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Cross-Country Car Shipping
Cross-country car shipping isn’t always cheap, but it keeps vehicles safe from wear and tear, car accidents, and damages that can occur on a road trip.
While cross-country car shipping isn’t much different from having vehicles transported a shorter distance, it will cost significantly more.
Shipping your car instead of driving cross-country will save it from wear and tear and reduce the risk of an auto accident or mechanical breakdown.
The average cost to ship a car 3,000 miles from the West Coast to the East Coast comes out to around $2,300.
If you’re planning a move across the United States, you may be wondering about how to get your vehicle to its final destination. Cross-country car shipping can save you from the hassle of a lengthy road trip and is normally a pretty simple process.
We’ve spent over 300 hours researching the auto transport industry to provide you with accurate and unbiased information about the best car shipping companies. Read on to learn how cross-country car transport works and for a look at cost estimates on shipping services.
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How Do I Ship A Car Cross-Country?
Cross-country car shipping isn’t much different than moving your car over a shorter distance. Still, there are certain steps you can follow to make cross-country car shipping go as smoothly as possible. See a more detailed breakdown of the steps below:
1. Decide On Shipment Details
The first thing to do is collect information about your vehicle that will be relevant to the shipping process. This includes your car’s make, model, year, and operability status, in addition to your shipping needs. You’ll also have to identify dropoff and pickup locations and decide on open vs. enclosed transport options.
Open Carrier Car Shipping
Open auto transport involves shipping cars via an open trailer. This allows more cars to be moved together at a time, lowering the overall cost of shipping. While open transport is one of the cheapest ways to ship your car, it leaves your vehicle exposed to road debris, bad weather, and other potential hazards during travel.
Enclosed Carrier Car Shipping
Enclosed carrier car shipping uses an enclosed trailer to transport your vehicle, offering more protection throughout the shipping process. This method is more expensive than open car transport but could be worth it for luxury vehicles and classic cars. In addition, enclosed auto transport services come with higher insurance coverage limits, which may provide owners with extra peace of mind.
2. Shop Around For Car Shipping Quotes
After gathering the necessary information to ship your car, you’ll want to shop around for car shipping quotes online from multiple providers. Some companies have online marketplaces and others act as brokers, so decide on which you’re most comfortable getting a quote from. Many providers offer car shipping calculators to simplify this process.
3. Book The Best Car Shipping Provider
Once you’ve found the right company for your cross-country car shipping needs, you’ll want to book the transport. A broker will take care of finding a carrier for you, while utilizing an online car shipping marketplace will require you to post your own bid and deal with carriers directly. We encourage you to book your transport sooner rather than later, as it can often be cheaper.
4. Prepare Your Car For Shipment
Make sure to prepare your car beforehand when shipping it cross-country. Doing so can help make the process easier and might even save you a bit of money along the way. Before loading your vehicle up and sending it off, ensure that you’ve taken the following steps:
Remove personal items: Many car shipping companies don’t allow personal items to be shipped in your vehicle, so remove them beforehand. You’ll decrease the risk of a vehicle break-in and your car’s lowered weight might reduce costs.
Empty your gas tank: A full gas tank tacks on extra weight, which can amount to a greater overall cost. Remove all but a quarter tank of gas from your car.
Have an extra set of keys: Keeping an additional set of keys on hand could save you if your keys get misplaced during the cross-country car shipping process.
Note preexisting damages: Documenting preexisting vehicle damages with pictures and video can help to prove your case if you have to make an insurance claim. It can also help you to identify new damages before signing off on the delivery.
Perform necessary maintenance: Check your car for any leaks or mechanical issues before transport. You won’t want your vehicle to be deemed inoperable during transit, as this will significantly raise your shipping costs.
Remove exterior attachments: Vehicle add-ons could potentially be damaged or become detached during transit. Protect your vehicle and any expensive accessories by removing or securing bike racks, rooftop boxes, and custom spoilers.
4. Meet Your Transporter
Now that you’ve booked the transport, get ready to meet the car carrier. You decided on a dropoff location and shipping date when booking your transport, so be sure to arrive on time. Your carrier will record any preexisting damages to your vehicle on the bill of lading, which is a receipt that follows your car to prove the pickup and delivery. At that point, your vehicle will be loaded up and taken away.
5. Pick Up Your Vehicle At Its Destination
When it’s time to pick up your vehicle, meet the carrier at a predetermined location. Inspect your car for damages during the shipping process, especially if you’ve chosen a type of transport that ships your car out in the open. If everything looks good, sign the bill of lading once again to confirm that your vehicle was delivered.
Cross-Country Car Shipping Costs
We’ve conducted extensive research on car shipping costs and found that the average price to ship a car just over 3,000 miles is $2,313. For context, 3,000 miles is about the distance between Boston and Los Angeles.This average rate was found using quotes from various reputable car shipping companies and represents open carrier transport prices.
Keep in mind that if you choose to ship your car cross-country using an enclosed container, you’ll get a far higher total cost. Other variables can affect auto transport costs as well, so make sure to shop around and obtain multiple free quotes to find the best price.
Cross-Country Car Shipping Quotes
See below for more information on cross-country auto shipping quotes from top-rated companies. Quotes were gathered for open trailercar transport services from New York City to San Francisco for an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4.
