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What Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

The automobile was invented to allow people to travel efficiently. It is fast, safe, and reliable. But what happens if you need to bring your car somewhere when driving it yourself is a challenge? For the answer, consider car shipping companies.

cars ready for transport on a parking lot

What Is a Car Shipping Company?

When you need to bring your car from one state to another, a car shipping company is what you would call. It has the tools and trained manpower to bring your car to where it needs to be, allowing you to take a more convenient mode of transportation without worries.

The business of car shipping exists exactly for these and similar situations. If you are moving to a new home, you will find it’s a good option to get one worry out of the way. For example, having multiple cars shipped is better than going back and forth to drive them yourself.

Car collectors are regular customers of shipping services. After spending tons of money on beautiful or powerful cars, they will not risk damaging their investment by driving it to another state for a show or moving to a new place.

Car Shipping Cost

You can expect to pay $0.60 per mile on average when shipping your car across the country. That gives you a range of $700 to $1,200 for the service. The actual price is affected by several factors.

The total distance of the trip would be the main factor in the cost. Fuel prices, tool fees, and labor also go into this. This information gives you a foundation to build on. Then, you have to factor in other considerations that will affect the number further. These include:

Vehicle size and weight – Trucks, containers, and ferries (if needed) have specific space and weight limits. The bigger your vehicle, the more expensive it will be to ship. Accordingly, expect to pay more for your pickup truck than your sedan.

Vehicles with unique shapes may also affect the price. Unorthodox cars can take up more valuable space in the truck. In these cases, it is important to measure to see if it fits the company’s container.

The type of car – Different cars mean different shipping prices. If you are moving a classic or luxury car, it would need some added tender loving care—with matching additional costs, of course.

As you would expect, the more the shipping company must work or make concessions for your service, the more you would expect to pay. But on the bright side, you most likely will not hesitate to pay extra to secure your luxury cars during transport.

The same goes for custom, antique, and exotic cars. If you have additional needs, be ready to pay more.

Added insurance coverage – Consider your insurance requirements if you are shipping a classic car. While most car shipping companies typically offer insurance as part of their service, you may want to get additional coverage from your car insurance provider in case the vehicle gets damaged during transport.

Again, this is especially true if you are going to ship expensive cars. If you have a rare, priceless gem of a car, you will scrutinize every shipping detail without worrying too much about prices to ensure it reaches its destination without a scratch.

When you ship – Expect to pay more during peak auto transport season. Usually, car shipping companies get a high demand for their services during the spring and summer months. That is because people commonly move during these times.

If you want to lower your cost, schedule your moving date before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Of course, the actual locations will play a role here as well. Moving north to south during the winter is usually more expensive as well.

The level of service you need – There are more intricacies to working with a car shipping company than just putting your car in a truck. For example, you can choose to do a door-to-door delivery as it is more convenient. They will pick up the car at your place and deliver it directly to where you need it.

That is a more expensive option, of course. If you want to save a bit, you can go for a drop-off option. Here, you will bring the vehicle yourself to shipping company’s terminal then agree upon a specific meeting location within the destination.

Some car shipping companies have terminals in different cities and states. That could be a good meet-up point since they can leave your car there and you pick it up from there. Other options include meeting in public parking lots to receive the vehicle.

Another major consideration is choosing between an open-air and a closed container.

Open containers are exactly what they sound. When you say car shipping, this is usually the image that would come to mind. It is a truck bed usually consisting of two levels to accommodate different types of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs. 

The main characteristic of an open-air truck is that the vehicles, as the name suggests, are out in the open. The driver and everyone else around can see the cars at the back. These types of carriers are common and easy to find. Because of this, they usually have several routes and schedules to fit your plan.

However, open-air means the vehicles are left exposed to the elements. They can get damaged by random flying debris on the road. The chances of that happening are even higher for cross-country deliveries.

And since the truck is carrying several other cars, it would have to stop at several locations to deliver everything else. That could add a few extra days or even weeks to the total timeline. But it is a more affordable option.

The closed container is the exact opposite of the first type. It would cost you more, but it provides better security and protection for the vehicles inside. Typically, a container would only have one car inside, but some can fit two using unique leveling techniques.

