Shipping a Car to or from California: Everything You Need to Know

Brantley Kendall

19 Apr 2022 2 years ago

California is the most populous state in the U.S., with almost 40 million people. It also has one of the largest economies globally and houses America’s biggest companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Disney. Because it is a popular place to live and work, many people choose to move here every year. If you are one among them, this article can help you ship your car to or from California.

Many things ensure a smooth experience when it comes to car transport in California. Let this guide serve as a resource for shipping a classic vehicle across the country or moving to Los Angeles with your Ford Mustang. Read on for information about the cost of shipping a car in California, the different types of carriers for car transport in California, and everything in between. 

Five different ways to ship a car to or from California 

Car transport in California is a tricky business. There are five different ways to do it, and they all have their pros and cons. But the important thing is being aware of what you’re doing. Here’s a list of all the available options.

 Drive Yourself 

This is one of the most cost-effective options, although it takes a lot more time and will require you to do some leg work in advance. You’ll need to find overnight accommodation along the way and places where you can eat and take breaks without leaving your car unattended for too long.This is only a good option if you have time and money, as driving your car across the country will likely cost more gas than your car is worth. 

Hire Someone To Drive It For You

If you don’t have time or don’t want to make the journey yourself, this might be an attractive option. These services are normally offered by people who have already made the same journey, so they should be able to get your car from A to B more safely and quickly than if you did it yourself for the first time.

Ship Your Car By Train

You can pick this option when deciding to transport my car to California. Although it’s a bit cheap than hiring an auto transport company, it involves working with both a shipping company and a railroad company at the same time. Unless you live near one of California’s major train depots (and most people don’t), this isn’t much more convenient than the other two methods described above. After all, if there isn’t a major depot near your residence or workplace, they probably won’t be one at the place you’re going either!  

Shipping By Air

If your budget allows for it or your situation requires fast delivery, shipping by air is the way to go. Air transport services offer faster shipping times than trucks or trains with a lower risk of damage (assuming no accidents occur). However, air transport costs are much higher than other methods due to increased fuel costs and handling required during loading/unloading processes. If speed is important, but the cost isn’t an issue, this could be a great choice for you!

Hire Auto Transport Company

Finally, you can consider transporting a car from California via an auto Transport Company–the method most people use when they want their car shipped without any hassle! Hiring an auto transport company lets someone else handle the logistics while leaving freedom for you to focus on other details involved with moving long distances.

However, this tends to be more expensive than driving yourself or hiring someone else because of extra fees associated with using professional services instead of doing everything on your own (such as insurance costs). Suppose convenience is what matters most to you. In that case, this option should tick all of the boxes—and if the price is also important, then rest assured that there are auto transport companies out there, such as SAKAEM Logistics, who offer competitive rates while maintaining high standards of service delivery to and from California.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

Get an Instant Quote online or call us at (888)725-0005 for a personalized quote.

Different Types of Car Shipping Options

When you want to transport my car from California (and vice-versa), you will have two main services to choose from enclosed transport and open-air transport. Now let’s get into some specifics about these transportation services to help you determine which one is right for you!

Enclosed Transport  

Enclosed transport means that the vehicle is protected from the elements during its trip by being shipped in a fully covered truck. This type of service usually costs more than open-air transport, but it is ideal for expensive or rare cars and luxury brands that want to prevent damage and exposure during shipment.

Open Air Transport

On the other hand, open-air transport is what most people think of when they picture a car being transported. This method involves having your car strapped onto a standard open-air auto hauler. Professional tie-down straps will secure the vehicle to avoid moving around while in transit. Still, otherwise, it will be exposed to outside weather conditions and typical road debris during its trip—so this isn’t the best choice for highly fragile or expensive vehicles.

Different Types of Car Shipping Services

  • Express Shipping Service: This service is for people that require speed as a top priority.
  • Guaranteed Shipping Service: An exact time frame is given for pickup and delivery of your car.
  • Military Shipping Services: This is especially for military personnel who need to relocate frequently due to transfers and deployments in different areas. 

How much does it cost to ship a car to or from California?

