How to transport my car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA)

How to transport my car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA)


If you’ve got a vehicle sitting in New Jersey that you need to move to California, it’s important to find the best way possible. It should also meet your needs and expectations and ultimately, it should also suit your budget. There are many ways you can transport a car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA) and in this article we’re going to look at them all. They each have their pros and cons and there are many things to consider.   

5 different ways to transport a vehicle from New Jersey to California, but which is the best one?

There are 11 states between New Jersey and California and a journey between the two is around 3,000 miles. That’s a lot of miles to cover if you need to move your car. You have plenty of options to choose from. Drive it yourself, for example, or hire someone to drive it for you. Another option is to fly your vehicle by plane. Then there’s the option of using a train to transport your car. Finally, one of the easiest, fastest, and safest ways to ship a car is to use an auto transport management company. But don’t take our word for it. Let’s give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.   

1. Drive it yourself

When you first think about it, an old-fashioned road trip sounds like a really exciting experience. Heading out on the road with your family, exploring different locations along the way certainly sounds interesting. It also sounds like a simple undertaking. If you were moving across state lines or to a nearby city, we’d have to agree. A couple of days on the road is very appealing. 

However, if you want to transport your car from Jersey City to California (CA) a road trip is quite an undertaking. If you were to drive non-stop Google maps very kindly informs us that it will take 43 hours. Obviously this is an unrealistic time frame because no one can drive safely for such a length of time. 

To make the most of the trip you’d have to split the journey up into smaller sections. Drive 250 miles each day and the trip is going to take a little over 10 days. That’s quite a vacation. It also means you’ve got to factor in some additional costs such as accommodation and the cost of food and drink. 

Driving your car means you’ll also be adding extra miles on the odometer, increasing wear on the engine, brakes, and tires. All of which are going to cost you in the long run.

If you stick to a daily drive of just 250 miles that’s at least 4 hours sat behind the wheel. It might surprise you how stressed and tired this makes you feel. Multiple this by 10 or more days and your road trip will be a very stressful and tiring experience.    


  • Drive your own car and you’ll be able to travel at your own pace
  • You can make pit stops whenever you want
  • Lots of opportunities for fun with the family
  • Visit new and interesting places along your route
  • Get to see the beautiful countryside


  • Factor in additional costs such as accommodation, meals, wear and tear, and cost of fuel and the cost can be very high
  • Driving long distances is dangerous
  • Hours sat behind the wheel can be stressful
  • Your progress is dependent on the weather and traffic conditions
  • Driving thousands of miles takes a long time

2. Hire someone to drive it for you

There are really two options here. You can pay a professional to drive your car for you or ask a friend or family member. If you let someone you know drive your car the risk is much higher than hiring a professional but the cost will be much less.

There are lots of professional drivers you can hire or you can choose a company that specializes in such a service. Drivers that work for this type of company tend to be students or retirees that use this type of work as a side hustle.  


  • You get a personal service
  • It’s possible to transport extra luggage
  • The service is fast
  • Specialized insurance is standard
  • You might be able to hitch along for the ride


  • The cost of hiring a professional driver can be expensive
  • It puts unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle
  • You might need to purchase additional insurance if a friend or relative is going to drive your car
  • Finding a reputable and trustworthy driver might be a challenge

3. Transport it by train

Did you actually know you can transport your car by train? It’s not the most popular option but it is possible. There are, however, certain limitations. The main company that offers auto transport by train is Amtrak. It only operates along the East Coast, between Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida. A few other companies permit one time transport of vehicles but there aren’t very many. 

Transporting a vehicle by train is one of the most cost-effective ways to transport a car, but there are additional factors that increase the cost. One big expense is getting your car to and from the train station. You’ve also got to get home again after dropping it off and arrange transport to take you to the station to collect your vehicle. The service you prefer, whether it’s open or enclosed train transport also affects the total cost. 


  • Low price


  • Time frame is two weeks or more
  • Very inflexible service
  • Factor additional costs into the price

4. Transport it by plane

This is another option that doesn’t immediately spring to mind. It’s a very safe and quick way to transport a vehicle but is also one of the most expensive. Air freight is its official name and for owners of antique, rare, expensive, exotic, or custom cars it probably seems like the safest choice. There is, however, the problem of dropping the vehicle off and picking it up from the airport. This adds to the already high cost of air transport. 


