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What You Need to Know About Car Shipping Time Frames

Whether you need to move your vehicle 500 miles in state or 3,000 miles across the country from Miami to Seattle, shipping your car with an auto transport carrier can make it much easier than trying to drive it yourself. But when you are planning your car shipping, there are a few questions you want answered, like:

  • How long will it take?
  • How far in advance should I book?
  • When’s the best time of year to ship a car?
  • What’s the busiest time?

We strive to answer these questions and more by giving you the best, most honest, and straightforward information so that you can make the right decision for your situation.

Car Shipping Time Estimates

The first questions on most peoples’ minds are “how long will it take for it to get picked up?” and “when will it be delivered?” As a good rule of thumb, auto transports cover about 500 miles per day. So, if you’re shipping 500 miles or less, you could have it delivered within 2-3 days of it being picked up. If you’re shipping across the country, count on transport time to take around a week. Keep in mind, carriers face unpredictable situations over which they have no control, such as inclement weather or truck breakdowns. Car shipping estimates are just that…estimates. And if this is your first time using an auto transport service, check out our guide to everything you need to know … and probably didn’t know that you need to know.

If you can plan accordingly, you reduce your likelihood of being frustrated. This means plan to be without the vehicle for a few days and arrange for a rental, ride-sharing, carpooling or bumming rides from friends.

Speaking of friends, allow the people in your life to lend you a hand. Another common question is whether you have to be there for both the pick up from the origin point and the delivery of the car to its destination. Thankfully, no! All that is required is a person you trust who is 18 or older who is available to turn over or receive the vehicle. It takes about 30 minutes, so it’s not an unreasonable or burdensome thing to ask. And they know you’d do it for them. This allows you to buy a car from across the country or fly to your destination in comfort, and know someone else can get your vehicle shipped or received.

Best Time to Ship a Car

Now that you have the logistics of shipping and receiving the car, it’s time to plan when? Sometimes, you just have to go when you have to go, such as moving for a job, deploying, or shipping a car for college. But maybe you have the luxury of choosing the month or season in which you ship a vehicle. Either way, information is power. So let’s talk about the best time to ship a car.

Fall is the ideal time of year to ship a vehicle. September, October, and the first half of November provide the best options for lower rates and faster delivery. The summer rush is over, the snowbird migration hasn’t quite begun, and you’re unlikely to contend as much with the weather. And because it’s not a rush season, you’re also competing with fewer shippers, so rates are less costly as transporters are trying to fill loads. Plus, the holidays haven’t arrived, so shippers are still actively seeking loads instead of settling in to enjoy time with their loved ones.

Because of the school year, many people move during the summer months. This influx, accompanied by idyllic weather, means summer is undeniably the busiest season. Busy also means more expensive, as you’re competing with other customers for limited space on transport vehicles. Whether you ship in the busy summer months or the dicey weather of the winter, you may need to pay more to incentivize haulers to pick up your vehicle. This could make it worth it for the hauler to choose either your vehicle over someone else’s in the summer or entice them to drive a car to or from a place, not along a well-traveled route or facing tumultuous weather in the winter.

Time to Ship Your Car Across Country

Now that you’ve figured out that yes, you want to ship your car across the country, you’ve chosen the season, and you know who’s going to be there for both pickup and delivery, it’s time to get your quote and book it. 

So now for the last question; how far out should you obtain a quote? At Direct Express, we always want to give you the best information. While other transport brokers recommend getting quotes a month or more out, we know there’s too much fluctuation that can happen. We won’t quote more than 14 days out. One week is about perfect for getting current pricing while still giving you plenty of lead time to make plans.

Use our pioneering online quote calculator to know how much shipping the vehicle will cost. Once you’re ready, you can either use our online form to book transport or contact a customer service representative at 800-600-3750. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and schedule a transport carrier.

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