5 Smartest Ways to Ship Your Car Cross Country

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.

5 Smartest Ways to Ship Your Car Cross Country

In this article

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 the rest of your 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 a lot of cash, though it may be stressful anyway.

According to the IRS’ 18 cents standard mileage rate for moving purposes, 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 the 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 a 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 a 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 credentials 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 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

Comprehensive Car Shipping Checklist

Creating a checklist for your upcoming vehicle shipping is very important as the task involves much preparation. A checklist knows exactly how to save you from any type of moving situation you found yourself.

Confusion can easily set in from the many things that will require your attention when embarking on a car shipping.

You will find it easier to tackle the task when you have and follow your checklist and also utilize the skill of your transport company.

Most of the steps on our checklist take effect before the vehicle shipping company picks up your car. There are not many things you can do when your vehicle is on its way, although some transport companies enable tracking.  The checklist is categorized into stages to make it easier for you.

Stage 1Plan Your Car Shipping

#1. Figure out if car transporting is your best option

You have many options in car shipping. You can also sell the car to buy a new one or just drive it to your new destination. Consider the scenarios below to help your decision:

Scenario 1: You drive your vehicle to your new destination

This is a prevalent moving situation where you hire a team of professional movers to pack, load, and transport your current household belongings and deliver it to your new home. You then do the following once your movers are gone:

  • Load your packed important moving boxes into your vehicle
  • Instruct your family members and pets to take their appropriate sit in the family vehicle and
  • Get seated in the vehicle and start the long ride to your new home. You can figure out what your new life in the new city would be like.

Scenario 2: You fly to your destination home while your car is being transported professionally

This is another relocation day scenario where you hire a reputable car shipping company to ship your car to your destination home. In contrast, you and your loved ones catch the next available flight to your new home to save a lot of time. You do the following once your movers are gone:

  • Go through the required process to get your car ready for shipping, as following this checklist.
  • Carry your bags containing essential and valuable items with you to the airport.
  • Get seated on your plane and patiently waiting to start the flight to your new home. You can figure out what your new life in the new city would be like while you wait for your car to arrive at your new home.

#2Decide between open and enclosed shipping

Car shipping companies can transport your vehicle either on the back of an opened truck, which exposes it to the elements or inside a fully closed moving truck.

Most customers prefer the open transport option. Customers with classic, exotic, and antique cars are advised to go for the enclosed transport option – read luxury car transport.

You can also consult our write up on the enclosed and open vehicle transport for more information and better decision making on this step.

#3. Check online reviews to locate the best-rated car shipping company

Here are some hints on how to determine if the auto shipping company you are transporting your vehicle with is both reliable and reputable:

  • Ask people close to you: You can ask around from your people or perform a quick Google search for vehicle shipping experiences. This might help you locate people with experience transporting their vehicles. Be very careful of companies with many negative reviews on similar complaints or those that have no reviews at all.
  • Read online reviews: Pay serious attention to details when checking online reviews on car shipping companies. Websites like GoogleTrustpilotTransportReviewsBBB, and as well as Moving Feedback contain many relevant and genuine reviews. Note that the best and reputable shipping company will be present in mostly all the major review websites.
  • Quote: Once you get to this stage, you must have gotten two or three reliable auto shipping companies. Contact them over the phone or fill out their online form to get a shipping quote. Consult our write up on tips for selecting a reliable auto shipping company online for more information.

Pro Tip

What is the best vehicle for transporting companies?

Six best vehicle shipping companies are listed by Moving Feedback after comparing their important features such as customer service, perks, and price. Click our list of best vehicle transporters to find a perfect match. You can also compare the quotes you received with our research in what is the cost of shipping a vehicle?

  • Pick a company: Now, you have to pick the company that stands out to you after comparing their quotes and read reviews. You will also need to check your Bill of Lading and contract thoroughly after you chose a provider. The contract is basically the confirmation email sent to you by your auto shipping company. The driver on getting to your car will hand over your copy of the Bill of Lading to you, which will contain the condition of your vehicle as well as other shipping information. Make sure you keep your copy of the Bill of Lading for future reference if need be. Furthermore, it is required of every auto shipping company to have liability insurance even though some of them offer additional insurance.

#4. Select a date

Make sure your vehicle is ready on or before the day you give the auto shipping company for pickup. In most cases, it takes 4 days from your specified date for an auto shipper to pick up your car and anywhere from 2 – 14 days to have it delivered.

Stage 2Get your Vehicle ready for Shipping

This is where you turn your focus on getting your car ready and safe for shipping. Start the vehicle transportation process by washing the outer parts of your car thoroughly.

You can also take time to clean the interior space of your car even though this is best done after the entire auto shipping process is completed.

You can then proceed for a thorough physical inspection of your vehicle after you might have gotten rid of any dust, dirt, and other unwanted filth from your vehicle so you can note any damage it might have suffered in this past till now.