Auto Transport Company
Montway Auto Transport
Sherpa Auto Transport
SGT Auto Transport
Your cross-country car shipping costs will likely vary from the quotes provided above due to individualized factors that can affect rates. Shipping prices for routes from California to Florida will likely be different than for routes to New York, for instance.
What Affects Car Shipping Costs?
Shipping distance is just one of various factors that can affect your car shipping prices, as seen below:
Dropoff and delivery locations: If you live in a rural area, it’s going to cost you more than for someone shipping their vehicle from a more populous location. Those looking to save money can opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping instead of door-to-door service for both delivery and pickup locations.
Type of transport: Open transport is much cheaper than enclosed auto transport, as more vehicles can be shipped at once on an open trailer.
Time of year: The summer months and January are busier periods in the car shipping industry. Because of this, choosing a pickup date during peak shipping season will generally result in higher costs.
Type of vehicle: Your vehicle’s weight and dimensions affect car shipping costs, with larger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs demanding higher shipping costs. You’ll also find different rates for moving a motorcycle, recreational vehicle (RV), or all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
Vehicle condition: If your vehicle is inoperable and needs to be winched or forklifted onto the transport trailer, you’ll pay additional costs for these services.
Shipping speed: If you choose expeditedauto shipping or a guaranteed delivery window, you’ll get charged more. Jack Savov, CEO of SGT Auto Transport, says that consumers should “consider being more flexible with their pickup and delivery dates to avoid the added expense of expedited or rushed shipping.”
How Long Does Cross-Country Auto Transport Take?
You’ll need patience with cross-country vehicle shipping, as your car’s delivery time frame will likely be between seven and 10 days. This is just an estimate, however, and your actual delivery time could vary. Your carrier could run into adverse weather conditions, heavy traffic, or road closures, preventing your vehicle from arriving on its intended delivery date.
If you’re concerned that the vehicle is taking too long to arrive at its destination, understand that car movers won’t sacrifice road safety to rush your delivery. The more miles your vehicle has to travel, the higher the chance of delays. Staying connected with your transporter via GPS tracking services or over the phone can provide peace of mind during transit.
Cross-Country Car Shipping: Is It Worth It?
Traveling across the U.S. in a car isn’t always an easy journey. You’ll be driving thousands of miles, likely over the course of several days. Choosing to drive your car cross-country means paying for multiple tanks of gas along with the cost of lodging, meals, and possibly tourist attractions. That’s not to mention the wear and tear that could be added to your vehicle along the way.
If you enjoy long road trips, you might want to consider driving to your destination. However, cross-country car shipping can save you time and reduce potential risks. You’ll protect your vehicle from both wear and tear and the potential of car accidents and mechanical breakdowns. No matter what you choose, it’s smart to weigh the pros and cons related to your situation before deciding on shipping your car vs. driving it.
Car Shipping Survey Results
In 2021, our team surveyed 1,000 people who had previously shipped their car in order to understand satisfaction levels associated with auto transport. We found that 69 percent of survey respondents were either very or somewhat satisfied with their car shipping experience. See the infographic below for a more detailed breakdown of the responses we gathered:
Cross-Country Car Shipping: Conclusion
Cross-country vehicle transport may cost you more than a shorter-distance move, but the process remains largely the same. Getting instant quotes for various car shipping options can help you find the best price to ship your vehicle over a long distance, while planning ahead will make the process smoother, easier, and more cost-effective.
Top Cross-Country Car Shipping Companies
No two providers are the same, which is why we encourage you to do research before settling on a car transport company. We suggest starting your search with Montway Auto Transport and Sherpa Auto Transport, two providers that scored highly in our comprehensive review.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall
Montway Auto Transport is a vehicle shipping provider with an A+ score from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a 4.6-star rating from over 2,300 reviews. Montway only works with insured car carriers and provides an additional $250,000 of coverage to supplement that policy in case of a claim.
These factors and more led us to name Montway Auto Transport as the Best Overall car shipper, with an overall score of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.
Sherpa Auto Transport is a reputable auto shipping company with a 4.9-star rating out of 5.0 from customers on the BBB. We named Sherpa as the provider that offers Locked-In Prices, as it promises that the transport quote you’re initially given will remain your final shipping rate.
We appreciate how Sherpa Auto Transport will pay up to $300 of its own funds to get a carrier if your original quote wasn’t high enough to secure a transporter. While it offers enclosed transport and open carrier transport services throughout the contiguous U.S., Sherpa doesn’t service Hawaii or Alaska.
Below are some frequently asked questions about cross-country car shipping:
There’s no single best way to ship a car across the U.S. However, the most common methods used for cross-country car shipping are open trailer transport and enclosed auto shipping. Whichever is your preference, note that enclosed auto shipping will cost you more.
Be sure to remove personal items from your vehicle, document preexisting damages, and remove exterior vehicle attachments before sending your vehicle off. Taking these steps will cut down on risks associated with car shipping and can save you money along the way.
Open car shipping involves the transport of your vehicle via an open trailer. While this cuts down on car shipping costs, it can leave your vehicle vulnerable to bad weather and road debris. Enclosed shipping involves transporting your vehicle in an enclosed container, which provides better protection but can come at a steep cost.