  • It’s quick
  • It’s safe and secure


  • The cost is very high
  • You have to make arrangements to get your vehicle to and from the airport

5. Use an auto transport service

Using an auto transport service is a very affordable option for thousands of people. An auto transport management company in particular is able to organize your door-to-door car transport service. They will have access to a large network of fully vetted and insured carriers so you don’t have to do any of the legwork. 

An auto transport management service is very flexible. They aren’t tied to one specific route or restricted to a single fleet of vehicles. If you want to transport a car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA), they’ll have a selection of carriers they can call on. An auto transport management company can offer a much faster pick-up time than a carrier that has limited options. 

Another aspect that makes auto transport management companies a good choice is that their customer service is typically excellent. They act as a go-between and will do everything they can to ensure you get the best car shipping service possible. Customer service advisors will deal with any issues professionally and they’ll always keep you up to date with the status of your shipment. We’ll look at some of the different types of auto transport and auto transport services available in the next section. 


  • Most affordable option
  • Full insurance coverage
  • No extra wear and tear on your vehicle
  • Door-to-door transport
  • Fully customizable and personal service
  • Flexibility
  • Saves time and effort
  • Professional drivers
  • Network of insured and licensed carriers
  • Nationwide service
  • Dedicated customer service
  • Regular status updates


  • To find the right company requires some research

Different types of auto transport

Choose to work with an auto transport company and you’ll have two options when it comes to the type of auto transport available. 

Open car transport

Open car transport

Open car transport is the most common type of car shipping service. Auto transport providers move vehicles on a trailer that’s open on all sides. The construction of the trailer does offer some protection but your vehicle is exposed to the elements. It’s a very efficient form of auto transport and you can make arrangements at short notice because there are so many carriers offering the service. Open car transport is also fast and efficient and carriers can transport all types of vehicles. 


  • Faster and cheaper
  • Easier to book a preferred shipping and arrival time
  • Driver can inspect vehicles while in transit
  • You can request top load for extra protection


  • Vehicles are exposed to the elements at all times

Enclosed auto transport

Enclosed auto transport

With enclosed auto transport they transport vehicles in an enclosed auto trailer. The trailer has a roof and four sides, providing a safe and secure environment for the vehicles inside. It is typically owners of expensive, antique, or rare vehicles that use enclosed auto transport. Enclosed auto transport is much safer and more secure than open car transport but it costs around 30%-40% more. 


  • Vehicles are completely protected from the elements, road dust and debris
  • A high level of security is provided
  • They load vehicles in a horizontal position using lift gates or hydraulic ramps
  • Enclosed auto transport drivers are very experienced in caring for high end vehicles
  • They provide higher levels of insurance coverage


  • The cost is much higher, around 30%-40% more
  • Service is slower than open car transport

Different types of auto transport service

Auto transport management companies like SGT Auto Transport typically offer a range of different services. This means they can meet the needs of most people when they want to ship a car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA). 

Express auto transport

If time is of the essence, express auto transport is the service you need. Carriers can make last minute pick up arrangements with a time frame of 1-2 business days. This type of service is perfect if, for example, you receive notification that you need to move urgently for work. 

Guaranteed auto transport

This is another service that will serve you well if you’re pushed for time. You can make bookings with a 24-hour window which is ideal if your schedule is full and you need to make arrangements that suit you. 

Military car shipping

This is an auto transport service provided specially for military personnel, both active and retired. Many auto transport services, SGT Auto Transport included, offer discounts on car shipping rates for members of the military. 

How much does auto transport cost?

It’s difficult to be exact about the cost of auto transport if you’re shipping a vehicle from New Jersey to California. This is because there are several factors that affect the cost. 

Factors that affect the cost of auto transport

  • The pick-up and delivery location, and the distance between these two points
  • The type of transport service you’ve chosen
  • What type of car is being transported and its age
  • Whether the vehicle is running or not
  • Whether the route you choose is a popular one
  • What time of year it is

What is the cheapest way to ship a car from New Jersey to California?

When you take everything into account, the cheapest way to ship a car from New Jersey to California is to use an auto transport management company. The process is very simple. You don’t have to stress about vetting the carriers. They offer a personal service, and you’re kept informed of the status of your vehicle throughout its journey. 

