How to Ship a Car

Many situations will prompt you to ship your car to another state. Whether you’re relocating, selling cars online, or taking your car on a vacation, shipping a car can be stressful but doesn’t need to be a headache.

There are many safe ways to move your car from one place to another that don’t cost much money.

How Can I Ship My Car to Another State?

Shipping a Car to Another State

Even though shipping a car leads to extra expenses, there are many benefits, like saving precious driving time and preventing the wear and tear of long-distance mileage. If you decide to ship your car instead of driving it yourself, the next step is determining how to ship the vehicle safely.

You can learn how to utilize the space in the car when shipping in our post on How To Ship Boxes. Here are the basic steps for shipping a car successfully.

1. Conduct Your Research 

Assume you’re relocating to Los Angeles in the fall and need someone to transport your car across the nation. How do you locate the most qualified contractor for the job?

You’ll find many results if you Google “ship my automobile to L.A.” However, you do not have to choose the first auto shipper on the list. Most of those top hits could be brokers instead of legitimate carriers. What is the distinction?

Auto Shipping Broker: Transporting your car through a broker is a simple but indirect method. Brokers have relationships with various auto carriers and can provide you with a quote depending on the rates they receive. The broker will charge specific fees on top of the original shipping cost, and that’s how they earn a profit.

Auto Carrier: Auto carriers are the actual shipping companies. They have a narrower selection of shipping options than a broker (some carriers just have a few vehicles) and are more difficult to locate online. When you schedule with a carrier, you deal directly with the people handling the cargo.

So, which is the best option? That depends on your objectives.

The most significant danger of utilizing a broker is receiving a bill higher than the actual price (brokers often underquote to get your business). Getting in touch with a carrier directly is the most dangerous because it requires more research, and the carrier may have fewer scheduling options.

2. Choose a Reliable Transporter

It is advisable to weigh your options before signing a deal or paying a deposit once you’ve received quotations from multiple vehicle carriers or brokers.

When choosing a reputable auto shipping business, keep the following in mind.

Read the reviews: Look up the transporter’s reviews on Yelp and other web sources to find out the opinions of other customers.

Get recommendations: Ask professional movers for suggestions since they regularly work with reputable auto transporters.

Avoid huge deposits and unusual payment methods (such as wire transfers): Most legitimate businesses will just ask for a minimal deposit or none. Usually, a business will ask for payment in cash when the car is delivered.

3. Choose the Most Suitable Way to Ship Your Car

There are two basic types of vehicle transportation: open and enclosed. These solutions are exactly what they seem.

The common method for automobile shipment is to load your vehicle into an open truck. You must have seen these open carriers hauling truckloads of cars.

Enclosed vehicle shipping implies that your vehicle will be transported in a enclosed truck. Enclosed trucks can hold fewer automobiles and be more expensive than open transportation.

Open transportation is the best choice if you’re relocating cross-country and only need to get your family vehicle to your new home. Your car will be vulnerable to a few risks, but they are less expensive, and damage is uncommon. People shipping rare historic vehicles or costly sports cars typically choose enclosed transport.

4. Verify Your Insurance Coverage.

car insurance for shipping cars

Most carriers will provide insurance coverage between $50,000 and $100,000. This might be enough for your 2015 Ford Fusion, but it might not be enough for a newer or more expensive car.

Exemptions are something else to check for on your vehicle insurance policy. Many plans expressly exclude “acts of God,” which include, among other things, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, etc.

Call your current auto insurance company or the carrier to discuss your options if you need more coverage.

5. Book In Advance

You may require immediate shipping of your vehicle sometimes. Perhaps you recently purchased an automobile out of state and simply cannot wait a week for it to arrive. Alternatively, you could need to transport your luxury car across the nation for a nick-of-time auto show. You may also need to make an urgent move. Life is unpredictable.

However, you should try to plan your car shipping as soon as possible. Aside from distance and location, the time of shipping an automobile is likely the most important aspect in deciding the cost.

So, when is it too early? It differs for each company, but the optimum time to schedule your auto transport is 2-4 weeks before the intended ship date. Auto transporters may not even have space or charge a substantially higher fee if you book in less than 2 weeks.

