Shipping Your Car Across the Country: From Start to Finish

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 car transport cross country.

American Auto Shipping has a huge carrier network encompassing the entire country. That way, we make sure your vehicle gets shipped across the United States from practically any point of origin. The steps involved in getting your car shipped across the country are as follows:

Step 1: Get A Car Shipping Quote

It all 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 transport your vehicle. Take a minute to fill out our own free car shipping quote form to get an instant quote from us — we can help you ship to or from anywhere in the U.S. 

Whether you choose to ship with us or not, once you settle on a cross country 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 (we are one of those companies).

Step 2: Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport

To ensure everything is ready for transport, it is critical that you follow our guidelines before you turn in your car to us. For example, we require that you check and top off all fluids, remove all custom parts and accessories, and leave ¼ tank of gas in the car. Our vehicle transport experts will help you with the needed details.

Step 3: Schedule the Vehicle Pickup

The auto transport company you book with will then search your area for a truck, or carrier, to physically haul your vehicle across the country. 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 him will do an inspection of the 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 required, including the driver’s phone number, via phone and/or email. During transport, your best way to keep tabs on your vehicle is to call your representative. They 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. Car transport across the country can take up to two weeks, so you will want to be prepared to be without your vehicle for at least that period of time. 

Step 4: Receive Your Vehicle at the Destination

We deliver your car at the pre-arranged location. If this is not possible, we try to provide alternative options and make the drop-off at the safest and most convenient area nearby. Everything is done fast, and in a highly efficient manner, so you don’t even have to break a sweat. Now, if you cannot be at the drop-off location yourself, you can have a representative to pick up the car.

When your auto transport carrier has arrived, you and the driver will do a second inspection to note any new damages (if any – damage during cross country transport is rare, occurring in less than 5% of all shipments), and fill out all the necessary paperwork. You will also need to pay your driver his portion of the shipment charge on delivery if your brokerage set up vehicle transport cross country as a cash on delivery shipment (which is actually the most common payment method).


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

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

  • Distance 
  • Vehicle specs (model, make, height, length, etc.).
  • Vehicle condition. 
  • Type of transport (i.e., door-to-door transportation, terminal shipping, expedited vehicle shipping).
  • Type of trailer (budget-friendly open auto transport or an enclosed carrier).
  • Time of the year. 
  • Pick up and drop off locations.

The shipping distance is a major factor when trying to determine the cost of shipping a car across the country, whether it is between states or cities. In general, the longer the distance that needs to be covered, the more the vehicle shipping will cost. The size and the condition of the vehicle, along with the season and the type of transport (i.e., open or enclosed transport), will also help determine the overall shipping cost. You can get a rough estimate of your shipping cost by requesting a quote from us as well.

Click Here to Get a Car Shipping Quote Right Now


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, car haulers usually cover between 300-500 miles a day. There are a lot of variables here, but about 400 miles per day is a good estimate. So, for a distance between 1,000 and 1,500 miles, the expected transporting time frame ranges between three and five 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 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 (3-5 days).
  • From the West Coast to the East Coast (5-14 days).
  • From the North to the South (3-5 days).
  • From the West Coast to the Midwest (4-7 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 combined with terminal-to-terminal services is the most cost-effective way to ship your car across the country. This is because open trailers can carry up to 10 vehicles. 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 another decision that cannot be made spontaneously without first having considered some factors. Before you decide whether you want to drive your car yourself or use a mover service, think about:

  • Driving Distance – If you want to drive your car yourself, you can take a detailed map of the destination area and examine things like the available roadside amenities, the road infrastructure, typical traffic patterns, and topography. Then, figure out which is the most convenient, safest, and easiest way to get there. Computing the mileage will allow you to estimate how much fuel you will need. Add the money you will spend on food, fuel, and lodging, and you will get your overall cost. Compare that to the cost of our shipping services by using our online auto transport calculator and see which is to your best benefit. 
  • 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 it to the northern regions of the country. Adverse weather conditions can make driving quite challenging, forcing you to drive on icy roads, chilly winds, 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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