How Do I Transport My Car Cross Country?

Whether you’re moving across the country or buying a car online, getting your new ride home can be the most exhausting part of the journey. Instead of taking on a multiday, cross-country drive, consider shipping the car to your new home instead. You’ll save on time, avoiding stress and hotel costs along the way, and have your car arrive ready to drive—with no extra miles added to its odometer.

How do vehicle transport services work?Transport your vehicle with private companies offering car shipping services or full-service moving companies that handle every step from loading boxes to auto transport.

Use this FAQ to answer all your auto transport questions so you can ship your vehicle with confidence. (We’ll even help you find a top-rated company to ensure your beloved ride arrives safely.

How do vehicle transport services work?

These shipping companies transport vehicles on open or enclosed car carriers, which you choose based on your needs and your budget. Not sure of the difference between an open or enclosed car carrier? Here’s a full rundown.

Open carriers

Auto manufacturers use this method to get new cars to lots, and it’s the most common way to transport a car across the country. Your car is loaded onto an open carrier and driven—along with around seven to nine other vehicles—to your new home or another preset location.

Enclosed carriers

The more expensive option of the two, enclosed carriers are ideal for exotic, high-end, or classic cars. These carriers protect your vehicle from the elements and debris. But know this option can cost 80% more than open carriers.

Overall, unless you’re transporting a very rare or exotic car, the time and cost savings make an open carrier the best choice. Because open carriers haul more than one car, you’d imagine they’d be slower, but the abundance of these carriers on roadways makes them quicker and easier to schedule than an enclosed carrier.

How much does car transport cost?

Vehicle transport pricing is based on a few factors: distance, car weight and size, how it’s transported, where you pick it up, and time of year. On average, expect to pay $400–$2,000 for coast-to-coast transport of a four-door sedan and $475–$2,250 for a pickup truck or SUV.

How you want your car to arrive at its destination also greatly affects the price—choose between door-to-door and terminal shipping.

Door-to-door shipping is the ultimate in convenience, but you’ll pay a premium to have your car picked up and dropped off at your home.

Terminal shipping saves big, but you’ll have to deal with the hassle of meeting the car at a predetermined location. Pay attention to facility fees when choosing terminal shipping as they could cancel out your precious savings.

Car shipment prices can increase by $100–$500 in busy summer months, so shop to find the best deal before booking your vehicle transport. Larger cars cost more because of weight and volume, and you’ll pay an extra fee if the car doesn’t run.

Other factors like gas prices, expedited shipping, and special requests increase the fee and make fixed shipment rates impossible to calculate. Save yourself some extra guesswork by requesting a quote from the shipping company—knowing what options fit your budget can save you from making another dreaded pro/con list.

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Pro Tip

Pro Tip

Some companies add a surcharge when you pay with a credit card, so ask your auto transporter about it when scheduling. As for payment, most companies charge an up-front deposit with the balance due upon receipt of your vehicle, but it’s wise to confirm this before shipping.

Do full-service movers offer car transport services?

Yes! National moving companies offer auto transportation as a service and can ship almost any vehicle from large trucks to motorcycles. If you’re already using a full-service moving company, you can easily add on auto transport to simplify your moving day and keep one more item off your to-do list.

If you’re moving just your car and not your home, use our Best Car Shipping Companies guide to find a trusted service to safely move your vehicle—without any extra fuss.

Our top three auto transporters, uShip, Montway Auto Transport, and Ship a Car Direct offer transparent pricing, top-notch customer service, and door-to-door delivery to make shipping your car as straightforward as possible.

How long will car shipping take?

In general, distance is the main factor determining drop-off time, and a typical timeframe is three to ten days from pickup to delivery.

While not true for all companies, here’s a rough estimate of how long you can expect cross-country car shipping to take:

Shipping time by distance

Shipping distanceTime to ship
0–500 miles1–3 days to transport
501–999 miles2–4 days to transport
1,000–1,499 miles3–5 days to transport
1,500–2,100 miles5–7 days to transport
2,101+ miles7–14 days to transport
Shipping distance
0–500 miles
501–999 miles
1,000–1,499 miles
1,500–2,100 miles
2,101+ miles
Time to ship
1–3 days to transport
2–4 days to transport
3–5 days to transport
5–7 days to transport
7–14 days to transport

That said, shipping delivery time depends on weather, traffic, and distance. It also differs with every company, so confirm with your auto transporter when and where your vehicle will arrive.

When you book your vehicle transport, request a quote and tracking information . If your vehicle transport is delayed, some large moving companies like Allied Van Lines will provide you with a free rental car until it arrives.

Can personal items be stored in the car during its transport?

The short answer: no. You may want to load your car with personal items to save space in a moving truck, but we wouldn’t recommend it. These items typically aren’t insured and are at risk of theft or damage.

Though some do, no car transport company—big or small—should allow the transportation of personal goods in shipped vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier authorities won’t insure anything inside the car that is not attached to the vehicle, and transportation companies can even be fined for transporting personal belongings inside your car.

Plus, items could be stolen, damaged, or lost when left in a vehicle. Instead, empty your vehicle completely and pack the items in your moving truck to ensure everything is properly shipped.

Recommended resources

Find reputable companies to safely ship your car with our Best Car Shipping Companies guide. Our top four companies offer perks like online estimates, open and closed transport options, and additional insurance so your biggest worry on moving day is whether you remember to lock the door when you leave. Get the rest of your auto transport questions answered with our car shipping Q&A.

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About Jenny Willden

Jenny Willden
Jenny’s been writing stories since she first picked up a pencil and is lucky to call it her profession. She’s lived in five U.S. states (and counting) and uses her mishaps to help you master your next move.