Whether you finally bought that dream car you’ve been saving for or you’re moving your entire household across the country, shipping your vehicle instead of driving it to its destination can save you both time and money. At Great Guys Moving, we pair you with the best names in the car shipping industry in one convenient location. Just submit some basic information about your vehicle including the year, model, and make, along with the origin and destination cities of your shipment. Within minutes, you’ll start receiving competitive bids from America’s most trusted auto transport companies. Simply pick the one that works best for you and get your car shipped without the hassle or stress of doing it yourself. If you are interested in hiring an auto transport carrier, there’s a lot to consider, but have no fear – we’re here to help!
How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?
Car Shipping Quotes & Calculators
The typical auto transport costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000. A brand-new Consumer Affairs report helps uses research from thousands of companies in order to calculate the average cost of a coast-to-coast auto shipment. According to Consumer Affairs findings, a compact four-door sedan costs between $600-$1,000 to ship, while the average small van, pick-up truck, or SUV will cost between $800-$1,070 to ship.
When looking to ship your car from state to state, or even coast-to-coast, there are several variables that factor into your final price quote.
For starters, how big is your car? Obviously, it’s not the same price to transport a Dodge Dart as it is to ship a Range Rover or conversion van. It’s important to vehicle weight into consideration because your auto carrier most certainly will.
The measurements of your vehicle will impact your quote, because these will determine how many other vehicles will fit in each shipment. If your vehicle is shorter than the average vehicle, it allows for more room for other cars. On the other hand, taller or longer vehicles will require special accommodations that come with a higher price tag.
Location And Destination
Both your pickup and destination will also determine pricing. The more remote an area is, the more expensive shipping is. Additionally, the distance between your pick-up and drop-off points plays a factor in the final cost.
Time Of Year
High demand can affect the price, as well, so be mindful of when you choose to ship your vehicle. Many customers move during the summer months, which means demand for auto shipping peaks during this time. If you can, you might want to ship your car in the off-season when rates are lower. When scheduling a move, try to give as much advance notice as possible. Most people tend to move around the same time, so flexibility on dates could be a massive cost-saving, and time-saving, measure.
Type Of Transport
Does your car require enclosed or open carrier transport? The transport option you choose for your vehicle will affect your final bill. Owners of high-end, foreign sports cars or collector vehicles typically choose enclosed trailer transport, which better protects their autos from the elements and theft. Enclosed trailers do not have as much capacity as an open-air trailer, making this the more expensive shipping option. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably want to opt for an open truck.
The industry standard for auto transportation is 500 miles per day. To deliver on a tight timeline, auto shipping companies will charge more. Typical delivery can take 14 days or more; a faster delivery may be possible but expect to pay extra for expedited service.
With these considerations in mind, do your due diligence and make sure you have thoroughly researched all options before committing to a contract. Many times, consumers base their decision solely upon price, but that should not be the only factor. When you consider the time and energy saved (as well as the thousands of miles spared on your odometer!), an auto shipper is well worth it, but it is an investment that should be properly researched.
How To Ship A Car Across The Country
To get started with shipping your car, check out our step-by-step auto transport guide:
1. Establish The Budget And Timing
If you’re shipping your vehicle because you are relocating to a new city, make sure to factor the cost of auto transport into your overall moving budget. Keep in mind that if you are moving because of a corporate relocation or due to military PCS orders, you may receive reimbursement for some, if not all, of your moving-related expenses, including the cost of moving your vehicle.
When thinking through your car shipping budget, be sure to consider how much it would cost you to drive your vehicle to its destination. For example, the IRS has a standard mileage reimbursement of over 50 cents per mile. That figure is based on studies which show the average amount of fixed and variable costs it takes to operate a vehicle for every mile driven. When calculating this figure, the IRS factors in costs like depreciation, general maintenance, fuel, and repairs. If you use this rate to approximate the amount of fuel expense plus wear and tear from driving your vehicle across the country, you might just come out ahead by shipping your car instead. For instance, consider one of the most popular transport routes, from Florida to New York, which spans over 1100 miles. Using the mileage rate from the IRS, this drive would cost you about $594 in depreciation and gas expenditures. Plus, you’d have to spend about 17 grueling hours behind the wheel. If, alternatively, you ship the car using a vehicle transport company, you could spend less and save yourself the time driving.
Another factor to consider is the timeframe. When do you need your car to be delivered? Keep in mind most carriers take 7-14 days to ship a vehicle across the country. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time!
Once you’ve figured out your budget and the timeframe for your shipment, you can proceed with shopping for bids.
