A quick guide on car shipping time – Uship

Brantley Kendall

04 May 2023 1 year ago

Cars often become a big part of us when we are in a city. It is because of the ease and comfort there is when we have our own conveyance anywhere we go. We totally get and that’s why there is a rise in auto shipping companies. You can quickly get your car transported to your new location as per your schedule if you reach out to a car shipping company in advance. When you plan your vacation, do consider the transit time which can be from a few days to a few months depending upon various factors that can vary as per the choices you make.

Factors that affect transit time during car shipping

Shipping your car away is not easy, it requires you to consider certain factors before diving in. You might not get an instant delivery of your car because there are many factors that determine the car transport duration. Let’s understand these in detail.

  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 elements like sun exposure, dirt, and smoke. These trailers are very limited however that 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 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 and need. 

  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 up for 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 journey.

  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 auto shipping agency then, you will not be disappointed with the service you receive in terms of hassle-free and time-bound delivery.

In a nutshell, with enclosed trailers the delivery time can be delayed as such trailers are not very regularly available 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 a 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 place, 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

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

A good option

  • 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

A not-so-good option

  • If you do not want your car to be exposed to sunlight, dirt, debris, and dust during transit
  • If you want better protection for your car

Enclosed transport

Enclosed car 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.

A good option

  • If you wish to protect your car and ensure safe delivery to your given location
  • If you have a large car delivery window
  • If you have a large-sized vehicle and you are flexible with your budget for auto shipping

A not-so-good option

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

How to Choose 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 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  (FMCSA), an agency under the Department of Transportation(DOT)  to regulate the trucking industry. Every car shipping company gets a unique license number to confirm 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 are assured about the company’s credibility, look for all the insurance coverages offered by the company. If there are any discrepancies, your car might be in danger. So it is always recommended that while you get price quotes from different car shipping companies, you also get the details about their insurance coverage. Usually, any company offers broker and carrier insurance with some supplemental insurance as per the company’s standards and rules.

Carrier insurance is a must as it protects your car against any accident that may happen during transit.

  • Cancellation policy

As a precaution, always ensure that you check a company’s cancellation policy to understand the extent of the fine or fee that you need to pay for last-minute cancellations. Many companies come off as too good but then, if things don’t go as planned they surprise you with a large sum of money, in terms of a fine for cancellation.

  • 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 details about shipping your car, it is time to prepare your car for shipping. There is a mandatory checklist that you must check in order to experience a smooth delivery of your car 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

When you reach the new place, you wouldn’t want to wash your car as the first thing; so just give your car a good wash before you ship it away. Washing your car will also give you a clearer look to understand the external condition of your 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 travel through highways and very empty roads, so there are chances of theft or vandalism, so it is recommended to remove all personal belongings from the car before it is loaded onto the trailer for shipping. Any heavy personal belonging can also increase the weight of your car, costing you more money to compensate for that.

  • Keep gas tank ¼ full

Keep your car’s gas tank to minimum fuel so that it doesn’t the overall weight of the car during loading. A little fuel is required for loading and unloading your vehicle for shipping.

What to expect during pickup and delivery

During pickup

  • The carrier will check all the necessary documents of the car.
  • The carrier will inspect your car to see for any leaky parts or areas that need to be secured.
  • Upon all the formalities, the carrier will share the tracking link/ number and then, load your car onto the trailer

At the time of delivery

  • The carrier will unload the car so that you can inspect the final condition of your car.
  • If there is any damage, you can call an executive to send an insurance person to verify the damage for the insurance claim. This usually takes up to 2-3 days.
  • If your car’s condition is good, then you can sign the final bill of lading, a document that confirms the delivery of your car in a satisfactory condition.
  • You can now make the final payment through a cheque or any other medium accepted by the auto shipping company.

Understanding Car Shipping Timeframes

The distance between the source and destination is a major factor in deriving an expected time frame. Roughly, these are the following timelines to expect when shipping your car across different distances.

  • For intra-city shipping, it can take up to 1-2 days depending on the distance.
  • For inter-city car shipping, you can expect delivery in 3-4 days.
  • For cross-state shipping, at least a 7-9 days delivery frame is expected.
  • You must expect your car’s delivery in 30-45 days if you are shipping the car overseas.

Tips for faster shipping

Since the shipping time is subject to many factors, here are a few hacks that can help if you are looking for faster shipping of your vehicle.

  • Opt for open transport as it is a readily available trailer type.
  • Plan to ship your car during the off-season for better discounts and quicker delivery.
  • If you are flexible on budget, then simply opt for expedited auto shipping, wherein you pay more money for fast-tracking the shipping of your car.
  • You can also do an advanced booking to avoid any last-minute delay and expect timely delivery.
  • Plan to ship multiple cars at once, so that you get a good discount and the carrier would be available at the earliest.

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)

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 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.

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.

Is it safe to ship my car?

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

How long does it take to ship a car overseas?

It can take up to 30 days or more depending on various factors.

Can I track my car during shipping?

Yes, a car shipping company will share a link or number through which you can check the live location of your car during transit.

What is enclosed car shipping?

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

Can I ship a non-running car?

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

What should I do if my car is damaged during shipping?

You can claim insurance coverage to receive compensation for the damage during shipping.


We hope you got the understanding how long does car shipping take. The car transport duration 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 how much time it takes to ship a car, 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