How Does Car Shipping Work?
When shipping your car for your move, it will be important to plan ahead, be flexible, and consider multiple different options.
The action of shipping your car across the country, across the ocean, or to wherever you’re moving may seem like a complicated process; however, the procedure is actually quite simple. At surface level, all you need to do is prepare your vehicle, do your research, submit your information, drop off, pick up, and pay.
How to Ship a Car in 6 Simple Steps
Any process that is unfamiliar can be intimidating at first glance, but the process of vehicle shipping is very straightforward. Follow the simple steps below to get started with the transportation of your car.
1. Research Top Car Shipping Companies
When looking for health insurance, booking a flight, or shipping your vehicle, the foremost important step is to do research. Investigate your options, compare their services, and note the differing prices.
The best car shipping company for your needs will depend on the distance you’re traveling, the value of your car, and your personal preferences. We’ve curated a list of the best companies overall based on customer satisfaction, low prices, and more.
Montway Auto Transport
If you’re shipping a car across the country, Montway Auto Transport provides its auto shipping services everywhere in the United States. This includes Hawaii and Alaska, as they work with 15,000+ carriers.
Sherpa Auto Transport
In most instances, the cost to ship your car won’t be fully established until everything is booked and the car is delivered. However, Sherpa Auto Transport sets itself apart by guaranteeing to its customers that they will honor the initial car shipping quote that was agreed upon.
If your biggest concern regarding your move is the car shipping cost, AmeriFreight offers low rates. Their website also provides a car shipping cost calculator and a long list of resources so you can know the price of shipping your vehicle without worrying about hidden fees.
American Auto Shipping
American Auto Shipping sets itself apart by not requiring a deposit, providing a damage-free shipping guarantee, and ensuring a free rental car for unreasonably long delays.
uShip’s website is extremely easy to navigate, providing customers with easy online quote access, secure online payments, and easy tracking. uShip also provides customers easy access to all of their services through their mobile app.
2. Schedule Your Car Transport as Early as Possible
In a literal sense, time is money when it comes to shipping car shipping services. Booking far in advance before your scheduled move will provide you with a better opportunity to receive a lower rate.
Carriers may be able to bid on your contract if you end up going through a broker, so the more time you have, the higher your chance at a better deal. Additionally, waiting until the last minute can encourage carriers to upcharge you, and in a worst-case scenario, the carriers may not have availability.
Scheduling your car transport early will also give you the freedom of flexibility, allowing you to work in tandem with a carrier’s schedule. Carriers will tend to choose contracts that work best in accordance with their personal schedules, so being flexible could make a huge difference in the final cost of shipping your car.
3. Decide on the Best Vehicle Shipping Method for Your Situation
All cars, old and new, are valuable to their owners. It’s important to understand the two main methods of car transportation and the risks each entails.
Open Vehicle Shipping
As the name suggests, open vehicle shipping is when your vehicle is loaded onto an open truck where it will be transported without cover. Generally, open vehicle shipping involves a semi-truck with two levels that cars can be stacked onto.
Open vehicle shipping is the less expensive option, but you have to consider the possibility of damages due to natural causes such as rocks, hail, and debris.
Enclosed Vehicle Shipping
Enclosed vehicle shipping involves putting your car in a completely closed truck for transportation. This type of vehicle shipping can’t fit as many vehicles as open vehicle shipping, making the cost much higher.
If your vehicle is a luxury car, a collectible, or a rare classic, it’s safer to pay the extra price to make sure your vehicle is safe from minor damage during its commute.
However, if your vehicle is simply the family van, your car from college, or a hand-me-down vehicle, we recommend saving the extra money and sticking with open vehicle shipping.
4. Handle the Paperwork
After you’ve decided on a car transport company, the scheduled time for the shipment, and the method of car transportation, you’ll be faced with the most tedious step of car transportation: the paperwork.
Considering you selected a legitimate car shipping company, you will receive a contract regarding the:
- Quoted price
- Estimated delivery date
- Cancellation policies
- Cancellation fees
- Claims procedures
- Insurance information
It is important to fully understand everything listed in the contract. That way, if you find anything unagreeable, you can contact the company to make any changes or switch companies if necessary.