2. Shop For Bids & Book Your Transport
Great Guys Moving makes it a cinch to shop for a reputable auto transport company. Using our free online form, you can submit basic information about your auto shipment just once and within minutes you’ll start receiving multiple quotes from the most trusted names in the car shipping industry. Easily compare the competitive rates and save as much as hundreds off your car transport service! We only work with licensed and insured shipping companies, which takes the guesswork out of finding a reliable shipping company.
Here are some tips for getting an accurate quote:
- When speaking with a transport service, do not forget to mention any modifications or special features that could affect shipment. These include items such as a lift kit, special tires, low ground clearance, bumpers, spoilers, or a tow hitch.
- Does the car run? If your vehicle is inoperable, it could create issues when it comes to loading and unloading it. It could also affect the type of trailer a company can use for shipping it. Be sure you are up front about car operability, so your carrier can make the proper arrangements.
- Do NOT misrepresent your vehicle. If you don’t give the shipping company the complete picture, the quote you receive won’t be accurate, and you’ll end up either paying more or having your transport cancelled altogether.
3. Double-Check Licensing & Insurance
Great Guys Moving vets all the vehicle transport companies in our network to ensure they are fully licensed, insured, and have the experience needed to help with your cross-country car transport. Before you sign off on paperwork, however, it’s always smart to double check documentation and ensure that everything is on the up and up.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assigns every auto transporter a six-digit Motor Carrier (MC) number and a seven-digit US DOT number. Request these numbers from your car shipping company and check them out in the FMCSA system (here) to ensure the company is up-to-date with its licensing. Additionally, make sure that any documents you sign have these same MC and US DOT numbers listed.
FMCSA mandates that the carrier provide a copy of its insurance coverage to the customer. Be sure to thoroughly review and discuss your vendor’s policies. A lot can happen over thousands of miles, and sometimes movers will only provide partial coverage to keep costs low. The industry standard for insurance coverage is about $250,000 per truckload.
Additional coverage is not legally required, but given the distance and logistics of the move, it is better to err on the side of caution with a comprehensive insurance policy. Sometimes coverage will not work for any and all issues affecting your vehicle in transit, so be sure to check with your insurance provider and your shipper to ensure that there are not any gaps in coverage. Additional coverage costs will depend on the value declared.
Check reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot to ensure carriers and trailers are properly maintained and serviced. Past client feedback can prove to be invaluable when choosing your auto shipper.
4. Prepare Your Car For Transport
If you’re purchasing a car and arranging shipment to your home, you’ll need to discuss the logistics of preparing your new vehicle for transport with the seller. However, if you’re preparing to ship your current vehicle, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your car is ready for transport.
- Clean your car out: Now’s a great time to give your car the detailing it needs. Roll up those sleeves and get busy washing the exterior of your vehicle. Once the outside is spic and span, make sure you get some good pictures of the car. These “before” pictures are an asset in the event damage occurs during shipment and you need to file a claim with the transport company. Make sure you also clean out the interior of your vehicle, removing any items that might shift around during transport. Ensuring that everything is removed from your vehicle, including parking tags, toll passes, electronics, and after-market stereos, will minimize the threat of theft during transport.
- Give it a quick tune-up: Though your car will be sitting on a truck for most of its time in transit, the vehicle still needs to be in working order. Now’s a good time to top off essential fluids, check tire pressure, and ensure that there are no leaks or other major issues.
- Burn off the extra fuel: For transport, you’ll want to have as little fuel in your tank as possible. A full-tank not only adds to the weight of your shipment, but also poses a safety hazard.
- Remove custom add-ons: Remove low-hanging bumpers, spoilers, fog lights and any other custom pieces you may have added to your vehicle after-market. These items are more prone to breakage or damage during shipment.
- Final last-minute steps: Before you hand your car off to the shipping company, make sure the vehicle’s alarm system is disabled. Also make sure the antenna is completely retracted and the mirrors are folded in, so these delicate items aren’t broken.
What To Know About International Car Shipping
What happens when your life takes you outside of the United States? You might want to sell your vehicle and buy a new one when you arrive in your next hometown. Or you might want to take your current car with you.
International car shipping is a hot business, with thousands of cars shipped across country borders each week. However, it is far more complicated than a simple domestic shipment, as there is so much more involved when crossing an ocean or two to your destination. Here are some things to know when shipping your car to a faraway land:
International Shipping Options
You have a few options when it comes to shipping your car to another country:
- Shipping Containers: The most popular method for international shipping is to use shipping containers. This has been proven to be the safest, most reliable way to transport especially delicate cars, like antiques, classics, and exotics. As with domestic auto transport, international shipping is available in either an open or enclosed carrier that is then loaded into a shipping container for transport abroad.
