How Long Does It Take to Ship My Car?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
Published on November 13, 2021
6 min read

At a glance

You can ship your car almost anywhere in the continental United States in about two weeks or less. It’s tough to get more specific than that, though. There are so many variables to consider that the best car shipping companies don’t even offer guaranteed delivery dates. All it takes is a road closure, flat tire, or snowstorm to throw a wrench in your timeline. However, there are a few things you can do to speed up your shipment. In particular, we recommend planning ahead and using open transport.


How long does it take to ship my car?

It takes about two weeks to ship your car. Move.org looked at estimates provided by over 50 car shipping companies, and the numbers were all over the place. We looked for trends and came up with a rule of thumb: divide mileage by 150 to estimate your delivery time.

For example, let’s say that you need to ship your car about 450 miles. If you divide 450 by 150, you get 3—meaning your delivery will take about 3 days. A 600-mile trip would take about 4 days (600 divided by 4). And so on.

This formula considers two essential factors (many other car shipping sites look at only one) for your total delivery estimate:

  1. Pick-up. Very few auto transport companies can pick your car up on same-day notice, and those that do charge a fortune (it can cost over $1,000 extra). In nearly every case, you need to build in a buffer of about five days for pick-up.
  2. Transport. The actual transportation of your vehicle takes anywhere from around 2–11 days. Add in pick-up, and most car shipments arrive within two weeks (Hawaii transport takes longer).
uShip

How long it takes to ship a car

Total miles
Pick-up estimate
Transport estimate
Total shipping 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.

Info Box
Why Move.org’s delivery estimates seem long

Many car shipping websites provide shorter delivery estimates because they leave out the five days often required for pick-up. Make sure you’re not caught off guard and look at both pick-up and delivery times.


Why it’s hard to pin down specifics

It’s tough to give accurate car shipping delivery estimates. Technically, a car carrier can drive across the entire country in a little over four days. But it also has to make stops along the way to pick up and drop off other vehicles. For example, there can be up to 10 or 11 vehicles on a single truck—and they’re not usually all going to the same city. There’s more too. Everything from bad weather to traffic jams can add time to your delivery:

  • Cross-country car transport takes longer than a short hop across state lines. While it takes approximately seven days for a carrier traveling 500 miles or less, it takes closer to 11 days for them to travel 1,000–1,500 miles.
  • The closer you live to big cities and major freeways, the faster your vehicle will arrive.
  • Vehicle type. High-end cars (like a Lamborghini or Ferrari) and odd-shaped vehicles (such as dually trucks and cargo vans) require specialized transport. And specialized transport often takes more time to set up.
  • Road conditions. Expect your truck driver to be delayed if there are road closures or traffic jams along your route.
  • You can find a vehicle transport truck faster during peak car shipping season (late spring to early fall) when tons of transporters are on the road.
  • Extra stops. Car carriers can hold up to nine vehicles. It will take longer to deliver your car if they’re at full capacity and you aren’t at the front of the line.
car shipping traffic

Thankfully, you don’t have to stress about the details. Your car shipping company will take care of all these things behind the scenes and give you a general delivery window (rather than a specific delivery date).

Heads Up
Are you moving other stuff too?

If you'd prefer to have one point of contact for your entire move, hire a professional moving company that can arrange your car shipment as well as handle your move.


4 tips for shipping your car faster

1. Beware of guaranteed delivery

Avoid companies that promise guaranteed delivery dates. No legitimate company can offer this service. It’s a sign of bad faith if the transport company gives you a specific delivery date rather than an estimated window. However, some companies like Montway Auto Transport offer guaranteed pick-up dates. If you can find an auto shipper to pick up your car in less than five days, you can trim some time off of your delivery. 

2. Plan ahead

Place your reservation about two weeks in advance. This gives the car transport company plenty of time to find a carrier that’s going your way. Not only can this shorten your delivery window, but it can also lower your vehicle shipping costs.

3. Use open transport

An open carrier is a faster shipping method than enclosed shipping. An enclosed carrier is designed for high-end vehicles like classic cars and premium sports cars. Everyone else uses open transport—and there are about nine open transport trucks for every enclosed trailer. In other words, it's much faster to reserve a spot on an open carrier. What’s more, you’ll also save about $420 compared to enclosed transport.

4. Go to the driver

You can shave about one day off your delivery by meeting the driver near a big city or well-traveled freeway. Once the broker assigns a carrier, it will contact you with the driver’s name and number so you can arrange a place to meet. This approach also lowers your price because the drivers don’t have to go significantly out of their way. However, this tip applies only to those who live in rural areas.


Recap

It generally takes about one day to ship your car every 150 miles. That includes a five-day window that most companies require for picking up your vehicle before starting the shipping process. The best auto transport companies won’t provide specific delivery dates because of how many variables are involved.

However, they will give you estimated shipping times. If you're pressed for time, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process. For example, you can maximize delivery speed by using open transport and placing your reservation two weeks in advance. In any case, it’s helpful to be aware of general delivery timelines.


How long does it take to ship my car FAQ

How long does it take to deliver a car?

It takes about two weeks to deliver a car. However, timelines can be shorter or longer depending on your delivery location, auto transport company, and shipping method.

How long does it take to ship a car 500 miles?

It takes about one week to ship a car 500 miles. The delivery itself takes only one to two days, but you also need to plan on a five-day window for the auto transport company to pick up your vehicle.

How long does it take to ship a car 1,000 miles?

It takes about 11 days to ship a car 1,000 miles. The delivery estimate includes about five days for the auto transport company to pick up your vehicle and around six days for the actual car transport.

How long does it take to transport a car across the country?

It takes a little more than two weeks to transport a car across the country. However, you may be able to shave off a day or two by using open transport. Not only is it the fastest option, but it’s also the cheapest way to ship your car.

Why does it take so long to ship a car?

It takes so long to ship a car because of how many variables are involved. For example, delays occur when there are road closures, traffic jams, and even storms. Auto transport companies also need time to find a driver going in your direction.

What is container shipping?

Container shipping is an overseas transport method similar to enclosed auto transport. It’s considered a premium car shipping service, and costs can rise even higher if you choose not to use a shared container.

How much does cross-country car shipping cost?

Cross-country car shipping costs approximately $1,600, according to Move.org’s analysis of nearly 700 auto transport quotes. However, the cost is about $250 lower if you use an open auto transport carrier. You can also save money by using a reputable car shipping service like American Auto Shipping or Sherpa Auto Transport.

How long does it take for an auto shipping company to pick up my car?

While some auto shipping companies can take as long as seven days to pick up your car, most can schedule pick-up within three to five days. We recommend budgeting five days for pick-up, so you aren’t caught off guard by longer-than-expected delivery times.


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.