The Smartest Ways to Ship Your Car Cross Country



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The Smartest Ways to Ship your Car - Moving Feedback

When you decide to move or relocate to a new city, the thought of how you would move your car with you sometimes turns out to be a problem. Ship your car cross country with you can either be a huge help or a hindrance that may slow down your moving process. However, moving a vehicle from one place to another shouldn’t be an issue if you approach it in the best way.

One may move a car by simply getting into the car and drive it, but when you are transporting your car cross-country or over a long distance, other options need to be considered. There are a variety of ways to ship your car to your new home; you only need to explore every option available to you and choose the one that is best matched your case.

Your choice of transporting your car can range from hiring a driver to engaging a professional auto transportation service. Each of the shipping methods has its associated costs. For example, a typical price of shipping a car can range from 50 cents to $1 per mile based on your choice. Your only need to consider your budget to know which option can work out for you. While driving your car seems the most economical option to move your car, considering the stress involved worth hiring a professional to do the work. This post will take you through various smartest ways to ship your car over a long distance. Read on to know more.

Top Smartest Ways to Ship your Car

Moving cars over a long distance or overseas has been made easier through many smartest way available nowadays. Choosing the right way can save you some cash and give you rest of mind. The most important is first to check your budget to help you in your decision to choose the right. Below are some of the smartest ways you can consider:

1. Drive it yourself shipping

Driving your car yourself is one of the cheapest and smartest methods of shipping cars if you have the time to spare. Doing the work yourself save you much cash, though it may be stressful anyway. According to the IRS’ 18 cents standard mileage rate for moving purpose, the typical cost of shipping a car at a distance of 3,000 miles would be around $540 inclusive of other operating costs like oil and gas.

2. Engage the service of a driver

Engage the service of a driver to drive your car can save you time and as well reduces stress and cost of moving your vehicle. You may as well hire someone that knows how to drive to transport your vehicle to your destination. While this option can be cheaper, leaving your car to a total stranger can be risky sometimes. Hiring a driver is a riskier option, especially if you don’t have insurance coverage on your car. However, according to Pino (former Auto Driveway fleet coordinator), the typical cost of hiring a driver to drive a vehicle cross country with references and deposit from a potential driver is around $1,100. Some of these drivers put miles into consideration when charging for moving a car. Whichever way, summer is studied to be the best time to get a driver to ship a car in the cheapest way.

3. Shipping by open-air Truck

Transporting your car by open-air truck is one of the common ways to ship a car over a long distance or cross-country. The car dealer or a consumer-oriented car shipper uses this option mostly by simply putting the car on an open-air truck like semi-trailer, and shipped it down to your destination. Your car will be shipped the same way commercial car shippers ship new cars.

Though the cost may be higher than hiring a driver, it is one of the safest methods of shipping car. The cost of shipping by truck depends on many factors including the condition of the car, the type of car, the distance of shipping, the season, and routes involved from picking point to delivery point (for example, distance covered on popular routes may be charged lesser than routes covered between small towns).

There are a number of auto shippers you can use to ship your car. Make use of online auto transporter directories to receive quotes from different auto shippers and brokers in the United States and Canada. From the directories, you would get the cost, the delivery time, and other terms and conditions based on each broker.

UShip is an example of online auto transporter directories for consumers who need to ship their car or other related goods. A typical car shipping time may range from 7 to 21 days, and the cost is around $1,100 to $2,000 as applicable. It is worthy of mentioning that door-to-door delivery may be higher than terminal-to-terminal delivery. However, when you are talking to a shipper, ensure you make inquiries about the company’s credential on the business, check reviews, proof of insurance, and as well as how your car will be shipped, the duration of haulage, and much more.

4. Shipping by enclosed truck

This method is the best way to ship your car if you want your car protected from weather effects. The enclosed truck transportation is preferred if you don’t want your car exposed over a long distance of the journey. While the cost is about 60% higher than an open-air truck, it might be a better option if you are shipping during winter or the vehicle is new. A typical cost may range from $1,500 to $2,500. This doesn’t mean that an open-air truck is not safe, but an enclosed truck also offers the car owner a peace of mind in terms of unintentional damage to your car. Whichever option you go for, always ensure that the company provides adequate insurance for car transportation.

5. Shipping by Rail

Another smartest way to ship your car is to load the vehicle onto a train and transport it to your new home. Train transport is considered cheaper to ship a car, especially when the distance exceeds 750 miles. While car shipped by rail is in enclosed vehicles and may seem protected, some of the consumers who have used train service reviewed that vehicle are still prone to vandalism in depots. Shipping your car by rail means you cannot predict the actual time it will take to arrive at your destination. A typical shipping cost ranges from $334 to $1500 based on the condition and type of car.

The following table displays the top smartest ways to ship your car:

No. Top Smartest Ways to Ship your Car
1.Drive it yourself shipping
2.Engage the service of a driver
3.Shipping by open-air Truck
4.Shipping by enclosed truck
5.Shipping by Rail

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?

uShip’s marketplace was discovered to be the cheapest of all the top-ranked vehicle shipping companies we researched. The rate for shipping a car below 200 miles costs $2.92 per mile while above $1,000 miles costs $0.78 per mile.