How long will it take to ship my car from New Jersey to California?

You can split the time it takes to ship a car into two time frames. First is the time frame for picking up your car, which is usually one to five business days. Second is the time it takes to travel from New Jersey to California and this is around 7 business days. 

How does the process work?

The car shipping process is a very simple one if you book with an auto transport management company. The first step is to get a personalized quote, either online, by phone, or Live Chat. If you’re happy with the price you make your booking. Provide a few details, such as the pick up and delivery locations, vehicle year, make and model, condition of the vehicle, and transport type. You also have to state the first date you’ll have your car ready for the pick up. 

The carrier will pick up your vehicle at the pre-arranged time. But they will call a few hours ahead of the scheduled pick up time to confirm the arrangements. When they pick up your vehicle, both you and the driver must inspect its condition and note any existing damage on the Bill of Lading. Once the paperwork is complete, your vehicle will be on its way. 

The carrier will contact you again when they’re close to the delivery location. This is to make sure you’re available to receive your vehicle. When they deliver your vehicle you must inspect it to make sure everything is in order and then sign the Bill of Lading to accept your order.    

How to find the best auto transport company

How to transport my car from New Jersey (NJ) to California (CA)

There are many things to consider if you want to find the best auto transport company. Cost is an important factor but is by no means the only factor to consider. 

  • Customer reviews: always check out a company’s reputation if you want a reliable car transport provider.
  • Licensed and authorized: carriers and brokers must have a licence issued by the FMCSA before they can transport vehicles. 
  • Years of experience: be very wary of a company that’s not been in business very long.
  • Shipping options available: look for a company that offers a range of different services including Hawaii car transport, guaranteed pick-up and express service. 
  • Insurance: all auto transport companies must provide cargo insurance. Make sure you ask for a copy of the policy.
  • Door-to-door car transport: this is far more convenient than terminal-to-terminal shipping.
  • Personal items: some but not all auto transport carriers allow you to ship personal items in your car.
  • Read the small print: before you sign on the dotted line read the details of the contract and make sure you understand it fully. 

Common questions regarding New Jersey to California car shipping

  • Is there any insurance to cover my car while it’s in transit?

It is a requirement that all auto transport companies maintain a valid insurance policy, so yes there will be insurance coverage for your car. 

  • Can I load my car with personal items?

The Department of Transport regulates what carriers can transport inside a vehicle being transported. SGT Auto Transport allows you to transport up to 100 pounds of personal items with your vehicle, but you do have to secure them in the trunk of your car.   

  • How will I pay for my auto transport service?

A reliable car transport company will accept a variety of payment methods including major credit or debit cars, and any type of certified funds. They may also accept PayPal payments. 

  • Do I have to be present at the pick-up and delivery locations?

It is recommended but is not essential, as you can appoint a third party to act as your representative. The only stipulation is that they have to be 18 years of age or older. 

  • What documents do I need when shipping a car?

You don’t need to provide any documents when a vehicle is being transported from New Jersey to California. 

Why you might want to move to California

There are a number of reasons why you might want to move to California. There are hundreds of miles of sunny beaches. The culture is diverse, the scenery breathtaking, there’s a positive energy about the place, and the opportunities are endless. If you needed another reason, the weather is spectacular. 

What to do in California

California is the perfect location for lovers of nature and people who love to enjoy the outdoors. There are so many activities you can enjoy such as camping, hiking, surfing, and skiing. Several national and state parks are waiting for you to visit, such as Kings Canyon, Yosemite, The Death Valley, and Channel Islands. If you love a glass of wine or two Napa and Sonoma Valleys are not to be missed. The cuisine is also very broad and there’s something for all you foodies, from vegan bistros to oyster bars, and family bakeries. 

Moving to California with a car

You will definitely need a car if you move to California as public transport options are very limited. You must register your vehicle within the first 20 days of arriving. You also need to hold valid car insurance. Check out the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the latest rules for new residents. When you become a permanent resident, you’ll need to apply for a California driver’s license and obtain it within 10 days after you officially move.

We’ve had the pleasure of moving thousands of vehicles between New Jersey and California and have many satisfied customers. If you want to know more about our services please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can speak directly with our shipping advisors by telephone at (864) 546-5038 or Live Chat.  

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