How do you ship a car across country?

How do you ship a car across country?

You might think shipping a car across the country would be a stressful thing to do. It’s got to be up there with moving to a new house, surely? Well actually, it’s not as stressful as you think, especially when you’ve got all the information and an insight into all the factors and elements related to such a process.

In this article we will cover all the bases, make sure you’ve got a clear picture of the process and nothing to worry about when the car shipping day comes.

How to transport a car across country

If you ever need to move your car across country there are several ways you can do it. You can use a train or send it by plane. There’s also the option of hiring a professional driver to drive it for you or, ask a friend or relative. All of these can work out to be very expensive when you factor in the extra costs you must pay.

The best way to ship a car across country is to hire a cross country vehicle shipping company to transport it for you, from A to B. The cost is much lower than any other options, it’s very simple to arrange, and you get the added benefit of having your car picked up and delivered from and to a location of your choice.  

What is cross country vehicle shipping?

When you choose cross country car shipping you get a service that allows you to move your car from coast to coast, state to state, north to the south of the United States or to and from any location, even to and from Hawaii or internationally. You make the arrangements with the auto transport company, a carrier picks up your vehicle, loads it onto a trailer and delivers it to your chosen location. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Why shipping a car across country is better than driving

Shipping a car across country

Driving your own car across country is an option that many people consider. A road trip sounds really exciting and it’s bound to be a lot of fun, all the family together, right? A road trip is an excellent idea if you want an interesting and different kind of vacation, but if you make it part of any relocation plans you will find it just adds to the general stress of moving. 

Some of the things you must worry about include the extra costs such as gas, accommodation, food, tolls, and any other expenses. A few days on the road can rack up the cost. And then you’ve got the cost of added wear and tear to consider.  

The extra expenses are not the only things you need to consider. Spending long hours sat behind the wheel can be very tiring. Imagine you’re driving from San Francisco to New York. That’s a total of almost 3,000 miles. If you were to drive nonstop, it would require 43 hours of driving. Obviously that’s not possible so you must split the journey up into say 4 hour shifts. That means you’re looking at a 10 day road trip during which you’ll be driving every day for a minimum of four hours.  

How much does it cost to ship a car across country?

If you’re thinking about shipping a car across country, one of the first things you’ll want to know is how much does it cost. It’s almost impossible to put an actual price tag on the service because there are so many factors an auto transport company has to consider.

The most obvious are the distance travelled. It’s going to cost more if you want to ship a vehicle from one side of the US to the other than shipping a vehicle across a state line. Here are some examples of what it might cost.

Distance Type of transport Avg. price per mile Sample distance Sample price
0-500 miles Open $0.80 250 miles $200
500-1000 miles Open $0.73 700 miles $511
1000-1500 miles Open $0.70 1000 miles $700
1500-2000 miles Open $0.48 1750 miles $840
2000-2500 miles Open $0.37 2400 miles $888
2500-3000 miles Open $0.35 2700 miles $945
3000+ miles Open $0.33 3200 miles $1122


The average price per miles rates shown above are reflective of current market conditions as of January 2020. The rates are subject to change due to seasonal fluctuations, price of gas, pick-up/deliver locations, etc

The vehicle and the condition it’s in is another key factor.

Other factors that a carrier takes into account include:

  • The time of year
  • The current price of fuel
  • The type of auto transport service you require
  • Whether the pick-up and delivery locations are in a city or more remote, and other factors

How long will it take?

A car shipping company typically covers several hundred miles a day. The time it takes for them to deliver your car varies, depending on the distance the carrier has to travel. It could be a day, a week, or even longer.

Many auto transport companies offer a special kind of service, if time is of the essence and you need them to ship your vehicle double quick. When you contact an auto transport provider ask whether they offer an express auto transport service or guaranteed pick-up service.

What are the options when it comes to auto transport services?

When you book an auto transport service, one of the most fundamental decisions you have to make is which type of auto transport service to book. There are a range of different options, depending on the company. Here are some examples:

  • Open car transport
  • Enclosed car transport
  • Hawaii car transport
  • International car shipping

Two more options are open car transport and enclosed auto transport.

