May 8, 2019 Posted in Auto Transport

Transporting a Car Cross Country – All You Need to Know About Auto Shipping

Relocating long-distance always entails a period of settling in and getting to know new surroundings. Transporting a car cross country will be of great help in that process, giving you more freedom to wander around and explore.

Numerous cars on an open trailer overlay
There is a way to ship your car without a fuss

But how to do it properly without making some of the common moving mistakes? How does car shipping work? Luckily, there are few simple steps to ensure your car arrives at the destination safe and sound.

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Always Plan in Advance

When you go over the reasons to move and decide where you should move, you will have enough time to plan every step of the relocation process. Are you planning on moving during the holidays? Maybe in summer? Knowing about the relocation in advance can be a great asset in organizing auto transport. In such a case, you’ll be able to plan your moving budget more accurately.

In general, summer is the peak of the relocation season, due to the fine weather and other perks, but it may not be the best time of the year to move if you’re handling a last-minute move. Moving services are usually stretched to the fullest in that period. It’s no different with car shippers. So book their service well in advance, months if possible, or as soon as you find a job before moving to another state. That way, you can hammer out the details with the shipper and turn to the other relocation tasks.

cars in open trailer ready for shipping long distance overlay
Planning in advance can be of great service to you, saving time and nerves.

Hiring a Professional Driver

Even though professional transport may seem like a logical choice, it is not the only one. The advantage of moving alone is that if you know some packing tips and tricks you could find some free packing materials for moving and pack everything from clothes and small furniture to electronics into your vehicle and cruise to your new home. That is if you don’t mind driving for hours or you’re relocating to a suburb nearby. Another option is to hire a driver to drive your car to the destination.

You may opt for a professional driver or someone you know or got a recommendation for. That can be a friend, a friend of a friend, or even a student looking to earn some cash. Such an arrangement sounds like the cheapest way to move out of state and can be one of the ways to reduce costs when moving. Also, this way, you can circumvent the ban most companies impose on transporting belongings in cars. You may even send a pet on the journey or a significant amount of your belongings if you’re moving into a smaller home and don’t have many unwanted items to donate. Hiring a driver can be a perfect solution for shorter distances.

However, long-distance moves create an array of potential problems and reveal significant downsides. Besides the driver’s compensation, you’ll have to take into account the expenses for their meals and accommodation during the trip, as well as the ticket for them to return home. Then there’s also gas. Aside from finances, there is the question of safety. Not only will your car have to endure the strain of a cross-country trip, but the risks of accidents or theft will be a lot higher. If you’re not willing to put your vehicle through all that without urgent need, go with the pros.

open trailer on the road overlay
Hiring a driver may reduce the basic cost of car shipping, but likely won't be as reliable

Choose the Best Auto Transport Company

The first step when you decide to use a professional auto shipping service is to hit the web and do research on companies. The first thing to look for is whether they are licensed at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If they’re not, don’t spare them a second glance. If the license is in place, then proceed to their offer. Look at the options they have, from insurance to methods of transport, safety measures they put in place, whether they provide tracking information, and more.

To get a better grasp of the offers and truth in them, look into client reviews. Too many negative comments or complaints should be a cause for removing the company from a shortlist. If ten random people say that their cars were damaged on the company’s trailer, then maybe something is wrong with the system. And since the car is one of the most expensive things in the household, you don’t wish to entrust it to a faulty shipper.

Finally, since the relocation industry is a competitive one, companies are incentivized to offer various benefits to potential customers. These benefits can be in the form of free storage or even a discount on the price.

Get a Quote for Transporting a Car Cross Country From Several Companies

Just because the first company you contacted seems perfect, that doesn’t mean there are no better ones. So always call several of them and get a quote from each. Due to the method of calculating the vehicle shipping cost, the quote can’t be fixed. Once you have several options on paper, you may make the best decision.

truck with a open trailer overlay
Choosing a company for the auto shipping service should be based on the cost, but also on the overall offer, so get a quote from several shippers.

What’s the Cost of Transporting a Car Cross Country

The cost of cross country vehicle shipping is connected mostly to the distance that the truck has to go and the time it will take it to reach the destination. In general, for relocations longer than 2,100 miles, transport time is between one and two weeks.

When it comes to the price, it stands on average about $3 per mile for distances up to 200 miles. For longer hauls, 1,000 miles or more, it falls to $0.8 per mile. There are other things that affect the price of auto transport, too. Most important is the chosen method of pick up and delivery, but there are also:

  • Size of the car – Vehicles that surpass stipulated height and length are subjected to additional charges
  • State – Transporting fully operational vehicles is cheaper than hauling inoperable ones
  • Type – Luxury or vintage cars are more expensive to ship because of special safety measures to protect them and increased liability in case of accidents
  • Season – Because it’s the peak season, it is more expensive to ship a car in summer than in winter. Also, it’s harder to book a slot in the carrier, due to crowding (another reason to hire movers in advance), that’s why if you want to lower your moving expenses book a winter date.

