How Long Does Car Shipping Take – A Quick Guide

Brantley Kendall

09 Mar 2023 1 year ago

We all deserve a real and relaxing break, a vacation from work, daily chores, and our responsibilities. For us, long drives are usually a fun part of traveling but over time, a break meant for relaxation might become a tiring affair. So how about using car shipping companies to make your break meaningful and truly relieving?  

If you are a planner then just get in touch with the most efficient and reputable car shipping company to align your bookings with your car delivery at the destination. Usually car shipping delivery can range from a few days to a few weeks, depending upon various factors mainly distance.

Factors that affect transit time during car shipping

Let’s understand some factors that might determine the time taken for shipping companies to ship your car to the desired location.

  1. Distance

The most important factor when it comes to auto transport is the distance from the source to the destination. It’s a no-brainer that if you want your car to be transported away at a large distance then, it would mean multiple breaks for the carrier, in turn, a large delivery window for delivering your car. Usually, short distances if booked in advance are often covered within 1-2 days depending upon the demand and other transport choices made by you.

  1. Shipping preferences

Another point that alters your delivery window for your vehicle transportation is the choice of the trailer for shipping your vehicle. There are 2 options to choose from. Open trailers are often a cheaper choice and are readily available for transport. The other much safer option is enclosed trailers, wherein the trailers are covered from all sides which protects your car from any external issues like sun exposure, dirt, and smoke. These trailers are usually very limited but that totally depends on the scale of business of the auto transport company.

  1. Size of the vehicle

The size of the vehicle will determine the choice of the transport system that you might require for your auto transport. If it’s a large car then, an enclosed trailer may not be available in that size or if at all it is available then it won’t be able to load multiple cars in one trip. However, a small-sized car might fit in either of the trailers, depending on your budget.

  1. Season of shipping

Summer season is considered the peak season in the vehicle transportation industry, as many people spend their summer break in a new city or even a new country. So, if you are looking for auto transport service in the summer season then you are on a long waitlist. Other things that can cause delays are snow or extreme winter, and natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, or floods. If your locations are on difficult terrain, it is also bound to cause delays in your auto transport experience.

  1. Choice of the vehicle transportation company

The last, but still important factor is the company you choose for your auto transport experience. Many large and reputable companies like ours have a wide network of carriers spanning the length and breadth of the country, so no matter the location, we will offer you timely delivery without any delays due to the unavailability of the carrier or trailers. If you make the right choice for your agency then, you will not be disappointed with the service you receive in terms of hassle-free time-bound delivery.

In a nutshell, with enclosed trailers the delivery time can be delayed as such trailers are not very regular and require an experienced set of carriers to get the job done however, open carriers are usually faster and can cover the same distance as enclosed trailers in much lesser time.

Every auto transport company has its own way to calculate the time and cost of shipping any car from one location to another. For our customers, the easiest way to understand the cost and time is to get in touch with our proactive team and we will assist you with any queries that you might need clarity on.

Types of car shipping

Every time you plan on shipping a car to another state, the most basic yet essential decision is about choosing the type of shipping. Both shipping choices have their own pros and cons that can address your concerns.

Open transport

Under this type of transport, your car will be loaded onto an open trailer truck to transit between the source and the destination address shared by you.

Choose open transport

  • When you are looking for a readily available transport option.
  • If you have a limited budget.
  • If you want to ship multiple cars, it is easier with open trailers as these can carry many cars at once, saving costs for you and fuel for the company.

Do not choose open transport

  • If you do not want your car to be exposed to sunlight, dirt, debris, and dust during transit.
  • If you want to protect your car and are ready to pay more cost for it.

Enclosed transport

Enclosed transport, as the name suggests is the type of transport wherein you ship a car in a truck that is covered from all sides during the transit.

Choose enclosed transport

  • If you wish to protect your car and ensure safe delivery to your given location.
  • If you can wait for some time to get the right trailer and an experienced carrier.
  • If you have a large-sized vehicle and you are flexible with your budget for auto shipping.

