One of the biggest problems that people face while moving cross country is transporting their vehicles. After all, who wants to drive so much through the terrain when you already have so much on your plate? At the same time, booking a shipping company can fall on the pricier side, and that’s not what everyone’s looking for.
With so many options to choose from, how do you decide which mode of transport might suit your transportation needs the best? You can sit back and relax since we’ve got your back here! With the steps below, you’ll know all you have to know about transporting your car cross country.
1. Look At All Alternatives
When you’re looking to transport your car cross country, before you jump into what’s good and what’s bad, first look at all possible options. We suggest you understand what these options entail and if choosing it will be the right fit for you and others with you if you have company.
Sell Your Car
We know that many of you might have already considered this, and for the others, the idea might seem absurd. It’s really not if your car is old and you cannot afford to pay such a big amount to transport it. The situation is different when you have a classic or vintage car or one that’s a family heirloom. But other than that, if your car is giving you trouble anyway, and you’re trying to start afresh in a new state, you might want to consider selling it.
See also: Selling vs Shipping a Car
Drive Your Car Yourself
Even though this might not be something you’ve considered or something you’ve just shoved under the carpet, you must realize that driving your vehicle yourself is the most cost-effective way to transport your vehicle. Not many of us can afford to pay moving companies or pay others to drive the car for us. Even though the task can seem strenuous, the amount of money you save will be unparalleled, and you can even use the opportunity to turn the drive into a road trip!
When you drive, the only expenses you incur have to do with gas, lodging, food, and additional vehicle maintenance costs, which when calculated together; don’t mount up too much. If you’re moving, you can also tow the car behind your rental moving truck, since it will hardly cost you around $90 for 500 miles.
Transport Your Car By Rail
We’re very sure that you’ve already heard of Amtrak’s auto train where you can transport your car while you travel in the train’s passenger coach. Not only is transporting your vehicle via rail a highly affordable option, but it is also extremely quick! While costs depend on factors like time of the year and distance covered, what you must note is that your car reaches its destination safely. Since a train’s compartments are enclosed, shipping your car through a train is equivalent to shipping it via enclosed transport, just cheaper and quicker!
On Amtrak, for example, the average rate comes to $480, which is inclusive of your own passenger ticket and the cost for transporting your car. You can even choose which coach you want to travel in, the prices of which can be anything from $89 for a standard ticket to even $280 for first class. But, the only problem here is that Amtrack’s auto train only operates between Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL. So, if you don’t stay close to these areas and your destinations are different, paying so much to transport your car this way makes no sense.
Things to keep in mind while shipping by rail:
- Amtrak’s auto train takes 17 hours to ship your car without stops. The train also runs daily and the booking for the same can be done either online or in person. But, don’t forget to do so in advance since it gets booked pretty fast!
- If you choose pickup as an option through Amtrak, you will be charged extra. The same applies to any other rail auto transport service where door-to-door transport is more expensive.
- Note that when choosing to transport your car by rail, one unlikely problem that might occur is that of your car getting vandalized when it’s docked at the depot.
- While shipping by rail, the time taken for the transit can also take much longer than expected, as dealerships that you might get in touch with transport cars in batches. So, you will have to work according to their convenience. In such cases, it’s best to get bookings done in advance so that you can lock the date and time.
Hire A Driver
While the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of car transport is transporting it via auto shipping companies. But, what we don’t think of is hiring drivers to take care of the transportation for us. Not only does this cost less, but it also ensures that your car gets transported safely.
Also called driveaways, you can hire a driver via reputed companies that offer this service. Even though you might see it as a risky business, what with a stranger driving your car, it’s really not, since these companies have all the necessary mechanisms in place.
The drivers are screened and know their way around routes, so you won’t have to worry about anything!
If you have family members who want to travel along, or a pet that needs to accompany them, this option might be your best bet. Aside from the cost of gas and sometimes food and the cost of hiring the driver, you won’t have to spend for anything else, so it’s kind on your wallet too!
Book A Carrier Through An Auto Transport Company
Now that we’ve looked at every possible scenario to transporting your car, it’s time to consider shipping it with the help of an auto shipping company. When you book a carrier through an auto transport broker, your transport shipping job gets cut down drastically, because they handle everything professionally and efficiently. It’s similar to booking a full-service moving company – every single step will be coordinated and handled without much hassle.
Auto Transport Companies offer a wide variety of services based on what you need. These usually include open, enclosed, and door-to-door transport, where open transport is the most cost-effective service. Based on your preferences and your budget, you can decide to go the preferred route. Auto Transport Companies always have carriers that are vetted, they have insurance coverage, and the right licenses and permits. So, when you decide to book them, you know that your car is going in reliable hands.
See also: What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship My Car
2. Research And More Research
Once you’ve decided which route suits you best, be it driveaway or freight, it’s time to push those sleeves back and start researching. While a simple Google search will give you multiple lists, looking at reviews and ratings about the companies you come across is your best bet at analyzing if the company is reliable or not. Look at factors like insurance and licensing, because that is a mandatory factor when it comes to shipping something as valuable as a car.
Details of the same can be easily found on the respective website’s homepages, but if that’s not available, a simple call will give you the necessary answers. You can look at websites like Transport Reviews, Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, and Yelp for information on the same and ratings.
3. Start Scouting For Quotes
As you get knee-deep into looking for the right auto transport company, you should also start making a note of the quotes you get for your car’s transportation. We suggest you start doing this because the quotes you’ll receive are dependent on various factors and they’re subject to major fluctuations. Keeping a fair idea of how much a company will charge you in advance will make the process smoother. Even more so, it will help you select the right cost-effective and top-notch transportation company!
