A step-by-step guide on what to do when shipping your car

Harish Makam

01 Oct 2022 2 months ago


According to a recent National Automobile Dealers Association report, Americans bought over 16.5 million new cars and trucks in 2016. The report also shows that the average car owner has kept a vehicle for about 11 years.

 But what do you do when you’re ready for an upgrade? Shipping your car is an option. More people use auto transport services to get their old vehicle from point A to point B.

When transporting your vehicle from one location to another, the best option is almost always to ship your car through authorized car shipping companies. Car shipping companies will pick up your vehicle from the location you specify and deliver it to the destination you request.

 The entire process is door-to-door, so you don’t have to worry about driving your car to a shipping terminal or loading it onto a truck.

This makes shipping your car a relatively straightforward process, but there are a few things you need to do to prepare your car for shipping and ensure the process goes smoothly. This blog post will walk you through everything you need to do when shipping your car.

What is an auto transport service, and how does it work?

An auto transport service is a company that will move your vehicle from one location to another. This can be helpful if you are moving long-distance or do not have the means to transport your car yourself. The process usually works by the customer dropping off their car at a designated spot, and then the transport company will pick it up and deliver it to the new location. Some companies also offer door-to-door service, where they pick up and drop off your car at your location.

Scenarios to hire an auto transport company?

When you need to transport a vehicle across the country, there are several scenarios where it makes sense to hire an auto transport company. Here are a few of those scenarios:

#1. When you’re moving long distance

If you’re moving from one side of the country to the other, it’s generally much easier (and cheaper) to ship your car using an auto transport company rather than driving it yourself. This is especially true if you have multiple vehicles.

#2. When you’re buying a car from out of state

If you find the perfect car, but it happens to be located in another state, don’t worry. An auto transport company can help get it delivered right to your doorstep. Just make sure that all the paperwork is in order before scheduling pick-up.

#3. When you’re selling a car online 

Selling a car online is becoming increasingly popular. But what do you do when the buyer lives in another state? You guessed it, hiring an auto transport company will ensure that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Plus, most companies offer door-to-door service, so there’s no need for either party to have any worries about meeting up at some random location halfway between both homes.

#4. When you’re going on a road trip

If you’re planning a cross-country road trip, an auto transport company can take your car from home to your destination city, meaning that you won’t have to worry about putting all those miles on your vehicle. Make sure to schedule everything in advance so there’s no last-minute rush!

Types of auto transport services

When you need to ship a car, there are five main types of auto transport services to choose from. Here is a brief overview of each one:

Open car shipping 

It is the most popular and affordable type of auto transport service. Experts will ship your car on an open carrier, a large truck with multiple levels that can carry up to 10-12 vehicles at once. Because open carriers are so commonly used in the auto transport industry, they tend to be cheaper than enclosed car shipping are thus an excellent option for those looking for an affordable way to ship their vehicle.

Open Car Shipping

Enclosed auto transport

Enclosed transport is a more expensive shipping option, but it offers increased protection for your car. Your vehicle will be loaded into an enclosed trailer and transported to its destination, shielded from the elements and potential hazards.

Expedited shipping

It’s suitable for those who need a quick car delivery service. With this service, your vehicle will get priority on the transport truck, and professionals will deliver it to the destination in a shorter timeframe than standard shipping options.

Door-to-door shipping

With this service, the transport company will pick up your car from your home or office and deliver it directly to its destination. It is a convenient option for those who don’t want to deal with drop-off or pick-up logistics.

Terminal-to-terminal shipping

With this service, you will drop off your car at a designated terminal location and then pick it up from the terminal at its destination. It is less expensive than door-to-door but requires more coordination on the part of the customer. You will need to drop off and pick up their vehicle at specific terminals throughout the country.

How much does it cost to ship a car in the USA?

There are a few things that affect the cost of shipping a car. Here are a few of the most important ones:

  • Vehicle size and weight: A more significant or heavier vehicle will cost more to ship than a smaller or lighter one. This is because it takes more fuel and manpower to move them.
  • Distance: The further you need your vehicle shipped, the higher the cost. This is due to increased fuel costs and wear-and-tear on the vehicle during transport.
  • Shipping method: There are two main methods of shipping vehicles: open trailer and enclosed trailer. Open trailers are less expensive but offer less protection for your car from weather and road debris. Enclosed trailers provide complete protection but come with a heftier price tag.
  • Insurance: Shipping companies will typically offer insurance for your vehicle in case of any accidents or damage during transport. This is usually optional but can be worth it if something happens to your car.
  • Extra services: Some companies may offer additional services like door-to-door pick-up and drop-off, saving you time and hassle. However, these services will usually cost more than the standard shipping method.

How to pick the most trusted and affordable shipping company?

Shipping your car can be a straightforward process with a bit of preparation. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Choose the right shipping company: This is important because you want to ensure your car is in good hands during transport. Do some research and read reviews before selecting a company.
  2. Prepare your car for shipping: This includes ensuring all personal items are removed from the vehicle and disconnecting any aftermarket electronics that could be damaged during transit. Having your car serviced and in good working order before shipping is also essential, as this will make the process go more smoothly.
  3. Get insurance for your shipment: Most reputable companies will offer insurance, but it’s always best to double-check and ensure you’re covered in case of any damage during transport.
  4. Choose the right shipping method: There are two main options for shipping a car – open transport or enclosed transport. Open transport is less expensive, but your car will be exposed to the elements during shipment. Enclosed transport is more expensive, but it will protect your car from the weather and potential road debris.
  5. Ensure all paperwork is in order: This includes your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. You’ll also need to complete paperwork with the shipping company to get started with the process.
  6. Track your shipment: Most reputable companies will offer tracking services so you can see where your car is at all times during transit. This is a great way to put your mind at ease during the shipping process.

