Do Car Shipping Companies Have GPS Tracking?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
January 11, 2022
8 min read

At a glance

Most car shippers have tracking capabilities—but very few turn them on. That leaves only a tiny percentage of drivers who voluntarily activate their GPS. You can boost your odds by asking the transport company to try and find a GPS driver. Still, not even the best car shipping companies can guarantee a match. That’s why we’ve compiled some alternatives to GPS that can help with the anxieties and inconveniences associated with shipping a car.

3 things to know about GPS tracking

Info Box
What is a carrier?

A carrier is the actual delivery truck that transports your vehicle. Brokers work with more than 10,000 carriers across the country to find the best fit for your shipping needs.


How vehicle shipping tracking works

Vehicle shipping tracking is a feature that allows you to pinpoint your car’s location while it’s in transit. Let’s say that you’re shipping a car from California to Ohio. In theory, you can call the auto transport company each day to check on your delivery’s progress. Unfortunately, very few companies offer GPS tracking. Those that do use a standard four-step process to locate your vehicle:

  1. Your driver activates the truck’s GPS vehicle tracking system. Virtually every car transport driver has a GPS device. All it takes is a simple flip of a switch to enable tracking.
  2. Your car travels from Point A to Point B. The driver transports your vehicle from its origin to your destination. Along the way, it transmits a signal pinpointing your car’s location.
  3. You call the broker for a location update. You call your broker anytime you’re curious about where your car is and when it will arrive.
  4. The broker checks the GPS data and tells you where your car is. The broker pulls up the carrier’s GPS data and tells you the location of your vehicle.

Note: This is how vehicle shipping tracking works when your driver enables GPS. Just be aware that the vast majority of carriers decline to share their location information.


Why car shipping GPS tracking is hard to find

GPS tracking is hard to find because drivers don’t like to broadcast their movements. Why not? Because forced, 24/7 surveillance is dehumanizing, and truck drivers are just as human as anyone else. Given a choice, they’re likely to keep their vehicle tracking system turned off. And that makes it difficult to find drivers with GPS tracking.

Why do many auto transport companies advertise GPS tracking?

Likely because they know that it matters to customers. For example, we spoke about this issue with executives from one of the nation’s largest brokers. They told us that most of the calls to its telephone representatives consist of a single question: “Where’s my car?” It’s also a commonly-searched question on Google.

Unfortunately, most companies fail to mention that tracking is up to the driver’s discretion—and that almost no one turns it on.

That reality puts you in a difficult spot. How can you trust what car shippers say if they’re not always straight with you? There’s no simple answer. However, it's a problem that Move.org tries to help you with. Each time we review a company, we look at things like how transparent a a car shipper is with customers. That means when we recommend a company like AmeriFreight or Sherpa Auto Transport, you know we've put them through the wringer.

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Watch out for auto shipping scams

It’s a red flag if a car shipping company tells you that every driver uses a vehicle tracking device. Beware of other auto transport scams, like transporters asking for deposits or giving lowball quotes.


How to find an auto transport company with GPS tracking

There are two ways to find an auto transport company with GPS tracking. Just be aware that neither option guarantees you’ll find a driver with vehicle tracking:

  1. Use Montway. Montway Auto Transport is the only company we’ve found that goes out of its way to use drivers that commit to turning on their GPS systems. Montway can’t guarantee you a GPS-enabled driver—but it gives you better odds than most other companies.
  1. Ask the transport company to prioritize GPS tracking. Just because most drivers don’t turn on GPS doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck. Ask your broker to try and find you a driver with GPS. There’s no guarantee, but your chances of finding a driver go up if you say that tracking is important to you.
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What else does Montway have?

In addition to GPS tracking, Montway Auto Transport is known for prices that are about 5% below the industry average and an average customer review score of 4.7 out of 5 stars. It’s Move.org’s number one overall car shipping company.


What to do if you can’t find GPS tracking

It’s worth considering alternatives to GPS tracking since so few companies offer the service. A driver with GPS usually meets two needs: convenience and peace of mind. From a convenience standpoint, it’s natural to be concerned about getting to work or taking the kids to school. You can’t do either if you’re waiting for your car to arrive. Peace of mind matters too. Automobiles are expensive, and it’s comforting to know where yours is at all times.

Move.org put together five tips that can help you minimize inconvenience and anxiety when shipping a car:

1. Call your broker

Call your car shipping company to ask about the location of your vehicle. Your driver may have enabled GPS tracking, meaning that you can find out exactly where your vehicle is. The broker can often estimate your delivery date even if the driver didn’t turn on vehicle tracking.

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Experience matters

The best car shipping companies typically have 10-plus years of experience. It’s easier for a transport company to predict your delivery timeline when it has shipped thousands of vehicles along your specific route

2. Be familiar with car shipping timelines

Your stress level will go down if you’re familiar with how long it takes to ship a car. One irritating aspect of car shipping is that delivery estimates are all over the map. Depending on which company you use, how far you’re traveling, and dozens of other factors, your timeline could range from two days to seven weeks. However, our analysis of the delivery estimates for more than 50 car shipping companies suggests that the average car shipping timeline is about two weeks.