Have in mind that moving in winter will probably mean bad weather and worse conditions on the road, and therefore the haul will most likely take longer.

Relocation truck on the road overlay
The price to ship a vehicle across the country depends on many factors.

How to Ship a Car – Pick Up, Transportation, and Delivery Methods

Every serious company will offer you a choice on how to ship a vehicle. Two main methods are shipping in an open carrier and putting your car in an enclosed container. This choice, as well as the one on the pick-up and delivery, will significantly affect not only the cost of service but also the time needed for the process.

Open and Enclosed Transport

For those moving on a budget or simply not wanting to splash too much cash on auto transport service, the open carrier is a perfect choice. It is the most common way of transporting cars, both for makers and users. It is also the cheapest way. To put it simply, your car will be driven up the ramp to the allocated slot on a trailer, fixed in place, and then wait for the trailer to be filled with other vehicles before setting out onto the road.

However, this method is cheaper for a reason. While on the road, your car will be pretty much at the mercy of elements. Also, debris on the road is another thing your vehicle won’t be protected from. While this is unlikely to cause any serious damage, your vehicle will surely need thorough washing once it arrives.

On the other hand, enclosed carriers offer virtually absolute protection to your vehicle and leave no room for moving stress. Behind the tarp or walls of the container, the car will be safe from all outside influences. It is the best, if not the only option for those who need to ship very expensive four-wheelers. We can’t think of anyone who would put their vintage Rolls Royce anywhere except in a well-padded container with extra protection. The same goes for Ferraris and other luxurious brands. And you definitely won’t ship a car with great sentimental value in a way that would leave it damaged.

It is important to note that up to six compacts can go in an enclosed carrier, depending on its size. And math is simple – the fewer automobiles inside, the more expensive the haul.

Pick Up and Delivery Methods

When it comes to this segment, the choice is between terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door delivery. The first one is cheaper than the other, and it means that you drive your car to the predetermined loading spot to put it on a truck. The same goes for the destination point. Terminals are usually located in major cities, so it may mean additional expenses unless you’re moving to a big city.

Door-to-door delivery is more expensive but the money spent spares you many worries. The truck will arrive at your doorstep to pick up the car and deliver it to the door of your new home.

Unfortunately, it’s not without downsides. Besides a higher basic price, the door-to-door method can take a bit more time, especially if you live or move to a place that is not along the main roads. The more time the truck driver spends on finding your location, the higher the cost. In case you need your car transported really fast, many companies offer the service of express hauling. For a pretty hefty sum, of course.

What Does it Take to Get Your Vehicle Ready for Shipping

Before loading your car onto a truck, there are some things you should do for your own peace of mind as much as for the safety of the car. The first is to buy an insurance policy, both from the auto transport company and from some other source. That especially goes for luxury and vintage vehicles. Insurance for them is steeper, but it’s well worth it. It can’t hurt to check out specific regulations concerning automobiles in the destination state.

When it comes to preparations for loading and moving day tips, some shippers will require documents that prove you’re the owner of the car before inspecting the car’s state. That inspection is essential in case the car sustains damage during the trip because only issues not registered beforehand can be subjected to insurance coverage. So, to make sure that everything is in order, you should wash the car and inspect it yourself. Write down and photograph all scratches and dents you spot, as evidence for both shippers and insurers.

Also, the car should undergo a technical inspection, too. Faulty brakes will mean a higher price for the insurance policy, for example. And according to the rules of most shippers, the car’s interior has to be empty of all stuff, and there shouldn’t be more than one-quarter of the tank filled with fuel. Once all that is done, you’re set to load the car.

open trailer on the bridge overlay
Make sure to know all options for vehicles, including the open or enclosed carrier, before you pick between the best companies for moving across the country

Are There Other Ways for Shipping a Vehicle

Of course, the truck isn’t the only method of shipping a vehicle. Auto transport can be done by plane, a ship, or by train. They are more (airplane) or less expensive (train), but they have one, for some crucial disadvantage. Their departure and arrival points are set, so there’s no chance of door-to-door deliveries, and their destination points may be quite far from your new home.

car shipping terminal overlay
Maybe moving by plane or a boat is the best option for you

It May Be Complicated to Ship a Car, But it Can Be Stress-Free

So there you have it, our guide to auto transport. With a bit of proper planning and research, you can reduce the costs and get your four-wheeler to the destination safe and sound. Not to mention in operable condition. And once you’re there, exploration can begin for real.


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