November 9, 2021 Posted in Auto Transport
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience

How to Ship a Car Cross Country Without Losing Your Mind

Long-distance moving is never easy. But if you decide to invest in different services provided by a long-distance moving company, you’ll have less to worry about. The question is – how to ship a car cross country, and is it better to let the professionals do it or drive it by yourself?

A row of cars prepared for cross country moving services A reliable company will provide you with great transportation solutions

With great relocations comes great responsibility. Or was the quote about something else? Nonetheless, we have a lot to deal with once we make up our minds about moving. One of the first things we have to decide is which of the many long-distance moving services we should invest in. Packing services are an obvious choice because they take care of the dreaded task of packing our household. But what about the auto transport service? Or should you drive instead? Let’s see what shipping a car across the country means and help you decide.

What Does It Mean to Ship Your Car Across the Country?

When it comes to moving statistics, we know that millions of cars are being shipped on trailers across the US each year. Some are brand new, and they are being transported to dealers, but a few hundred thousand aren’t going to the store. These are private cars, and they are transported as part of a relocation service for all the people moving to a new state. But not all people seek professional assistance when moving; some hire drivers, while others drive all the way to another state by themselves.

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What Are Your Options When It Comes to Shipping a Car Cross Country?

It’s a fact of life that no matter our reasons to move, the moment we decide to leave our current home, there’s tons of work ahead. One of them is choosing between different shipping options for our vehicle. There are several ways you can transport it from A to B, besides handing it over to the professionals. Before you make up your mind, here’s a preview of other options:

  • Drive it by yourself. It’s doable, and it’s far from being your first time to drive around, but moving across the US is something else entirely. You will most likely have to drive in all kinds of weather (and it’s likely to change during the whole trip,) so you’ll be moving in the rain, snow or extreme heat, depending on the season and the part of the US you’re driving through. Also, you’ll have to pay for gas, take care of lodging and food along the way, not to mention how exhausting it is to drive such a long distance, especially if you’re relocating with kids.
  • What is the cheapest way to ship a car across the country? If you’ve decided to relocate by yourself, you can tow your vehicle behind the rental truck. But keep in mind that a DIY is perhaps the cheapest way to move out of state, but it’s also back-breaking work. All the packing, loading, unloading, but above all, driving the rental truck will be done by you.
  • Although probably not a popular option, you can always decide to sell your wheeler. You can put the money you earn this way into your moving budget and cover many other expenses, but keep in mind that this is a drastic step. Many people don’t like getting separated from their vehicle, and besides, you’re probably going to need one as soon as you move. And shopping around for the right option takes time.

Honestly speaking, you may save a bit, but it’s questionable whether it’s worth feeling any anxiety about moving out and being overly stressed about handling everything on your own.

A car that is cross country moving on the road Driving by yourself, especially a long-distance, is not easy

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Car Shipped Cross Country?

Choosing to let the professionals handle your relocation guarantees you a stress-free move, but you’re probably wondering just how much it will cost you. Well, there’s no set price, as each move differs from the other. There are several things a company will take into consideration. First of all, the distance by a mile will be the most important factor that affects the price. Another factor is the location, the size of the car, its condition (you have to pay additionally for inoperable cars), and the chosen solutions for shipping.

Choose the Right Long Distance Movers Which Offer Reliable Auto Transport

When picking the right professional service, you should pay attention to several factors. Getting recommendations for moving companies from the people you know is always a great solution. But if there aren’t any moving company recommendations available, search online, and look at online reviews. Be sure you check whether they are properly licensed and if they have a USDOT number with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Also, it’s wise to run a background check and see if there were frequent name changes to the company because that’s usually a sign of a fraudulent past.

Once you’ve checked if a moving company is legitimate, narrow down your picks to no more than five or six, contact the companies, and ask for a quote. The next step is to compare quotes and choose the one that fits your budget. Remember to stay clear of any lowball estimates because some scammers have a tendency to draw customers that way. Later on, they add different hidden expenses besides the initial quote, and the price will go through the roof. But once you choose reputable movers, agree on the pickup and delivery location, and decide the dates.