How long it takes to ship a car

Total miles
Pick-up estimate
Shipping estimate
Delivery estimate
<500 miles≈5 days≈2 days≈7 days
500–1,000 miles≈5 days≈4 days≈9 days
1,000–1,500 miles≈5 days≈6 days≈11 days
1,500–2,000 miles≈5 days≈8 days≈13 days
2,000–2,500 miles≈5 days≈10 days≈15 days
>2500 miles≈5 days≈11 days≈16 days

Data as of 10/27/21. Based on pick-up and shipping estimates from approximately 50 car shipping companies. Actual delivery times may vary.

You might wish it were faster, but knowing what you’re up against is half the battle.

It’s like waiting for the internet repair technician. You know how frustrating it is to wait around all day only to receive a late-night call saying that a tech won’t be in your area until tomorrow. If the company had told you that up front, you could have at least made other arrangements. Being without the internet is hard. But the vague repair timeline is what makes you want to blow a gasket.

The same thing applies to car shipping. If you know how long it will take ahead of time, you can set realistic expectations.

3. Ask for a guaranteed pick-up date

You can sometimes trim a day or two off of your delivery time by asking for a guaranteed pick-up date. That means an auto transport company promises to pick your car up by a specific date. It’s not as good as GPS tracking. But every day that you can shave off your shipping estimate lessens your inconvenience.

Heads Up
An expensive alternative

You can also accomplish the same thing by paying for expedited pickup. Just beware that it usually sets you back $200–$300.

4. Use only highly-rated companies

Lower your car-shipping anxieties by working with only the best transport companies. These are the auto transporters most likely to deliver vehicles on time and in good condition. And they score big with customers as a result. Our favorite auto shipping companies range from American Auto Shipping (which offers guaranteed prices) to uShip (an online marketplace that gives customers more pricing control).

Move.org’s best car shipping companies

Company
What we like
Learn more
Pretty much everything
Low prices
Guaranteed rates
Satisfied customers
Online quotes

5. Focus on auto transporters with excellent insurance

Another way to have peace of mind shipping a car is to use a company with top-notch coverage. For context, every carrier is required by law to possess basic liability insurance. But in many cases, bare minimum coverage leaves you in a bind if you need to file a claim. If you want to rest easy while your vehicle is in transit, consider a company with extra coverage options.

Our top recommendations for car shipping coverage include Ship a Car Direct, AmeriFreight, and Sherpa Auto Transport.

     Ship a Car Direct. This auto transporter has a damage-free guarantee worth up to $500. That means Ship a Car Direct will contribute up to half a grand toward your insurance deductible if you need to file a claim.

     AmeriFreight. There’s a reason this company is on our Top 5 list. AmeriFreight has coverage that pays up to $2,000 toward your deductible. Just as impressive, the company gives you 48 hours to identify damage (most shipers allow no more than a few minutes). 

     Sherpa Auto Transport. A relative newcomer to the car shipping industry, Sherpa has made waves with its carrier background checks. The auto transporter carefully vets every potential driver to make sure you get the safest picks. It even has a “do not use” list to blocklist drivers that customers complain about.


Recap

Virtually all vehicle transport trucks have GPS capabilities—but very few drivers opt in. That makes GPS hard to find. We recommend you ask one of the best car shipping companies to try and find you a carrier that uses GPS.

If that doesn’t work, you can take things into your own hands. You may not be able to track your vehicle, but you can make the shipping process easier. For example, you can decrease delivery time by asking for guaranteed pickup—and set your mind at ease by using a company with excellent coverage.

Montway Auto Transport has the best GPS drivers


Car shipping GPS tracking FAQ

Is there GPS tracking enclosed transport?

Yes, there is GPS tracking for enclosed transport—just like there is for open car transport. However, vehicle tracking is difficult to find regardless of your shipping method.

Can you track a car shipment?

You can track a car shipment if your driver has an active GPS tracking system. Your auto shipping broker can often tell you whether tracking is available for your particular route.

How do I track my car shipping?

You track your car shipping by contacting your broker and asking about your vehicle’s location. The best auto shipping companies can often give you an estimated delivery time frame even if the driver doesn’t have an active GPS tracking device.

How much is tracking on a car?

You can track your car for free. Since there’s no fee for a GPS tracker, your costs are usually limited to average shipping prices (around $1,080).

What does it mean if a car is in transit?

It means that your car has been picked up by an auto shipping company and is en route to your destination. You should contact the broker for your shipment with questions while your vehicle is in transit.

How much is an enclosed carrier?

An enclosed carrier is about $1,290. However, costs vary widely by the auto shipping company. For example, the average enclosed trailer cost for Easy Auto Ship is about $1,330, while it’s around $1,770 for American Auto Shipping.

Does Bargain Auto Transport have enclosed auto shipping services?

No, Bargain Auto Transport does not have enclosed auto shipping services. The transport company is no longer in business. You may want to consider options like Sherpa Auto Transport or Ship a Car Direct if you require enclosed auto shipping services.


Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.