So, how much to transport a car to California? There isn’t a certain answer to this. The cost to transport a car to California may vary based on many factors. For example:


The closer the vehicle is to its destination, the less it will cost to ship a car. This is because shorter distances require less fuel and fewer man-hours to complete. Additionally, if a vehicle needs to be shipped over a long distance, it may need to make one or more stops along the way, adding to the overall cost.

 Vehicle Type

Some vehicles are simply more difficult to ship than others. For example, you can ship a standard sedan on a flatbed truck with no problem, but a sports car or convertible may need to be created, which will add to the overall cost. Shipping an SUV may also require a special type of truck, adding to the total cost.  

Seasonal Rates 

Prices tend to be higher during the summer months when demand is highest and lower during the winter months. Additionally, peak times for transporting a car from California and vice versa (such as around major holidays) can also result in higher prices.

The Route

Shipping door-to-door (from your home or office to the destination) is typically more expensive than terminal-to-terminal (where you drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated locations). This is because door-to-door service requires more effort on the shipper’s part and, therefore, costs more.

The Destination

 If a vehicle needs to be shipped to a rural area or an area not serviced by many carriers, the price will typically be higher than if it were being shipped to a major city like Los Angeles or San Francisco. This is because carriers have to go out of their way to deliver to these areas and may need to make special arrangements.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

Get an Instant Quote online or call us at (888)725-0005 for a personalized quote.

How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car To Or From California?

The one thing that you can know for sure about car transport in California is that it’s not a short process. Your delivery will depend on several factors, including:

Car shipping

Travel distance 

The time it takes to ship your car will ultimately depend on the distance between your pick-up and delivery locations. For example, a vehicle shipped from New York to California would take approximately 7-10 days, and a vehicle shipped from Laredo, Texas, to Los Angeles, CA, would take approximately 3-5 days.

Type of Vehicle

Some vehicles are bigger and heavier than others which means loading and unloading processes may require more effort, resulting in longer shipping times. This doesn’t mean it will always take longer. Some larger/heavier vehicles such as SUVs or trucks can also be loaded quickly depending on other factors such as carrier availability and location of transport terminals etc.

Transport Routes & Weather Conditions

Popular transport routes with access points near major cities tend to have better carrier availability resulting in faster delivery times for customers due to less downtime for drivers and their load schedules etc. However, bad weather conditions along these popular transport routes (e.g., heavy rainfall or snowstorms) could cause delays due to scheduling issues.

How Far In Advance You Book Your Delivery

 If you book well in advance, then there’s no problem – if not, then the auto transport company might have to rearrange schedules so that they can fit your car in somewhere, which could extend how long it takes for your vehicle to be picked up from its origin point and delivered elsewhere.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

Get an Instant Quote online or call us at (888)725-0005 for a personalized quote.

How Does The Process Of Shipping A Car To Or From California Work?

People have a common question about shipping a car from California to another state, and it’s not difficult if you know the process and do everything correctly. All of the steps are in order, and they’re listed below:

Get a Quote First

You’ll need to get a quote. This is a free, no-obligation estimate of how much it will cost to ship your car, i.e., with SAKAEM Logistics. You can get a free quote and ask questions by calling the customer support representative. Alternatively, you can use an online quote generator to get the quotation in no time.

Book Your Shipment

Next, you’ll need to book the shipment and pay for your order. After you’ve had all your shipping questions answered and decided that this is the right company for you, they’ll take care of everything else from here on out. They’ll email the Bill of Lading (BOL) that’s needed for pick-up and delivery of your vehicle so that you can print two copies which the carrier driver will sign at pick-up and delivery, respectively.  

Prepare for Pick-up

To prepare your vehicle for transport: remove all personal belongings (except car seats) from inside. Clean interior, check tire pressure, wash exterior completely, check the oil level, and make sure there’s enough gas in the tank (at least ¼ full). Fix any issues such as leaks and broken parts – if you can’t fix them, make sure the carrier rep knows about them when they inspect the car before loading.

Track shipment online 24/7

Auto Transport providers offer GPS tracking so that customers know exactly where their vehicles are during transit. The company also has dispatchers on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week, if there are any problems with your shipment while it is in progress.

