Everything You Need To Know To Ship A Car From Los Angeles To Chicago

Brantley Kendall

07 Dec 2021 2 years ago

Are you looking to ship your car from Los Angeles to Chicago? If so, you’ve landed at the right place at the right time. We understand that the process may seem to involve a lot of hassle and grunt work, but worry not, we are here to break it all down for you. In this article, we will go through the process of shipping a motor vehicle from Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois in simple and easy-to-understand steps.

The shipping belt between Los Angeles and Chicago is known for being extremely competitive owing to high demand and turnover. This often makes the process of choosing a shipping company for your car slightly complex. There are certain things you need to understand, including the cost to ship a car before you make your move. Once you understand these basic factors which govern the process of inter-state car shipping, you can cakewalk your way through the entire process! Let’s get ready to roll…

Things to Know Before LA to Chicago Car Shipping

When it comes to shipping cars from one state to another, there are three main factors that you need to keep in mind to ensure a smooth shipping experience. Let’s see them one by one.

Height & Weight Restrictions

As stipulated by American federal law, a vehicle cannot be more than 7 feet in height insofar as inter-state shipping is concerned. While you probably don’t need to worry about this as most cars are shorter than this limit, it is still something to keep in mind. It is always advisable that you measure the car in question if you have any doubts. If your vehicle is taller than 7 feet, talking to the shipping company is recommended.

The second restriction comes in the form of weight. However, this limit applies to the carrier and not individual cars. But if the carrier is overweight, authorities can check each vehicle and the shipping company might pass on the cost of the ticket to you if your vehicle weighs above the legal limit. Thus, you must make this point clear in advance with the shipping service.


Before you formally place the order to ship your car, it is highly recommended that you call your insurance company and confirm that your car is under active insurance coverage.

Additionally, we suggest confirming with the shipping service that the carrier in which your car is to be shipped is also covered by insurance. Note that while American federal law and the Department of Transportation both require that the carriers being used by shipping companies are covered by insurance, it is still advisable to double-check with the company.

This way, you stay protected in case any damage occurs to your valuable ride during the course of the shipping process. But don’t you worry, this almost never happens.

Shipping Method

Another major factor affecting the process of shipping a car from Los Angeles to Chicago is the shipping method you choose. You have two options in the form of open carrier shipping and enclosed carrier shipping.

As the name suggests, open carrier shipping refers to the transport method in which the carrier is open and has a few rows containing vehicles. This method requires less space per car and is, therefore, an economical choice. While it may be light on your pocket, open shipping increases the chances of damage – especially if it rains or snows. If the car you want to be shipped is the average sedan or hatchback, this is the ideal option for you.

On the other hand, enclosed shipping offers protection against rain and snow as it involves the deployment of a container that completely encapsulates the vehicles being shipped. Needless to say, you would have to pay more money for this method. The choice of enclosed shipping is also dependent on seasonal variations and is usually deployed in the event of rainy or snowy conditions. For owners looking to ship luxurious vehicles, collectible or limited edition sports cars, and classic cars, enclosed shipping is the ideal way to go.

Easy Car Shipping: Los Angeles to Chicago

While it might be a long and tedious 30 hours of journey from Los Angeles to Chicago, initiating the car shipping process is as smooth as it gets. You don’t need to do anything: all it takes is a few clicks and not more than around 10 minutes of your valuable time.

Let’s go through the process step-by-step.

Step 1: Finding a Reliable Transport Company

The first step in shipping a car from Los Angeles to Chicago is finding a trustworthy shipping company that matches your budget and requirements. Apart from the obvious factors such as cost, shipping time, and ancillary services, it is highly advisable that you ensure that the service is reliable. After all, if you are getting your car shipped from one State to another, spending a few seconds extra can’t hurt, can it? A quick glance at the reviews of past shipping jobs handled by the company can help avoid future disasters.

Additional tip: Try to find not one but three to four shipping services to keep your options open.

Step 2: Get a Quote

After you’ve shortlisted shipping companies, get in touch with them for a prospective quote. Many of them will provide you with an instant quote from their website. This is usually based on the dimensions of the car, its make and model, and your choice of shipping method. As a thumb rule, have at least three quotations and compare them to find the one matching your requirements and budget.

Additional tip: Always look out for hidden costs, such as insurance charges or weather surcharges.

Step 3: Order the Shipping

After comparing quotations and finalizing the shipping service, it’s time to get the car moving. Thus, the next step is to confirm the shipping order from Los Angeles to Chicago. As simple as it can get.