- Air Freight: Air freight serves as a much faster solution, with delivery directly to and from airports in your origin and destination cities.
- Roll-On/Roll-Off: RoRo, or roll-on/roll-off, works for larger, heavier vehicles like RVs, buses, trucks, and machinery. It is a more economical option and does not take quite as long as dedicated auto containers, but of course, it doesn’t provide the same amount of support and protection as a container.
Receiving Your Shipment
Upon arrival at your destination, your vehicle will be processed by your auto carrier and transported to their facility for pickup. It is important to ensure that your auto carrier is fluent in local law, language, and customs in order to properly manage your shipment on-site and comply with regulations.
The duration of the transit is largely dependent upon the destination; some trips may only take one week, while others may take several. Meanwhile, an air carrier may cost up to three times as much as an ocean carrier, but you will not have to wait weeks without your car.
Price Of International Car Transport
Also dependent on the distance? The price. The cost of shipping your vehicle overseas in a traditional ocean carrier can run anywhere between $900 and $2,000. Just the destination country import charges alone range from $500 to $800! Shipping insurance is also an additional charge. Also, inquire about storage options both within the country and internationally – you want to be sure that your vehicle is stored within a safe and secure facility during transit.
To ship internationally, you must have a few documents in place, most notably, the original vehicle title and your passport or EIN letter. Your transporter may also ask you to provide:
- Title assignment (if exchanging owners)
- Proof of payment
- Lien release
- Export Power of Attorney
Your auto shipper will also handle any customs clearances and requirements necessary to process and release your vehicle, including guidance on how to insure and register your vehicle in your new hometown.
Steps To Prepare Your Car For Shipping
To make sure your auto is ready for transport, follow these steps:
1. Confirm Vehicle Access.
This step is especially important if you are purchasing a new car or if your vehicle is undergoing service prior to the move. Any delays from a third party could severely hinder your transport service and end up costing you a fortune in cancellation fees. Avoid issues with your auto shipper by confirming delivery of your vehicle.
2. Prepare Your Car.
Most auto shippers request that you leave only a quarter-tank of gas in the car in order to reduce total shipping weight. Thoroughly wash and clean both the exterior and the interior of your vehicle. Check fluids, tire pressure, and batteries to ensure they are full. Be sure to notify your auto shipper of any leaks or issues.
Remove all roof racks, spoilers, antennas, etc. Check to ensure you have a spare tire and jack in case of issues upon delivery – this small item can save you both time and money on the move!
3. Remove Personal Effects.
Remove all personal belongings, as it’s standard practice for auto shippers to refuse liability for any personal belongings and items left in or on the vehicle. The only exceptions to this rule should be agreed upon in advance and documented within the contract. Don’t forget to peel off those toll tags and EZ passes!
4. Review The Bill Of Lading.
The bill of lading provides your proof of shipment with all the necessary details for tracking and issues. It should also note any preexisting damage on the vehicle. Other important details of this document include the set-up, pick-up, and drop-off locations, as well as the hours available (if applicable), any access codes or instructions, and a point of contact. If you will not be there to pick up the vehicle, you will need to assign someone who can receive and sign off on all details of the shipment.
5. Take Photos!
Be sure to document the state of your vehicle prior to moving by taking photos. You will also want to photograph the vehicle upon arrival. If any damage happens during the move, you’ll want to have photographic evidence to present with your case when filing the insurance claim.
6. Make Sure You’Re Paid Up!
With all the chaos of your move, don’t forget to arrange for payment in full. The payment terms are usually dictated within the contract, but standard practice is to arrive for loading with your payment ready, along with all signed documentation and contracts.
7. Review The Condition Report.
When your vehicle arrives at your destination, the agent will give you a condition report. This report confirms the state of the car upon delivery. It is imperative that both the form and the vehicle are carefully checked because if there are any damages, it will be necessary to provide this documentation with the insurance claim.
8. Track In Real Time!
In addition to personal assurance, tracking of your vehicle is important because the delivery window is just an estimate. It is impossible to predict an exact time – or even day – for delivery with weather, traffic, and road conditions in constant flux. Additionally, if there are any delays with other autos during delivery, this could cause a ripple effect. While the car is in transit, track and adjust your plans accordingly, so you can be there when it does arrive.
Enclosed Auto Transport Vs. Open Car Transport
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in the world of auto shipping. The make, value, and condition of your vehicle will determine the best transport option. There are several different types of trailers used for auto shipping, but your basic choices come down to open car transport or enclosed car transport.
