10 Great Car Shipping Tips

Looking to ship your car across the state, or across the country? Use these 10 great car shipping tips to save both time and money!

1. How Far In Advance Should You Set Up Your Order?10 Great Car Shipping Tips

We recommend scheduling your auto transport anywhere from two days to two weeks in advance. We are often able to ship your car on the very same day, but providing us with a longer lead time allows us to schedule your vehicle transport better.

You want the most current pricing, and you get that by staying within two weeks of your first available date to ship. Believe it or not, a request of $50-$75 too low can really hold up your order if there are plenty of other cars available to ship at the higher pricing. To avoid that, try not to book more than a month in advance and preferably within two weeks, because seasonal changes can impact the current pricing. Conversely, you should enjoy the savings if the rates were to go down, so having the most current pricing is always best. Our auto transport rate calculator on this page was the first one in the industry in 2004, and will not accept an order more than 30 days ahead. Who does that? Turn away orders shipping several weeks out? We do, because it is the right thing to do, and saves money for our customers. When the pricing is current, everyone involved benefits.

2. Should You Ship Your Car Open or Enclosed?

About 97% of all vehicle shipments are sent in an Open Trailer. It’s proven to be a very safe method with statistically very few problems. You may notice new cars being delivered to dealerships in an open trailer, and that’s because it’s safe. If you have a collector car or really expensive automobile, say around $100,000 or more, then we recommend shipping it in an Enclosed Trailer. Expect to pay about 33-50% more for an Enclosed transport. Our auto shipping costs calculator automatically adds the extra Enclosed estimate to your quote, so you can experiment with the quotes if you like.

3. Is It Better To Pay A Deposit?What’s the cheapest way to ship a car?

Making a nominal partial payment is preferred by carriers but not essential. Carriers like getting paid with Cash or Money Order upon delivery, and who doesn’t? A partial credit card payment and balance due upon delivery accomplishes that. But a full credit card payment upfront also works if the carrier trusts the broker. Carriers have known Direct Express Auto Transport for nearly twenty years and the trust is there. So either method works with us.

4. If You Are Shipping To Yourself, How Do You Figure Out When To Make Your Car Available?

This is one of the trickier questions in car shipping, because it’s almost impossible not to be inconvenienced at one end or the other when shipping a car to yourself. Establishing a support system of friends and family who can assist you in this process is essential, and we recommend you alert them to your schedule and find out who will be able to transport you during the time that your vehicle is unavailable. Let us know who will be driving you and when, so we can help coordinate the process.

If your support system is at the shipping origin, then keep your car available until you begin traveling via plane or bus. Tell us who your contact person is, including address and cell phone number. Make your car available around the time you leave. That doesn’t mean it will get picked up right away because there might not be a car carrier ready the day that you leave. Indeed, it could be another few days or even several days (if you’re in a remote location) before a carrier is in the area to make that run. Wherever you are going, rent a car, or use a ride-sharing service until yours arrives. A good rule of thumb is to estimate that once your vehicle is picked up, the carrier will travel 500 miles per day. So depending on the distance you may be without your personal car for several days or weeks. We encourage our customers to plan accordingly.

If your support system is at the shipping destination, you are frankly under more pressure. You don’t want the stress of waiting until the last minute only to find out there is not a carrier ready to load and get on the road when you fly out. So give yourself time, especially if in a remote location. Rule of thumb, make your vehicle available at least one or two weeks ahead of when you are scheduled to leave. After all, you have people at the destination that will receive it anytime. But you must get it moving before you do. Our car shipping quotes calculator does a very good job at setting the price to be successful 90% of the time within one week. But you should consider expediting your order $50, $100 or $200 depending upon your sense of hurry and urgency. You can do that yourself online or call us at 800-600-3750 to perform that task.

5. How Long Will It Take To Pick Up My Vehicle?How long does it take to ship a car?

Over 90% of our orders ship inside of one week. That could be anywhere from 1 to 7 days. Most of the U.S. population lives in a major metropolitan area and is shipping to another well populated area, and that makes a big difference. Cars usually ship in a very regular manner, almost half within just a few days. If either your origination or destination locations are away from population centers, in other words in a remote area, then you might consider meeting a driver in a nearby big city or town to increase your chances of shipping timely. Remember, anyone you choose can serve as your point of contact, which takes the stress out of shipping your vehicle.

6. How Long Does It Take To Deliver My Vehicle?

Delivering is final step in the process, and also the simplest part. Once your vehicle has been assigned and picked up, not too much can go wrong. Once the vehicle is picked up, you can estimate that it will take roughly 1 day of transit time for every 500 miles distance.

Delivery Time Estimate Guide
100-500 miles takes 1 or 2 days
500-1000 miles takes 2 or 3 days
1000-1500 miles takes 3 or 4 days
1500-2000 miles takes 4 or 5 days
2000-2500 miles takes 5 or 6 days
2500-3000 miles takes 6 or 7 days

Depending on the distance, weather conditions and population centers it could be a few days or weeks until a vehicle reaches its destination. The carriers usually estimate about 10 days on coast to coast trips, but they frequently arrive earlier.

