How to ship a car across countryWhenever you’re moving from one home to another, one question that will always become relevant sooner or later during the pre-move preparations is what you should do with your car.

For better or worse, your options are rather limited: you can either drive it to the new address or have it shipped using professional auto transport services. Or you can try to sell your car and buy a new one when you reach your destination town or city, often in another state altogether.

Should you happen to choose the option of shipping your car across the country with an auto shipping company, then you’re going to need to know the required steps you’ll have to take to ensure the car shipping process goes smoothly from the very beginning.

So, follow these 7 steps for shipping a car across country and you shouldn’t have any problems when transporting your vehicle from Point A to Point B regardless of where that Point B is located in the country.

Step 1: Car shipping decision

Should you drive to your new home or should you hire a car shipping company?

The real question is whether you driving your car to the new home instead of having it shipped will be the better option for you, your family members, and the vehicle itself. So, how can you know for sure? Just take a look at the distance between the two homes

When moving only a short distance away – neighboring town or city, or another one within the same state, then driving your car to get where you’re going is usually the most logical and natural choice. Driving your automobile to a neighboring state is also a good opportunity to avoid having to hire professional car shipping services.

However, when your new home is located far away – several or many states away from where you are now, then spending days behind the wheel is not really something you should get excited about. Driving a car from coast to coast, for example, takes approximately 4 days and is way too risky and dangerous to pull off.

Also, don’t forget to factor in the season you’re moving in (fancy driving a car hundreds of miles in snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures?) and the time constraints you’ve got to complete the house move.

Step 2: Car shipping companies

Using a car transport service to move your car across the country is often the more advantageous choice, and believe it or not, it can easily prove to be the more affordable option from you as well. Basically, it’s a matter of adding up the risks of driving your car across the country and calculating the DIY costs and expenses along the road.

Car shipping companies

The top-rated car shipping company you pick will make sure your vehicle stays safe throughout the haul.

Choosing to go with one of the best car shipping companies in the country will give you the peace of mind that your precious vehicle will be in good hands during the entire haul. The years of experience and high level of professionalism from the auto shipper you pick will also ease your worries and stress, as will the fact that those top-rated auto shippers will be adequately insured in case something bad should happen during the car haul.

Of course, the thing you’ll most likely be genuinely concerned about is the car shipping cost. Below we’ll give you some rough estimates of the cost to transport a car across the country, but it’s critical that you know the major factors that affect that price so that you can try to lower it, if that’s possible.

The great news for you is that once you get in touch with reliable vehicle transport companies, they will give you accurate car shipping quotes that will include the final price you’ll need to pay for the car transportation service. And when you have those quotes in your hands, you’ll be able to easily pick the car shipper that has made the best offer in terms of price and conditions.

Also, don’t forget to compare the car transport companies by reading car shippers reviews – performance ratings left by former clients of those auto shippers. Those auto shippers reviews also contain short narratives written by those customers of what the companies did right and what they did wrong.

Step 3: Car shipping cost

There are several crucial factors that will determine the final car moving cost – see the next step. But first, you should get a rough idea of what to expect price-wise so that you don’t get unpleasantly surprised when you receive car shipping estimates from the auto transport companies that you get in touch with.

The price to move a car across country can vary greatly – from $400-$500 for a short car hauls to $1,500 for long cross-country moves. Roughly speaking, shipping your car from:

  • West Coast to East Coast, or vice versa, should cost about $1,200 for a sedan and $1,400 for a pick-up truck or an SUV.
  • West Coast to Midwest, or vice versa, should cost approximately $800 for a sedan and $900 for a pick-up truck or an SUV.
  • East Coast to Midwest, or vice versa, should cost roughly $1,000 for a sedan and $1,200 for a pick-up truck or an SUV.
  • South to North, or vice versa, should cost about $800 for a sedan and $1,000 for a pick-up truck or an SUV.

Use the above average costs to ship a car cross country only as a reference. The only way you can know how much you’ll pay for the service is to get those precise car shipping estimates from the best vehicle transportation companies in your area. Based on your car moving details, they will supply you with car shipping quotes that will reflect accurately the final price.

How much does it cost to transport a car?

Step 4: Shipping cost factors

The better you understand which major factors influence the cost to ship a car across country, the easier it will be for you to try to bring down that price – a high-priority task that’s particularly relevant when you’re moving on a tight budget.