Additional tip: It never hurts to double-check and reconfirm the specifications with the shipping company to avoid confusion or additional charges.

Cost of Car Shipping: Los Angeles to Chicago

There’s no one correct answer or a standard cost when it comes to shipping a car from Los Angeles to Chicago, or anywhere in the US for that matter. It depends upon several factors, which is why quotations are essential in this industry. Let us consider some of the critical factors affecting the cost to ship a car.

  1. Distance

    The biggest costs for the shipping service providers are (a) the fuel for the carrier and (b) the driver of the container. Thus, the shipping costs are naturally higher for long distance transport. While companies might charge variably less per mile for long distances, the price is often higher due to the long distance itself.

  2. Dimensions of the Vehicle

    Much like quantum physics, shipping is a business of space and time. Although not comparable with physics in terms of how it evaluates the dimensions of space and time, the shipping cost is also highly dependent on the variables of the shape and size of your car.

    Shipping costs tend to be on the higher side for long and tall cars, and vice versa. For instance, shipping costs for SUVs will be higher than that of a small hatchback such as the VW Beetle. As we saw previously, the car’s weight also plays a very important role in determining the ultimate price.

  3. Condition of the Car

    Is your car in running condition, or do you want to ship it so that you can restore it? If your vehicle isn’t in a driving condition, the shipping service will have to arrange for a way to take it to the carrier, usually through a tow service. This cost will obviously be passed on to you as the customer. This means an increase in your overall shipping costs as it involves both: additional manpower and more machine power.

    One the other hand if your car is in a drivable condition, you can do one of two things: either arrange for a pickup wherein someone from the shipping company will collect it and drop it to the carrier, or you can drive it yourself to the designated carrier station.

Here’s an overview of the shipping costs to give you an idea:

DistanceAverage CostOpen TransportEnclosed Transport
150 miles $470  $350 $590
550 miles $750  $550 $950
1,000 miles $1,150 $900 $1,400
1,050 miles $985 $720 $1,250
2,750 miles  $1,300 $1,050 $1,550

Please note that the prices mentioned above are not absolute and may vary based on your vehicle dimensions, weight, and condition.

How long will it Take to Ship My Car from Los Angeles to Chicago?

The time it takes to ship a car from Los Angeles to Chicago depends upon three major factors: distance, weather conditions, and the shipping service provider.


Distance plays a central role in determining the time it takes to ship a car from one place to another. The distance here refers to not only the two points to and from where the car is being shipped but also takes into account the distance of the pickup and delivery points to and from the carrier location. If you live in rural areas or suburbs, the timeframe is likely to be more, usually, an additional business day as compared to downtown or central area.


Summer is the peak season for the shipping industry as the weather is mostly clear, which clears the way for a greater movement of carriers. This often leads to shipping services getting over-booked, thereby creating an additional wait time for customers. Additionally, more often than not, a higher demand also implies that the shipping service is likely to increase the rates of shipping. On the other hand, winter is a dry month for the shipping business, and that’s why the shipping services increase their charges to even out the costs involved.

Shipping Service

Although the shipping industry has cut-throat competition, you are likely to find variations in the pricing of various shipping services. The smaller companies tend to charge higher to break even, while the bigger ones stand slightly lower due to large volume, established routes, and operational continuity. Ultimately, it never hurts to make sure that the company you are entrusting with your precious vehicle has a historical track record of operating in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Ready to Ship? Here are a Few Final Tips

Now that you’ve understood pretty much everything there is to know about shipping cars from Los Angeles to Chicago, all you need to do is prepare your car for the actual shipping process. For this, you’ll need to empty your entire car, including and especially any valuable fixtures. Some might even ask you to disconnect batteries to avoid any disasters.

Note that the shipment services usually perform standardized security checks and don’t allow for anything inside the car which might constitute potential danger or liability. Storing firearms, hazardous materials, illegal contraband, and even household goods in cars being shipped is strictly prohibited by law. If found, such substances usually entail fines in thousands of dollars. Thus, you should ideally not leave anything in the car, apart from a bit of gas in the tank!

Further, we highly recommend that you take high-resolution images of your car from all angles (inside and outside) so that you can check for any damages when you receive it. You can use these photos as proof to make your case. And while it goes without saying, we’ll say it anyway: don’t leave a single stone unturned in checking the car for damages immediately after receiving it.

Brantley Kendall