Use uShip’s shipping cost estimate tool, which provides a ballpark estimate using previous car shipment data related to your type of shipment to make a decision. Read our uShip review for more info and to learn all you need to know about the company.

How Car Shipping Costs are calculated

Prices will be dependent on so many variables together with the type of shipment service and shipment carrier. 

Some factors include:

  • The type and weight of the car to be shipped
  • The distance to be covered during the shipping
  • It’s functional status
  • The time of year as winter rates can be lower
  • How far will the door-to-door take the driver from the main road

We discovered from recent research on one of the various online calculators that shipping a Ford Fiesta door-to-door to Miami, FL to San Diego, CA, using an open trailer option would cost about $1,000.

In comparison, shipping a BMW 745 on the same distance using an enclosed transport option would cost about $1,500. Auto transport services’ rates are also charged based on the availability of truck and trucking routes that are predetermined. 

Estimates are not a constant thing. You tend to save more money by shipping from big cities as there are probably many terminals in large areas.

Pro Tip

Reduce the gas tank of your car to almost empty before shipping so you won’t be paying for additional weight caused by the fuel you won’t use.

From Which Car Shipper Can I Get The Cheapest Rates?

As mentioned above, we discovered the best shipping rates are from the uShip’s marketplace that brings together shippers and customers during our research. uShip provides quick online shipping estimates from various shippers, unlike the majority of individual shippers. This is how it works: you make a shipping list, and shippers will submit bids in the form of quotes for your job. Then you will decide by playing banker and broker, choosing the company that offers the best rate for your job. 

Pro Tip

 Don’t just go with the cheapest shipper; pick the one that is friendly to work with. Contact shippers to see their responsiveness to questions before you book.

We use shipping of a crossover SUV (2015 Mazda CX-5) to Philadelphia from Denver, which is just above 1,700 miles to compare shipping rates on UShip’s marketplace. The estimates we received for this trip are from 5 different auto shipping services, ranging from $934 to $1,719.     

Out of them all, uShip rates appeal to us the team as follow:




$1,719 + uShip fee

uShip Logistics

$1,282 + uShip fee

Montway Auto Transport

$1,129 + uShip fee

Autos On The Go

$1,011 + uShip fee

Freedom Auto Transport

$934 + uShip fee

Even though uShip is not an auto shipper, we ranked it as our best vehicle transport because of the ratings, format, reviews, and rankings on its marketplace, which simplify and make car shipping affordable.

Alongside reasonable rates from uShip, it also offers convenient features such as a reprogrammed tracking app that allows you to see the exact location of your vehicle even when it arrives. 

How to Get Cheapest Price for Your Car Shipping

The shipping method you chose for your vehicle can determine the amount you spend on the task.  Make sure you only visit federally licensed car shippers’ website in the United States 

The auto shipping industry is regulated by the United States Department of Transportation, and they mandate all shippers to possess federal licenses and a $75,000 bond. They also mandate it for all federally licensed car transport companies to indicate their Motor Carrier number on their website. This number is usually shown on the companies’ website. Only lead generating websites will not have an MC displayed on them. Lead generating sites collect your shipping data and send it to inferior car transport companies, which may or may not be in the United States. 

Follow below tips to land the cheapest car shipping deal:

  • Make Sure You Are Getting A Binding Price Quote

Just one out of five car transport companies will give you a binding price quote that doesn’t increase. The rest will give you a non-binding shipping quote, which can and mostly increases later. The major issue is that majority of the shippers that give you cheap non-binding estimates will only inform you later.

The best possible way to discover this is to type the company’s name into Google and go through its Google reviews. Now filter the reviews to see the ones that complain about being given one price and ended up paying more for the shipping service.

For example, the shipping company gave an overall price of $700, but later called and told you they needed $300 more for the carrier they found. The majority of customers that fall victim will admit that they had to pay the extra money to get their cars picked up because they were running out of time.

The only way customers could fight back is to write negative reviews to warn anyone about the company.   

  • Ensure You Get A Free Car Rental For Any Unexpected Delays

If your vehicle carrier cannot account for timely delivery, then they do not have the financial capability to deliver your car in time. A free car rental is available with reputable car shipping companies for any additional delays. 

  • Ensure The Transporter You Choose Is Available 24/7

The auto shipping business does not have an off in business as vehicles get picked up and delivered on every day of the week from Monday to Sunday with no break at any point.

You have to ensure there is a way to communicate someone in the event where the driver shipping your car gets into an issue. You may end up spending much time and money if you find it hard to contact your auto transport company. Do not hire auto spurs that do not display their business operation days on their website or Google listings.  

