You typically don’t receive a guaranteed time frame when shipping a car because several factors can influence how long a truck driver spends on the road. However, when you’re planning to ship your car, it’s important to know what time frame to expect. So, in general, how long does it take to ship a car cross country?
We’ll break down the factors that impact shipping times and what you can expect when shipping your car. To get started, reach out to auto transport companies to see if they offer guaranteed pickup or expedited shipping. By comparing the best car shipping companies, you’ll be able to find the service and timeline that best fit your needs.
Process Of Shipping A Car
There are many factors involved in the shipping process that can impact the length of time it takes to get your car from point A to point B. Once a car carrier picks a vehicle up, it typically takes one to seven days to arrive at its destination, depending on shipping distance and barring any unexpected delays.
We’ve outlined the auto transport process step by step below. However, it’s important to note that some car shippers may require additional information, so use this as a starting guide for what to expect.
#1 Choose A Car Shipping Company.
It’s best to start searching for an auto shipping company at least two weeks in advance. You can choose between two main types of car transport companies:
- Brokers connect customers with carriers in their network.
- Carriers transport vehicles from one location to another.
Whether you choose a broker or a carrier, ensure the company you choose is fully licensed and insured.
#2 Provide Your Information.
Auto transporters will ask for details about your vehicle, pickup location, and destination to determine which service is best for your needs. Most companies ask for:
- Vehicle make, model, age, and operability
- Pickup location and drop-off location
- Preferred time frame for shipment
- Name, email, and phone number
Using this information, the company will offer you a free quote for your car shipment. Your final car shipping cost will likely be higher than the original quote you receive, as initial quotes often don’t include service fees, additional carrier charges, or insurance costs.
#3 Select Your Auto Transport Service.
When shipping your car, you can choose from service options such as open or enclosed transport and door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping. Note that enclosed transport may take longer than open transport because there are fewer carriers available.
In addition to these services, some companies offer specialty services such as expedited shipping, international shipping, guaranteed pickup dates, and single-car shipping.
#4 Book Your Shipment.
After you’ve selected a service, time frame, and location, you can book your car shipment. Depending on the company, you may pay the full amount for the service up front or pay part of the balance up front and the rest once your vehicle has been delivered.
#5 Remove All Personal Items From Your Car.
Most vehicle shipping companies don’t let you ship personal items inside your car. This ensures your valuables are kept safe, and since some companies weigh your vehicle before shipping, it also lowers your car transport costs.
#6 Inspect Your Vehicle.
A car hauler will typically be dispatched within 10 days of booking. Before the carrier picks your vehicle up, they will inspect it with you to account for any existing damage. Take photos of your car in case any damage occurs during shipping.
#7 Check In With The Car Shipping Company.
Many companies provide GPS tracking information through an app, website, or phone service. This helps keep you informed about any delays that could affect the pickup date or drop-off date.
#8 Pick Your Car Up.
Depending on the service you choose, your vehicle will be delivered to either your door or a predetermined terminal. You should inspect your vehicle for any signs of damage when it arrives. You’ll then sign a bill of lading to verify that your car was delivered. If necessary, you’ll pay your remaining balance at this time.
Factors That Affect Car Shipping
Certain factors can affect shipping times, including:
The longer the distance between pickup and delivery locations, the more time it will take for your car to arrive. Shipping your car a few hundred miles will typically only take a day or two, but a cross-country trip can take between seven and ten days.
Time Of Year
Bad weather can affect transportation timelines, especially during winter when ice and snow are on the road. Car haulers are also busier during the summer due to demand, so it may be more expensive and harder to find a truck driver to transport your car.
Type Of Vehicle
It may take longer to find a carrier that offers enclosed transport or ships oversize vehicles such as RVs or ATVs. These types of transports require drivers who specialize in hauling these vehicles.
Road conditions can either help or hinder shipping times. If your trucker experiences major construction on a freeway and slower speed limits, it will slow them down and possibly delay your vehicle’s delivery date.
If you don’t experience delays due to any of the factors above, you can expect your shipment to take no more than six to twelve days when shipping across the continental United States. Shipping a car to Hawaii or Alaska can sometimes take up to three weeks because there are different shipping rules and regulations involved.
Best Car Shipping Companies
In our 2022 review of the best car shipping companies, Montway Auto Transport and Sherpa Auto Transport were our top picks. We recommend getting several car shipping quotes before booking your shipment so you have a better chance of finding cheap car shipping.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall
Montway Auto Transport is a popular auto broker that works with a vetted network of over 15,000 car carriers. The company is known for its wide range of services, including guaranteed pickup dates, expedited shipping, and open, enclosed, and door-to-door transport. Montway Auto Transport holds accreditation and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Read more about the car shipper in our Montway Auto Transport review.
Sherpa Auto Transport: Locked-In Prices
Unlike most auto transport companies, Sherpa Auto Transport offers locked-in prices, meaning you’ll never pay more than the price you’re initially quoted. The company provides open, enclosed, and door-to-door car shipping services. Sherpa holds an A+ BBB rating and a customer rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.
Learn the ins and outs of the company in our Sherpa Auto Transport review.
How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car: FAQ
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of car shipping companies to formulate rankings of the best transporters. Providers receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Reputation: Shippers with a history of strong business practices and endorsements from experts receive the highest scores in this category.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of shipping routes, distances, and vehicles. Companies with lower prices and many discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Services: This rating is based on types of auto transport services available, insurance coverage, and the ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates.
- Customer Experience: We comb through customer reviews and perform our own shopper analysis to get a sense of the responsiveness and helpfulness of each car transporter.