What to Consider When Transporting a Car across the USA

Harish Makam

14 Nov 2022 1 year ago

The car you own is very special to you. It’s been with you through thick and thin, and it’s seen some of the best moments of your life. But now, it’s time to move on. You’re moving across the country and need to figure out how to transport your car. There are a few things you need to consider before making a decision. How will you get your car to its destination? What kind of condition will it be in when it arrives?In other words, you must also consider costs, time, licensing, and before making that final decision. However, with some research and preparation, transporting your car can be an affordable and efficient venture that you won’t soon regret.Here are a few things to consider when transporting a car across the USA.

What You Need to Know About Auto Transporting

Before researching auto transport, it’s essential to know what it is. In its simplest form, auto transport is moving a person’s car from one location to another. This can be across the country or even within a city. The person shipping their car will approach a car transport company and book their car to be picked up at their current location and delivered to a new location of their choice.Transporting a car isn’t like moving a household item. It’s a service that requires a lot of skill and knowledge. Car transport companies ensure that vehicles are handled with utmost care and delivered on time. Car shipping is also a regulated industry, which makes it essential to do your homework before hiring someone to transport your vehicle.

Different options to ship your vehicle

If you are planning to move your car, you may be wondering whether to choose an open or enclosed auto transport service. Both have pros and cons, so deciding which suits you and your vehicle is vital. Open car transport is the more popular and affordable option, but your car will be exposed to the elements during transport. Enclosed transport is more expensive, but it will protect your car from the elements during transport.

Here are some things to consider when deciding between open and enclosed auto transport:

  • Cost: Open transport is typically more affordable than enclosed transport.
  • Time: Open transport typically takes less time than enclosed transport.
  • Protection: Enclosed transport offers more protection for your car but is more expensive.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to choose open or enclosed car transport comes down to your personal preference and your budget.  

Open car shipping

Different auto transport services

There are many different types of auto transport services available to choose from. Depending on your needs, you can choose expedited shipping, guaranteed shipping, door-to-door vehicle transport, or terminal-to-terminal vehicle transport.

  • Expedited shipping is when you need your vehicle shipped as fast as possible. This is often used for time-sensitive shipments or when regular shipping times won’t work for your schedule.
  • Guaranteed shipping is when you need your shipment to arrive by a specific date. This is often used when you need your vehicle for a specific event or deadline.
  • Door-to-door vehicle transport is when the shipping company picks up your vehicle from your home or business and delivers it to the destination. This is the most convenient option but can often be more expensive.
  • Terminal-to-terminal vehicle transport is when you drop your vehicle off at a shipping terminal, which is then delivered to another terminal at the destination. This is often the most economical option but can be more convenient if a terminal is close to your pick-up or drop-off location.

Why hire an auto transport company?

There are several benefits to using auto transport services, including convenience, safety, and cost savings.

  • They are professionals: Auto transport companies are experienced in shipping cars. They know all the ins and outs of the process and will be able to get your car from point A to point B without any issues.
  • Convenience is one of the biggest reasons why people use auto transport services. Rather than having to drive their vehicle themselves or arrange for someone else to do it, they can have it shipped. This is especially helpful for those moving long distances or needing more time to drive their vehicle.
  • Safety is another important consideration when choosing an auto transport service. When you ship your vehicle, you can be sure that it will be adequately protected from the elements and potential harm. This is especially important if you are shipping a valuable or antique vehicle.
  • Cost savings is another benefit of using auto transport services. Rather than having to pay for gas and lodging on a long road trip, you can have your vehicle shipped. This can be significant savings, especially if you are shipping multiple vehicles.
  • They are insured: If something happens to your car during transport, you will be covered by the company’s insurance.

