How to Ship Your Car When Moving to a New State

Over 10% of Americans move every year, however, transporting a car across state lines when moving often isn’t quite as simple as driving over to your new location. If you’re moving far away, perhaps even across the country, you’ll need a detailed plan on how to do it.

In the 21st century, you won’t get far without a car, so you’ll need to find a way to move it to your new home. Questions like “what goes into the shipping process?” and “How pricey is it?” are common among first-time movers. Some are even worried that the car shipping company might damage their vehicle.

Thankfully, with an experienced company, this process is both painless and affordable. We’ll be going over some of the most important things to consider when shipping your car, as well as all the ways you can do so.

Driving Versus Paying a Transport Company

A lot of movers get quite ambitious when it comes to the distance they can safely drive their car to. Though driving your car to the new location tends to be cheaper (especially if it’s not a long move), getting a transport company has its pros as well.

So, how do these two modes of shipping compare?


When it comes to price, it is usually cheaper to drive your car than it is to pay for a transport company. With that being said, the difference gets smaller and smaller the longer your move is. For example, a 150-mile move might cost you $200 to drive but would be $470 if shipped professionally. However, if your move is over 2500 miles, the difference is almost negligible.

Driving your car, however, has some sneaky downsides when it comes to cost. The first is lodging during a long move. If you’re moving over 500 miles away, chances are you’ll need to resort to a hotel. With hotels in the United States costing up to $150/night on average, that quickly adds up to the expenses.


For many, this is the biggest reason to pick a transport company over driving your car yourself. It is simply much easier to have someone else take care of your car than it is to drive for 9 hours, multiple days in a row.

Furthermore, it helps you not worry about the safety of your car. If you aren’t someone that has driven long distances before, the chances of you getting into a car crash or otherwise damaging your car increase. On the other hand, the company drivers have years of doing exactly that under their belt.


It can be easy to underestimate exactly how long it takes to drive over 500 miles. Keep in mind that even just 500 miles can take 9 hours under ideal driving conditions.

If you’re moving, say, 2000 miles, that’s basically three whole days you’ll be spending driving. If you’re too busy to take that time off, or if you just think driving for 3 days is exhausting, a transport company is your best bet. They’ll get your car to your new location faster, and more stress-free.


There are also other reasons why one might opt to pay for a transport company rather than driving their car themselves:

  • Peace of mind
  • Keeping their mileage to a minimum
  • It’s time-saving
  • Usually superior insurance
  • Having multiple cars

Selecting a Transport Company

This is the first thing you’ll need to do when shipping your car. Finding a trustworthy transport company is half the job in itself. Luckily, there are some ways by which you can vet out the gems from the dirt.


By understanding what goes into shipping your car, you’ll be much less likely to be taken advantage of by predatory companies. There are a variety of factors at play when shipping a car, and you should consider all of them before accepting a price.

For example, if you drive a high-end car like the Bentley Continental, then your quotes are likely to go up. If your car is a collectible and needs to be protected from the elements during transport, ask for an enclosed carrier.

If you need to transport a larger, heftier car, then that will also raise your prices. This is because it’s harder for the shipping company to transport it, in addition to consuming more fuel to ship the extra mass.

The time of year is also critical. It’s much riskier to ship a car during a harsh Alaskan winter than it is during a pleasant Californian spring. Because of this, expect winter moves to cost you a bit more. Summer moves can also be costly due to the amount of demand.


Whenever you deal with a car shipping company, you’ll want to know as much as possible about their insurance. This goes double in case you’re transporting a vintage or luxury vehicle. While each company is mandated by law to insure the vehicles they ship, some are better than others.

The easiest way to check this is by visiting their website. They should have a printer friendly version of their insurance policy on there. Read over it carefully, and consider whether or not it covers all of your needs fully. If it doesn’t, then you should consider getting supplemental insurance to cover your needs.


The easiest way to figure out how good a shipping company is by checking their online reviews. Ideally, you should try to find a former customer that moved from your location or just a similar model to yours.

If they’re singing the company’s praise, then you might be in luck. However, don’t stop here, you should also ensure that the reviews are genuine by visiting sites such as TrustPilot and United States Department of Transportation. These will help you determine the validity of the reviews you find on Google or Yelp.

Getting Ready For Shipping

Once you’ve decided on a shipping company, you’ll need to get ready for shipping. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as simple as jotting your name on a piece of paper and being on your merry way.