6. Get Your Car Ready for Shipping

After all the research and arrangements, the next step is to get your car ready for the journey. The first step is to clean your car’s inside and outside thoroughly. A clean vehicle will reveal dings or blemishes during the inspection more clearly. Take images of these problems to know if something new occurs during your trip.

For your own safety, make a note of the odometer reading. Before transport, make sure all alarms are turned off. Remove any toll tags from your vehicle as well. 

Take any valuables and exterior accessories with you. For instance, bicycle clips and luggage racks are prohibited by car transportation providers. This is vital because the connected parts pose risks and can detach during transportation. A car cover or specialized equipment is therefore not an option.

Having the car maintained and checked for leaks is always a smart idea. Remember that the optimal fuel tank level for shipping cars is between 1/8 and 1/4 full. These features help speed up the procedure once the car arrives at its destination.

Additionally, completing this work before shipping makes finding car shipping quotes much easier.

7. Inspect Your Vehicle When It Is Picked Up And Delivered

inspect car after shipping

You should inspect your vehicle and obtain a bill of lading when the driver arrives to pick it up. This is confirmation that the driver has picked up your vehicle.

When the vehicle is delivered, you must be present to conduct a post-trip check. This is when you’ll check for any damage during the trip and make any outstanding payments. Make meticulous documentation of any damage for future insurance claims.

What Are The Other Options Available For Shipping Cars?

1. Hiring a Driver 

Hiring a driver is a common method for transporting your car to another state. A friend, family member, or even a professional driver can be the “hired driver.”

This method demands a high level of trust. Does the person have sufficient driving experience to transport your vehicle safely across the country? Will the driver be courteous and drive your car with caution, or will he drive it roughly? Before you hand over your keys, you’ll need to think about all of these things.

Irrespective of who you hire, remember that driving a car over a long distance will add extra mileage (and wear and tear) to your car, as well as the risk of it colliding with another vehicle.

You should also double-check the total price. How much will you pay for the driver’s services? You should compare it to other options before you decide. If you decide to hire a driver, you can find drivers on online platforms like IDriveYourCar and uShip.

2. Towing or Trailering a Car

If you hire one, you can usually connect your automobile to a moving truck using a car hauler or tow dolly.

You might even be able to kill two birds with one stone if you have a car and a truck. You may attach your automobile to the truck with a hired car trailer or tow dolly.

This is the ideal option for folks with prior experience pulling trailers and cars. It can be incredibly frustrating and even hazardous if you don’t know how to haul a car or trailer.

3. Have Your Moving Company Transport Your Car

If you’re employing professional movers, inquire whether they also provide car transportation. This will make your move go more smoothly because you will have one less thing to worry about. If they offer the service, they could either transport the car directly or arrange for it to be shipped by a carrier. 

4. Ship Your Car by Train Across the Country

This service is only available to East Coast residents. Amtrak’s direct-to-consumer train service allows you to ship your vehicle with a passenger train. You must, however, travel on the same train. Transporting your car from Virginia to Florida takes far longer than flying; a one-way trip can amount to $150.

5. Transport Your Vehicle by Boat

In a few states, transporting an automobile by sea is the best choice (or only option). A boat is your sole option for shipping an automobile to Hawaii. Another region where exporting a car by the sea sounds plausible is Alaska. However, this shipping option is usually expensive. Shipping a car via boat from the Port of Tacoma in Washington to the Anchorage Port in Alaska costs more than $2,100.

How Much Does It Cost To Transport A Car Across The Country?

transport my car across the country

This is a complicated question because a variety of factors determine expenses. Everything from the mode of transportation to the time of year can significantly impact the cost of transporting your car from one location to another. For example, shipping a Chevy Malibu from Indianapolis to Los Angeles costs between $800 and nearly $1,000, according to uShip.

On the other hand, shipping an F-150 from New York to Los Angeles will set you back well over $1,000. Those are the typical open-air shipping charges for truck shipping. Therefore, the figures could be drastically different for alternative modes.

These are the prices for commuter automobiles; exotic cars, antique cars, and collector automobiles all have additional fees. For insurance coverage and more careful freight handling, these cars can cost up to $3,000 more than their “middle-of-the-road” equivalents.

Search for the best prices with a transporter you trust, just like you would for anything else. It’s also essential to consider taxes, insurance, and other charges that may not have been added to your initial estimate.

You can also learn how to ship other large items like furniture in our guide on How to Ship Furniture to Another State.

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