The Simplified Costs

Based on the factors above, you can expect to spend over a thousand dollars shipping your car from Los Angeles to New York. That is a distance of almost 2,800 miles.

  • On average, you can expect to spend $1,600 to cover that distance. Basic services and options are included.
  • The highest cost to expect is over $2,000. That includes the door-to-door delivery in a closed container with additional insurance.
  • If you are looking for the cheapest option, you would still expect to pay at least $1,000. That is an open-air truck container with no rush.

Determine what your non-negotiable is, then work on finding a car shipping company to fulfill what you need.

Finding a Car Shipping Company

Several car shipping companies in the country operate in multiple states. You can look for the nearest ones to your location by using Google or other search engines. That should reveal several companies in just a few minutes.

Finding car shipping companies is the easy part; the challenge is choosing, especially if this is your first time doing this. Be patient and try to learn as much as you can to make an informed decision.

Make a list of car shipping companies that operate at your location. Then:

  1. Contact each car shipping company to get an estimate to transport your car from your location to your destination.
  2. Eliminate companies from your list when they do not have routes going to your destination.
  3. Make sure you give them the same inputs so their quotes are comparable.
  4. Once you have the information, you can make a side-by-side comparison of at least three quotes that you like the most.

Price alone should not decide your choice of a shipping company. The lowest quote may not always be the best choice for your needs. Consider the factors mentioned earlier and choose which ones are not negotiable for you. That could be door-to-door delivery, insurance policy, security, or whatever you deem the most important to your cause.

Now that you have a shortlist of car shipping companies, it is time to add more information to help your decision. One of the best ways to do this is to read user reviews.

You could find company reviews on multiple online sources, such as:

  • Better Business Bureau: The BBB is a non-profit organization that collates, quantifies, and verifies actual consumer reviews of specific companies. Based on these, they provide consumer reports that highlight how the company operates. That is one of the best places to get an idea if the company is worth dealing with.
  • Social Media Pages: Today, many companies would have a presence on social media. It can be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or others. The important thing is that they are there and receive online reviews from people who have tried their service. Again, this is an invaluable source to make your decision.

While car shipping companies can also have testimonials on their website, expect these to be a very biased source. They most likely won’t post anything negative that comes from their customers. 

The best place to get user reviews is the firsthand experiences of people you trust. If you have a family member or friend who has recently used a car shipping service, what they say about a shipping company could prove invaluable. A referral is still the most effective way to convince someone to use a service.

Prices Are Subject to Change

Once you get estimates from different car shipping companies, you should remember that you might not be looking at the final price. That can change depending on many different factors as time goes by. 

The main reason for this is that auto bookings for shipping go through a bidding process. Brokers and service providers would search for carriers to fulfill your request. They would return to you with a truck that offered the lowest price. 

Because of the nature of bidding, the price can change in a blink. If there is a high demand or sudden surge, you can expect prices to shoot up. That means the initial estimate you got is now obsolete.

Other unforeseen factors come into play as well. Things like accidents and weather changes can ruin even the most carefully crafted plan.

What that means for you is having to act fast once you have all the estimates on hand. Do not wait weeks before booking, or you might pay more than you expected.

Other Ways to Transport Your Car

Car shipping is not the only way you can bring your vehicle to your destination. The cheapest and simple option is driving yourself. But, as mentioned, that may not always be the most practical approach.

On the other hand, you can hire a professional driver to take care of the car for you. While it can get quite expensive, the advantage of this is that you know the car is getting the attention it deserves. 

Car shipping companies are responsible for hundreds of cars on the road all the time. A professional driver bringing your car across state borders will focus on your vehicle alone.

The disadvantage of this, however, is the fact that the car will suffer wear and tear during the trip. That means tires can get worn out, new oil filters, and other maintenance issues can come up. All of that adds to the overall expense on top of the professional driver fee.

Conclusion

Most people consider car shipping a practical option when moving to a new home or taking a vacation. It can save you a lot of time and stress. Just be prepared to pay good money for the service. 

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