Cross country movers with the packed boxes A good company will help you move; a great one will offer solutions for all your needs

How to Ship a Car Cross Country – The Basics Steps of Shipping a Car Across Country With Professionals

You’ve researched and decided on the company you’ll hand over your car to. But, how does car shipping work? Before the professionals arrive, there are several steps you need to tackle to prepare for movers:

  • Check whether your car is driveable, which includes inspection of the battery and tires.
  • Another essential thing is to test the emergency brake.
  • The gas tank of your car should have less than one-quarter of gas. It’s enough for the professionals to handle it, and a full tank would weigh more and thus cost more.
  • Thoroughly wash your car inside and out before the professionals arrive to pick it up. You can also vacuum clean the interior to ensure nothing valuable is left in it.
  • Once your wheeler is sparkly clean, photograph any existing damage on its exterior.
  • Remove all your personal possessions from the car. If you want to transport anything in the trunk or the back seat, ask the movers whether it’s possible. It shouldn’t weigh more than 100 pounds, but as FMCSA doesn’t allow it, if the carrier pays fines, you will be charged.
  • While you organize important papers at home, set aside all the documents you have about your car, so you can hand them over to the professional crew.

Additionally, it’s best to drive your wheeler to a professional service to have it thoroughly checked up before you send it on its way to your new address.

Choose Pickup and Delivery Options

There are several pickup and delivery options you may choose from when transporting a car. Reputable companies will offer you a door-to-door service, and the terminal-to-terminal as well. The first one is the more popular option, although the pricier one. People tend to choose it for its convenience because you don’t have to drive your car anywhere. The professional team will come to your doorstep and pick the car, and later on, drive it directly to your new address. This option may help you deal with moving stress because you’ll have less to worry about.

The other option is suitable for those on a tighter budget and people who have more free time on their hands. With the terminal-to-terminal option, you’ll have to drive your wheeler to a designated location and leave it to the professionals. Later on, you should pick it up from the terminal that’s closest to your new home.

Before you hand over your car, watch the following video to see how to super clean it.

How Do I Ship a Car Across the Country? Choose the Fitting Carrier for Your Vehicle

Once you’ve thoroughly thought about the pickup and delivery, it’s time to make one more decision. And it’s not whether you should pack a bag of moving essentials (this one’s a must to survive the initial days in the new abode) but which type of trailer to choose. Auto transport companies will most likely offer you two types – open and enclosed carrier. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter which trailer you choose, your car will be insured. But let’s see what the main differences are.

The Pros and Cons of Open Trailers

One of the most common moving mistakes is to rush things and make rash decisions. Although moving is complex and demanding, you need to set aside enough time to choose which carrier is best for your car. The open carrier is the more common one, and many people decide to use this option. Its lower cost and better availability are usually the decisive factors. Companies can transport up to ten vehicles this way, depending on their size. These are the pros, but what are the cons? The biggest con of this type of trailer is that it doesn’t have a roof or sides, and your vehicle will be exposed to the weather and road conditions. It means you need to wash it as soon as it arrives at your doorstep.

Know the Basics of Enclosed Transportation for Your Vehicle

Enclosed carriers are the pricier option but a more convenient one, especially if you’re moving in winter. They are closed from all sides and your car is kept perfectly safe and secured. It will arrive in a neat condition to its destination. This option is usually used by owners of show cars, classic vehicles, and expensive models. The company can ship up to five vehicles this way.

Cars shipped with a cross country moving company Whether an open or enclosed trailer fits what you need, your vehicle will be secured and handled by professionals

How Seasons Affect Shipping Your Car Across Country

You’ve probably heard that winter is the cheapest time of the year to move. This is due to the fact that most people relocate from the end of March to September because of the weather conditions and because kids are on a school break. That’s why companies and their trailers are more available during cold months. If you decide this is the best time of year to move for you, keep in mind that it may take longer due to snow, ice, and fewer daylight hours. But perhaps the best season might be spring. It’s warmer, the days are longer, and you may still get a lower quote on the relocation package.

Cars moving cross country Early spring might be the best season for auto transportation

Is It Cheaper to Drive or Ship Car Across the Country?

A DIY move may seem like a good option, especially for those who are relocating on a budget. But once you contact a company to estimate the value of household goods, sit down and calculate just how much a DIY relocation would actually cost you. Keep in mind that a reputable company will probably give you a discount if you invest in different services, such as storage services and other solutions. And above all, you will be relieved of stress and worry, and that is a priceless thing.


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