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6 Tips for Transporting Your Car to Another State


There are plenty of reasons to ship your car out of state. Maybe you’re a vintage car enthusiast with precious cargo, gifting a car to someone out of state, or moving across the country. No matter why you need to transport your car to another state, it’s important to do your homework to ensure that car shipping goes as smoothly, quickly, and affordably as possible. Transport your car to another state the right way by doing a little research. Our car shipping experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport cover everything you need to know about how to transport a car to another state.

1. Select the Right Auto Transport Company to Ship Your Vehicle

If you live in a major metropolitan hub — especially a city that transports a lot of cars such as Miami or Los Angeles — you will have your choice of many car shipping companies. If you live far from any major interstate, you will have fewer choices to choose from to transport a car to another state.
How do you know if a car shipper is reliable? Google Reviews is an effective site to start your research. Another great site to visit is Trustpilot. After narrowing your search to a few plausible (and affordable) options, see how your potential candidates stack up according to real customers who have used their services. Once you’ve read the reviews, double check with the Better Business Bureau. You want to make sure that the company you are thinking of shipping with is a reputable vendor, and they truly know how to transport your car to another state.

2. Calculating How Much Car Shipping Costs from One State to Another

If you have someone you know who shipped a car to another state, consider asking them which shipping company they used. They’ll likely share their experience and how much they paid for transporting their vehicle. Beyond that, you’ll have to do extra research and outreach. As you’re vetting potential companies, research each company’s prices by clicking, calling, or visiting brick-and-mortar locations. Today’s top car shipping companies also offer online quote calculators to help potential customers get fast and accurate quotes in seconds.

a car being transported on a truck

3. Choose Your Type of Transportation: Enclosed Transport vs. Open-Air Transport

When deciding to ship your car, you’re likely looking at two options: enclosed vs. open-air transport. Enclosed transport protects your car with four walls, a roof, and a floor on a freight truck. Open-air transport moves your vehicle without the enclosure. Which one you choose depends on your car make and your needs.

Drive down any freeway in America for long enough, and you’re bound to see brand new cars being transported via open air transport. Nearly 97% of all vehicles shipped in the US are shipped via open air transport. Statistically, open air transport has proven to be nearly as safe for your vehicle as an enclosed transport.

If that’s not faith enough in the safety and reliability of open-air transport over enclosed transport, consider this: enclosed transportation costs, on average, 33%–50% more than open air transport.

You should also note that there are also far fewer enclosed trailers traveling on the roads around the country. In turn, this means that it will most likely take you longer to transport your car to another state by going the enclosed route.

4. Schedule Your Auto Shipment Early

If you are scheduling an auto shipment to another state for the first time, there are a few things you should know. Just because the route that your car is taking appears to be a relatively straight and easy shot, it does not mean that the route that your 18-wheeler will take to transport your vehicle will be straight and easy. Transporting vehicles cross-country is a large logistical puzzle where a transport trailer can zigzag all over the place, picking vehicles up, dropping them off, and running into conditions that can slow down the process.

With this in mind, you want to plan appropriately. The general time frame for transporting cars long distances are as follows:

  • 100–500 miles will take 1–2 days
  • 500–1000 miles will take 2–3 days
  • 1000–1500 miles will take 3–4 days
  • 1500–2000 miles will take 4–5 days
  • 2000–2500 miles will take 5–6 days
  • 2500–3000 miles will take 6–7 days

When shopping around for auto shipment quotes to get your car from one state to another, have companies give you an estimate on the shipping time for your vehicle before you book.

5. Get Your Car Ready for Interstate Transport

Once you have chosen a car shipping company and method of how to ship your car from one state to another, you will need to prepare your vehicle. Unlike many things that you ship through the post office, FedEx, or UPS — most of which require little to no prep — your car will require you to go the extra mile so it can do the same.

First, do a thorough cleaning of the interior of your car and a washing of the outside of the car. That way, if there are any scratches, dings, scuffs, cracks, etc., you don’t get into a your-word vs. the shipping-company’s-word situation. (This situation can also be avoided by shipping with a reputable company.) After you have done a deep wash, buff, and clean, be sure to take pictures of your vehicle for your records.