Do not choose enclosed transport

  • If you have a limited budget
  • If you are looking for readily available transport options

Choosing the right car shipping company

Giving your car away to absolute strangers for shipping requires trust and reliability. It is a crucial decision to choose the right car shipping company that ticks all the boxes of your expectations for shipping your car to a new location. Here are some parameters that can help you pick the most accurate car shipping company from the host of companies available out there.

  • Look for registration details

To check the legitimacy of any company, always check for their licenses and registration details. Every car shipping company is approved by the Department of Transportation(DOT) and they get a unique license number to term it as a legal entity. Since you are trusting a company with your precious car, it is necessary to verify its credibility so that there is no room for disappointment in the future.

  • Insurance coverage

Once you have verified the registration details of the car shipping company, look for insurance coverage offered by the company. If the terms of insurance are not easily available then, this might be a red flag. It is always recommended that while asking for price quotes from various agencies, also request details of insurance coverage offered by the companies. A legitimate company will offer broker and carrier insurance with some supplemental insurance as per their defined standards and rules.

Carrier insurance is mandatory to protect your car against any accident or harm that may happen during the course of car shipping from the source to the destination.

  • Cancellation policy

Plans are often subject to changes and cancellation, hence your auto-shipping checklist must also contain checking cancellation policies of the car shipping companies. Any company may seem too good to be true in other aspects, but they might have some heavy cancellation fee that might shake your overall plan and the designated budget.

  • Reviews

Any car shipping company would paint a convincing picture for their potential customers, but the reviews never lie. Always trust the reviews and ratings given by past customers. This will give you a direct insight into the car shipping experience with a company. If this is your first-time experience dealing with car shipping companies then, always go by recommendations from your family or friends for better results.

  • Shipping cost breakdown

Many car shipping companies lure in customers with exciting offer quotes and upon final confirmation, they add surprise charges that catch you off guard. Since you have already finalized the deal; it is even more difficult to deny the payment. So before getting into the final conversation, take time to understand the entire cost breakdown to avoid any last-minute disappointment.

How to prepare your car for shipping?

Once you understand all the nuances of shipping your car, it is time to prepare the car for shipping it across. There is a mandatory checklist that one must follow to have a seamless car shipping experience from the source to the destination.

  • Keep all documents handy

As your car is ready to be shipped, keep all the documents with you so that if the carrier requires any document for transit, there will be no delay in looking for the papers at the end moment.

  • Get your car washed

Wash your car well before shipping, as it would help you understand the current condition of your car in terms of discoloration, dents, or marks on its body. Also, it is always good for any carrier to receive a neat and clean car.

  • Click pictures of the vehicle

Once the car is properly washed, click proper pictures of your car from all sides right before the carrier loads it onto the trailer for transit. These images will help you verify the condition of the car when you receive it at the destination. If there has been any incident on the way, it will be evident over the car when you compare it with the images.

  • Secure or remove accessories

If your car has any accessories that can be possibly damaged during the commute, try to remove them or secure them all with bubble wrap to avoid any jerk while the car is transported to your new location.

  • Check for fluid leaks

If the car is in an operable state, then get it checked for any fluid leaks that may be harmful to your car as well as other cars that might be loaded onto the same trailer. If a specific leak cannot be fixed, always keep the carrier informed to avoid any misunderstanding.

  • Get the engine and mechanical checkups

Before shipping your car away, call a mechanic for a complete checkup of your car so that you have a proper download of your car’s condition. This will also give you the confidence to ship your car away knowing it’s completely fine from the inside out.

  • Disable alarms

Disable all kinds of alarms installed in your car, though the carrier will have a set of your car keys for loading and unloading there might be instances when a carrier has to move the car without using the keys. So, anything alarming must be kept off to avoid any hiccup throughout the shipping experience.

