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6 Things to Know About Shipping a Car From Texas to California



Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Have you ever found yourself wondering how difficult it is to ship a car to California from Texas? It’s probably not something you’d think about unless you need to. However, we’re guessing that you’re in this situation, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post. 

It may surprise you to learn that shipping a car between Texas and California is not as complicated as you think. If you want to know more, keep reading.  

1. How much does it cost to ship a car from Texas to California?

The first question people tend to ask is “What is the cost of shipping a car from Texas to California?” There are a number of things that can affect the price of such a service and how much it will typically cost. 

The type of vehicle

The size and dimension of your vehicle will make a big difference to the cost of shipping. Shipping a compact or sedan will cost less than an SUV, van or pickup truck. Whether the car has been modified in any way (for example, oversized tires or being lowered or lifted), can also affect the price.  

How the car will be delivered

There are two options when it comes to delivery: terminal-to-terminal or door-to-door. 

Terminal-to-terminal means you’re responsible for dropping your car at the company’s terminal or storage location. Your chosen carrier will then take it from there to the terminal or service location closest to your preferred final destination. You then have to go and pick it up from there and drive it home. 

Door-to-door is the other option. Your chosen carrier is responsible for picking your car up from either your office or home and transporting it to your preferred final destination. The cost of this type of service tends to be higher, but it does save you the stress and time involved in dropping off and picking up your car from a terminal or storage location. If the pick up or drop location is difficult to access, you may be required to make alternative arrangements. 

Type of car transport

Your auto transport carrier will give you the choice between open car and enclosed car transport. Open car transport is a very popular option because it tends to be cheaper. You might also find the options for shipping dates far more flexible, due to the volume of shipments. Your car will be exposed to the elements and road debris, however, the risk of damage is low and any chips or dings may be covered by the carrier's cargo insurance. 

Top loading a vehicle can reduce the chance of most types of damage that can occur, but it will cost a little extra. 

If the vehicle you want transported is high class or high-end, enclosed car transport is the best option as your vehicle will be protected against the weather, and traffic detritus. It is much more expensive than open car shipping, but worth the expense if your vehicle is very precious to you.  

Distance traveled

It goes without saying that the distance your vehicle needs to travel is going to affect the price, but it’s worth reminding you of the fact.  

Time of year

In the car shipping industry, there are high and low times of the year. Summer months are considered to be peak times, with the fall being the best time to ship your vehicle. This is because temperatures are low and the number of vehicles being shipped is lower. Holiday times, such as the 4th of July, Christmas and Thanksgiving can also be very busy times of the year and might be worth avoiding unless necessary. 

Delivery time

You can expect to pay more if you need your vehicle delivered within a couple of days. Generally, companies such as SGT Auto Transport require 1-5 business days to pick up your car, and 7-10 calendar days to ship it across the country. There is, however, an express service that can get your car delivered between 24 and 48 hours.. However, please note that this applies to certain routes only, not all.    

Is the vehicle operable?

A car that can be driven onto the truck directly and unloaded without any special equipment is going to cost less. If your vehicle cannot be driven directly onto the truck, the carrier will need to use specialist equipment to load and unload it. This means there will be an additional cost. 

Cost of fuel

The price of fuel is something that is always going up and down and it can vary from area to area. One of the biggest variable costs in the auto transport industry is fuel and is generally something that is passed onto the customer.  


Choose a reputable shipping company and your vehicle will be covered under the carrier’s cargo insurance. Always request a copy of the insurance so you can check what’s covered. You’ll probably find that any personal possessions are not covered by the insurance, so make sure these are removed.

2. How long does it take to deliver a car from Texas to California?

On average, you can expect an auto transport truck and trailer to cover several hundred miles in one day. Therefore, how long shipping a car from Texas takes depends on the distance between the pick-up and delivery locations. If you are shipping a car from Texas to California it could take about a week. If you’re shipping a car from California to Texas, it should take around the same length of time. 

3. I want to ship my car from Texas to California - What services are available?

Vehicle transport services come in all shapes and sizes. However, the best offer a combination of all of the following services:

Open car transport carriers

These are the transport trailers you’re more likely to see on the highway. This is the most affordable vehicle shipping option and is perfect for your average car. Vehicles are transported on a trailer that’s open on all sides, meaning your vehicle is exposed to the elements. It’s worth mentioning this is nothing worse than if you were driving your car on the highway. The instances of any damage occurring are very low. 

Enclosed car transport carriers

This is a more expensive option, but it does provide your vehicle with complete protection. 

Express car shipping – the industry standard for auto shipping is between 5 and 7 days. An express car shipping service significantly reduces the wait, and you can expect your vehicle to be picked up within 1 to 2 business days.  

Door-to-door service

There are two types of transport service, terminal to terminal and door-to-door. Here at SGT Auto Transport, we're pleased to be able to offer the more convenient door-to-door service. What it means is you don’t have to get your car to a terminal for the pick-up. We can arrange the pick-up from your home. 

Military PCS vehicle shipping

When military personnel are relocating, there’s often very little notice. For these situations, a military PCS vehicle shipping service is perfect. Military personnel, active or retired, are usually entitled to a discount. 

Car dealers auto shipping

This usually involves a door-to-door service and is a very convenient option for car dealerships.

Guaranteed pick-up service

With a guaranteed pick-up service, it's possible to make your booking with a 24-hour window. You will, however, be required to make your booking at least 2 weeks in advance. This allows enough time for a suitable carrier to be found. 

Classic and exotic car shipping

When a vehicle is precious, or high value, classic and exotic car shipping is the best service you can get. Vehicles are given the white glove treatment and fully protected throughout the journey.

4. Tips on choosing the right auto transport company to ship your car from Texas to California 

With so many providers out there, don't be tempted to select the first company that appears at the top of your list of search engine hits. Research companies thoroughly before making your final decision. Some of the things to research include:

  • Whether there’s an option for free car shipping quotes
  • Good customer reviews and feedback
  • Compare prices and services
  • Read and understand the contract before signing
  • Whether the company includes car transport insurance in the price ( ask a provider to provide a Certificate of Insurance if you want proof). The certificate contains details of the coverage amounts for liability, cargo limits, workers comp, and deductible. 
  • Are there likely to be any additional costs?
  • Is there a policy in place to cover shipping delays?
  • Is the provider licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?

5. What should you do before your vehicle is shipped? 

Your car needs to be prepared for shipping. This involves a few simple processes and checks.

  • Clean your vehicle inside and outside, make a note and photograph any existing damage
  • Remove all personal items
  • Leave only a quarter tank of gas
  • Ensure the battery is fully charged and the tires correctly inflated
  • Secure any removable parts
  • Deactivate alarm, parking passes, and toll tags
  • Check your contact information is correct

6. What you should do when your vehicle is delivered

When your vehicle is delivered, it's in your own best interest to thoroughly inspect it. Look for any dents, scratches, or other damage that wasn’t there before. If you notice anything, advise the carrier and make a note of it on the bill of lading. It also helps if you’re able to document the damage with photos.

Get an instant quote for shipping your car today!

SGT Auto Transport is a nationwide auto transport management company with years of industry experience. We’ve been shipping cars across the United States for several years. If you’re wondering how to move your car to another state, get in touch today. 

Get the ball rolling straight away by using our instant online quote calculator. If you prefer to speak directly with our shipping advisors, please give us a call at (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 


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