Now that you know the basics of shipping a car, it’s time to start planning your shipment. Use these tips to ensure everything goes smoothly, and you’ll be behind the wheel of your new car in no time!

Tips to save money on auto transport services

  • Choose a smaller or lighter vehicle: This will be cheaper to ship than a large SUV or truck. This is because it takes more fuel and manpower to move them.
  • Ship your car during the off-season: Rates are typically lower in the winter when there is less demand for auto transport services.
  • Compare quotes from multiple shipping companies: Get at least three quotes before choosing a company so that you can compare prices and services.
  • Ask about discounts: Some companies offer military service or multi-car shipment discounts. Be sure to ask about any possible savings before you book your shipment.
Save money on Transport Services

Steps to transport your vehicle 

Assuming you’re not driving your vehicle to its destination, a few options are available to get it from one place to another. Here are five steps to follow when shipping your car:

  • Choose the right shipping method: There are two main ways to ship a vehicle; through a transport company or via container. If you’re on a budget, using a transport company is the less expensive option, but if you need more flexibility or protection for your car, opting for a container is the way to go.
  • Get quotes and compare prices: Once you’ve decided which shipping method suits you, it’s time to start collecting quotes from different companies. Compare prices and services before getting the best value for your money. You can get an instant quote through the forms available on the shipping company’s website.
  • Book and schedule pick-up: Once you’ve found the right company, it’s time to book and schedule your pick-up. Most companies will require a deposit at this point, so be prepared to pay upfront.
  • Prepare your vehicle for shipping: Before your car is picked up, it’s essential to do a few things to prepare it for the journey ahead. This includes ensuring no loose items are inside the car, topping off all fluids, and ensuring that the battery is fully charged.
  • Track your vehicle’s progress: Once your car has been picked up, you’ll want to track its progress to know when it will arrive at its destination. Most shipping companies will provide tracking information so that you can stay up-to-date on your car’s whereabouts.

Steps to get an online quote

Once you visit an auto transport service provider’s website, you can follow the steps below to get an instant quote: 

  • Go to the website
  • Locate the quote generator form on the top right of the website
  • Enter the origin and destination zip codes
  • Choose the type of vehicle you need to transport
  • Select any additional services you may need
  • Click on “Get a quote.”
  • Click “Submit,” and you are done!

How to prepare your car for shipping?

Properly preparing your vehicle can ensure enhanced safety and worry less delivery of your vehicle. Here are a few tips to help you get your car ready:

  • Be sure that there are no loose items in the car that could fall out and become lost during transport.
  • Check the tire pressure and fill up the gas tank before delivery.
  • Give your car a thorough cleaning inside and out. This will help protect it from dirt and debris during transit.
  • Disconnecting any aftermarket electronics or alarm systems bumps in the road could set that off.

How long does it take to ship a car from Point A to Point B?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The time it takes to ship a car from one location to another can vary greatly depending on several factors, including:

  • The Distance: If you’re shipping a car across the country, it will take longer than shipping it across town.
  • The Mode of Transport: For example, if you’re shipping a car by train, it’s going to take longer than if you’re shipping it by truck.
  • The Time of Year: If you’re shipping a car during the winter, it will take longer than shipping it during the summer. This is because of the weather conditions.
  • The availability of shipping services: If you’re shipping a car during a busy time for shipping companies, i.e., summer, it’s going to take longer than if you’re shipping it during a slow time (winter).
  • The type of car: If you’re shipping a large SUV, it will take longer than shipping a small sedan. This is because of the size of the car and the weight.
  • The shipping company: Some shipping companies are faster than others. Do your research to find a company with a good reputation for shipping cars cross-country quickly.

These are just a few of the factors that affect shipment time. Keep these in mind when you’re planning your car shipping timeline. Meanwhile, you can get a general idea by learning about some estimated shipping times for popular routes:

  • New York to Los Angeles: 7-9 business days
  • Chicago to Los Angeles: 4-6 business days
  • Miami to Los Angeles: 7-10 business days
  • Boston to Los Angeles: 5-7 business days
  • San Francisco to Los Angeles: 2-5 business days
  • Los Angeles to Seattle: 3-5 business days

Keep in mind that these are only estimates. Your shipping time may be shorter or longer, depending on the above factors.

Enclosed Car Shipping

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions with their answers related to auto transport services: 

Can I put stuff in my car when I ship it?

You can, but it is not advisable. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Your belongings will add to the vehicle’s overall weight, which could increase shipping costs.
  • Placing items in your vehicle could damage it during transport.
  • Your belongings could be damaged while your vehicle is in transit.

How far in advance should you book auto transport services?

This is a great question and one that we get all the time. The answer depends on a few factors, but we recommend booking your auto transport services at least two weeks in advance. This will give you plenty of time to work out the details with your carrier and ensure that everything is set up for a smooth pick-up and delivery. Of course, we can often accommodate last-minute bookings if you need to ship your car on short notice. Just keep in mind that there may be an additional fee for express service.

Can you track the vehicle online?

You can track your vehicle for status updates during shipment by visiting the carrier’s website/app or contacting their customer service department.

Will my vehicle be safe during the transport?

Auto transport companies take safety very seriously- after all, they’re transporting expensive items! All vehicles are secured onto carriers with heavy-duty straps and chains before being transported.

Is the vehicle insured during transport?

Most auto transport companies offer insurance coverage in case of any damages that may occur during transit. Be sure to ask about this when you’re selecting a company!


Harish Makam