  • Ensure You Get A Damage-Free Guarantee

With reliable car shipping companies, you get a damage free guarantee, meaning they help you pay. Damage while transporting a car is a rare case but inevitable. They can help in the event of any of the following: 

  • If your car gets damaged on the road,
  • You had no choice but to make an insurance claim on the carriers’ insurance,
  • They turn down the claim for any reason,
  • You had no choice but to file a claim on your auto insurance policy,
  • That claim is granted;

Be at Alert for Red Flags in Cheaper Vehicle Shipping Costs

Note that what you pay for is what you get when shipping your car. You may be cutting back on quality if you go for a quote that is way cheaper to other companies. You can easily fish out a rogue company that charges too high or too low when you get many auto shipping quotes. 

FAQ about Auto Shipping

How cheap can I transport my car across state?

There are several points that will determine the price you’ll get for your car transport. Points like your shipping location and destination, shipping time, and the type of car you are shipping play significant role in getting your quote. The price per mile will reduce as the distance between the shipping location and destination keeps increasing.

The size of your vehicle is also a determinant as it is cheaper to ship smaller vehicles and vice versa. Finally, seasonality is also a factor; summer tends to be expensive for car shipping than winter due to excessive demand. 

Which is the cheapest between the Open or enclosed options?

Simply put, the most common and usually the cheapest option is the open shipping — the transport option you choose, whether open or enclosed, can also determine your cost with distance. And you have to decide on a shipping method before you develop a shipment listing. So here are the differences: 

  • Open transport: The open transport expose your vehicle to cool breeze and open road on a carrier truck shared with other cars. Open carriers are always available, which implies that you can get your vehicle shipped quickly and cheaply using this option. Open transport is the most popular and mainly the cheapest car shipping method. 
  • Enclose transport: This option offers top-level protection but at a price higher than other shipping methods. Although the enclosed option provides unmatched protection to your vehicle from various weather conditions and debris, they are not as popular as open carriers and can cost more than 80%. 

Enclosed carriers are your best options if you are shipping a classic Alfa Romeo or another exotic model. However, if you are just transporting your regular ride, an open carrier option is still enough for you. For further information on open car transport vs. enclose car transport, read our post through the link.

Can I put belongings in my vehicle when transporting it?

Up to 100 pounds of stuff is allowed in the truck or storage section of your truck, car, or SUV, or you just leave it empty. This is because those auto shipping carriers don’t possess a license or licenses to move household stuff from one state to another. 

When will the shipper pick my car up for shipping?

Most vehicle pickups are done within one to five working days of the first available date company received your reservation. Since your car is generally transported alongside other vehicles on a shared carrier, auto shipping companies need to take this time to arrange your shipping with the other vehicles on the carrier truck. 

How do I make my car ready for shipment?

Get all loose items away from your car and leave no valuable item in the vehicle to be shipped. Although theft to belongings on auto shipping is a rare case, you can’t be too careful. Reduce the number of additional items to the minimum and keep them in the vehicle trunk or other hidden places.

Leave about a quarter tank of fuel. Give a set of keys to the auto shipping carrier and inform them of any special handling for your car, such as difficult steering, starting, braking, and so on.

Pro Tip

Driver consideration: Being a driver can be a job that receives no appreciation. They work around the clock and away from their loved ones for as much as a week in some cases. Endeavor to be nice to your drivers, and they will reciprocate the treatment as well.  

How do I make payment for my auto shipping service?

You make an upfront payment to secure a price. The company will give you basic information about the truck driver such as name, phone number, pickup, and delivery dates when you conclude arrangement with them. The remaining balance is payable to the truck driver on delivery through certified funds. 

Can I ship personal stuff with my vehicle?

Yes. You have 100lbs of additional space allotted in the vehicle trunk with no extra charges. However, have a discussion with one of the agents to determine how your shipping price may be affected if the weight of your personal stuff is more than the allotted 100 lbs. 

What if there is damage to my vehicle?

Not up to 1% of the cars transport are damaged during shipping, but it is also inevitable even though it is rare. In the event that your vehicle gets damaged, just indicate it clearly on the bill of lading (carrier’s inspection report) before you sign and keep a copy of it before the driver leaves.

A nice move will also be to take some clear pictures of the damage. Just contact the company if you have any worries. They always have someone available to answer any of your questions, even after business hours. 

How does auto shipping insurance operate?

Most companies’ auto shipping industry is being regulated by the Motor Carrier Division of the Department of Transportation, and they mandate insurance as a requirement for carriers shipping vehicles. A minimum of $250,000 cargo and $750,000 liability insurance coverage is required. An inspection will be conducted at pick-up where the driver will have a form together with a picture of a vehicle and keep a record of all dents, scratches, and dings on the car.

Your driver and pick-up person will both sign the paper, and then you and your driver will hold a copy of the document. The same document will be presented to you or the person receiving the auto shipping during delivery.

They are to note any new dings, dents, or scratches on the vehicle and placed on a damage claim, which must be indicated on that document at delivery and duly signed by the two parties.    

Final Words

Your smartest way of shipping car starts from planning ahead to allow you to weigh every available option. Check the terms and conditions of each method and choose the one that best fits your situation. Stay tuned for informative posts from this page!

David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
David Cohen
David Cohen
He has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. David is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

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