auto transport firm?

One of the most common questions in the office is, “what should I look for in an auto transport firm?” It’s a good question, with a lot of different answers. What does it mean to have a “good” auto transport firm? Does it mean the company is big enough to be there when needed? Or does it mean that the company is the cheapest option for transporting your vehicle? Finding the right auto transport firm can be a simple process, but it can also be more complicated than you realize. While there are a lot of great auto transport firms out there, there are also a lot of firms that will overcharge you or won’t deliver your car on time. Here are a few things you should look for in an auto transport firm.

  • Price: Of course, you will want an affordable vehicle shipping option. Get quotes from several companies and compare prices.
  • Reviews: Take some time to read online reviews of different auto transport companies. This can give you some insight into the quality of their services.
  • Services: Make sure that the company offers the services that you need. For example, if you need your car shipped quickly, make sure that they offer expedited shipping. If you have a large or odd-shaped vehicle, ensure they can accommodate it. You should also inquire about any other services that might be useful, such as storage or insurance.
  • Experience: It is always a good idea to choose a company with experience in auto transport. This can give you peace of mind knowing that they have handled similar shipments in the past and are familiar with the process.
  • Licensing and Insurance:  Make sure that the company is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case of any damages during shipping. Inquire about their insurance coverage and what it covers to know what is included.
  • Customer Service: Find out how easy it is to get in touch with customer service representatives from the company. You should be able to reach them by phone or email easily, and they should be able to answer any of your questions promptly.  

Steps to ship your vehicle from point A to point B

Shipping your car is a simple process. Here are a few steps you need to follow to ensure that your vehicle is safely and securely transported to its new location.

  1. Find a reputable company: A good way to find a company is to ask for recommendations or look for online reviews. Once you have found a few companies that look promising, give them a call and ask some questions about their services.
  2. Get quotes: Be sure to compare the prices and services offered by each company before making your decision. If possible, try to get quotes from multiple companies so that you can compare and contrast their prices and services side-by-side.
  3. Choose the right service: There are several things to consider when choosing a shipping service, such as price. You will want to choose the most affordable option possible without sacrificing the quality of service or the safety of your vehicle.
  4. Schedule your shipment: For this, you need to provide some basic information about your vehicles, such as the make, model, and year, as well as your contact information and the pick-up and delivery locations.
  5. Prepare your vehicle for transport: This includes ensuring that there are no loose items in the car that could fall out and become lost or damaged during transit. Ensure that the fuel level is at no more than ¼ tank. It is also recommended that you wash your car before it’s shipped so any existing damage can be more easily seen.
  6. Vehicle pick-up: If you opted for door-to-door vehicle transport services, the shipping company would pick up your vehicle from your location. It may be your home or office.
  7. Drop off your vehicle: If you opted for the terminal to terminal delivery, you would need to drop off your car at the designated location. This could be a terminal or other facility operated by the auto transport company, or it may be directed at one of their trucks if they offer door-to-door service in your area. Once dropped off, a driver will inspect your car for any pre-existing damage and load it onto their truck for shipping. 
  8. Track your vehicle in transit: After your car has been loaded onto the transport truck, you can track its progress as it makes its way to its destination. This is generally done via a GPS tracking system, allowing you to see where the truck is at any given time. In some cases, you may also be able to get an estimate of when it will arrive at its destination.
  9. Please pick up your vehicle: When your vehicle reaches its destination, the driver will inspect it again for any damage that may have occurred during transit and then hand it over to you.

Documents you need to ship your vehicle.

There are a few important documents you need to ship your vehicle within the USA or internationally.

  • Bill of lading: It lists the vehicle’s make, model, and VIN, as well as the names and addresses of the shipper and receiver.
  • Certificate of title: It proves that you are the vehicle owner. If you are shipping the vehicle internationally, you will need a customs declaration form, which lists the value of the car and its contents.
  • Proof of insurance can be a letter from your insurance company or insurance policy.

How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car?

How long it will take to get your vehicle shipped depends on various factors. Here are five of the most important ones:

The origin and destination of the shipment

The further apart the starting point and ending point are, the longer it will take to ship the vehicle. For example, shipping from coast to coast in the U.S. will take much longer than shipping within one state or region.

The size/weight/type of your vehicle 

Some vehicles are larger and heavier, so they’ll take longer to load and unload from the transport truck. Additionally, if your car isn’t running and must be towed onto/off the truck, that will add extra time.

The time of year 

During peak times like summer or winter holidays, demand for auto transport services tends to be higher than usual. Meaning carriers have less availability, and rates tend to be higher. If possible, try to schedule your shipment for a slower period so you can get a better deal and avoid potential delays caused by busyness.

Your destination 

Your destination also plays a role in determining shipping costs and times. For example, if you’re shipping internationally, you’ll have to deal with customs, which can add time and expense to the process. Shipping to remote locations may also be more difficult and expensive than shipping to a major city.

Special requirements 

Special requirements may also affect the overall time; for example, an antique vehicle needs extra care during transport. This will affect both the cost and the time required for shipping. You may need to use a more expensive specialty service, or it may take longer to find someone who can accommodate your vehicle’s needs.

Your pick-up/delivery location

If you live in a rural area that’s difficult for carriers to access, i.e., lots of winding roads with low clearance, that could add extra time to your pick-up or delivery window.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why hire SAKAEM Logistics?

How long does it take to ship a car to the USA?

Again, the answer to this question varies depending on several factors. However, most car shipments within the USA take between seven to fourteen days.

What is the best time of year to ship a car?

The best time of year to ship a car is during the summer when the weather is good, and there is less traffic on the roads.

What do I need to do to prepare my car for shipping?

You will need to clean your car and remove all personal items. You should also disable the alarm system and make sure that there is enough fuel in the tank.

What are some of the common mistakes people make when shipping their cars?

Common mistakes people make when shipping their cars include not doing their research, not getting multiple quotes, and not understanding the terms of their agreement.  

How do you pay for the auto transport services?

The most common way is to pay with a credit or debit card. You can also use a check, money order, or even cash in some cases. Some companies may offer financing options if you need help paying for the services.

Is there any guarantee for the timely delivery of your car?

The vast majority of auto transport companies guarantee the pick-up and delivery dates they provide to their customers. If your vehicle is not delivered on the promised date, most companies will offer compensation, such as a discount on your shipping charges.

Why hire SAKAEM Logistics?

SAKAE Logistics is a leading provider of auto transport services. We have a wide network of vehicles that allow you to choose pick-up and delivery times as you please. We can also transport your car to any destination in the world. We offer competitive rates and outstanding customer service. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Brantley Kendall