Shipping Your Car Across the Country: From Start to Finish

Car Transport Cross Country
An auto shipping truck providing car transport cross country

Cross country car transport is the process of shipping your vehicle across the United States. When searching for cross country shipping services, where should you start? In this helpful article, we’ll give you a quick explanation of all the pertinent details that you’ll need to know when it comes to moving cars across country.

American Auto Shipping has a huge carrier network that runs coast to coast and border to border. This means that we are able to ensure your vehicle gets shipped across the United States from practically any point of origin. The steps involved in moving car cross country are as follows:

Step 1: Get A Car Shipping Quote

State to state auto transport starts with a quote. While we don’t want to send business to competitors, getting multiple car shipping quotes allows you to find companies that can help you ship a car cross country. Take a minute to fill out our own free car shipping quote form to get an instant quote from us — we can help customers move cars across country to or from anywhere in the U.S. 

Whether you choose to ship with us or not, once you settle on a cross country auto transport provider, you need to book your shipment with them. Most companies ask you to call a telephone number and speak to a live representative who can take all the necessary information from you, while others will allow you to fill it all out yourself on the internet. Here at American Auto Shipping, we can help you either online or over the phone – either is okay by us!

Step 2: Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport

To ensure your vehicle is ready for transport, it is critical that you follow our auto transportation guidelines. For example, it’s important that you disclose the condition of your vehicle and whether it is running, driving, or modified. Vehicles that are damaged prior to shipping will need to be marked accordingly. Vehicles that cannot roll, brake, steer, or start will likely require a winch, which will cost more money. Modified vehicles are in the same boat – if they’re bigger or heavier than their stock counterparts, they likely will cost more to ship. Our cross country vehicle transport experts will help you with the needed details.

Step 3: Schedule the Vehicle Pickup

Shipping a car across the country can feel daunting, but with a qualified cross country auto transportation company at your side, it should be a bit less intimidating. You should rely on your shipper as much as possible; they are your guide in the car transportation world, and will help you from start to finish.

Now that your order is placed, the dates are set, and you’re ready to ship it, it’s time to get things moving. Your company auto transport company will search your area for a truck, or carrier, to physically haul your vehicle across the country. That’s what we (and all other cross country auto transporters) do – you can contact us any time at our toll-free telephone number to speak to an agent and get your shipment started.

Once they find cross country service for you, they’ll give you a pickup window. When the carrier is close they’ll allow you to give more detailed directions on the exact pickup location, if needed. Once the carrier is there, you and the driver will do an inspection of your vehicle, then it is loaded onto the car transport cross country trailer and shipped across the country.

Rest assured, you will have all the details you need to keep up with your shipment. These will include the carrier’s information as well as the driver’s name and phone number. During transport, your best way to keep tabs on your vehicle is to either speak to your driver directly, or allow us to do it for you. Your cross country auto transport rep will be able to provide you with additional information, and you can also discuss payment options with them or ask any other questions you may have.

Shipping cars across the country takes time, up to two weeks, so you make sure you are prepared to be without your vehicle for at least that period of time. 

Step 4: Receive Your Vehicle at the Destination

Now it is time for your vehicle to be delivered. Moving cars across the country isn’t easy, or fast, and the trucks used to haul those cars are quite large. As such, they cannot get to every single address that they may be shipping from or to. If this is the case, your carrier will discuss alternative locations with you, and you will meet them at a pre-designated location to receive your vehicle. These locations are often large parking lots in front of strip malls or massive bix-box stores. If you cannot be at the drop-off location yourself, you can have a friend or relative or some other representative receive the vehicle on your behalf.

When your auto transport carrier has arrived, you and the driver will do a second inspection to note any new damages, if there are any. Despite your vehicle being shipped across the country, damage during transit is quite rare indeed. At delivery is when you’ll need to pay your driver as well. Most payments are made cash on delivery (COD), but you can discuss alternative payment methods such as Zelle or Cash App with your driver, if necessary. 

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

When it comes to calculating shipping charges, consider the following:

  • Distance –  The core factor in how much you will pay. Typically longer distances cost more money
  • Vehicle specs (model, make, height, length, etc.) – Larger vehicles cost more because they take up more room on the truck, which can result in fewer vehicles being loaded at a time.
  • Vehicle condition – vehicles that do not run, or roll, or brake, will cost more than fully operational vehicles
  • Type of transport (i.e., door-to-door transportation, terminal shipping, expedited vehicle shipping) – Enclosed shipping and expedited shipping services will cost more when trying to move cars across country. Make sure to choose the right transportation option for your vehicle.
  • Time of the year – Summertime shipping tends to cost more than winter shipping as demand is higher in the summer.
  • Pick up and drop off locations – Major metropolitan areas are typically easier to ship to or from than rural areas, costing less as a result


How Long Will It Take to Ship a Car Across the Country?