  • Auto shipping company. Note that different car shipping companies have different car shipping rates and that’s exactly why you’re strongly recommended to get in touch with several reputable auto shippers and ask them for vehicle shipping quotes.
  • Distance. Of course, the distance between the pick-up and drop-off locations will affect greatly the price to ship a car across the country. As you can imagine, there’s a huge difference between shipping a vehicle at a distance of 300 miles and moving it 3,000 miles across the entire North American continent.
  • How much to ship a car?

    The size and weight of your car will influence the final car shipping cost.

    Size & Weight. The bigger and heavier a car is, the more expensive it will be to ship it. Roughly speaking, an SUV, a van or a pick-up truck will cost approximately $200 more to be transported than sedans.

  • Car model. Super-expensive sports cars and luxury cars cost more to transport safely across the country.
  • Fuel. The current price of fuel will also influence the car moving cost.
  • Insurance. The price of the auto insurance may or may not be included in the car shipping estimates you receive. If unclear, you should ask the auto shippers for clarification.

Take a closer look at those cost factors and you’ll notice that you won’t have any control over most of them as they are constant values. However, the one factor that you can control is the auto shipper you pick, so be extra careful when comparing the various car moving estimates.

Step 5: Auto shipping method

Another big factor that will influence the cost of shipping a car cross country is the exact car shipping method that you request from the auto shipping company you’ve chosen. For your information, there are two car shipping methods: using an open-air trailer and using an enclosed trailer.

Open-air car transport

This is the standard car shipping method chosen by most customers simply because it is less expensive. If you opt for this type of auto transport, then your vehicle will be loaded safely, together with other customers’ cars, onto an open-air trailer and transported to your new address.

The lower price is its biggest advantage, hence its popularity. Its major drawback is that your car will be in the open during the entire haul, which basically means that it will be subjected to the whims of the weather.

Enclosed car transport

The best protection for your valuable vehicle will be achieved if you choose the enclosed truck option. That way, you can rest assured that regardless of the weather conditions, your car will remain utterly protected inside an enclosed trailer.

Using the enclosed type of auto transport to move your car across the country is much more expensive than using the open-air type of car transportation, and what is why it is usually used for hauling very expensive vehicles – sports ones, classic ones, or luxury ones.

How to pay less when moving across the country

Step 6: Rrepare your car

You’ve found a reputable car shipping company and you’ve accepted their offer to transport your car to the destination address. So far, so good.

The next step for you is to prepare your car to be picked up by your auto shipper. There are specific tasks you need to do before the pros make it to your home – just follow this brief car transport checklist to prepare your vehicle for pick-up.

  • WASH the exterior of your vehicle.
  • INSPECT your car for any signs of damage. If you do find any problems, take photos of them as proof of that pre-existing damage.
  • TAKE broader photos of your car regardless of what the inspection shows – keep those photos of proof of its current condition.
  • CHECK for possible fluid leaks under the car, inside the engine compartment, and around the fuel tank. If you find any leaks, have them fixed ASAP.
  • CHECK the car battery – it should be fully charged and secured safely on its brackets.
  • Vehicle transport services

    Inspect your car for any signs of pre-existing damage before your auto shipper arrives to pick it up.

    CHECK the tires – they should be fully inflated and in good overall condition.

  • LEAVE only around 1/4 of fuel in the fuel tank. You don’t need more than that and the aim is to reduce the weight of your car as well.
  • CHECK the emergency brake – it should work ok.
  • REMOVE any personal items from the car – the only things you will be allowed to leave inside are the standard car equipment and a child seat, if applicable.
  • REMOVE any removable elements from the exterior of your vehicle. Secure the ones you can’t remove.
  • DISABLE the alarm system of your vehicle.
  • WRITE down the reading of your car’s odometer.

Moving out of state checklist

Step 7: Car delivery

After your vehicle is safely delivered by the car shipper, you’ll be expected to inspect it once again to make sure there hasn’t been any type of transportation damage. After the check, you’ll be asked to sign the condition report and the Bill of Lading that confirm the successful delivery of your automobile. If you can’t be present at the car delivery, then you’ll need to authorize a trustworthy person to receive it on your behalf.

Shipping your car across the country will also mean that you’ve most likely moved to another state altogether. And if that’s the case, then you will be also expected to register your recently delivered vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state you just moved to.

The good news is that registering your car in a new state is not complicated at all – contact your local DMV office to get more information about their working hours and what documentation you need to have with you during the registration process. Do not postpone this very task because you only have a limited time window to do it – from 10 days in some states to as many as 30 in others.

So, as soon as you can, visit the closest DMV office and register your vehicle there to know you’ve crossed that task as done and to avoid paying a penalty too.

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