Driving a car on a snowy road towards the mountains

A Quick Guide to Shipping a Car from California to Alaska


Every year, hundreds of people head south from Alaska to enjoy the warmer weather in places like California. When the weather starts to warm up, it’s often the case that they head back north to enjoy the cooler weather. People who choose to have homes in two different locations are often called snowbirds. 

To make things more convenient when it comes to getting around, many of these snowbirds choose to take their cars with them. There’s an auto transport service designed especially for these travelers, but they’re not the only ones who can take advantage of Alaska car shipping.

You might also want to use an auto transport service if you’re relocating permanently from California to Alaska. Perhaps you live in Alaska but have bought your dream car online and need to get it home. Car dealerships also use auto transport services when shipping a car to Alaska.

Whether you’re heading south for the winter or north for the summer, read this post and you’ll find out everything you need to know about shipping a car from California to Alaska or from Alaska to California. 

Different types of car shipping are available

The two most common options for anyone who’s wondering how to ship their car to Alaska are open car shipping and enclosed auto transport. 

Open car transport

Open car shipping is the most common way to transport a car from California to Alaska or between any other locations across the United States. 

Carriers that provide this type of service use trailers that are open on all sides. When you’re driving on the highway, these are the auto transport trailers you’ll see the most. 

The trailer will typically have two levels and be able to transport multiple vehicles simultaneously. 

Open car transport is a very affordable option, which is why it’s commonly used by the general public as well as car dealerships. The open trailer means your vehicle is exposed to the weather, traffic dirt, and grime, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a safe option. In actual fact, it’s one of the safest and most secure ways you can ship your car from California to Alaska. 

Enclosed auto transport

Enclosed auto transport is a little different in that your vehicle is transported in an enclosed trailer. This provides complete protection for your car that’s inside. 

This auto transport option is between 30% and 40% more expensive. However, if you’re the proud owner of a classic, custom, antique, luxury, or high-end vehicle this is the auto transport service that’s recommended. It might cost a little extra, but it’s got to be worth it for the total peace of mind it provides.  

How much does shipping a car to Alaska cost?

If you’re thinking about taking advantage of a car shipping service to Alaska, one of your primary concerns could be the cost. It’s not possible to give you an exact price here because there are so many variables. However, what we can do is look at some of the factors that affect the cost of shipping a car from California to Alaska. Here we go:

  • How far you want to ship your car is the most obvious factor. The longer the distance, the more it’ll cost. 
  • What type of car you want to ship is another crucial factor. It’s going to cost more to ship a truck or SUV than it would to transport a small sedan.
  • If the route you want to ship your car is popular it is likely to cost less. 
  • If you want to ship a car from California to Alaska that’s not running, it will cost more because the carrier will need specialist equipment to load and unload your car. 
  • Certain times of the year are more expensive when it comes to auto transport services.
  • Whether you choose open or enclosed car transport is going to affect the cost.
  • There are additional features you can choose such as guaranteed pick-up, top-loading, or express shipping. All of these increase the cost of car transport to Alaska. 

One final factor is the cost of fuel. As you all know, fuel prices tend to go up as well as down. Any increases in fuel prices impact an auto transport company’s operating costs. These increases are generally passed on to the customer. 

If you want to know exactly how much it will cost to ship a car from California to Alaska, why not use our online instant quote calculator? 

How long does it take to ship a car from California to Alaska?

There are thousands of miles between California and Alaska, more than three thousand to be exact. That’s a lot of miles for a carrier to cover. The number of miles a carrier can cover in one day is anywhere from 350 to 450 miles on average. This is under existing laws and regulations. 

However, this is merely an estimate, and the actual timeframe can vary considerably based on the following factors:

Pick-up and drop-off locations

Some locations are much harder to reach and will take longer. On the flip side, some locations are easily accessible and heavily traveled. If you want to ship your car from California to Alaska along one of these routes, it shortens the time it takes for car transport to Alaska.

Typically, locations that are in metropolitan areas are easier to access for the carrier. Picking up and delivering cars is much quicker because the carrier can travel along interstates and highways. Hard-to-reach or rural areas mean the carrier may have to deviate from their usual route, which increases the pick-up and delivery time. 

Distance your car has to travel

The distance between the pick-up and delivery location is the most obvious factor affecting the timeline. The greater the distance, the longer the transit, and the more time it’ll take. 

Time of the year

During peak auto transport times, it might cost more to ship your car from California to Alaska, but it usually shortens the transit time. 

In the US, the peak moving season is between late spring and early fall. Demand for car transport service is high which means you can expect your car to get picked up sooner because more trucks and trailers are traveling back and forth. 

During the winter months, it could take longer to arrange car shipping to Alaska because the demand for services is lower. During the holidays, carriers and drivers will want to take a break and spend time with family, which lowers the number of carriers available. 

Weather conditions

Bad weather increases the time it takes for shipping a car from California to Alaska. Any severe weather conditions, such as thunderstorms, hail, snow, or rain could delay the delivery time. 

Road conditions

Another factor that can’t be planned for is the condition of the road. Unexpected detours or road construction along the way can delay transit times. Roadblocks due to traffic accidents can also affect the time it takes to ship your car. 

The benefits of using car transport to Alaska

Far less worry or planning

If you think that driving more than three thousand miles would make for a great road trip, be prepared to do lots of planning. As well as working out where you’re going to stay along the way, you’ll also need to plan for vehicle breakdowns, traffic congestion, and numerous other road trip nightmares. 

You save time

You may not have the time to drive your car from California to Alaska. Let’s face it, you could be on the road for a couple of weeks. 

Schedule car shipping to Alaska and you get to choose a window for when your car arrives. All you’ve got to worry about is getting to the delivery location to accept your car. 

Complete protection for your vehicle

Driving thousands of miles puts unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle. A high number of miles lowers your car's resale value and add to your maintenance costs. 

Shipping a car from California to Alaska, on the other hand, avoids all those extra miles on the odometer. 

Much safer for you and your family

You put yourself and your family at risk when you drive long distances in your car. You’re increasing the risk of being involved in an accident and putting your body under lots of strain. 

If you let an auto transport company ship your car, you get to relax in the comfort of an airplane, bus, or train. 

Insurance costs are lower

As well as lowering the resale value of your car, high mileage can also lead to an increase in car insurance premiums. Should you find yourself involved in a road traffic accident while you’re driving between California and Alaska, this will increase your premiums even more. 

You can ship multiple vehicles

If your household owns more than one car, you can let an auto transport service handle the logistics of moving your cars. Auto transport services are also invaluable when it comes to buying or selling multiple vehicles online or via an auction. 

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