6 Tips For Transporting Your Car To Another State

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 (pun intended). Maybe you’re gifting a car to someone out of state. Or maybe you’re moving across the country, and you’d rather not pack up your vehicle and drive it thousands of miles yourself. 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 and doing it right. This guide will show you how. Below, our car shipping experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport cover all that you need to know about how to transport a car to another state.

1. Select the Right Auto Transport Company

Depending on where you are living, you may have dozens and dozens of car shipping companies to choose from, or you may only have a handful. 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 shipping companies, with some of them being great and some of them not-so-great. If you live in a place that is far from any major interstate, you will have fewer choices to choose from to transport a car to another state.

Google Reviews is an effective site for choosing a car shipper! After narrowing your search to a few plausible (and affordable) options, another great site to visit is Trustpilot to 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 to make sure that the company you are thinking of shipping with is a reputable vendor. But when it comes to specific details about the service, what should you be looking for? Keep reading to discover what to look for when trying to ship a car to another state.

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

Just like with buying a car, you are going to want to do your research on what it should cost you to ship your car. Sadly, there is no Kelly Blue Book equivalent for car shipping that will give you an ideal price range to shoot for when searching how to ship your car from one state to another. If you have someone you know that shipped a car to another state, consider asking them which shipping company they used and how that experience went for them.

Beyond that, you’re going to have to do extra research and outreach. As you’re reading up on how to ship your car to another state and vetting potential companies, research each company’s prices by clicking, calling, or visiting brick-and-mortar locations to see just how much it would cost you to ship a car. Today’s top car shipping companies offer online quote calculators to help potential customers just like you 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

As you are searching for the right company to ship your car, you’re going to want to consider the two types of car shipping: enclosed transport and open-air transport. Enclosed transport protects your car with four walls, a roof, and a floor on a freight truck. Open-air transport moves it without the enclosure. Which one you choose depends on your car and your needs. 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. The rule of thumb for deciding which way to transport your car to another state is that if you are unsure, then you should probably just go with open air transport.

Drive down any freeway in America for long enough and you’re bound to see brand-spanking-new cars being transported via open air 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. There are also far fewer enclosed trailers traveling on the roads around the country, which means that it will most likely take you a lot longer to ship your vehicle if you go the enclosed route. Got a car that costs you six figures that needs transportation? Then your enclosed transport might be your best bet. Otherwise, open-air transport is the way to go.

4. Schedule Your Auto Shipment Early

It takes a long time to transport a car to another state. Sometimes it can take days, while other times it can take several weeks. As you make reservations for car shipping, plan out your auto transportation with ample leeway so that you know your car will get there when you need it to. If you are green to scheduling an auto shipment, there are a couple things you should know before you schedule your auto shipment.

Just because the route that your car is taking appears to be a relatively straight and easy shot 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 — sometimes involving as many as 12 vehicles — where a transport trailer can zigzag all over the place, picking vehicles up, dropping vehicles off, and running into slow conditions in the process.

With this in mind, it’s imperative 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

Though it’s a good rule of thumb, this breakdown is by no means set in stone. Shipping times will vary between companies, regions of the country, or times of year. Be sure to check with the company you ship with to see what their estimate for your shipment is. Better yet, when shopping around for auto shipment quotes, 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 shipping, you are going to need to prepare your vehicle to be shipped to another state on a trailer. 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, you should do a thorough cleaning of the interior of your car and a washing of the outside of the car. Why do you have to clean the inside and outside so thoroughly, you may be asking? Because you want to have documentation of what your vehicle looks like in its very best condition before it gets loaded onto the trailer. That way, if there are any scratches, dings, scuffs, cracks, or what-have-you, 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, you are going to want to empty your gas tank to about a quarter-full. 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 in the first place.) 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.

Once you’ve emptied some gas from your car — or added some in — it’s time to remove your personal belongings from your interior and trunk. Don’t treat your car shipping reservation as a large, free Amazon box. Extra items can weigh down your car, and worse, they’re never insured in a shipping company’s insurance plan. Also, if this car is a gift, you don’t want to be leaving important documents in the car before you send it off. (More on that in the next section.)

It is also a good idea to remove any toll beepers (Fastrak, etc) in the vehicle lest they run up automatic toll charges from point A to point B. If that happens, a common occurrence, the toll service will reverse the charges. Just ask them and they will request from you proof of your auto transport shipment, which is easily done with an order confirmation email or receipt.

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

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

No car is complete without proper documentation. If the car you are shipping is going to be a gift to a friend or family member, you know that having the correct documentation is paramount to a successful car handover. Luckily for you, to transport a car to another state, you are not going to need anywhere near the same amount of documentation to successfully ship your car with a shipping company. You should know that, unbelievably, no auto shipping company will ask for documentation to ship your vehicle. Only at an auto auction or dealership will the car transporter double check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to verify that they are shipping the correct car.

While it is ideal to have registration, title, and proof of insurance present with you when making the hand off, 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, just in case.

a man hugging a red car

Reasons for Transporting Your Car to Another State

There are a couple of great reasons why shipping your car to a new state is superior to just hopping in and driving it. If you are in the process of moving states, you likely have a number of time-consuming things on your plate — changes at work, packing up your house, and packing up your entire life, to name a few — that you don’t need one more. Make your life easier by shipping as many of your cars as possible.

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 waiting at the site for the car. Also, depending on the drivability of the car and your budget for transportation, 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 so that you aren’t kept waiting. 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? Our team at Direct Express Auto Transport has you covered. Contact our team with questions about our service or car shipping in general to get answers from a real person. You can also check out our FAQ and About Us pages for a wide range of 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!