If you are satisfied with all the prices, policies, and procedures in the contract, be sure to take one final, closer look at the insurance provided by the company. Keep an eye out for the amount of coverage provided, any exemptions, and whether or not you want to request extra coverage.
Generally, companies will provide $50,000 to $100,000 in coverage but will not cover any damage caused by natural disasters.
5. Empty and Clean Your Vehicle
In the same sense that you don’t want to leave your belongings in your car when you park it outdoors, you don’t want to leave anything in your car while it's being transported. This includes car accessories such as body modifications made to the vehicle that can easily get damaged during transportation.
Not only do you want to avoid putting any of your belongings at risk, but you also don’t want to get charged extra for your car transportation service. Some companies will charge you based on the weight of your vehicle, so any excess items adding to the weight of your vehicle could increase your final price.
Additionally, having excess items in your vehicle could make it harder to inspect and log any damages, or lack thereof, on your vehicle that may have occurred during transportation.
6. Wait for Delivery and Inspect Your Car Afterward
If you’ve ever rented a vehicle, you know this procedure well. It’s important to inspect your vehicle before the transportation takes place so that you and the carrier can make note of its pre-trip condition. That way, during the post-trip inspection of the vehicle, any damages that might have occurred can be noted.
Note any damages in writing so they can be used in future insurance claims. Inspect your vehicle thoroughly and be sure to get a bill of loading, or documentation that confirms the completion of your vehicle’s journey.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?
According to AmeriFreight’s quote calculator, the cost of shipping your vehicle will rely on a multitude of variables including, but not limited to:
- The auto transport route
- Pickup and delivery locations
- Length of the transport route
- Whether the vehicle is transported through an open or enclosed carrier
- The car’s make, model, year, and vehicle type
- The size of your vehicle
- The condition of your vehicle
- Any special requests made
- Time of year
- Economic conditions
Though, generally speaking, the industry average for open vehicle shipping is upwards of $2.00 per mile for transportation distances of 200 miles or less and an average of $0.58 for distances of 1,500 miles or more. For enclosed vehicle shipping, you can expect to pay approximately 40% more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping a Car
How do you ship a car overseas?
Shipping your car overseas will follow the same steps as shipping your car anywhere across the country.
However, when looking for the best car shipping company for an overseas journey, your options will be slightly more limited. There is also an extra emphasis on scheduling beforehand, being flexible, doing company research, and reading the fine lines in your contracts.
Expect an overseas journey to include multiple transportation methods for your vehicle as well as a higher price quote, and be sure to inspect your vehicle thoroughly before and after the journey.
How much does it cost to ship a car cross-country?
The cost to ship a car cross-country will rely on the same variables listed above. Generally, if you’re planning to ship a car across the country, the rate per mile will be slightly lower than short transportation distances.
For example, if you were to ship your car across the country from Los Angeles to New York (roughly 2,800 miles) the average cost would be approximately $1,650. The highest cost would be approximately $2,100 with an enclosed carrier on a time crunch, and the lowest cost would be approximately $1,200 with an open carrier on a flexible schedule.
What is the cheapest way to ship a car?
The cheapest way to ship a car will depend on the car that you have and the carrier you choose. However, choosing an open carrier, not adding any extra requests or insurance coverages, and being extremely flexible will help guarantee you the lowest possible cost.
Is it worth it to ship my car?
It is almost always cheaper to drive yourself rather than pay a company to transport your vehicle for you. However, you have to consider the mileage, wear and tear, safety, and time that will be added to your journey depending on how far you’re moving.
If you’re moving more than 500 miles and are already paying a professional moving company to transport the rest of your belongings, it would be beneficial and convenient to consider delivering your car as well.
If you’re moving a distance of over 500 miles, the prices of hotels, food, and safety may justify paying the extra money to ship your car rather than drive it yourself. Also, consider the extra miles you will be adding to your vehicle and its tires during a long journey.
Get More Helpful Move-Out Tips
There are many companies, methods, and procedures to consider when shipping your car to wherever you may be moving. Overall, it is a pretty straightforward task, but moving altogether can get overwhelming and tedious.
Visit the Moveout.com blog for more move-out tips to ensure your move is as simple and cost-effective as possible.
Article written by Megan Phung