  • Remove all personal belongings

Trailers go through all kinds of roads during the commute, and some roads or highways may pass through sketchy neighborhoods; which increases the risk of theft or vandalism so you must remove all your personal belongings from the car for better safety. If you load a heavy personal belonging in the car, it might add to the overall weight of the car hence impacting the cost of shipping for you.

  • Keep gas tank ¼ full

Keep your car’s gas tank to a minimum fuel so that it doesn’t add to the weight of the car during loading it onto a trailer. Also, do not keep the gas tank empty if your car is in an operable state as the carriers would often start the engine to load and unload your car during shipping.

Terminal-to-terminal vs. door-to-door auto transport


Terminal-to-terminal auto transport is recommended for people who can arrange for a ride to and from the designated terminals as these are often located outside the city limits or residential areas. This type is also useful for people who live in gated societies or highly secured locations because in such areas, seeking permits for entry of loading trucks may be difficult or even prohibited; so terminal-to-terminal is an easy and time-saving auto transport option. This type can also save you some extra bucks as you are easing the hassle for the auto transport company.


Door-to-door shipping is when the carrier picks up the car from your doorstep and delivers it to your given address. This is a good option for people who are busy and cannot spare time to pick up and drop off their vehicles at the company’s terminals. This kind of shipping is convenient and hassle-free for the customers. All you need to do is coordinate with the carrier so that you can attend to the car delivery time at your given address.

Cost to ship a car

The cost of car shipping is subject to various factors that are necessary to understand before estimating the average cost of shipping.

  • Distance

The more the distance, the more will be the cost of shipping and vice versa.

  • Open/ Enclosed transport

Open transport is readily available and hence is a cheaper option as compared to enclosed transport which is limited and requires highly experienced carriers to drive them.

  • Season of shipping

Shipping your car during summer, peak winter, and situations like snowfall, earthquakes, tornados, and floods, cost higher than the standard price because these situations are difficult to navigate in, and hence, carriers are given extra compensation for their dedicated efforts.

  • Delivery time flexibility (Urgent or Standard)

Time is money, so if you want your car to be delivered at the earliest then you will be charged extra over the standard prices for the same delivery.

  • Size and weight of the vehicle

The size and weight of your vehicle will decide the size of the trailer which will alter the final cost of shipping your vehicle from one place to another.

  • Operable/ Inoperable condition of the vehicle

If your car is in an operable state then loading and unloading would be easy but if it is inoperable then various equipment is used to load and unload the car, costing more money than usual.

  • Door-to-door/ terminal-to-terminal auto transport

Door-to-door transport requires more effort from the carrier so the company will charge more for it as compared to the terminal-to-terminal auto shipping type, wherein you need to drop off and pick up the car from your nearest terminals.

All these above factors will determine the final cost that you need to pay for shipping your car. But roughly, the rates can vary from $500 for short, cross-state transports to more than $1,700 for cross-country transports.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it safe to ship my car?

Yes, if you choose a reputable auto-shipping company for the service.

Can I ship my car if it doesn’t run?

Yes, you can ship your car even if it doesn’t run.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

The average rates can vary from $500 for short, cross-state transports to more than $1,700 for cross-country transports.

How long does it take to ship a car?

It can take some days to some months totally subject to responsible factors.

How do I prepare my car for shipping?

Get your car washed, remove all personal belongings, deactivate all the alarms, and get a mechanical checkup done before shipping your car.

Should I choose terminal-to-terminal or door-to-door auto transport?

It totally depends on your feasibility, if you are busy then choose a hassle-free type of door-to-door transport. If you want to save money, then go for terminal-to-terminal auto shipping type.

How do I choose a reliable car shipping company?

Look for the company’s license and registration under the Department of Transportation (DOT) and check for online customer reviews to pick a reliable car shipping company.


We hope you got the understanding how the time taken to deliver your car, is subject to many factors right from the size and weight of your car to the season of shipping. Your choice of transport also impacts the time as well as the cost incurred by you for auto transport. If you want to understand more about our car shipping process then get in touch with our team, we will assist you at every step to give you a hassle-free car shipping experience with us.

Brantley Kendall