Many auto shipping companies provide instant quotes online when you enter specific details about your car, in what they call an instant quote calculator. While this is an easy way to get quotes, if you want an accurate one, don’t forget to get in touch with the company via call or mail. We recommend you do so because many times, estimates by instant calculators and agents of the company can be drastically different.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?
As we said, prices in the auto transport industry go up and down like a roller-coaster because of a number of factors which include:
- Time of the year – summers are always peak season with higher costs
- Size, condition, and make of the car – these are analyzed by agents
- Distance of the transit – many times, the rate for long-distance transportation is lower per mile of transit
- Type of service – open or enclosed transport, door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal
- Route taken
- Additional Insurance coverage
Cost of shipping via an auto shipping company: Keeping all these factors in mind, agents of auto transport companies give you a quote, which can fall around $700 to $1,300. According to common knowledge, if the distance covered by the carrier falls between 500 to 1,000 miles, it’ll cost you $1 per mile. Like we mentioned, for long-distance the price falls, the average of which is 60 cents per mile!
Cost of shipping by booking a driveaway: Depending on the factors we’ve mentioned, the cost of hiring someone to drive your car could cost anywhere from $200 to $900. You’ll have to calculate the cost in advance and work the same out with the company you’re hiring the driver from.
4. Look For Discounts – There Are Plenty
There’s always some room to save money and trust us when we say that the auto transport industry has discounts galore. Since prices are so competitive, you will be able to snatch some deal or the other which might bring your final cost dramatically down, so why not look for that when you’re researching too, right?
You’ll always find companies that have discounts for those in active military and for students. But, if you dig deeper, you’ll find many companies that have early bird discounts, discounts for shipping multiple cars, and many more among such offers. So, don’t miss out on them!
5. Time To Book – Do It In Advance
This is highly obvious, but important – you need to be quick with making reservations if you want to save money and get the date and time of your choice. For this very reason, we suggested you start your research soon, the faster you tackle the process, the faster you can secure a booking to transport your car.
But, if you’re short of time, auto shipping companies can save the day, because most of them offer expedited shipping services. With this, you can get your car transported as soon as they can possibly manage.
How do auto transport companies work?
If you’re booking a carrier for your car transport, there’s a common way in which a majority of these companies function. We’ll tell you about it in brief so that you have a fair idea of the entire process:
- Once you settle on a company and their quote, you will have to schedule a date and time for the pickup and drop off of your car. You will most probably be asked to make an initial payment for their services.
- On the day of the pickup, your car will be inspected and you will have to sign a Bill of Lading. After this, your car will be loaded into the carrier and it will leave for its destination.
- While your car is in transit, you can expect to receive frequent updates about the progress from your car transport company. Remember that the mode of giving updates might range from live time tracking to updates over call.
- On the day of the drop-off, you will be informed of when the car will arrive at your doorstep. Once it’s there, you can inspect it again and sign the Bill of Lading.
- If there’s payment left to be made, do the same at this stage and you’re good to go!
How Do I Prepare My Car For Shipping?
If you’re planning to ship your car irrespective of the mode of transport, try to do the following things:
- Gather and keep all the necessary documents in order. These include your car’s insurance, your ID proofs, etc.
- Take out all personal items from your car. Many auto transport companies allow a maximum of 100 lbs of personal storage, but even then we recommend you don’t keep anything of value in your car.
- Remove any accessories that were bought after you purchased the car.
- Take out any loose and dislocated parts that are specifically on the exterior of your car, since they pose hazards for the people transporting your car.
- If you plan to ship through an auto transport company, your driver will most probably conduct an inspection on the day of the pickup. We suggest you also take note of the same.
- If the driver is writing details on a sheet of paper, then make a copy of it for yourself.
- Check if the essential systems in your car are in working condition. These include your car’s steering wheel, engine, tires, and window and door on the driver’s side.
- If you’re hiring a driver, see to it that you get a maintenance check done before the day of the pickup. You don’t want the driver to get stranded with your car en route because of faulty car systems.
Who Is The Best Car Shipping Company?
Even though you might come across multiple companies on the internet, it will take you much longer to filter through them and find the right one for you. We’ll tell you which ones you should definitely check out:
- AmeriFreight – For their range of services and discounts
- Bargain Auto Transport – For their affordable prices
- Sherpa Auto Transport – For their guaranteed quotes
- Ship A Car Direct – For their damage-free guarantee
- Montway Auto Transport – For their customer service and guaranteed pickups
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to transport a car cross country?
The average price for transporting a car with an auto transport company is $2.00 per mile, but you can find many agencies that offer discounts on longer distances; we’re talking as little as 0 dollars (or less!) if your trip exceeds 1 500 miles from the start-to-finish!
What is the cheapest way to ship a car across the country?
The cheapest way to ship a car across the country is by train. The second choice would be an open truck; third place goes the same for enclosed transport while expedited shipping takes the fourth spot, and last, but not least plane will cost you more than almost anything else when it comes to getting your vehicle shipped cross-country!
Can I pay someone to drive my car across the country?
If you’re looking for the best way to save money while traveling, hiring an independent driver may be right up your alley. With this service comes some extra considerations like ensuring they are covered by insurance or purchasing short-term policies if necessary, but in return, it can help keep costs down!
Is it cheaper to drive or ship a car across the country?
Although driving your own vehicle is usually less expensive than shipping it, especially for shorter moves, automobile transportation is more convenient and worth the money if you’re relocating 500 miles or more.
How long does it take to ship a car cross country?
In the United States, a vehicle may be driven from door to door across the state in 7-10 days on average. This is an average that may fluctuate based on weather, traffic, and other customer needs.
The process of transporting your car cross country isn’t as complex and hard as it might seem. Depending on what suits you best, start the process early so that you’re not running around last minute. We also suggest you do your own research before making a decision as big as selling a car or as small as driving it yourself, because it will come with its own problems!