Open transport is the industry’s standard option – about 90% of vehicles are transported this way. With open car transport, your auto is secured to an open-air trailer and is exposed to the elements during its transport just as it would be if you were driving it to the destination yourself. Open car trailers may hold just one car or as may be dual-tiered trailers that hold as many as 8-10 vehicles. If you’re looking for the best discounts on your car shipment, open car trailers tend to be the cheapest option.
Enclosed transport, on the other hand, is best for higher dollar vehicles – luxury, classic, vintage, sports, model, and race cars. With enclosed car transport, your vehicle is loaded into the back of a specially designed 18-wheeler, like the ones used to transport expensive race cars. Here, the vehicle is safe from debris, road hazards, and weather conditions. It is also more protected from theft, as prying eyes can’t see what cars the truck is hauling.
An enclosed transport typically costs 75% or more than an open transport. The price difference is primarily a function of capacity. While an open trailer can accommodate up to ten cars, an enclosed one can only accommodate two or three automobiles at a time, making it more expensive for the transport company to ship cars this way. Though pricier than an open car trailer, the enclosed option is ideal for valuable vehicles or ones with non-factory paint jobs.
Auto shippers also offer other options, depending on your unique situation:
- Tow option – if your vehicle is inoperable or you are shipping a travel trailer
- Drive away – your auto shipper physically drives the vehicle for you (within limitations)
Door-To-Door Or Terminal Service
Door to door service is typically included with your quote but not always, as it is largely dependent on accessibility. If you live on a one-way or within a busy complex, the trailer may not be able to navigate these narrow, crowded roadways in order to deliver at your exact address. If this is the case, you may have to opt for terminal service.
Terminal service may seem like a faster option, given that individual deliveries could significantly delay your timeline. However, just because your car is at the terminal, it may not ship right away. Before the trailer even departs the terminal, it could remain there for days, or even weeks – however long it takes to fully load the carrier. Terminals also may assess their own fees for things like storage and safekeeping. These could end up canceling out any savings you might have otherwise gotten from your carrier.
Classic Car Transport
You finally found your dream vintage convertible…which happens to be on the other side of the country. How do you safely ship your classic car cross-country? Here are some tips:
1. Find A Professional Transport Company
Classic cars are shipped far more often than standard vehicles, as the value of a vintage directly correlates with its condition. With limited stock available, buyers often don’t have the luxury of a local sale and must turn to professional transport services for delivery. By using a vehicle shipper for your classic car transport, you can maintain both the pristine condition and mileage of your vehicle.
Great Guys Moving helps you to secure quotes from some of the top cross-country auto shippers. These licensed transporters specialize in shipping antique and collectible cars nationwide. They have the expertise and knowledge to keep your prized vehicle safe no matter how far it needs to travel.
2. Make Sure The Trailer Is Enclosed
When shipping a vintage, it’s imperative to use an enclosed trailer. An enclosed trailer will protect the auto from the elements or other hazards on the roadway during shipment. This type of trailer also has special safety harnesses to ensure that the car doesn’t shift or bump into the sides of the container during transport. You may also want to ask your carrier if they protect antique cars with a cloth cover. This soft fabric layer provides an additional shield against dust and dirt that could harm the paint job.
3. Check On Insurance Coverage
To operate legally, all carriers must maintain a minimum level of cargo insurance. Be sure to ask your transport company about the type and scope of coverage included with your shipment to ensure the value of your car is fully insured. Also take a few minutes and speak with your own insurance agent to understand how your classic car insurance coverage works during shipment.
4. Prepare For Pick Up
Before shipping your classic, there are some steps you need to take to make sure it’s in the best shape possible during transport:
- Check liquids: Make sure there is enough gas in the tank to get the car to and from the pick-up and drop-off points without too much excess. Most transport companies suggest shipping with a quarter of a tank. Also check other liquids, like the oil and the anti-freeze to make sure the vehicle is still operable when it gets to the other side of the country.
- Clean it: Clean both the inside and outside of your classic before delivering it to your car transporter. Washing and waxing the outside of the vehicle will help preserve the paint job. Remove any aftermarket accessories (like spoilers) that could get damaged during shipment. When cleaning the inside, be sure to remove or secure any loose objects as these could cause damage if they shift during transport.
- Document: Take time to snap pictures of the interior and exterior of the car. This documentation will help if you need to file a claim for damage during transit.
5. Meet The Driver
Your transport company will arrange for the driver to meet you at a designated time and place. Before you hand over the keys, make sure that you provide him with any instructions that are unique to the operation of your vehicle. Review the paperwork before signing, making sure that the company’s US DOT number, insurance, and other contract elements correspond with your understanding of the agreement. Make sure the paperwork also accurately notes any pre-existing damage.