The Automotive Addicts Guide to Shipping a Car to Another State

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For a vehicle aficionado like yourself,  there will likely come a time you have to ship your prized and cherished ride.  This is a task that requires a decent amount of  knowledge, precision, and good ol’ just knowing what heck you’re doing.  Handing over the keys to just anyone is not an option.  

That’s why this guide is here to sooth your auto shipping woes. Here we will go over how it all works, from cost considerations to picking an auto shipping company for your ride.

How Does Shipping a Car Across the Country Work?

Let’s start with the basics.When shipping a car, as there are two primary methods used by anyone looking to get their vehicle to another state. This can be if you are moving or buying a car out of state. These two options are  open carrier and enclosed car transport.

What is Open Carrier Car Shipping?

As the most popular choice, open carriers are the type you typically see on highways. These are the multi-level, multi-car, open-air trailers. 

If you’ve ever seen a truck hauling a group of cars on the freeway, that’s an open carrier in action. And contrary to popular belief, most of those you see are moving personal vehicles like yours. The hint? The cars all have license plates.

Open carrier car shipping is the go-to choice for many because they’re widely available and, notably, the most affordable option.

What is Enclosed Car Transport?

If you own or are looking to buy a rare, luxury, classic, or exotic car, enclosed carriers are the safest way to ship and considered the absolute best for these types of vehicles. 

Just like the name of this method suggests, enclosed auto transport is performed in large covered trailers that offer protection against external elements like weather, road debris, and of course those pesky prying eyes. 

While they come at a premium cost, the added security and peace of mind they offer often justify the cost.  You are usually in pretty good company, with other valuable cars that make anyone’s dream car list.

How Much Does State to State / Cross Country Car Shipping Cost?

When budgeting for car shipping, there are various factors that will count towards the cost to ship. We’re also covering mostly open shipping to start off, as it is the most common way to ship a car. 

Distance to Another State

Most obviously, distance is a crucial factor. On average, the cost per mile decreases as the total distance increases. For instance:

– Shipping a car 500 miles might cost $1 per mile, amounting to $500.

– Shipping over 1,000 miles could drop the cost to around $0.75 per mile, tallying up to $750.

However, these are average figures, and several factors can influence the price:

Route Popularity

Well-traveled routes, such as Los Angeles to Dallas, might offer more competitive rates than shipping from a remote town to another less popular destination. 

The reason for this is that car shipping routes that are popular offer a lot of options for picking up several vehicles in close range of each other at one time to then deliver them in a short vicinity as well.

Vehicle Size and Weight

Larger, heavier vehicles generally cost more to ship due to the space and weight considerations on a carrier. The open trucks specifically hold up to 10 cars. But once you start loading trucks and SUVs that number goes down. Also, the heavier the vehicles, the more fuel it takes to ship them.


Prices might spike during certain times of the year. For instance, seasonal routes (north to south and vice versa) can become pricier in the winter as retirees move to warmer states. Although there are other examples, this is one of the easiest ones to explain.


Need your car shipped ASAP? Expedited shipping will cost more. Usually about $200.00 above the average price to ship a car is what we’ve seen. Since most auto shipping is brokered, the higher price puts your vehicle up on the top of the list, paying more to truck drivers therefore making the carrier’s jump on your pick up first. 

Choosing an Auto Shipping Company: Beyond the Price Tag

When handing over your treasured vehicle, it’s about more than just the bottom line. It’s easy to get caught up in finding the absolute best deal possible. But sometimes you can get what you pay for when it comes to auto transport.  Here’s what to consider:

Read Reviews

Car enthusiasts often share their experiences online. Look for testimonials or forums dedicated to car shipping experiences to get a feel for the company’s reputation. Check Google Reviews, BBB, and others. 

Compare Rates, But Be Wary

As mentioned, It’s natural to hunt for the best deal, but remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Companies offering extremely low rates might cut out customer service  or protection.

Verify Licensing

Any legitimate auto shipping company should be registered with the Department of Transportation. You can check their registration using their FMCSA number.

Verify Insurance

Make sure to ask for proof of insurance. In the off chance something does go wrong, you’ll want to make sure your car is covered. Typically an auto transport company will be bonded. But the insurance will be on the carrier itself. Remember to ask for the carrier’s insurance before agreeing to having the truck come and get the car.

Five Quick Tips to Ship a Car:


Easy one right? But there may be things you don’t know. For example, remove personal belongings, perform a thorough cleaning to easily spot future damage, document any existing damage with photos, and make sure there’s only a quarter tank of gas to reduce weight. Don’t forget to remove toll transponders too. 

Be Flexible if Possible

While many companies will provide a pretty good delivery estimate, unforeseen circumstances can cause delays. It’s essential to have some flexibility in your schedule to accommodate any changes. Auto shipping has a lot of moving parts. 

Split the Difference

Use shipping as a negotiating point when buying or  selling a car.  Getting them to pay a little bit can help you keep your bottom line. 

Don’t Use the Car to Pack Your Stuff

It may make a lot of sense to use your car as a big storage container since it’s not being driven, however shipping weight can cause the trucker to spend extra fuel if everyone were to do that. So the standard is no more than 100lbs of personal items. The average to go by is the size of two full size suitcases, as they typically hold about 50-60 lbs each. If you are worried about weight, always ask and offer a near empty tank to help with weight

Sign the Bill Of Lading

A lot of people are not aware that for anyone to claim damage, the driver must sign that they acknowledge the damage occurred.  That means when it comes time to pick up, you must have in your possession the driver’s signed bill of lading at pick up and delivery. If the driver doesn’t have one, a quick google search gets you a free one you can use. 

In Conclusion

For the passionate car lover, whether your vehicle roars down the track or gleams under showroom lights, shipping your car is about entrusting a piece of your heart to someone else. By understanding all the bits and pieces of the car shipping process and diligently vetting potential car shipping companies, you can make sure  your prized possession arrives safely at the destination, wherever in the country that may be.


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