How Does Car Shipping Work – An Auto Transport Guide

If you are planning a moving process or expecting to move for work soon, you may have been struggling with the question of “how does car shipping work?”. While we all know that you can ship a car long distances, not many of us know the details and the exact logistics. There are many reasons why not to drive your car when cross-country moving, and many ways to transport it instead. We are going to give you a whole new perspective on it.

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August 23, 2016 Posted in Car Shipping

How Does Car Shipping Work – Start Prepared and Take It Step by Step

Before we get to more specific questions that are often asked, we are going to go through the usual steps of scheduling and preparing your vehicle for auto transport. It’s important to know that transportation can be carried out in various ways, and we will be sure to mention them below. If you are new to this, pay close attention, and then be sure to go through the FAQ section at the end. Once you’ve read this guide, you can be on your way to look for auto transport quotes. Remember to do your research when choosing a reliable long-distance moving company to do this job for you.

A car in front of the garage
Prepare your car for travel

Preparing For Shipping

Whether you’ve chosen an open carrier or an enclosed auto transport option, you have to prepare your four-wheeler. The open carrier may be cheaper, but it will still take between 4-6 weeks for your car to reach its destination. In an enclosed carrier, the cars will, however, be protected from the elements. So make sure you book this service way in advance, and before cross country movers come to your door, don’t forget to pack things from your car.

Leave a quarter of the gas tank full in case your vehicle needs to be moved. Be sure to document any preexisting damage to your car, and take pictures of it before giving it away to movers.

Get ready to move GET A QUOTE

Types Of Auto Transport

We don’t want to bore you with the intricacies of how do car shipping works, which hydraulic machines do the heavy lifting of your vehicle, and how it all comes together. You need to know the basics of the process, and here they are.

The usual choices that companies provide are between an open and an enclosed carrier, as we mentioned, but there are also other aspects of auto transport that you can consider. You are likely to be asked if you wanted a door-to-door type of delivery (which is the most common and convenient one), or a terminal-to-terminal type of transportation.

In a door-to-door scenario, you can give the current address for the pickup and the address for the drop-off, and that would pretty much be it. When it comes to terminal-to-terminal, the bill would be slightly cheaper, but it means you have the hassle of leaving your car somewhere and picking it up somewhere else close to your intended target. This may be particularly difficult if you are moving to a new state alone and don’t really know your way around yet. Did you choose the right option for yourself yet?

Things To Watch Out For, Like Scammers

Once you’ve settled on the right company (which can also be a moving company as well), you need to look into certain details, especially if you plan on getting their long-distance moving services and maybe even packing services. You must ask smart questions so as not to fall victim to a relocation scam. You shouldn’t give deposits, and in no way should you hire a company that doesn’t have insurance, a valid USDOT number or a number of positive reviews on its website.

Even though things rarely get out of control in the vehicle shipping world, you need to be sure that your vehicle is safe in case of any adverse circumstances. There are two possible insurance policies that can cover you, the preexisting one that you may or may not have on your vehicle, and the company’s one. Either way, check for both insurance policies and do a USDOT number check and relieve your brain of another worry.

What Is an Auto Transport Quote?

By now you probably picked the city to live in and at this point, you’ve probably wondered about the cost of your cross country movers and about your car shipping expenditures. The truth is, it all depends on multiple variables that cannot be predetermined. Details such as your location and the distance that needs to be crossed, the size and shape of your vehicle, and the current season all come into play when determining the price of your shipment. For example, relocating in winter will be cheaper than in the busiest season is. Paying for additional insurance may also affect the price of your shipment.

The good news is, you can file an online form asking for a quote, which is a price estimate service that will allow you to plan your finances accordingly. Most reliable car transportation companies have this service, and if you can’t find it on their site, you may want to call the company and request a quote from their customer service representatives.

How Long Does It Take To Ship My Car with Open or Enclosed Trailer?

Even though there are many variables included here as well, we can estimate that roughly it would take about 4-6 weeks for long-distance shipping, such as a cross country shipment, and around 2-3 weeks for shipments between two major cities that are on the same coast. This question is also a great segue for the FAQ section about auto transport services.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What if I ship my brand new car?

If you want to be sure about the condition of your brand new car, we suggest that you go for the enclosed carrier option as it will protect your vehicle better than an open one. It will likely be more expensive, but if the safety of your machine is your top priority, the price will definitely be worth it.

  • Can I ship any car?

Most likely, the company you chose will have certain limits on what kind of car you can ship. If you have an old-timer or a sports car, it won’t make a huge difference to them, but shipping inoperable cars require some specific equipment and skills that not all carriers have.

  • Can I ship multiple vehicles?

You also are not limited to the number of vehicles you can ship. If you’re moving with kids and family and have more than two vehicles to ship, you can bet your vehicles will be ready and waiting for you at your new address soon.

Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.




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