You typically don’t receive a guaranteed time when shipping a car, as several factors can influence how long a truck driver spends on the road. However, when planning to ship your car, it is important to know when to expect. So, in general, how long does it take to ship a car across the country?
We’ll detail the factors that affect shipping times and what you can expect when shipping your car. To get started, contact auto transport companies to see if they offer guaranteed pickup or expedited shipping. By comparing the best car shipping companies, you’ll be able to find the service and time frame that best suits your needs.
In this article:
What to expect from the car shipping process
Many factors involved in the shipping process can affect how long it takes to get your car from point A to point B. Once a car carrier picks up a vehicle, it usually takes a seven days to reach destination. , depending on shipping distance and barring unforeseen delays.
We have described the automatic transport process step by step below. However, it’s important to note that some car shippers may need additional information, so use this as a starting guide on what to expect.
It is best to start looking for a car transport company at least two weeks in advance. You can choose between two main types of car transport companies:
- Brokers connect customers to their network operators.
- Carriers transport vehicles from one place to another.
Whether you choose a broker or a carrier, make sure the company you choose is fully licensed and insured.
Car transporters will ask you for details about your vehicle, pick-up location and destination to determine which service best suits your needs. Most companies require:
- Vehicle make, model, age and operability
- Pick-up location and drop-off location
- Preferred shipping time
- Name, email and phone number
Using this information, the company will provide you with a free quote for shipping your car. Your final car shipping costs will likely be higher than the initial quote you receive, as initial quotes often don’t include service charges, additional carrier charges, or insurance costs.
When shipping your car, you can choose from service options such as open or closed transport and door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping. Note that closed transport may take longer than open transport because there are fewer carriers available.
In addition to these services, some companies offer specialty services such as expedited shipping, international shipping, guaranteed pickup dates, and single car shipping.
After selecting a service, period and location, you can book your car shipment. Depending on the company, you can pay the full amount of the service upfront or pay part of the balance upfront and the rest after your vehicle has been delivered.
Most car shipping companies do not allow you to ship personal items inside your car. This ensures the safety of your valuables and, as some companies weigh your vehicle before shipping, it also reduces the cost of transporting your car.
A car transporter will usually be dispatched within 10 days of booking. Before the carrier collects your vehicle, they will inspect it with you for any existing damage. Take photos of your car in case any damage occurs during transport.
Many companies provide GPS tracking information through an app, website, or phone service. This allows you to stay informed of any delays that may affect the pick-up date or drop-off date.
Depending on the service you choose, your vehicle will be delivered either to your doorstep or to a pre-determined terminal. You should inspect your vehicle for any signs of damage upon arrival. You will then sign a bill of lading to verify that your car has been delivered. If necessary, you will pay your remaining balance at this time.
Factors that affect the automatic transport process
Some factors can affect shipping times, including:
The longer the distance between pickup and delivery locations, the longer it will take for your car to arrive. Shipping your car a few hundred miles usually only takes a day or two, but a cross-country trip can take seven to ten days.
Bad weather can affect transportation times, especially in winter when ice and snow are on the road. Car transporters are also busier during the summer due to demand, so it can be more expensive and more difficult to find a truck driver to transport your car.
It may take longer to find a carrier that offers enclosed transportation or ships oversized vehicles such as RVs or ATVs. These types of transport require drivers specialized in the transport of these vehicles.
Road conditions can help or hinder shipping times. If your trucker is experiencing major highway work and slower speed limits, this will slow them down and possibly delay your vehicle’s delivery date.
If you are not experiencing delays due to any of the above factors, you can expect your shipment to take no longer than six to twelve days when shipping across the continental United States. Shipping a car to Hawaii or Alaska can sometimes take up to three weeks because shipping rules and regulations are different.
Our recommendations for autoship
In our 2022 review of the best car transport companies, Montway Auto Transport and Sherpa Auto Transport were our top picks. We recommend that you obtain several car shipping quotes before booking your shipment so that you have a better chance of finding a cheap car shipment.
Montway Auto Transport is a popular car broker that works with an approved network of over 15,000 car transporters. The company is known for its wide range of services, including guaranteed pickup dates, expedited shipping, and open, closed, and door-to-door transportation. Montway Auto Transport holds accreditation and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Read more about the car transporter in our Montway Auto Transport review.
Unlike most car transport companies, Sherpa Auto Transport offers fixed prices, which means that you will never pay more than the price initially quoted. The company provides open, closed and door-to-door car shipping services. Sherpa holds an A+ BBB rating and a 4.9 out of 5.0 star customer rating.
Learn the ins and outs of the company in our Sherpa Auto Transport review.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our team of experts collects data from dozens of car transport companies to formulate rankings of the best carriers. Suppliers receive a score in each of the following categories, along with an overall weighted score of 5.0 stars.
- Reputation: Senders with a track record of strong business practices and expert endorsements receive the highest scores in this category.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of shipping routes, distances and vehicles. Businesses with lower prices and plenty of discount opportunities receive higher scores.
- Services: This rating is based on the types of car transportation services available, insurance coverage, and the ability to guarantee pick-up and drop-off dates.
- Client experience: We comb through customer reviews and do our own buyer analysis to get a sense of how responsive and helpful each car carrier is.