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The Best Way To Ship A Car to an Interstate Buyer

Want to learn how to ship a car? Don’t worry; the process won’t require any heavy lifting on your part. Nor will it need the headache, hassle, or hunt for a needle in a haystack. It’s the 21st century, and several excellent options for moving cars across state lines exist. If you have a buyer in another state and are trying to ship in the shortest amount of time possible, this is the guide. In the following sections, our car shipping experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport will teach you how to ship a car efficiently to any interstate buyer. Move on, and ship your vehicle with our trusted team today!

Step 1: Know Your Shipping Needs

You have probably heard of door-to-door service. But what about terminal-to-terminal or door-to-terminal service? These terms apply to car shipping, and knowing them will help you understand exactly how your car will get shipped.

With terminal-to-terminal service, you bring your car to a designated place where it is grouped up and loaded up with other cars at that specific location (or “terminal”). The terminal is usually a large parking lot where cars can gather, and freight trucks can maneuver. Once your car reaches its destination city, it will be dropped off at another terminal for the new owner to pick up. As you would expect, the more “terminals” and fewer “doors” you have in your delivery method, the cheaper the service will be. Having new car buyers pick up their vehicles from a terminal can be a big hassle because they might not have the means to get to their new cars.

If you opt to use terminals, make sure you are clear with the person buying your car on what type of delivery they are getting. We only recommend using terminals if you are willing to wait several weeks (or longer) and suffer the inconvenience of getting there. Few people are close to terminals at both ends of the shipment. Dear reader, most people seem to regret having used a terminal and would never do it again. It is cheap car shipping, but you get what you pay for.

Are you selling a high-end car that should not travel hundreds or thousands of miles aboard an uncovered truck on open roads? If so, you’ll probably want to choose an enclosed shipping transport. We recommend choosing this shipping method only if it’s necessary. Most of the vehicles shipped around the country are shipped on open trailers, roughly 97%, which means that if you go the enclosed shipping route, you will be paying a pretty penny, about 40-50% more. That’s because enclosed trailers can accommodate fewer cars but have approximately the same operating expense as larger Open trailers. Therefore, the Enclosed transporter must charge more. The customer does receive value for the extra money as their vehicle is protected from the elements.

Step 2: Know Your Arrival Deadline

Door-to-door car shipping is the fastest and most efficient method of transporting vehicles, so Direct Express Auto Transport will only do it that way. Getting your buyer their car quickly is ideal, but it will require some communication with the car shipping company you choose. Auto transport companies will almost always give you a range of dates for the car’s arrival. The reason dates are presented in ranges rather than precise days is that, unlike other services, shipping cars isn’t an exact science.

For logistical reasons, cars are shipped in groups, all going in the same direction. However, they’re not all going to the same place. Depending on where your vehicle is in the drop-off order, it may not always reach its final destination at the early side of the date range. Your driver could run into issues dropping off some of the cars before your car is dropped off. Weather, accidents, and other unforeseen problems can influence timing, which is why most car shipping companies give ranges for their car drop-offs. Before you book, ensure that the date range you’re quoted works for you and your buyer.

Regarding picking your car up, you have a couple of options to work with, depending on how tight or loose your schedule is. Tighter schedules should use our Expedited or Rush service, and even that cannot be guaranteed. Always have a backup plan to take the stress out of it. More flexible schedules can get away with booking the Standard transport rate, though we still think going Expedited is wise.

Step 3: Do Some Market Research

If you’re like most working adults, your car is one of the most expensive items you own. Like other expensive items, it should be shipped with care. To ensure careful shipping, you must choose the right car shipping company. And to do that, you have to do your research. Before settling on a car shipping company, see what the shipping market looks like in both your area and the area you are shipping to. 

Some regions are massive shipping hubs with large markets and tons of options. Other places, like destinations off the beaten path, don’t have nearly as much truck traffic, so their selection of car shipping options will likely be much smaller. Doing some preliminary market research will help you get a feel for the possibilities in your regions. 

It will also help you determine the price. In many cases, it’s not the distance that correlates to price but rather competition and convenience for car shipping companies. Assess the field, get quotes, and prepare to make your choice. We are pricing experts, and you can feel confident that we have already done that analysis for you.

Step 4: Choose a Reputable Auto Transportation Company

The most significant decision of the car-shipping process is choosing the right auto transport company. Here, you want to work with a business that will keep your car safe while ensuring it arrives on time—without costing you an arm and a leg. 

The best car shipping companies know how to ship a car efficiently and effectively. Their reviews will reflect their reputations, their service will reflect their expertise, and their prices will reflect their integrity. An informative and easy-to-navigate website is a good indicator of a reputable company, but you shouldn’t just take their word on the quality of their service. Read reviews on sites like Trustpilot to see what past clients have said about the car shipping companies you’re researching. 

Lastly, check to see if the companies you’re considering offer free and accurate quotes. That will help you know what you’re getting in terms of price. We say all this because we know Direct Express Auto Transport is widely considered to be the best in the business.

Step 5: Make Sure Your Vehicle is Insured

Even reputable companies that know how to ship a car sometimes encounter accidents. For this reason, it’s important to insure your car to stay protected against costly damages. While most car insurance policies don’t offer insurance coverage for car shipping, some auto transport companies offer insurance plans to help you stay protected. If the company you are working with does not provide transportation insurance, it is up to you to purchase car shipping insurance through your primary insurance provider. Whichever option you choose, it’s vital to ensure that your vehicle is covered well before its move. 

Step 6: Leave the Tank at a Quarter, Wash Your Car, and Perform a Final Inspection

If you’re shipping your car across state lines, it will be on a trailer for quite some time. There is no reason to have much gas in it. Car shipping companies would prefer if your car did not have a full tank. Gas is heavy and will weigh down the shipping truck, lowering its fuel efficiency and possibly causing problems at the mandatory weigh scales. To prep, your shipping vehicle, keep your gas tank about a quarter full. Don’t empty it more than that — you want to give your new buyer a bit of gas to work with when they pick the car up.

Before saying goodbye to your car for the last time, wash it. At this point, you might think: “This car is about to be traveling hundreds of miles on the back of an open trailer! Why do I need to wash it if it’s going to get dirty on the way to its new home?” That’s a good point. But here’s a better point. You are washing the car so that you can note any irregularities, not because you want it to be clean before its long journey. 

You don’t want to note a “scratch” that was just a scuff that washed away with a bit of soap, water, and elbow grease. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss a preexisting dent because it’s hidden under a thick layer of dirt and grime on your car. Once thoroughly washed your vehicle, please take pictures of any irregularities and share them with the shipping company and the new owner. This way, all relevant parties will know what damages were present on the car before the cross-country transport and what damages were picked up along the way.

Step 7: Ship with the Best — Ship with Direct Express Auto Transport

While not a required step per se, Step 7 in our guide will make shipping your car as simple, affordable, and efficient as possible, you could say it’s the most important step of them all. It’s shipping with our trusted team here at Direct Express Auto Transport. Staffed by the industry’s top professionals, we’re trusted by thousands of dealerships and private car owners each year, and we have an excellent 94% 5-star rating on Trustpilot

Committed to making car shipping straightforward, we proudly pioneered the free online car shipping quote calculator in 2004, five years before any other shipping company had one. We’ve refined that calculator and use it today to help drivers across North America get fair, accurate, and transparent quotes for car shipping. No personal information is required — fill in the six fields and get your quote in seconds.

But our team here at Direct Express Auto Transport knows how to ship a car. We have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and we’re here to answer any questions you might have about our service or car shipping in general. Contact us to speak with a team member directly, and ship your car across state lines with our professionals here at Direct Express Auto Transport!

The Original Car Shipping Quote Calculator

Direct Express Auto Transport originated the instant car shipping quote calculator in 2004. It is still the best, most sophisticated, reliable tool available anywhere online. We offer three options that we call tiers of car shipping estimates. The standard rate is the cheapest car shipping quote, but it may take longer. Use it if you are patient. We recommend the expedited car shipping rate and have countless satisfied customers because the shipping process tends to go quicker. The rush rate is our highest level of car shipping service, and many customers are glad they went with that method.

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