The Most Common Car Shipping Questions

Transporting your car is about a lot more than just moving it from point A to point B. You also need to keep your car safe, get it to your new home on time, and stick to your budget in the process.

The easiest thing you can do is hire one of the best car shipping companies for the job. But even then, you might have questions about the car shipping process.

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Common car shipping questions

moveBuddha compiled some of the most important questions we hear from people shipping their cars and put together this guide for your easy reference. Whether you need guidance on choosing the best shipping method or help understanding the transport process, we’ve got you covered.

How are car shipping costs calculated?

Average auto transport costs depend on a lot of factors, including:

  • Distance: The longer the route, the higher the costs.
  • Type of vehicle: Shipping a motorcycle or small car is usually cheaper than transporting a larger SUV or truck.
  • Transport method: Open transport is generally more available and more affordable. Enclosed carriers are more expensive and harder to find, but they protect your car from the elements.
  • Fuel prices: Most auto transport companies charge mileage based on current fuel costs.

To give you an idea of transport rates, it costs $1,284–$1,940 to ship your car from Texas to Florida. But California to Washington car shipping costs range from $1,121–$1,754.

Pricing varies based on a lot of factors, so request car shipping quotes from at least three auto shippers to get a better idea of pricing for your unique situation. Additionally, check out our car shipping calculator here!

What’s the difference between open transport and enclosed transport?

With open transport, the vehicle shipping company transports cars on the back of a large truck. This exposes your car to the elements, but it’s more cost-effective.

Enclosed car shipping uses covered carriers that protect your car from weather, debris, and theft. This option is more expensive, so enclosed trailers are more common for luxury, exotic, or classic car transport.

How long does it take to ship a car?

The duration depends on:

  • Distance
  • Route
  • Weather conditions

On average, you can expect it to take anywhere from three to 14 days. Your auto shipping company will provide an estimated turnaround time with their quote.


Want more information on shipping your car in a covered carrier? Check out our list of the best enclosed car shipping companies

Learn More

Do I need insurance to ship my car?

Maybe. Any reputable auto shipping company will carry insurance that covers damages during transit. But this insurance doesn’t cover everything, so it’s best to review your existing car insurance policy.

You’re legally required to have some kind of car insurance anyway, and the policy you’re already paying for might cover some of the costs of damages. You might be able to ship your car without buying additional coverage, but read the fine print carefully to make sure.

Can I ship personal items inside my car?

Most car transport services allow you to ship a certain amount of personal items in the car. Car transport companies that allow it usually have a weight limit —often around 100 pounds. All of the items have to fit below the window line, too.

However, shipping items in your car isn’t always a good idea. Your transporter’s insurance (and your insurance) might not cover these items if they’re damaged or stolen.

If you’re transporting via an open carrier, thieves are more likely to target your car if they see your belongings inside. If you want to ship your car and your stuff at once, don’t ship anything that’s irreplaceable or expensive. Inexpensive and common car-related items like jumper cables and flashlights are usually OK.

Are car shipping delivery dates guaranteed?

Most car shipping companies can’t guarantee a certain delivery date. But they will give you a delivery time frame for when you can expect your car to arrive.

If you need a precise date, some carriers offer expedited or guaranteed delivery at an additional cost.

How do I prepare my car for shipping?

Prep your car for shipping by:

  • Removing all personal belongings or items of value
  • Vacuuming thoroughly
  • Washing the car and immediately taking photos of existing damages
  • Checking the fluid levels
  • Securing the battery
  • Checking tire pressure
  • Leaving a quarter tank of gas in the car (this reduces the weight of your car but leaves enough gas to transport the car)

Is door-to-door shipping an option?

Many auto shipping companies offer door-to-door delivery. With door-to-door, the shipper picks the car up at your home and ships it directly to your new address.

Keep in mind that door-to-door is more work for the shipper, so they’ll probably charge you an additional delivery fee.

Not all trucks can access residential neighborhoods (especially in urban areas), so the shipper may ask you to pick up your car in a nearby parking lot. You’ll both agree to the pickup and drop-off locations before scheduling the car shipment.

What happens if the shipper damages my car?

Damages aren’t fun, but you have a lot of recourse here:

  • Document the damage with photographs.
  • Note the damages on the delivery receipt (also called the bill of lading).
  • File a claim with the auto shipper.
  • If the auto shipper doesn’t cover the damages, file a claim with your car insurance company. If you shipped personal items in your vehicle and they’re damaged, try filing a moving claim with your renter’s insurance.

Can I track my car while it’s in transit?

Some car shipping companies offer tracking via GPS. This allows you to monitor the location of your car during transit.

However, the specifics of the tracking features (like real-time updates) vary from company to company, so ask your auto shipper what type of tracking they offer.

How do you handle international car shipping?

International car shipping is a little more complex. You need to deal with customs and paperwork, which means it’s more expensive than shipping domestically.

Check out moveBuddha’s guide on how to ship a car overseas for average pricing, timelines, and more.

Picking the best car shipping company

As you can see, your car shipping experience depends on the car shipper you hire. You want to go with a respected company with a reputation for quality —this is your car we’re talking about, after all.

Consider these factors when hiring a car shipping service:

  • Reputation and online reviews: Websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and moveBuddha will tell you a lot about a company’s reputation. It also can’t hurt to ask friends and family for their recommendations.
  • Expertise: Does this car shipper have a good reputation? Do they have a valid website and proven track record? For example, if you’re shipping a specialty car, go with a shipper that specializes in handling rare, custom, expensive, or antique vehicles.
  • Licenses and certifications: If you’re shipping domestically, the car shipping company needs to have a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number. You can also look them up through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
  • Insurance coverage: Don’t work with an auto shipper that doesn’t provide proof of insurance — that’s a red flag. Ask for the specifics of their policies, like exclusions and the claims process, before you sign on the dotted line.

You’re free to pick your favorite car shipper, but why spend weeks researching when we’ve done the hard work for you? Check out moveBuddha’s guide to the best car shipping companies to ship your car, hassle-free.

If you’re shipping a car as part of your move, many full-service professional movers can provide auto shipping assistance. Start your search by reviewing our picks for the best moving companies and best interstate movers.

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