How to Ship a Car Cross Country | How-to | Long Distance USA Movers

How to Ship a Car Cross Country With a Moving Company

Around three million people move interstate annually in the US, and many of them wonder how to ship a car cross country in the easiest way. If you’re one of them, forget about driving to the new destination by yourself or hiring a separate company/driver. Are you looking for the least amount of hassle combined with affordability and safety? Then your best option is to find a company that can provide you with all moving-related services, including auto transport.

Combining cross-country moving services and auto transport is the best choice when relocating overlay
Ship your car across the country stress-free with a trustworthy long-distance moving company

And how do I ship a car across the country with the help of a cross-country moving company, you ask? We prepared a simple car shipping guide that will help you learn how car shipping works in this case. It’s never too early to start considering your options, even if you still have to decide where to live. And we are here to point you in the right direction.

Is It Cheaper to Drive or Ship a Car Across the Country?

What is the cheapest way to ship a car across the country? One of the most common moving mistakes people make is not thinking this question through. Sure, if you opt for driving, you won’t have to add the auto transport quote to your moving expenses checklist. But what about the cost of fuel, food, and accommodation? And with the long-distance trip, there is always a possibility you’ll need unexpected repairs, which will demand more of your money. Remember – not only will you suffer a larger amount of stress than usual, but so will your vehicle. Driving your car to a new destination might not be as cheap as you initially thought.

The number of days spent driving can also advocate for hiring a company. If you are moving for a job and need to be in the new state as soon as possible, driving there might not be an option at all. And even if it is, do you really want to expose yourself to days of driving? And what about the time you’ll need to spend on the logistics and finding the fastest and safest route? Hiring a company can eliminate all that trouble and lessen your anxiety about moving to another state.

Still, shipping your car across the country can be done both by your movers and a separate company. But hiring a moving company has one significant benefit – reliable movers are often ready to offer a discount if you opt for auto transport as an additional service. This is a significant advantage if you’re looking for the cheapest way to move out of state and relocate your vehicle.

How to Choose Reliable Long-Distance Movers Near Me?

When combining auto transport and basic long-distance moving services, you must be aware of moving scams and their presence in the industry. Ensuring that the company you’ll work with is a trustworthy and ethical one is an absolute must. But how to check if a moving company is legitimate? The best way to protect yourself is to:

  • Use the company’s USDOT number to check the license and insurance status on FMCSA’s website,
  • Look for the company’s reviews and recommendations on third-party sites, as well as BBB,
  • Compare quotes. Be aware that if you’re offered an unbelievably low quote, it’s often a sign of a scam,
  • Don’t trust companies that demand large deposits and cash payments,
  • Read the contract from A to Z to avoid any hidden costs.
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How Much Does It Cost to Have a Car Shipped Cross Country?

When making a moving budget, it’s always preferable to know how much money you’ll have to spend on different aspects of the relocation. However, with car shipping, the cost depends on various factors, such as:

  • The distance from the pickup to the delivery location,
  • The number of cars in your possession,
  • Place of pickup and delivery – shipment to or from more rural areas can cost more,
  • Vehicle’s size – transportation of smaller cars is more affordable,
  • Vehicle’s condition – with inoperable cars, you’ll usually have to pay an additional fee for the extra work and equipment that must be used for loading it on the trailer,
  • Type of delivery service – door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal auto transport,
  • Type of carrier you choose – open or enclosed,
  • The relocation date.

Open vs. Enclosed Auto Transport

Choosing between these two options comes down to what you value more – affordability or safety. An open carrier would be cheaper, but it can’t guarantee the level of protection an enclosed one does. For example, if you’re moving in the rain or snow, your vehicle will be exposed to the elements in an open carrier, not to mention other road hazards. If you own an expensive car or value your vehicles very much, an enclosed carrier is the best option for you. However, be prepared to pay more for the extra protection.