Steps to ship your vehicle

  • Choose the right shipping company: Not all auto transport companies are created equal. Research different shipping companies and get quotes to find the best option.
  • Prepare your vehicle: Before shipping it, ensure it is clean and in good working condition. This will help the shipping process go smoothly and help avoid any damage to your vehicle.
  • Get your paperwork in order: Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork for shipping your vehicle, including your registration and proof of insurance.
  • Make a payment: Once you have chosen a shipping company and shipping option, you will need to make a payment. Be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available.
  • Schedule a pick-up: Once your payment is processed, you must schedule a pick-up time for your vehicle. Be sure to be available to meet the driver at the scheduled time.
  • Drop off your vehicle: Once the driver arrives, you will need to drop off your vehicle. Ensure all your paperwork is in order and signed before doing so.
  • Track your vehicle: Once it has been picked up, you can track its progress online or by phone. This will help you know when to expect its arrival.
  • Prepare for delivery: Once your vehicle arrives at its destination, the driver will call you to schedule a delivery time. Be sure to be available to meet the driver at the scheduled time.

Factors that determine the cost of shipping a car

As you search for a car transport company, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible. When it comes to cost to ship a car , there are five main factors you’ll want to consider: –

  • Distance: The farther you transport your car, the more expensive it will be. This is because it takes more time and effort to transport a car long distances.
  • Weight: The heavier your car is, the more it will weigh down the car transport truck, making shipping it more expensive.
  • Time of year: Shipping your car during summer and fall is cheaper than shipping it during winter.
  • Type of car: Shipping a car that’s in good condition and newer will be cheaper than shipping a car with a lot of miles on it.
  • Protection: If you want to keep your car in the best condition possible, you’ll want to invest in additional protection. This will be more expensive, but it’s worth it if you want to keep your car in excellent condition.

 Factors that determine the time it takes to ship your car

As you’re researching car transport companies, you’ll also want to keep an eye on how long they estimate the shipping process to take. Some companies will ship your car to and from their facility much faster than others. These are the five factors that will determine how long it takes to ship your car:

  • Distance: As with cost, the distance of your car transport will determine how long it will take. If you are shipping your car across the country, it will take longer than shipping it to a nearby state.
  • The type of vehicle: Different types of cars require different types of carriers for them not to be damaged during transport. As a result, these differences affect the time it takes to ship your car. Cargo vans and SUVs have large surfaces, which makes them difficult to pack tightly into standard-sized crates or containers. Customers must know these details before deciding which carrier they want their vehicle shipped to.
  • Time of year: Shipping a car during the winter months will take longer than shipping during the summer or fall. This is because the roads will be much more slippery during the winter, slowing car transport.
  • Weather conditions: The car transport process could take longer if a major snowstorm or hurricane is heading toward the area. Why? Because the areas that are being affected by the weather will have slower travel times, which will also impact the car transport process.
  • Vehicle carrier: Carriers specialize in transporting specific types of vehicles such as cars, boats, motorcycles, RVs, or any other type there may be out there. When selecting a carrier, it’s essential to consider the vehicle being sent. A motorcycle carrier has much less room than an 18-wheeler truck, so drivers will need to either put the motorcycle on its side or handlebars, which could cause damage from vibration.

Finding the Right Company to Ship Your Car

The right auto transport company will work with you to find a solution that fits your needs, not just their own. We’ll give you five factors you should consider when looking for an auto transport company.

Choose a company with experience.  

When it comes to shipping vehicles, every make and model has its challenges, and knowing how to handle them is critical for success! This includes a vehicle’s weight, height, length, width, ground clearance, etc. Make sure they can accommodate the type of car you’re moving if this matters to you.

Licensed Car Transporters

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues licenses to car shipping companies. This is the governing body that regulates all car transportation companies. You can confirm that a company is licensed to operate by quickly searching the FMCSA website. There are three types of licenses that a car transporter can hold:

  • Car Broker – These companies deal in buying and selling cars. They’re not actively involved in the transportation of vehicles.
  • Car Hauler – These companies specialize in long-distance driving. They generally use large semi-trucks to pick up and deliver cars over long distances.
  • Car Transportation Operator – These companies handle moving vehicles’ transportation and logistics. An excellent example of this would be a trucking company.