Open vs. enclosed auto transport

Open car transport is the most budget friendly option. A carrier transports your vehicle in an open trailer. It does mean, however, that it will be exposed to the elements and traffic grime. Don’t let this put you off choosing this option, because it’s a perfectly safe and secure option for owners who want to ship a standard car.

Enclosed vehicle transport costs between 30% - 40% extra, but your vehicle is completely enclosed within a trailer. It’s a service that’s recommended for owners of high value cars.

How do you ship a car across country?

Now you know the basics, let’s show you how easy the process is.

Get a free auto transport instant quote

Most reliable auto transport companies will give you an instant quote free of charge. Typically, there will be a couple of options. You can either call and speak with a customer advisor or a shipping quote calculator will be available on the company website.

When you request your quote you’ll need to provide a few simple details., for example:

  • Pick-up city and state
  • Delivery city and state
  • Vehicle year
  • Make and model
  • Condition of vehicle
  • Transport type
  • First available shipping date

Book your service

If you’re happy with the quote, it’s time to make your booking. You’ll confirm the details with the company and they will make the booking.

When it comes to paying there are generally two options. You can choose to pay once in full with a credit or debit card as soon as they have assigned a carrier to your shipment. You have to make no upfront payment.

The other option is a discounted cash rate. You pay a small partial payment when the carrier dispatches your vehicle. They take this payment to ensure your spot on the trailer is reserved. You pay the balance when the carrier delivers your vehicle.  

Schedule your pickup

When you finalize your booking, you also have to schedule a pick-up date. This is the date when your vehicle will be ready for shipping. You are required to be present when the carrier picks up your vehicle. However, if this isn’t possible, you can appoint someone to act on your behalf. The only requirement is that they are over 18 years of age.

The carrier will contact you before the pick-up date so that they can schedule a convenient time and location. Before the carrier loads your car onto the trailer you both have to inspect it and make note of its condition on the Bill of Lading. They give you a copy to keep safe. Remember to bring it with you when they deliver your car, so you can compare the condition of the vehicle.

What happens when your car is in transit?

It’s only natural to feel a little anxious when you wave goodbye to your precious vehicle. A reputable auto transport company understands this and will keep in touch with you throughout the journey.

They should also give you contact details for the driver, so you can contact them for regular updates. Don’t forget, however, that they may be driving and might not be able to answer straight away when you call. They will call you back as soon as it’s safe for them to do so. As we all know, it is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving.    

Getting ready for the delivery

The carrier will contact you a few hours before they are due to deliver your car. This is a courtesy call to make sure you’re available to receive delivery of your car. Again, you don’t have to worry if you’re otherwise engaged as you can appoint a representative to receive your car on your behalf.

When the carrier delivers your car you must inspect it to make sure everything is in order and to compare the condition with the Bill of Lading. If everything is in order, you sign the Bill of Lading and pay what you owe.

Top tips for getting your car ready for its journey

Move a car across country

Once you’ve booked your cross country vehicle shipping service, there are a few things you need to do to get your car ready.

  • Clean the interior and exterior
  • Check for scratches, dings, and dents
  • Photograph your vehicle so you can compare when it’s delivered
  • Carry out some basic maintenance such as checking fluids, tire pressure, and that the battery has a full charge
  • Secure or remove any removable parts
  • Deactivate toll tags, parking passes, and the alarm
  • Run down the gas tank to at least a quarter full

How to find the best cross country car shipping company

It’s only natural that you want the best cross country car shipping company to transport your pride and joy. But what should you be looking for? Here are some factors to bear in mind.

  • Make sure they’re registered with the Department of Transport. Always ask for their DOT number and check it using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Make sure the company is bonded and insured
  • Look for a professional website
  • Search online for testimonials and reviews
  • Make sure they’re transparent about their services
  • Find out the process should damage occur
  • Look for 24/7 customer service
  • Always read the fine print of the auto transport contract

If you ever need to ship your car across country, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at SGT Auto Transport on (864) 546-5038. Our shipping advisors are always available to answer any questions, put your mind at rest, provide a free instant quote, and let’s not forget they can make your booking. They can also be contacted using our Live Chat service if that’s more convenient for you.

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