To get your car ready for shipping, carry out these inspection activities:

  • Check your battery: Check and recheck your battery to ensure it is charged. The cost of transporting a car that doesn’t start is much.
  • Check for leaks: To know if there are any leaks from your vehicle, look under it to see if there are any wet under your car’s engine. You have to bring a mechanic to check your vehicle and fix any problem associated with leaking oil, transmission fluid, and so on.
  • Check your tires: This is very important, so the car transport company can drive your vehicle onto the moving truck and also for you to be able to drive it when it arrives at your new location. Check for proper inflation of the tires before they come for pickup.
  • Inspect your emergency brake: The shipping company will reject your vehicle if the brake is faulty. Make sure the brake is working perfectly before the driver come for pickup.
  • Top off your liquids: This step is included in your pre-check-up checklist, and it includes your oil, brakes, and power steering fluids.
  • Solve mechanical issues: You have to also look out for any mechanical issues aside from leaks on your vehicle. This may include a broken distributor cap or bad timing belt that could delay it from starting up anytime while in transit.
  • Take out any car attachments: Bring out your ski rack from your vehicle as it may not survive the shipping process. Antennas, bike racks, and any other accessories that are attached to your vehicle must be removed to avoid damaging during shipping.
  • Reduce the quantity of gas in your tank to less than a quarter full: You only need enough gas in your vehicle to run few errands and top it at your new destination, not a full tank. The weight of your car is affected by a full-gas tank, which also increases your shipping cost.
  • Disable your alarm: The driver may get annoyed and startled if all of a sudden your car alarm goes off while shipping. There have been reports about drivers going extreme to make sure the alarm system goes off while causing damage to the vehicle.
  • Fold in your car’s side mirrors: You can only reduce the risk of damage to your side mirrors by folding them as they cannot be detached like your bike racks.
  • Clean your car: It is advisable that you ship an empty vehicle with no items inside. Although some shippers allow it, most companies prohibit the act to reduce the chances of damaging the car during shipping.
  • Disable your electronic toll pass: If there is any electronic toll device on your vehicle, deactivate or turn it off before shipping.
  • Obtain a spare key: Life can become frustrating when you lose your car keys. Things could become more difficult when your delivery driver lose the only key you have while in transit.

Pro Tip

There have been reports of auto shipping companies charging last-minute reservation fees even though customers booked well in advance. You can avoid this payment by proofing you booked in advance once you know your driver’s name. Get idea of your car shipping cost by reading our post – How much does it cost to ship a car?

Stage 3: Record your Vehicle’s Condition

#1. Record your mileage: Although there is no way your delivery driver would take your vehicle on an adventure around the city before bringing it to you. However, it is advisable you record the mileage before shipping just in case.

#2. Check your car and record damage: Make sure the condition of your car is well documented before loading onto the auto shipping truck. We advised taking pictures or making videos of each side of the vehicle. You would need proof that any damage during transit wasn’t there before loading.

#3. Confirm details and sign your bill of lading: A bill of lading is the document that contains the condition of your vehicle that you must sign before transporting. Make sure the transport worker correctly documents everything before you attest to your signature.

#4. Confirm vehicle insurance: Ensure your regular vehicle insurance is still active through the shipping process just in case an accident occurs while your car is being transported.

#5. Record your vehicle’s odometer number: This number can increase but not more than a mile unless your car was taken for a ride during the transport process. Although this might not be necessary, you just have to play safe.

Stage 4: Wait for your Vehicle Delivery

  • Check vehicle shipping status online: All you can do at this stage is to relax or continue your usual life. You can check the current status of your vehicle till it gets to you if your auto shipping company offers you a tracking feature.

Stage 5: Take Delivery of your Vehicle

Your vehicle transport company will perform thorough inspections of your car during pickup and delivery periods. You or any other person you chose to represent you must be physically present during those inspections to sign the Bill of Lading as well as the condition report at the two locations (pickup and delivery).

  • Check your car and note damage: Upon delivery of your car, make sure you carefully inspect its condition and document any damage to it during transportation on the Bill of lading before the delivery driver leaves your new home. Make sure you document any damage to your vehicle before you sign the Bill of lading.

Stage 6: Post-delivery

  1. Clean your car: This is the right time to wash your newly delivered vehicle thoroughly. You could assign mire cleaning time to the interior especially if you didn’t clean the inside of your car before shipping
  2. Register your car: You are given a certain period of time to get your vehicle registered if you just relocate to another state, or else you will be fined. Note that some states like Florida give just 10 days to do the vehicle registration while New York gives as far as 30 days. Check the DMV office in your new state to know and address this issue before it involves a penalty.
  3. Transfer driver’s license: You need to transfer your driver’s license to your current state, and this can also be done at the local Department of Motor Vehicles in your area.
  4. Purchase insurance: You will be required to present a car title in your name, and your vehicle must also pass a safety inspection with its emissions checked before your vehicle registration can be marked complete. Proof of vehicle insurance will also be required. You will be required to purchase new vehicle insurance in your new state for vehicle registration, even though you still have valid vehicle insurance from the state you moved from.
  5. Leave online feedback (review): Share your experience for others to learn from. In just two minutes, you can leave a review on what the company might have got right such as on-time delivery, low price, excellent customer service, and so on, as well as any issues you had during the shipping process such as car damage, delays, rude drivers, and so on.

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:

Company Estimates
Metrogistics $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 the 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 the below tips to land the cheapest car shipping deal:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 with 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.

4. 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.

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.


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!

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