Shipping Your Car vs. Using a Driver Service: Which is Better?

7 min to read
Shipping your car vs using driver service

When you need to move your car across the country, your first impulse may be to drive it yourself. And when driving it yourself isn’t an option, chances are the next option you’ll consider is having someone drive it for you. Shipping your car across country may not occur to you at all, but there are good reasons to choose auto transport over a personal driving service even though each mode of transport will have its pros and cons.

Relocating a vehicle can be tough, and so the last thing you probably want to do right now is compare and contrast shipping versus hiring a driver. That’s why we put together a post that lays out the logistics of each mode of transport and proves that shipping a car across country is more often than not the best option. Hopefully this guide will make your decision easier so you can get your car where it needs to go.

Why not take a road trip?

Maybe you haven’t totally rejected the idea of driving your car across country yourself. Road trips are the stuff American dreams are made of, but the reality of road tripping – especially with kids in the car – looks very different. People assume driving their own vehicles will be less expensive than hiring a professional driver or shipping a car across country, but the receipts add up when you’re road tripping. You’ll need to pay for not only gas, but also food and lodging. You may find that the miles you rack up now turn into maintenance costs later on. And frankly, transporting your own car from state to state can be stressful. There’s the traffic you’ll hit, the missed turns that will drive you crazy, and all the other little inconveniences that make road tripping in real life less fun than it looks in the movies.

Alternative 1: Hire a professional driver

When you do a search like “hire someone to drive my car across the country,” you’ll get plenty of results. These will include companies that coordinate a stable of drivers (often retirees or college students) and match them with clients as well as individual freelance drivers who are just looking for an easy side gig.

There are a few ways to find a professional driver to move your vehicle, but the best way is to find a company that specializes in matching up drivers and cars for cross country moves. Sometimes called ‘driveways,’ these professional drivers claim that hiring a professional driver is a safer alternative to shipping a car across country. But is it? We’ll touch on that later, but first take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a driver to move your car.

Pros

You may have the option of riding along with your driver. That means you’ll be with your vehicle during the entire trip. For worriers, this may be the only relocation option that lets them sleep at night.  

Your vehicle is the only car the driver is moving. It’s like you have a personal valet just for your vehicle.

Drivers usually carry specialized insurance. Most professional drivers are diligent about protecting themselves, and so carry enough insurance that you can be sure you’ll be compensated if there’s an issue en route.

You can pack luggage in the car. In some cases, professional drivers will even transport pets. If you’re relocating your vehicle as part of a move, this can be an easy way to get some non-essentials (or your best four-legged friend) to your new home.

You may get your car faster. Obviously drivers will encounter the same traffic and other headaches truckers do, but drivers don’t have to stop to load and unload other vehicles.

Cons

It’s more expensive. Having a professional driver transport your vehicle will almost always be more expensive than having it shipped on a truck because you’re paying for the driver’s food and lodging directly.

You’ll still be putting wear and tear on your vehicle. There’s no getting around the fact that long trips are hard on cars.

It’s tough to find a reputable cross country driver. There are plenty of drivers out there, but no specialized license or training is necessary when someone sets up shop as a driver. Freelance drivers may not want to share their references, driving records, and criminal records.

Companies may reject your vehicle. Some companies that vet drivers and then match them with vehicle owners who need a car moved will only accept vehicles that are less than seven years old and/or have less than 150,000 miles on the odometer.

Is it worth it?

The bottom line is that companies that hire drivers will typically do a background check but may not provide their drivers will extra insurance. Independent drivers may not be totally up front about their driving (or criminal) records. You’ll probably need to buy short-term insurance to cover the driver for the trip – and to protect yourself in case they get into an accident. Driver availability is never guaranteed when you’re hiring a professional to drive your vehicle to its destination. But if you’re looking specifically for a personal experience that includes transportation for a pet, it could be the right option.

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

Alternative 2: Ask someone you know to drive your car across country

Instead of finding a professional driver, you can tap into your network to find someone who’d like to make a few bucks driving your car to its new home. It’s an option that’s feasible for those people whose circle of friends includes retirees, college students, or people who make their living doing odd jobs. In terms of liability, there’s clearly more risk involved in paying someone you know to move your vehicle, but you may feel secure working with someone you know. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of having a friend or acquaintance drive your car cross country:

Pros

It’s the most budget friendly option. Of course, you should pay your friend or acquaintance for their time, but chances are good you’ll pay less than you would if you were dealing with a professional cross country driver.

You know your driver. There’s something comforting about knowing who will be behind the wheel as your car makes its journey.

You’ll probably be able to pack your car with luggage. Assuming you trust your driver – and you should, if you’re giving them the keys to your vehicle – you can use the extra space to move non-essentials.

Cons

They definitely won’t have special insurance coverage. You will absolutely need to buy short-term insurance to cover the driver for the trip, which will add to the cost of moving your vehicle.

Again, road trips put wear and tear on your car. You’ll eventually pay for that wear and tear in future mechanic bills.

You don’t really know how well they drive. Unless you’ve actually gone on a road trip with the friend or acquaintance who will be behind the wheel of your car, you can’t know how they’ll drive when they’re stressed out.

Is it worth it?

Only you can answer that question because you know your friend or acquaintance best. If you can say with 100% certainty that they will get your car where it needs to go on time, without any issues and without charging you an arm and a leg, it could be the right option for you.

Alternative 3: Use a professional auto transport company

Shipping a car across country is the most common way to move a vehicle in the US, according to USAToday. That’s probably because relocating a vehicle with an auto transport company is hassle free. You know the drivers are vetted professionals and that shipping will take no longer than one to two weeks. Shipping companies carry their own insurance so you know your vehicle is protected. And because these companies run on strict timetables, you know that your car will arrive on time whether you opt for the less expensive open carrier option or a closed truck.

But as with any method of transporting a car across country, there are pros and there are cons.

Pros

You know your driver is qualified. When you choose a reputable auto transport company, you know that the driver moving your car will be highly trained, knowledgeable about different types of vehicles, and trustworthy.

Your shipper will guarantee the safety of your vehicle. Auto transport companies carry the kind of insurance that will protect you no matter what the issue. And their drivers know how to avoid those issues.

You’ll save time on both ends. Auto transport companies move so many vehicles that the loading and unloading process is quick and easy. Your pickup and delivery will be a breeze, and you’ll get your car when you need it.

It can be less expensive than driving. Many people are surprised at how reasonable the cost of shipping a car across country can be. The fastest way to see if you’ll save money by moving your car on a truck is by getting a free quote.

No wear and tear. Since your car’s wheels won’t touch the ground on its long journey, it won’t be subject to the kind of wear and tear that is commonly associated with road trips.

Cons

You can’t pack your car with extra gear. Transport companies use the weight of your unladen vehicle to calculate the cost of shipping your car across country. More importantly, shipping companies can’t guarantee the safety of items in a car.

You may have less flexibility when it comes to dates. Then again, auto transport companies are very good about sticking to schedules so you can be sure your car will arrive when it’s supposed to.

Is it worth it?

Considering that some of the most dangerous roads in the United States are the large interstates that most people use when traveling from state to state, shipping a car cross country may be the safest option. Truckers have extensive training, know the best routes, and have experience handling things like unpredictable weather and traffic. By shipping your car across country, you avoid a lot of unknowns.   

Clearly, there are some big advantages to hiring a reputable auto transport company like Montway – and very few downsides. Chances are shipping your car will not only save you money, but also save you time and worry. Your transport company will handle the details while you deal with all of your other responsibilities, confident that your car will get where it needs to go.