The distance that needs to be traveled tends to determine the time frame. In general, shipping cars across the country takes 10-14 days coast-to-coast. Car transport trucks, on average, travel about 500 miles a day. There are a lot of variables here, of course, so these are just estimates. But a shipment traveling a distance of between 1,000 and 1,500 miles will take about 2-3 days.  

The total delivery time will also depend on factors such as weather, traffic, and rules and regulations that govern truck drivers. Carriers have limits on how far and fast they drive, after all, and that factors into travel time. In any case, the transport service will probably take longer than it would take you to drive your vehicle to the intended destination. 

On the other hand, you get to enjoy a stress-free transport experience that leaves you undistracted to attend to the other important aspects of your daily routine. Kindly note that you may also request our expedited delivery and pickup services for faster shipping.

Following is a general guideline for the expected transport days when shipping your car across the country:

  • From the East Coast to the Midwest (2-4 days).
  • From the West Coast to the East Coast (7-10 days).
  • From the North to the South (2-4 days).
  • From the West Coast to the Midwest (3-5 days).

Other things to consider so you can estimate delivery time more accurately:

  • If the transport requires your car to be shipped during the weekend, it may take a day or two more to deliver it. 
  • The stops in other locations the driver has to make for other pick-ups/drop-offs before heading to the delivery location.  
  • Drivers can drive up to 70 hours a week, according to the law. This means that they must make stops when they reach the daily driving limit. This allows them to rest, which, consequently, contributes to safer transports. 
  • Pick-ups and deliveries take a considerable amount of time during the shipping process, upwards of an hour or more per vehicle.
  • Weather and traffic conditions. 


What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Across the Country?

Most of the time, open auto transport services, combined with terminal-to-terminal services, will be the most cost-effective way to ship your car across the country. This is because open trailers can carry up to 10 vehicles at a single time. That way, they can save significant money on transport, fuel, and oil expenditure. Plus, terminal-to-terminal service doesn’t require carriers to stop as often, which can result in faster shipments. For even cheaper shipping services, you can consider options between late fall and late spring (the offseason). 

Terminal-to-terminal shipping services are not optimal, however. They may be cheaper, but are harder to find, as many terminals are closing down due to lack of demand. This can also cause terminal shipping to be more expensive than the usually costlier door-to-door service. Add on terminal storage fees that get added on the longer your car sits there, and you can easily pay more than for door-to-door services. 

Of course, booking your shipping in advance will also enable you to lock premium prices. Plus, you might be eligible for a special discount. Feel free to contact us via Live Chat, email, or call us at (800) 930-7417. Our friendly auto shipping experts will be delighted to inform you about your options! 


Should You Ship Your Vehicle Across the Country or Drive It?

This is a decision that you should not make lightly. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to ship or drive. So, before you decide whether you want to drive your car or you’d rather move it across the country, think about:

  • Driving distance – If you want to drive your car yourself, map out the route ahead of time. There will be factors you may not think about, such as available roadside amenities, the road infrastructure, typical traffic patterns, topography, and more. You’ll need to determine which route is most convenient, safest, and easiest. You’ll also want to factor in mileage, which will determine how much fuel you consume (and how much you spend on fuel). Don’t forget that you’ll need to eat during your journey. Adding those costs can get expensive, which can actually make auto transport services cheaper. Check your estimates against prices from our online auto transport calculator and see which way to move your car across the country is best for you. 
  • Seasonal Considerations – Will you be driving across the country during the winter months or the summer/springtime? The exact time of the year you want to ship your car should be considered, especially if you are moving to the northern regions of the country. Adverse weather conditions can make driving quite challenging, forcing you to drive on icy roads, battling chilly winds, dealing with heavy snowfalls, etc. These not only pose a risk to the safety of both you and your vehicle but also cause major delays. In this case, cross-country shipping is a much safer and convenient option, especially if you choose enclosed transport to protect your car from the elements. 
  • Time Lost – You will probably need a lot of time (at least 4 days) to drive your car across the country. This is certainly not cost-efficient, especially considering that you can ship your vehicle with an automobile transport carrier and fly to the new location yourself (meaning, you can resume work the very next morning).  
  • Costs – Having your car shipped rather than driving it yourself is your best course of action if you seek the most inexpensive (and comfortable) option. See above for factors that shape car shipping costs

Get An Auto Transport Quote

Ready to get started? Get your price with our online car shipping quote calculator now to find out your price and when you can get your car moved.

Dave Armstrong
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