Shipping Your Car Cross Country – Everything You Need to Know

December 12, 2019Car Shipping Essentials
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

Planning to transport your vehicle across the United States can be more stressful than you can imagine. Shipping a car cross country requires a thorough organization in order to find the right transporter. Preparing your vehicle for a long-distance trip will also take a considerable amount of time and research.

Make sure you have complete insight into all the factors and elements related to this process so you can prepare yourself in advance. Don’t hurry to pick the cheapest transporting company. Instead, take the time to ask them everything you think is essential for a hassle-free shipment. With our helpful guide, you’ll get a clearer picture of this process and will have nothing to worry about when the big day comes.

First Step – Get a Car Shipping Quote

The best thing to do is to get as many quotes as possible, at least five or ten – that will help you get a better understanding of the price range for the service. In the sea of various companies that offer long-distance transport, you should be able to find the most suitable one for you. After you choose the provider, your next step will be to book the shipment.

Pro tip: Going for the cheapest company is not necessarily the best idea – the low price usually comes at the expense of quality.

Give USA Auto Transport an Ask for a Free Quote


What Car Shipping Quotes Include?

The carrier costs are based on a few factors and an average sum you could expect to pay is $400-$2,000 for coast-to-coast freight of a standard four-door model or $475-$2,250 for a pickup truck or SUV. The following factors are considered when it comes to calculating shipment costs:

  • Distance
  • Vehicle height and length
  • Make and model
  • Transport type
  • Vehicle condition
  • Pick up and delivery locations
  • Time of the year
USA Auto Transport
Many factors are calculated into the final carrier costs, and one of the most significant ones is the distance

Choose Between Several Types of Delivery When Shipping a Car Cross Country

One more factor has a great influence on the final price and it has to do with the different ways of transporting. Of course, depending on your requirements and possibilities, you can choose the one that suits you the most.

Door-To-Door Transport

Door-to-door auto transport provides you with complete comfort and peace of mind, as it means that you won’t have to waste any time on dropping off or picking up your vehicle. All you have to do is be present or assign someone you trust to represent you.

Terminal Shipping

In case you would rather save a few bucks than some time, this is a great option for you. Your car will be delivered at a predetermined location – usually the nearest terminal. That could, however, cause additional facility fees.

Expedited Vehicle Shipping – Reliable Companies Are Ready for It

Do you need last-minute car transportation? Many companies offer this service as an additional or premium solution, and you can count on them carrying it out within 24 to 48 hours after your order. Needless to say, it comes at a higher price.

Choose the Type of Trailer

Depending on your needs and your car’s condition, you can choose between open or enclosed carriers. Read on to find out the advantages of both methods.

Open Carriers – a Budget-Friendly Option

Open carriers are the industry standard – about 90% of car transports are carried out using an open trailer. If you choose this option, your car will be transported with multiple other cars. Before making a decision, you should keep in mind one thing – an open trailer doesn’t protect the vehicles from rain, road debris, dust, dirt, and so on. In other words, you should probably schedule a thorough car wash upon delivery.

Cross-Country Transport in Enclosed Carriers

Since the enclosed trailer service provides the most protection for your car, you may choose it to relocate your expensive or unique model (exotic car, antique, vintage, or race model). It will be protected from weather conditions, debris, and dirt. Because this method gives you more comfort and fewer worries, its price is significantly higher than open carriers.

usa auto transport
An open carrier is budget-friendly, but if you want to save your car from bad weather, consider the enclosed option

Shipping Delivery Time Frame

The typical time frame depends on the distance. It can last from three to ten days, and sometimes even longer. For example, if the transporting distance is between 1,000 and 1,499 miles, the expected time frame is 3-5 days. Besides the distance, other important factors are weather and traffic. However, the best course of action is to contact your company and ask about their delivery time.

Enclosed Auto Transport

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Open Carrier Auto Transport

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Auto Transport Insurance

Among different kinds of information related to your car transport, you have to remember another crucial thing – insurance. During negotiations with your transporter, ask about insurance details and what it covers. If you are not satisfied with their terms and conditions, you can find other third-party insurance providers.

Keep in mind the importance of insurance coverage. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration insists on companies providing a certificate of insurance to all customers. Checking whether you received this document during the pre-move period and reviewing all the details is a good way to figure out if the company you want to hire is reliable.

car insurance is essential when preparing for long distance moving
Auto shipment insurance is a must when moving your vehicle to a different state

Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport

Before you turn in your car to your chosen company, here is a list of things you should do to make sure everything is ready for transport:

  • Leave only a quarter-tank of gas in your car
  • Wash and clean your automobile inside and out
  • Check and top off all fluids
  • In case you notice any leaks, repair them before the pick-up
  • Check and adjust tire pressure and battery charge
  • Take photos of any damage before pick up and after delivery
  • Remove all accessories and custom parts
  • Take off toll tags and EZ passes
  • Use an air compressor if needed
  • You can leave a spare tire and jack

Additional Tips

Perhaps you are planning to load your car with belongings in order to save space in the moving truck. If so, we strongly advise against it. Here are the reasons why you should take personal items out of your vehicle before you ship it:

  • These items usually aren’t insured, as the policy applies to the car only. If anything gets damaged or stolen, you will have no way of getting reimbursed. Additionally, if your car gets damaged by the things you leave inside, the insurance policy stops being valid.
  • Your transporter can be fined for freighting your personal items. A car carrier specializes in shipping cars – not furniture, household goods, or any other items.
  • It will increase the overall weight. Depending on the company you hire, this can also mean a significant increase in the price of the service.

In other words, if you’re moving to another state, leave all your household belongings for the moving truck and don’t try sneaking anything inside your vehicle.

black car
Embrace tips and tricks

There Are Things That Will Ensure You a Smooth Shipping

If you’ve ever wondered about what other things you should keep in mind for smooth car freight, here are some of the most important ones:

  • Date. If it is possible, book ahead and plan the shipment for the middle of the month. Also, fall and spring are excellent periods because of low prices and low demand.
  • Trackability. A reliable and professional transporter will do everything to keep you in the loop about the progress of the transport throughout the whole thing.
  • Reliability. When it comes to long-distance transportation, picking a reliable provider is crucial. If you do proper research, you will be stress-free while your vehicle is on the road, knowing that nothing will happen to it.
  • Experience. With highly trained and experienced drivers, your service provider will be able to overcome any problem that may occur during the process. Your four-wheeler will reach your new address on time and in intact condition. That’s why you should consider only the best when it comes to your car’s long-distance shipment.

Moving your auto can be a very delicate process. It demands a lot of research, planning, and excellent organization. In case your move is a long-distance one, consider hiring a professional and reliable business. This will be cheaper – and much safer – than driving on your own. So contact your relocation provider and ask for a quote to begin your shipping process.

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