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Everything to Know When Shipping a Car From Chicago to LA


Moving a vehicle cross country from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA is quite an undertaking. For many people it can be a logistical nightmare but not if you enlist the help of an auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport.

There is always the option of driving yourself, but more than two thousand miles across the country is quite a road trip. Such a distance could be daunting to drive, even for the most adept driver. 

Shipping is the path of least resistance, but figuring out how the process works can be disheartening, especially if you’ve never done it before.

If this sounds familiar, keep reading this car shipping guide. We’ll cover everything there is to know if you want to ship a car from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

What is auto transport?

Auto transport is a service that helps people move their car/cars from one location to another. They are moved using a truck and trailer. 

An auto transport company like ours handles all the elements of the car shipping process, including pickup and drop-off locations, car size, and transport cost. 

There are two types of auto transport services to choose from: open car transport and enclosed car shipping.

Open car transport

Open car shipping is one option for moving a vehicle across the country. A truck and trailer are most typically used, and the trailer has no cover or protection. The vehicles are exposed to bad weather and road debris, but it’s the most cost-effective way to transport your car. 

An open car trailer can accommodate up to ten vehicles at once, depending on the size of the vehicles. People choose open car transport for many reasons aside from affordability. It’s a more accessible service because of the number of open carrier car shipping trucks on the road. It’s also a service that’s suitable for many types of vehicles including SUVs, trucks, and standard cars.  

Enclosed car shipping

Enclosed auto shipping is a way of transporting a vehicle from one location to another in an enclosed trailer. It is the safest way to ship your vehicle because the cargo inside the trailer is protected on all sides. 

This auto transport service is ideal for owners of luxury and classic cars, exotic vehicles, modified vehicles, and those who are looking for the highest level of protection. 

A major difference between enclosed and open car shipping is the price. On average, you can expect to pay between 30% and 40% more for enclosed auto transport. Enclosed services aren’t quite as flexible as open transport as it’s a less common shipping service.

How the auto transport process works

Shipping a car from Chicago to Los Angeles is an amazingly uncomplicated process. It takes just three quick and straightforward steps. 

Step 1 - Get a quote and book your order

Use our instant quote calculator or call our shipping advisors for your free instant quote. We’ll need a few basic details such as the type of vehicle you want to ship, the pick-up and delivery city, and state. We also need to know whether the vehicle is running, which transport service you prefer, and when it will be ready for pick-up. 

If you’re happy with the price, you can move on to making your booking and deciding how you want to pay. Option one is the discounted price. We take a small partial payment when we confirm your booking. You pay the outstanding balance when your vehicle is delivered. 

Regular price is the second option. You pay in full when we confirm your booking and there’s nothing to pay when your car is delivered.  

Step 2 - We pick up your vehicle

On the day of the pick-up, the carrier will contact you a few hours before the driver arrives to collect your car. They want to make sure you’ll be available, and that the location is safe and accessible for an oversized truck and trailer.

When the carrier arrives, you both check your vehicle for any existing damage. This is recorded on the Bill of Lading which you sign to confirm you’re happy. 

With the paperwork out of the way, the driver loads your vehicle onto the trailer and will be on their way.  

Step 3 - You receive your vehicle

A few hours before the carrier delivers your vehicle they’ll get in touch to confirm details. When your vehicle is unloaded, you must check its condition and compare it with the Bill of Lading. If all is in order, you can accept delivery of your vehicle. If you chose the Discounted Price payment option, now is when you hand over the final payment to the driver.  

What is the cost of shipping a car from Chicago to Los Angeles?

The cost to ship a car from Chicago to Los Angeles is determined by several factors:


This is a major factor taken into consideration. The longer the distance between the pick-up and delivery location, the lower the average cost per mile. The distance between Chicago and Los Angeles is more than two thousand miles and you can expect to pay $1,099 for open car transport or $1,539 for enclosed auto transport (depending on various factors).  

Vehicle size

Another key factor when calculating the cost is the size of the vehicle you want to ship. Smaller vehicles, such as a Honda Civic or Acura Integra, take up less room than larger vehicles such as an Audi A7 or BMW i7. Smaller vehicles therefore cost less to ship. 

Vehicle condition

A vehicle that’s not operational will cost more to ship because the process of loading and unloading is more challenging and requires specialist equipment. 

Transportation service

As we’ve already mentioned, enclosed auto transport costs 30% to 40% more than open car shipping. 

Type of delivery

If time is of the essence and you need your vehicle shipped quicker than the standard time frame, there is the option of guaranteed pick-up or express car shipping. 

Time of year

The auto transport industry ebbs and flows in terms of demand, which affects the price you pay at certain times of the year. 

Summer months are extremely popular which means you might end up dishing out more cash to ship your vehicle. 

If you want to keep the cost as low as possible, you should try to avoid peak transportation times of the year. For the best value, ship your vehicle in the fall or winter

Gas prices

This is one factor in the list that you can’t do much about, however, the cost of fuel can significantly alter the cost of shipping a car from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

If you want to know more about our prices, we’ve made a handy quote calculator available on our website. 

Want to know the cost of shipping a car with us? 

How long does it take to ship a car from Chicago to Los Angeles?

When you want to ship a car from Chicago to Los Angeles, another important part of the process is how long it’s going to take. When you’re aware of the time constraints, it can help you plan your car shipping more effectively. 

Just like the cost of car shipping, the time it takes to ship a car is also determined by several factors. 

  • Pick-up and delivery locations: If you want a pick-up or delivery in a remote location, it will take the carrier longer to get there. Metropolitan locations and locations along major interstates or highways are easier and quicker to find. 
  • Weather: The flow of traffic can be affected by the weather, particularly if it’s extreme or unusual. Drivers also have to be more careful and drive slowly when the roads are icy or there’s heavy rain. 
  • Issues on the highway: A carrier’s progress is affected by issues such as detours, road construction, and heavy traffic. 
  • Driver’s hours: To protect other road users and for driver safety, truckers are limited to working 70 hours per week. 

If you’ve still got some questions to ask or are ready to make your booking, call our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038. We also have a Live Chat option if you prefer. 


What is the cheapest way of shipping cars?

The most inexpensive way to ship a car is using open transport. It’s a popular choice for car shipping because it’s so cost-effective. However, it’s important to note that your vehicle will be exposed to the elements throughout the journey, including weather events and debris. 

How much does it cost to ship a car from one state to another in the USA?

The cost of shipping a car from one state to another in the USA can vary depending on several factors such as the distance, the type of transport, and the specific requirements of the shipment. The average cost for shipping a car between states is between $400 and $1,500. The longer the distance, the higher the cost.

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