Next, fill your gas tank about a quarter. This will give the car enough gas to get from the trailer to its new home without making a stop at a gas station along the way. (It also makes sure that there is enough gas for loading and unloading the car off the trailer.) For the car shipping company, having about a quarter tank of gas also helps to reduce the payload on the truck as it drives cross-country.

Remove your personal belongings from your vehicle, including the glove compartment and trunk. Extra items can weigh down your car, and worse, they’re never insured in a shipping company’s insurance plan.

It is also a good idea to remove any toll road beepers from the vehicle as you’re prepping to transport your car to another state. Should they run up automatic toll charges as the vehicle travels from point A to point B, the toll service will typically reverse the charges. Reach out to them. After providing them with proof of your auto transport shipment — this is easily done with an order confirmation email or receipt — they will likely reverse the charges.

The final thing you must do is hand over your keys to your truck driver. The driver will need them to load and unload your car on the trailer.

6. Gather Essential Documents You Will Need When Shipping Your Car to Another State

While it is ideal to have registration, title, and proof of insurance present with you when making the handoff, for most shipping companies, it is not a requirement to show any of those documents.

Be sure to keep up your car’s insurance during the cross-country move. All transport companies will insure your car under their own insurance policy when they ship your car, but it’s better to have additional insurance on top of their insurance.


a man hugging a red car

Reasons for Transporting Your Car to Another State

There are many great reasons why shipping your car to a new state is a better solution to hopping in and driving it. If you are in the process of moving states, you likely have several time-consuming things on your plate — changes at work and packing up your house, to name a few — that you don’t need to add one more. Make your life easier by shipping as many of your vehicles as possible. Leave the details of how to ship your car to another state to the pros and check one thing off your long to-do list.

Furthermore, putting hundreds or sometimes thousands of extra miles onto your car is bad for resale purposes and bad for the car’s lifespan. If your car is generally only a city car, it has a higher risk of breaking down on the interstate, which can be a major headache in the middle of a move. Alleviate all of the stress for you and your car by having it shipped during your big move.

Last Steps: What to Do Once Your Car Arrives

Depending on your situation, you may be the one waiting for your car to be unloaded from the trailer at the drop-off site, or it may be a friend or family member. Also, depending on the drivability of the car and your budget for how you are transporting your car to another state, your car might be dropped off right at your driveway or delivered to a parking lot and unloaded there. As you might expect, door-to-door service is more expensive than lot-to-lot service. Know which one you’re paying for, so you can plan for pick-up accordingly.

Hopefully, you shipped with a company that is on top of communication and will keep you informed of your car’s whereabouts throughout the entire shipping process. Once the car arrives, your driver will check the ID of whoever is picking up the vehicle to make sure that it matches the name you have provided to the shipping company.

a large truck on a road near in late afternoon

Once your car touches the pavement once again, be sure to do a complete inspection of the car’s interior and exterior with the car shipping company driver. Take pictures in this phase as well, because maybe you won’t notice a small dent or ding but then you see it a few weeks later. This way you’ll have photographic evidence that the dent or ding came from the time on the trailer rather than from driving around your new town in those two weeks.

Sign the bill of lading that the trucker will offer up to you after you inspect the car. If you do end up finding any additional dents or dings with the vehicle, you will use this bill of landing document to file a claim with your shipping company. With reputable companies, these sorts of claims are rare since they use safety-first drivers who ensure that the vast majority of the cars that they deliver are delivered without issue.

Learn More and Ship Your Car With Our Team at Direct Express Auto Transport

Want to learn more about how to ship your car to another state? Ready to schedule shipping? Direct Express Auto Transport has you covered. Contact our team with questions about our services or car shipping in general. With us, you’ll get answers from a real person. You can also check out our FAQ and About Us pages for car shipping resources and information on our company. If you’re ready to ship with us, use our Online Quote Calculator to get an accurate, 100% transparent quote in seconds. With a 5-star rating on Trustpilot and thousands of happy customers, we are the nation’s top choice for car shipping in the lower 48. Ship with us today!


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