Terminal-to-Terminal vs. Door-to-Door Vehicle Delivery

When relocating to a new city, you can choose a location to hand over your car and get it back. Even though it is more expensive, the door-to-door option is more convenient because it will allow you to move efficiently. Moreover, if you have a last-minute move, you’ll be glad not to have to travel all the way to the nearest terminal and figure out a way to get back. However, if you want to save up some money, ask the company’s representatives at which terminals your car can be handed over and received. In that case, planning a trip to terminals before and after relocation must be on your moving to-do list.

Season-Related Relocation Costs

The period from May to September is the peak of the moving season. That’s when relocation services are very much in demand, which creates higher prices. If you’re looking for a lower quote for relocation and auto transport services, moving in the summer might not be a good solution. On the other hand, moving during the winter can save you a buck or two, as long as you don’t plan a relocation during the holidays (when there is a lack of workforce). But what if your move can’t be postponed? Just make sure to contact a reliable company on time – keep in mind that the best ones can be booked months in advance.

Money in a glass with a plant overlay
After September passes, you can expert lower relocation and car shipment costs

What Is the Preparation Process Like When Shipping a Car Across the Country?

If you plan to use a car shipping service, aside from learning how to prepare for movers, you need to find out how to prepare your car for shipping. Here are the most important tasks ahead of you:

  • Clean your car thoroughly, inside and out.
  • Document the car’s condition – take photos from different angles. If you later see damage on your car that wasn’t there before, you’ll have proof. This must not become one of the things you forget to do when you move.
  • Empty your gas tank so it isn’t more than one-quarter full – not only will a full tank weigh more, but more gasoline poses a huge safety hazard both for workers and your vehicle.
  • Remove (or secure) parts that can fall off during transportation (antennas, bike racks, and alike).
  • Test the emergency brakes.
  • Disable the alarm.

If you’re moving to a cold climate, the preparation process might be even more demanding. If you want your car to be ready the moment it gets delivered to the new (and colder) state, check out the following video:

Things You Should Know When Shipment Time Comes

What happens when you book a shipment? First of all, you’ll be informed about the time window in which you should expect the pickup. As that window approaches, the driver should contact you and provide you with exact information about the pick-up time.

When you meet the driver, they will carefully inspect your vehicle and note its condition. You’ll be expected to sign a bill of lading, which contains information about the vehicle’s state and all the necessary contact info (telephone numbers, names, and alike). The same procedure takes place on the delivery day, but it’s you who’s doing the inspection now. Remember – if there’s any damage to the car, you must report it as soon as you notice it.

As you can conclude from the above, there always needs to be someone to hand over and receive the shipment. However, if you’re moving to another state alone and you stumble upon some logistic complications, know that you can assign someone else to do it.

Why Is Insurance Important When Shipping a Car Cross Country?

So you inspected your car and found damage that wasn’t there before the transportation. What now? Any newfound damage must be documented and signed by the driver. After that’s done, contact the company and ask for a reimbursement. Keep in mind that the amount of money you can get from your insurance can depend on the type of trailer you choose. If you opt for the enclosed carrier, you can get up to $500,000, compared to an open trailer, where the highest amount is $100,000. If a company refuses to pay, feel free to file a complaint at BBB and FMCSA.

truck for moving overlay
Open carriers are more affordable but also insured for a lower amount of money

Transporting Some of Your Belongings in the Vehicle – Yes or No?

When moving to a new state, people are tempted to put a box or two in the back of their vehicles. However, remember that this practice is frowned upon by the US Department of Transportation. Carriers might get charged with costly fees if they get caught transporting household items in cars, and that fee will likely be transferred to you. Are a few of your boxes worth the risk? Get packing services and let professionals pack all of your belongings – a couple of boxes won’t make that much difference in the final price.

A man crying because he can’t transport his belongings in a car during cross-country moving overlay
Don’t get slammed with unnecessary fees for keeping household items in the trunk

If You Have Any Questions About How to Ship a Car Cross Country, Don’t Hesitate to Ask Your Cross-Country Movers

What is the approximate time of transportation? Can you track your shipment online? Are you able to get a free quote? Those are all questions you must ask companies you get in touch with – not all relocation teams have the same policies. Go the extra mile to find a company that offers only the best regarding both relocation and auto transport, and stick with it. Book their services on time and secure an amazing moving experience!

Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

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