How to Ship a Car Across Country During a Move

How to Ship a Car Across Country During a Move

Dodge Charger US Muscle Car – Year: 1968, V8, 375 PS

Where Exactly to Ship Your Car to a New Home

In the vast majority of cases, when you ship your car to a home in a residential area during a move, you can have it delivered to your front door. This is where the phrase “door-to-door car shipping” comes from. However, in certain cases, local ordinances or laws will forbid a car carrier from driving onto a particular street. In other cases, a street might be too small for a car carrier to pull over on and load or unload your vehicle. If any of this is the case, your auto transport company will identify this as you are in the process of booking with them. They will then ask you what your preference is in terms of nearby large parking lots for the exchange to take place in.

How Far Ahead to Schedule Your Car Shipment Before You Move to Your New Home

You should plan out your vehicle shipment a month and a half to two months before the date that you need your car picked up. To get your desired shipping dates, you should book your shipment at least three or four weeks ahead of the date that you want your car picked up. If you do this, you will be giving yourself a few weeks to work out your shipment and comparison shop for the company that works best for you. This can help you save some money in addition to securing your preferred pickup date.

Unfortunately, the dates you receive for both the pickup and drop off of your car are only estimates. When you book a shipment, you will be given two to three day windows for both the pickup and drop off of your vehicle. This is due to unpredictable factors such as traffic and weather. Although your car might not get picked up or dropped off on the exact date you choose, you can be confident that it gets picked up and dropped off within those forty-eight to seventy-two hour windows.

How Much to Ship Your Car?

The cost of shipping your car in 2022 and beyond will range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The price is affected by several factors that can vary tremendously. These variables are the distance of your shipment, the notice that you gave your transport company, the cost of fuel at the time of your shipment, which shipping options you selected, and the time of year that you are shipping your car.

Labor Costs

The distance of your shipment equates to the labor needed for any other job. The more labor a job needs, the more it will cost. The same goes for car shipping. If you do not book your shipment long enough before you need your car picked up, it will be much more difficult for your car shipping company to find you an available spot on a carrier. This can cause a price increase because, at that point, supply is limited, and demand is high. The same is true for the time in which you are shipping. If you ship during a busier time of the year for auto transport companies, the cost to you will be higher because demand is higher. Busier times include the spring and summer.


Finally, there will be several options for you to choose from when you ship a car. Some will be more expensive than others. You can ship on a typical open-air car carrier which has two decks of cars and no walls or roof. You can also choose to “top-load” your vehicle which means your car is placed on the top deck. There is also enclosed shipping when a car is shipped in a special carrier that has walls and a roof. Top-loading or shipping on an enclosed carrier will cost you an extra couple of hundred dollars.

Show me a scenario

To give you an idea of how much to ship your car costs as of August 2022, we will give you two specific examples. In both examples, we are shipping a 2018 Toyota Corolla on an open-air carrier with no upgrade options with one month’s notice. From Charlotte, North Carolina to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the cost would be approximately $1,200. From Charleston, South Carolina, to Los Angeles, California, the cost would be approximately $1,600. As you can see shipping your car across the entire country costs more.

graphic with image of a semi carrying several cars reading, 'how to ship a car across country during a move"
Save our post to Pinterest!

Looking to move soon?

Check out UniMovers and save 30-50% on your move as compared with traditional moving!

How You Can Easily Prepare for Your Car Shipment So You Can Focus on the Rest of Your Move

Now that you know how to ship your car and your shipment is booked, you will need to do a few simple things to get ready. This includes removing any personal items, cleaning the exterior of the vehicle, and making sure there is approximately a quarter tank of gasoline in the car. It will only take a couple of hours total to accomplish all of this.

Auto Transport Insurance

Objects like gloves, glasses, and phone chargers must get taken out of the car because they will not be covered by auto transport insurance. Meaning if these types of items get lost or incur damage during the shipment, you will be responsible for the cost of replacing them. The outside of the vehicle must be washed because a visual examination for damage will occur during the pickup. The car carrier driver will inspect your vehicle and document any damage that occurred prior to the shipment for insurance reasons.


The car you are shipping has to have a quarter tank of gas or more prior to shipping. The exemption to this is when you are shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. In these cases, your vehicle will be on a ship for a portion of the shipment. Thus, the car’s gas tank cannot legally be more than a quarter full for fire safety reasons. Do not leave much less than a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle either. There must be enough fuel in it for it to drive onto and off the car carrier several times. So, precisely a quarter tank is best in these cases.

Arrange for alternate transportation

How long you will be without your vehicle will depend largely on how far it is being shipped. In many cases, that amount of time will vary between a week or two. During this period, you will obviously not have the car that you are shipping. Hence, you will need to arrange alternate transportation if you do not own another car. This can include public transportation, carpooling, taxis, and/or ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft.

Picking up your car

The delivery of the car will be easy if you are at the delivery site during the delivery window. If you are unable to be there, you can have somebody that you trust there who has a valid driver’s license and is eighteen or older. Upon delivery, you will have to check out the vehicle to be sure that no damage has occurred from shipping. After this, you or whoever you choose to be there will have to sign the bill of lading.

+ posts

Ashlyn grew up in a small town in southwest Iowa. Currently, she is a senior at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She will graduate with a degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Public Relations, and Communications. She works at the Coe College Writing Center as well. In her free time, she loves to try new restaurants, travel, and spend time with her dog!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *