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How to Ship a Car Efficiently 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 require headache, hassle, or a hunt for a needle in a haystack. It’s the 21st century, and there are several great options for moving cars across state lines. If you have a buyer in another state and you are trying to ship in the shortest amount of time possible, this is the guide for you. In the sections that follow, our car shipping experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport will teach you how to ship a car efficiently to any interstate buyer. Get a 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 are terms that apply to car shipping, and knowing them will help you understand exactly how your car is going to 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 all 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 less “doors” that you have in your delivery method, the less expensive the service will be. Having new car buyers pick up their vehicles from a terminal can be a pretty big hassle for them, because they might not have a means to get to their new cars.

If you’re opting to use terminals, make sure that you are clear with the person buying your car on what type of delivery they are getting. We do not recommend using terminals unless 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. Frankly, dear reader, most people seem to regret having used a terminal and would never do it again. It is cheap car shipping, but then you get what you pay for.

Are you selling a high-end car that should not be traveling hundreds or thousands of miles on open road aboard an uncovered truck? If so, you’re probably going to want to choose an enclosed shipping transport. We recommend choosing this shipping method only if it’s absolutely necessary. Most of the vehicles shipped around the country are being shipped on open trailers, roughly 97%, which means that if you go the enclosed shipping route, you are going to 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. Which is why Direct Express Auto Transport will ONLY do it that way. Getting your buyer his or her 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 because, 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 car 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 issues can all influence timing, which is why most car shipping companies give ranges for their car drop-offs. Before you book, make sure that the date range you’re quoted works for both you and your buyer.

As far as actually picking your car up goes, 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 for $75 more 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. In order to ensure careful shipping, you have to choose the right car shipping company. And in order 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 that 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 options in your regions. It will also help you determine price. In many cases, it’s not distance that correlates to price, but rather competition and convenience for car shipping companies. Assess the field, get quotes, and get ready to make your choice. We are experts at pricing and you can feel confident we have already done that analysis for you.


Step 4: Choose a Reputable Auto Transportation Company

The biggest decision of the car-shipping process is choosing the right auto transport company. Here, you want work with a business that will keep your car safe while ensuring that it arrives in a timely manner—all without costing you an arm and a leg. The best of 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. This 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 pricey damages. While most car insurance policies don’t offer insurance coverage for car shipping, some auto transport companies offer their own 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 make sure that your vehicle is covered well in advance of its move. Direct Express Auto Transport guarantees that your vehicle is insured up to $150,000.


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’s going to be on a trailer for quite some time. There is no reason to have much gas in it. In fact, 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 vehicle for shipping, 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 he or she picks the car up.

Before saying goodbye to your car for the last time, give it a bath. At this point, you might be thinking: “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 take note of any irregularities it may have, not because you want it to be clean before its long journey. You don’t want to make a note of a “scratch” that was actually just a scuff that washed away with a little 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 you have thoroughly washed your car, take pictures of any of these 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 is one that will make the process of 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 simple and straightforward, we proudly pioneered the free online car shipping quote calculator back in 2004, five years before any other shipping company had one. We’ve refined that calculator and still use it today to help drivers across North America get fair, accurate, and transparent quotes for car shipping. No personal information is required — simply fill in the six fields and get your quote in seconds.

Put simply, 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 member of our team directly, and ship your car across state lines with our professionals here at Direct Express Auto Transport!

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