How Do I Ship or Transport My Car Across Country

Everything You Need to Know About Shipping a Car When Moving

If you need to ship a car across the country, there are many things to consider. Your focus might be on keeping the costs down, but other factors are important as well. To ensure your car is transported safely and delivered when you want it, there are some things you should do to prepare.

Car shipping should not be taken lightly as it is easy to run into problems if you’re not careful. To help you transport a car across the country, let’s take an in-depth look at what you need to think about and do before committing with one of the car shipping companies. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has an excellent resource detailing some of the top companies to choose from.

Choosing How to Transport Your Car

If you need to move your vehicle to the other side of the country, you have a few options. Don’t start researching auto shipping companies before fully weighing up your options.


Often cars are shipped because their owners don’t like the idea of driving across the country. If you choose to drive your car, you will face expenses, including gas, food, and if the journey is further than you can drive in a day, lodging costs.

When you have your car shipped, you will also pay for gas, and semi-trucks aren’t known for their good gas mileage. The truck driver has to be paid as well, of course, as do the customer service representatives and the other people who work for the company. They have licensing and fees to pay too, and they still need to make a profit.

All of this might make shipping your car for shorter distances not worth the expense. But if you are relocating more than you can comfortably drive in a day, say 500 miles, it makes more sense.


If you are renting a truck as part of your moving arrangements, you could choose to tow your car. You can also rent a dolly or car trailer from the same place you are renting the truck, and it is likely to be cheaper than using an auto transport company.

For example, for around a 1,000-mile journey, average car shipping costs will be more than $900. A car trailer will cost about half that, and a tow dolly will cost around half again, or about $230. Though the longer the journey is required, the better value auto shipping becomes.

However, towing a car on a dolly or a trailer isn’t easy. If you are also driving an unfamiliar truck, there is a greater risk of something serious going wrong on the journey.


You could always sell the car and buy another when you’ve moved in. You can use the money from the sale to help with your moving expenses, but it is only worth the trouble if you need the extra cash or are considering selling anyway.

Choosing to Ship Your Car

If you have decided to ship a car across the country, you should get at least three quotes, so you know you are getting a good deal. Prices between the most expensive and the cheapest companies could be hundreds of dollars, so spending a bit of time getting quotes could be time well spent.

What Type of Transport do You Need?

You can choose between open or enclosed transport. Choosing an open carrier is going to be cheaper but brings with it more risk to your car. It is cheaper because more cars will fit on the carrier, and they are less expensive for the shipping company to purchase.

Enclosed carriers have fewer cars and make sure the vehicles are protected from the weather, flying debris, and theft. But this extra protection comes at a cost. They typically cost car owners 60% more than open carriers.

It is easier to have your car transported on an open carrier since they are the majority of carriers that transport cars across the country. For these reasons, using an enclosed carrier is only really worth it if you have a classic or very valuable car to move.

How Expensive is Car Shipping?

An average cost for a 1,000-mile journey in an enclosed carrier will cost around $1,400, and in an open carrier, the cost will be more like $900. To transport a car across the country or about 2,750 miles, it will cost just over $1,000 in an open carrier and more than $1,500 for enclosed shipping.

Choosing an Auto Transport Company

Once you have the quotes, you need to compare what else they are offering. Even though the price is important, it might not be the most crucial factor to make shipping stress-free.

How fast does the shipping company transport your car? Sometimes lower-cost transport companies will unload your car and leave it in a parking lot for a few days waiting for another carrier. If speed is important, you will have to pay for it.

Check what other people think about the company before you schedule a pick-up for your car. This will show you if the company has good customer service and are reliable. While most companies will get a few negative comments, you need to look for patterns of multiple customers reporting similar concerns.

Insurance Coverage

Companies will offer different levels of cover for your vehicle. Some will have standard cover for up to $100,000, while others offer $250,000. Make sure you pick a company that offers enough protection for your car.

Preparing Your Car

Before your car is due to be picked up, you need to make sure the car is ready. The car should be driveable, with a reliable battery, good tires, and topped off fluids. Also, make sure there is enough gas in the car, but not a full tank, since too much gas is a hazard. Remove any unnecessary items as well as things like toll passes and bike racks.

Checking for Damage

When your car arrives at its delivery location, you need to check carefully for damage. You will be required to sign a document known as a bill of lading when the car is picked up to state the damage already on the car. Upon delivery, you or the person acting on your behalf need to check for new damage.

If damage has occurred, this will need to be documented using photographs. Otherwise, the shipping company might claim it didn’t happen while it was in their care, and if that happens, good luck making an insurance claim.