How To Ship A Car (2021 Guide)
Are you trying to send your vehicle across the country but can’t drive it there yourself? This guide explains how to ship a car anywhere in the United States.
While the process itself is quite simple, it is good to know what factors affect cost and how to get the best prices. This way, you can be sure that you will find a fair price for your automatic delivery.
When you’re ready to compare providers, read our review of the best auto shipping companies. Or, request free vehicle shipping quotes from our top rated vendors below.
In this article:
Auto shipping process
When deciding how to ship a car, you should arrange your vehicle delivery through a broker unless you know someone who owns a car carrier. Auto Shipping Brokers work with a large number of drivers to match customers with their cheapest options. Due to the associated logistics, working with a dedicated broker is the most efficient way for customers to be matched with freight forwarders.
While not all auto-shipping brokers are created equal – we recommend some great options at the end of this article – most have a similar auto-shipping shipping process. In general, here’s how to ship a car with a broker:
1. Submit the vehicle shipping information
The first step is to get quotes from multiple brokers. When requesting a quote, you will usually be asked to provide the following information:
- Vehicle year, make and model
- Pick-up and destination locations
- Collection and delivery dates
- Type of desired transport service (open or closed carrier)
- Operating condition of the vehicle (drivable or not drivable)
Some brokers may offer an instant quote, others may request your contact information and call or email you with more information. This is because some brokers have their carriers make quotes for your shipment. Once the broker has identified your best offer, they will contact you with your options.
Your auto shipping quotes are likely an estimate – they are the broker’s best estimate of what your final cost will be. However, your final rate will not be locked until you have been matched with a carrier or, in some cases, until your vehicle has been delivered.
2. Compare your offers and choose a company
If you have multiple offers, compare them side by side and choose the carrier that you trust the most with your shipment. Then check the costs and the pick-up and drop-off times with your network operator. At this point, you may have to make a partial payment that will be kept as a deposit.
3. Prepare your vehicle
In order to prepare your vehicle, you need to clear all objects from it. This will lower the weight of your vehicle and lower your shipping costs. It is usually recommended not to leave more than a quarter full of fuel in your car.
4. Hand in your vehicle
Bring your vehicle to the pickup location (or in some cases the driver can come to you). Before loading the car onto the van, you and the driver inspect the vehicle for damage. Then you sign a form in which any existing damage is indicated.
5. Wait for the delivery
Many top vehicle haulage brokers maintain regular communication during the automated shipping process. Some offer GPS tracking, while others may offer text updates on your vehicle’s progress.
6. Pick up your vehicle and pay the remaining amount
After the vehicle has been delivered, you will need to examine it again for damage. Assuming everything is checked out, sign a bill of lading and make final payments to your driver if necessary.
Car shipping costs
So now you know how to ship a car. But how much does it cost you A number of factors affect the cost of shipping cars. These include the following:
|factor||How It Affects Car Shipping Costs|
|distance||The further you ship your vehicle, the more it costs.|
|Open or closed transport||Open transport means that your car is not protected from the weather or road debris on the truck. Closed transport means that your vehicle is transported in a container. The enclosed transport costs more.|
|Transport from door to door or from terminal to terminal||If your car is picked up and delivered to a specific address, it will cost more. You can choose to have your vehicle transported to and from a central shipping terminal, which is more cost-effective. However, the closest shipping terminal may be a long way from your final destination. In addition, not every auto shipping company offers terminal-to-terminal shipping.|
|Pick-up and delivery locations||Shipping to rural, less traveled areas is more expensive. Shipping between major cities on busy motorways is cheaper.|
|season||Demand plays a big role in your final shipping costs. The most expensive times to ship a car are usually summer and January.|
|Vehicle size||The bigger and heavier your vehicle, the more expensive it will be to ship.|
|Vehicle operability||If your car is inoperative, it cannot be driven onto the van. This requires additional effort and costs more than a functional vehicle.|
|additional options||Choosing additional options such as single wagon shipping or express shipping costs more.|
To give you a better idea of the cost of auto transportation, consider some of the open transportation shipping offers our research team has received from several leading auto shipping companies for a working SUV:
|Auto Shipping Broker||distance||mode of transport||costs|
|Montway car transport||503 miles||to open||$ 679|
|1,556 miles||to open||$ 929|
|Sherpa car transport||1,556 miles||to open||$ 1,300|
|1,556 miles||Attached||$ 1,800|
|uShip||503 miles||to open||$ 756|
|1,556 miles||to open||$ 1,411|
The prices above provide some context for the cost of car transportation, but your own prices may vary.
Tips for shipping a car
When it’s time to ship your vehicle, there are a few tips to keep in mind. These tips will help you find cheap car transportation and reduce your hassle.
- Book in advance: The further in advance you request a quote for car transport, the greater the chance that you will get a low price. Brokers send your order to freight forwarders who may bid on your contract. The longer you can wait, the better your chances of getting a good deal.
- Be flexible: If you are more flexible with your drop-off and delivery dates, you have more options. Carriers try to select jobs that are best optimized for their schedules. If you are able to bypass the carrier’s schedule, you will secure yourself a better deal.
- Consider terminal-to-terminal: If possible, ship to and from a central terminal instead of having your car picked up and delivered to your door. This can be a lot cheaper. Keep in mind that not every car transporter offers a terminal-to-terminal service.
- Consider open shipping: Shipping with an open car transporter is cheaper than with a closed trailer. Unless you have a low clearance car, classic car, or luxury vehicle, consider open shipping to keep costs down.
- Prepare your vehicle: You should reduce your vehicle weight as much as possible before shipping. This means that you should clean it and not leave more than a quarter tank of fuel. Be sure to leave some gasoline in the car so that it can be pulled in and out of the trailer.
- Check legitimacy: Each automatic shipper is given a USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) number. Make sure you get this number from your carrier and check its validity on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
Our recommendations for automatic dispatch
Once you’re sure you know how to ship a car, it’s time to compare broker options. Find out more about two highly rated auto transport providers below.
Montway Auto Transport works with over 15,000 carriers to provide auto shipping services in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. In our Montway Auto Transport test, we rated the broker 4.5 out of 5.0 stars and named it the best full-service provider due to its competitive prices, good customer reputation and smooth booking process.
All Montway shipping partners are registered with the FMCSA and fully insured. In addition to carrier insurance, Montway offers contingent cargo insurance up to $ 250,000 that is taken out if your trucker’s policy does not fully cover a valid claim.
We’re not the only source who rates Montway highly. At the time of publication, the company has an A + rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot based on over 850 customer reviews.
Click Below For A Free Montway Auto Transport Quote.
Sherpa Auto Transport is another of our top rated auto shipping agents. In our Sherpa Auto Transport test, we rate the company with 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. We like Sherpa for its easy booking process, price lock promise and excellent customer reputation.
Most auto shipping agents only offer quote estimates, which are completed after your carrier has been booked or your vehicle has been delivered. Sherpa is unique in that it promises to adhere to initial quotations. If your operator bills you more than you originally agreed, Sherpa will make up the difference (up to $ 300).
Sherpa has an A + rating of BBB and a 4.88 out of 5-star BBB customer review score based on 150+ reviews. Most reviewers describe a fast and efficient pick-up and delivery service and polite and professional drivers.
See below how much it would cost to ship your car with Sherpa.