This is one of the best tips for ensuring a premium auto transport experience. You should arrange your car to be shipped as far in advance as you can. This is because the further out the time is, the more dates become acceptable.

Do not simply pick one fixed date either. Ideally, you’d make a deal with the shipping company to settle on a few dates that you both find acceptable. This way if there are extraordinary circumstances on the first date, you have other times available.

If you really need your car shipped on a specific date, then taking a guaranteed pick-up date is your best bet. Take heed, however, that these are significantly more costly than doing it the old fashioned way.


Take note that you can’t just pack everything in your car when moving and call it a day. Most transport companies have a 50-100lb limit on how heavy your trunk can be without incurring extra charges.

Furthermore, you should take the following documents with you when you’re ready for pickup:

  • Proof of insurance
  • A document proving you’ve booked with them
  • ID
  • The car’s registration documents

Deciding How You Want It Shipped

Once you’ve picked your company and gotten ready for shipping, you’ll want to decide how you want your car shipped. There’s a variety of different transport methods, each of which comes with their pros and cons.


Open shipping refers to shipping your car in a long, commonly 2-level trailer. This kind of shipping is ideal for standard models of cars or those that have seen better days. This type of shipping is the most common, as it’s usually significantly cheaper than enclosed shipping.

Its biggest downside is that your car will be out in the open during rain, snow, and sun. There’s also debris going all around during transport, and your car will not be protected from this. The same goes for dirt, so you might find your car arriving in need of a wash.

If you have a choice, always ask your company for a top load if you’re shipping your car by an open carrier. This means that your car goes on the carrier’s upper level, which protects it from debris, as well as leakage from other cars on top of it

When it comes to enclosed shipping, the trailer on which your vehicle rides is completely enclosed. This is done in order to additionally secure your vehicle and protect it from the elements. It is usually unnecessary unless you’re shipping a brand new car or one that costs a pretty penny.

It’s also common for enclosed carrier drivers to have more experience taking care of high-end vehicles. Because of this, if they’re driving through a risky road, or you’re just afraid for your car, enclosed shipping is the way to go.

If you’re willing to pay top-dollar, then you should look for a “white glove” option with this kind of shipping. White glove shipping means that the driver will be paying special attention to your car specifically, and will be constantly available for you to give you updates.

The benefits of a white glove option are:

  • The best insurance money can buy
  • Your car will be alone in the trailer
  • The driver will constantly update you on the car’s condition
  • You can be sure that your car is in good hands

Due to the additional weight of enclosed carriers, as well as the fact that fewer cars can be moved at once, this mode of shipping is more expensive.


Terminal-to-terminal car transport is where you drive your car to a terminal, the shipping company takes it, and ships it to the terminal nearest to you. Usually, you’ll find terminals near airports or major highways.

A terminal is, in essence, just a place where cars are delivered and taken from. Usually, your car will be bundled together with others that are going to the same area.

When you book terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’ll drive to a drop-off terminal that you agreed upon and leave your car there. The shipping company will then pick it up, and transport it to the terminal in your chosen location.

Terminal-to-terminal used to be significantly cheaper than door-to-door, however, these days the prices are much closer together. With that being said, a benefit of terminal-to-terminal transport is that you can pick your car up whenever you want, and you can even nominate someone else to do it.

The downsides of using terminal-to-terminal shipping are that you’ll have a lot more travelling to do to and from the terminals, as well as potential storage fees.

Door-to-door shipping means that your chosen shipping company will pick up your car, and bring it to the location of your choice. This usually means they will pick it up from your door, and bring it to your new one, hence the name.

When you book door-to-door shipping, the carrier will come to the location you specify to them to pick up your car. Then, you will be able to select a location for them to bring your car to.

The most obvious benefit of this is the absolute convenience it gives you. You don’t need to drive to and from terminals. Furthermore, it is the safest option for your vehicle, as it won’t sit around in terminals for hours.

There are also no “hidden costs” such as the cost of gas for driving to and from the terminal in case of terminal-to-terminal transportation. Door-to-door car shipping is also no longer all that much more expensive. In fact, sometimes it can even be cheaper.

The biggest downside of this kind of shipping is that some locations are inaccessible to trailers, so if you live in a narrow street, you might have to drive out a bit for the carrier to be able to pick your car up.


Shipping your car is a tedious enough process by itself without needing to take out a new mortgage to pay for it. If you want to know the way with the best cost to quality ratio, you can check out our car shipping quote calculator free of charge!