What to Know About Shipping Your Car Across Country

6 min to read
What to know about shipping your car across country

A cross-country move can be stressful enough without worrying about how you’re going to get your car from point A to point B. The easiest way to make the experience hassle-free is to ship your car across country rather than drive it. That said, choosing an auto transport company can be tough, and making sure your vehicle is ready for transport is a process.  

Here’s what you need to know about shipping a car across the country, whether you’re ready to book or you’re just curious about what you’ll need to do to prepare your vehicle for its journey.

Is shipping your car across country the best option?

When you relocate, you’re responsible for moving yourself, your family, and whichever possessions aren’t going with the movers. A cross-country drive may sound like a fun and memorable way to get your car from one coast to the other, but consider that road trips can be stressful in and of themselves — especially if you’re working against a schedule.

Do you really want to drive your car across the country only to arrive at a house full of unpacked boxes? You may have assumed that driving would be cheaper than shipping a car across country, but tolls, gas, food, lodging, and other expenses on the road will add up fast over the miles. When you hire an auto transport company to ship your vehicle, you not only save money, but you also avoid wear and tear on your car, save time, and can focus on getting settled into your new neighbourhood.

How much does shipping a car across the country cost?

When you’re looking for an auto transport company to move your car from one coast to the other, cost will obviously be a factor. How much you pay to ship your vehicle will depend on factors like the size and make of the vehicle (larger and heavily modified vehicles typically cost more to ship), your pickup location (shipping from a remote location may cost more), the distance your vehicle will travel, your vehicle’s overall condition, whether it runs, seasonal considerations, and the price of fuel. You’ll pay less for transport in an open carrier, and more if you want your car transported in an enclosed truck. In general, though, shipping a four-door sedan from New York to California will cost about $1,000.

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

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

Don’t make your choice based on cost alone

It should come as no surprise that the cheapest auto transport company will probably not be the safest or most reliable choice when it comes to shipping a car over any distance. Remember, shipping prices are partially reflective of the state of a carrier’s equipment and how well drivers are trained and paid. A deal that seems too good to be true probably is, so read reviews carefully and if your gut is telling you to stay away from a company, listen to it!

Why your destination could impact the price of shipping your car

You can ship your car to any area of the country but you’ll almost always get a better deal if you transport your car to the city closest to your new home base – from the city closest to your old home. This will save you both time and money because there are more transport routes and more truckers going to and from metro areas, so you won’t need to wait until your auto transport company has a driver going to your small town.

Your options for shipping a car across country

Aside from choosing an auto transport company, you will also need to decide whether you want to move your vehicle in an open carrier or on an enclosed truck. Shipping your car across country on an open carrier is the budget-friendly option, but it does leave your car vulnerable to flying road debris, dirt, the weather, and people, too. That said, most open carrier shipments happen without incident. But drivers who are shipping classic cars, luxury cars, or very valuable specialty vehicles may feel more comfortable opting for an enclosed carrier that will offer total peace of mind.

Customer service matters

It can be nerve-wracking to watch your vehicle get loaded onto a carrier and then be in the dark about where it is for the next week! That’s why you should look for an auto transport company that has 24/7 customer service and the ability to give you anytime updates about your vehicle’s location. Not all companies offer this kind of personal service, but it’s something that we here at Montway pride ourselves on.

Prepping your car for cross-country shipment

Choosing an auto transport company is only the first step! Prepping your vehicle for cross-country shipment is the best way to ensure that it arrives at its destination in the same condition in which it left. First, schedule a visit to your mechanic to double check that your car is in good working order. If there are any mechanical or electrical issues that might make it more difficult for the carrier to load your vehicle onto the truck, make sure you discuss that with the company you’ve chosen.

Have your mechanic check the battery and top off all fluids but don’t let them fill the gas tank! A full gas tank is a potential safety hazard and makes your car heavier, which can impact the efficiency of your carrier, and a quarter of a tank will be enough to get you to the nearest gas station. Remove all personal items from your vehicle (as these are almost never covered by insurance) and secure any movable parts so they won’t shift during transport. Finally, have an extra set of keys made if you don’t already have them.

Washing your car is about more than a fresh start

Giving your car a scrub-down once you know your shipping date makes it easier to inspect it. You need to do a thorough inspection before shipping your car across country (logging every scratch, ding, dent, and marking on paper and in photos) so you have the information you need to file a claim if your vehicle does arrive with damage. Inspecting your car will also give you a degree of peace of mind because you’ll know for sure that the scratch you suddenly notice when your car is delivered was already there — or not.

Your car model matters in more ways than one

Don’t be surprised when your auto transport company asks you for lots of details about your vehicle. Truckers who ship cars across country need to know everything they can about yours so they can determine the best place for it on the carrier. In some cases, your car may be transported with vehicles that are a similar shape and size. But if you’ve made extensive modifications to your car, you may discover that your transportation options are more limited or you’ll need to pay more. Know that truckers think carefully about vehicle placement during shipping and will always put your car in the best possible spot.

What you need to know about insurance

It’s rare that vehicles are damaged during cross-country shipping but accidents can happen. Make sure that your transportation service has up-to-date insurance — you can even ask for a paper copy and ask them to walk you through what’s covered by their policy. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with your auto insurance company to double check that your vehicle will be covered during its journey. Some policies won’t cover shipping a car across country as part of the standard policy, but will add temporary shipping insurance to the policy once you have booked transport. While it may be possible to find the information you need online, the best thing you can do is speak directly to a representative of your insurance company who can answer your questions.

Keep timing in mind

Shipping your car across country may take up to two weeks, so be prepared to be carless for at least that long. Some cross-country auto shipments don’t take nearly that long, but keep in mind that you will also be waiting for your ship date to arrive. Choose your auto transport company well in advance of your move to make sure you can coordinate all of the details. (You can get an idea of estimated shipping times here.)

You’ll need to inspect your vehicle twice, at pickup and delivery

Even though you have already performed an inspection, your driver will also inspect your vehicle at pickup and make a note of marks, scratches, dents, and damage. When your vehicle arrives at its destination, you will need to perform another inspection (which is when the notes and photos you took will come in handy). This post-delivery inspection is crucial because it’s your chance to make a note of any changes to your car’s condition on the Bill of Lading. If you do need to file a claim, having a clear record of new damage is important.

Putting your vehicle into someone else’s hands can be stressful, but the good news is that you probably won’t have any issues shipping your car across country. If you have chosen your auto transport company with care and you have taken steps to carefully prep your vehicle, chances are good it will arrive on time and in great condition.

At Montway, we have a large network of carriers covering the US from coast to coast, and our long-distance shipping options include both open and enclosed transport for every type of car. Our truckers move more than 200 vehicles a day — will yours be next?

Are you ready to ship? Get your free door-to-door transport quote!

Read what our customers say about their experience with Montway at Montway Auto Transport reviews.