7. Can I Put Stuff in My Car When I Ship It?

Yes and no. The strict interpretation is no, you can’t ship items inside your vehicle. The reality is that almost all carriers look the other way on items that weigh less than 100 pounds, roughly the equivalent of 2 suitcases. We recommend placing any additional items in the trunk and out of sight. The U.S. Transportation Law states that a carrier can be fined $10,000 for hauling household items in the vehicle, but it’s rarely enforced. However, the drivers do estimate the weight of each vehicle that they carry and don’t want problems at weight scales. So they must keep the personal items to a minimum. Some drivers will accept a tip ($50-$250) for hauling extra stuff, but some won’t. Rule of thumb, don’t take advantage. The driver is there to ship a car, not move the owner’s belongings. Our vehicle transport cost calculator will not add an extra charge for additional items because it would be presumptuous of us to expect the driver to do it. If you want to add items to your vehicle, discuss it with the driver.

8. Is My Vehicle Insured And What Paperwork Can I Expect?How much does it cost to ship a car across the country?

Yes your vehicle is insured. It is our job to make sure that is so. We automatically and instantly email you an Order Confirmation explaining the whole process upon entering your order either online or with one of our representatives.

Once your vehicle is Assigned, it usually gets picked up within a day or two (sometimes same day) of the assignment. That information also gets automatically emailed to you. Then our driver calls your pickup contact.

When the driver picks up your vehicle for shipping, he will do a detailed examination on the Bill of Lading and Vehicle Inspection Report. You will both sign that form and you should receive a copy.

The driver will call again from the road, this time your destination contact, as he gets closer so as to schedule an approximate time for delivery. The Bill of Lading and Vehicle Inspection Report will be there upon delivery so that your contact can re-inspect the car. Your vehicle will be likely dirty from the road, but otherwise should still be in the same condition that it left.

The auto transport driver will take every precaution to deliver your vehicle without incident. However, if damage should occur, you must report it upon delivery and note on the Bill of Lading and Vehicle Inspection Report. Regardless, you need to pay the carrier the balance owed for the shipment for services rendered because nobody can determine fault at time of delivery. It is important that you and the transport driver sign the inspection papers, or at least you. Claims cannot be processed by the driver’s insurance company if damage is not noted at time of delivery. We recommend taking digital photos of your vehicle before and after shipment to support any claim of damages. Please know that damages are statistically very rare, which is why new car manufacturers also ship that way.

9. How Do I Prepare My Vehicle For Shipment?Preparing your vehicle for shipment

Clean out your vehicle of all loose items as much as possible. Leave nothing of value in the vehicle. It’s very rare that any items are stolen during transport, but we recommend extra caution to prevent loss. Keep extra items as previously discussed to a minimum and place in the trunk or out of sight. Have only about a quarter tank of gasoline. Give the auto transport carrier a set of keys and advise them of any special instructions for your vehicle, like difficulty starting, steering, braking, etc.

Driver Consideration: Being a truck driver can be a thankless job. They work long hours and are away from their families for weeks at a time. Please be friendly and considerate to our drivers, and they will treat you in the same manner.

10. How do I Pay For Shipping My Car?

Either a partial credit card payment and balance due to the driver in Cash or Money Order, or a full credit card payment upfront upon vehicle assignment works.

More Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to ship a car?
Answer: There is no easy answer. The cost of shipping a car depends upon several factors, chiefly distance, size of vehicle, proximity to population centers, seasonal fluctuations, whether Open or Enclosed carrier, or running vs. non-running condition. Any of those considerations can have a big effect on the final car shipping price.

What is the cheapest way to ship a car?
Answer: Open transport is roughly 40% cheaper than Enclosed. About 97% of all vehicle shipments go Open transport, which is actually very safe.

How much does it cost to ship a car 1000 miles?
Answer: The median price for a sedan is estimated at 65 cents per mile, or $650 per vehicle. However, there are several factors that may lower or raise the price. It is advised to double check with a licensed and reputable car shipping broker. Check the BBB for that.

How much is it to ship a car across the country?
Answer: The median price for a sedan is estimated at 40 cents per mile, or $1,200 per vehicle. However, there are several factors that may lower or raise the price. It is advised to double check with a licensed and reputable car shipping broker. Check the BBB for that.

Please use our vehicle shipping rate calculator located on this page to set up your order today. We originated the online quote

Mike Rupers, Owner of Direct Express Auto Transport system in 2004 and to this day no other company does it as well. Thank you so much for considering Direct Express Auto Transport.

Auto Transport Quote Calculator
Vehicle #2
Vehicle #3
Vehicle #4
Vehicle #5