When you choose an auto transport company, you’re entrusting them with transporting your vehicle from one place to another, over potentially long distances and in conditions we can’t always control. This means there’s a risk they could be involved in an accident or have their truck damaged in some way while transporting your vehicle. Since you’re paying for transportation services, many companies will offer insurance coverage if something goes wrong – but not all of them do. It’s essential to check whether or not coverage is included and for how much before choosing a transporter; otherwise, you could find yourself liable for damages or losses if something goes wrong with your shipment.



Like in any industry, there are good auto transport companies and bad ones. Many factors can contribute to a company’s level of safety, including insurance coverage, experience, and fleet maintenance. This means you should ask about how long they’ve been around, if they’re insured, how long their trucks have been running, where they’re based – and what standards they follow for all these things.


The most important factor of any buying decision is price and affordability. This includes pricing per mile and additional costs such as fuel charges, insurance fees, and tariffs or duties on international shipping.


You should be able to get in touch with them quickly via a phone number or website, and they should reply promptly if they cannot immediately help. The best auto transport companies will communicate regularly throughout their transportation process. For example, letting you know when they’ve started moving your vehicle, giving periodic updates about its journey, and updating you when it has arrived at its final destination.

Tips to prepare your vehicle before transporting

When you’re ready to ship your vehicle, there are a few things you need to do to prepare it. Here are tips to get your car ready for transport:

  • Clean the vehicle inside and out. This will help the driver inspect the car for any pre-existing damage.
  • Remove all personal items from the car. This includes things like floor mats, GPS devices, and car chargers.
  • Check the vehicle’s fluids and tire pressure. Ensure the oil is at the correct level and the tires are properly inflated.
  • Disable the car alarm. The last thing you want is for the alarm to go off during transport.
  • Make sure the car is in good working order. If there are any mechanical issues, fix them before transport.
  • Document any pre-existing damage. This is important in case there is any damage during transport.
  • Take pictures of the car. This will document the condition of the car before transport.
  • Get an insurance policy for transport. This will protect your car in case of any accidents during transport.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When to Schedule Your Transport?

You want to avoid scheduling your transport during the winter months. You also want to avoid scheduling your transport too close to the holidays. Car shipping companies get busier as the year progresses. If you want to schedule your transport for a low-traffic time, you should do it as early in the year as possible. 

What type of vehicles can I ship?

Most vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans, RVs, and motorcycles, can be shipped. Some auto transport companies may restrict the type of vehicles they ship, so you must check with the company before you book.

What is the process for shipping a vehicle?

The process for shipping a vehicle is typical as follows:

  • You contact an auto transport company and request a quote.
  • You book the shipment with the company.
  • The company picks up your vehicle and ships it to your specified destination.
enclosed car shipping

How do I pay for auto transport service?

Auto transport companies typically require a deposit to reserve your spot. The balance is due at the time of pick-up. Some companies may offer the option to pay by credit card, but most require cash or a certified check. You can pay by credit card, PayPal, or in some cases, and you can even pay by cash.

Is my vehicle insured during transport?

Most auto transport companies carry insurance to cover your vehicle in case of damage during transport. Be sure to ask about the company’s insurance coverage when getting quotes.

Do I need to be present when my vehicle is picked up/delivered?

You are not required to be present for pick-up or delivery, but it is recommended. If you cannot be there, you will need to provide someone else with the keys to your vehicle.

How will I know when my vehicle has been delivered?

Most companies will provide you with tracking information for your shipment. This way, you can see exactly when your vehicle has been delivered.

What are the vehicle pick-up requirements?

Most auto transport companies will require that you have a valid driver’s license and that your vehicle is in good working condition. However, some companies offer transportation services for the inoperable vehicle as well.

Final Words: Is Transporting Worth It?

This all depends on why you’re transporting your car. If you’re moving across the country for a job and it’s your only option, it’s worth it. However, if you’re transporting your car for other reasons, such as visiting family, you might not want to spend the money. You can always drive your car across the country, but you’ll want to check road conditions and drive carefully. Driving across the country can be stressful, and it’s essential to

Harish Makam