Receive proof of delivery notification

When your vehicle arrives at its destination, you will receive an email notification of its arrival and pictures confirming the delivery of your vehicle.

How to Get a Quote to Ship a Car To or From California

Car transport in California can be expensive if you pick any company without comparing quotes. Therefore, getting multiple quotes is always a good idea.Tell the auto transport company a little bit about your shipment, where you’re shipping from and to, what kind of vehicle you’re shipping, and when you need it shipped. Once they have that information, the company will get in touch with their offers. From there, you can compare prices and reviews before booking your service. Alternatively, you can use an online quote generator for a hassle-free quotation. When using an online quote generator, you will need to provide the company with some information like the make and model of the car and its year, color, and any special features it may have.  

How To Find The Best Auto Transport Company To Ship My Car?

When you need to transport my car to California or from one location to another, you’ll want to find a reputable and reliable auto transport company. There are a few different ways to find the best company for your needs.

Get Quotes from Multiple Carriers

When you’re shipping a car, it’s important to get quotes from multiple carriers to compare prices and services. This way, you can be sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Consider the Time of Year

The peak season for shipping cars tends to be during the summer months when people are more likely to be moving. If you can ship outside of these months, you may be able to get a better rate.

Find a Reputable Company

There are a lot of companies out there that offer car shipping services, so it’s important to do your research and find one that is reputable and has experience shipping cars to and from California, like SAKAEM Logistics.

Ask Around

You can ask family and friends if they know of any good ones. If someone you trust has had a good experience with a particular company, that’s worth considering.

Ask For Discounts

Many companies offer discounts for things like multiple cars being shipped at once. You can also get a discount if you book your shipment early or during certain times of the year.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

Get an Instant Quote online or call us at (888)725-0005 for a personalized quote.

FAQs regarding shipping a car to or from California

Here are a few important questions to ask when transporting a car from California (and vice-versa):

What are the documents needed to ship a car to and from California? 

You need a bill of lading that lists the make, model, and VIN of the car being shipped and the name and contact information for the shipper and recipient. It would help if you also had insurance terms and conditions. If you are shipping the car overseas, you will also need a customs declaration form that lists the vehicle’s value.

Do I Need To Be Present At The Time Of Pick Up And Delivery? 

It’s always better to present yourself during pick-up and delivery; however, you can authorize someone to do the same for you if you are unavailable. 

What Is The Best Way To Ship A Car To Or From California?

  The best way to ship a car depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you are looking for the quickest and most convenient option, door-to-door transport may be the best choice. However, if you are looking for a more affordable option, terminal-to-terminal transport may be better.

How Long Is The Auto Transport Company’s Quote Valid For? 

After you receive your quote from the auto transport company, you’ll have a limited time to decide whether or not you want to move forward with their services. The company will typically give you a few days to decide, and they may even offer a price guarantee for a specific period.

How Can I Pay For The Auto Transport Service? 

You can pay for the auto transport service with cash, check, or credit card. If you are paying with a credit card, the companies generally accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Please have your card information ready when the driver arrives.

Does Insurance Cover My Car During Transit?

Yes, auto transport companies provide insurance to cover your car during transit. Make sure to check with your shipping company what type of insurance they provide. 

Pros and Cons of Moving To California

Moving to California has several pros and cons that you should consider before making a big decision. Keep reading:


 It’s never too cold and rarely gets hot enough to be uncomfortable. You can pretty much count on sunny skies any day of the year. 

  • Endless Things to Do and See

There’s always something new to explore, from big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles to more rural areas like wine country or Redwood forest. There’s also a great food scene with all kinds of cuisines available.


  • Can Be Quite Expensive

Housing costs are sky-high in popular areas, making it difficult to find affordable places to live. The cost of living, in general, is also pretty high, so your money doesn’t go as far as it would in other states. 

  • Traffic

Traffic can also be really bad, especially in larger cities. Congested highways and long commute times are just part of life for many residents.

Want to know how much it costs to ship a car with SAKAEM?

Get an Instant Quote online or call us at (888)725-0005 for a personalized quote.

Brantley Kendall