What To Look For To Ship A Car Across The Country


Assumptions abound when it comes to how best to ship a car across the country. Some consumers believe it’s far too expensive to consider, while others think it’s only available for auto dealerships. Still others may question how safe it is.

These consumers fail to acknowledge the multi-fold problems associated with a DIY move, whether you’re thinking about a road trip or renting a tow dolly from U-Haul. These options come with hefty expenses, too, like gas, lodging, food, and more.

You’ll also face risks associated with car accidents, wear and tear, and (in the case of road trips) de-valuing mileage. What gives when it comes to transporting your car? It’s time to reconsider having your car professionally moved.

Keep reading for cross-country shipping tips.

Road Trip Costs and Considerations

Why professional auto transport? Because shipping a car across country is safer for your vehicle as well as you and your passengers. After all, interstate highways are among the most dangerous roads in the nation.

Did you know that speed-related accidents cost Americans $40.4 billion annually? Or that approximately two million drivers experience permanent injuries due to accidents each year?

For these reasons alone, it makes more sense to stay off the road and let a professional handle your car hauling needs. You should also bear in mind the wear and tear your car endures with each road trip.

We all know that ramping up unnecessary mileage makes your car’s value take a nosedive. But you could also face other mechanical issues as a result of excess use.

Tow Dolly Complications

As for tow dollies? If your car isn’t compatible with this form of transport, it could lead to serious damage. You’ll also experience heavy wear of your back tires, which remain on the ground throughout transportation and increased risk of accidents due to trailer sway.

What’s more, if your truck isn’t rated to pull the tow dolly, you could damage it, too. Many companies that rent tow dollies make you rent a truck along with the dolly, so truck rental costs are also possible.

For the reasons above, a ship car across country decision often proves less expensive. You’ll avoid all of the trouble mentioned above as well as expenses such as gas, lodging, food, and more.

What to Look for With Cross-Country Shipping

After your house, a car is the most expensive asset you own. So, it’s only natural that you might feel hesitant handing it over to a stranger for transport. That said, when you take the time to vet companies you’re considering carefully, it’ll give you peace of mind.

Not only will a little online research make you feel confident about the cross-country car shipping company you choose to work with, but it could help you find a better deal.

Start by looking up car shipping companies on Google and Yelp to see what past customers have to say about them. As you go through reviews, keep an eye out for those closest to your current situation.

For example, they may deal with a service from New York to Florida (if that’s the route you need), or they may address the same make and model as your vehicle. What these customers have to say about their experience will provide you with plenty of insight.

How to Vet a Car Shipping Company

Next, you’ll want to head to the Better Business Bureau to find out more about each company, whether they’ve received any complaints in the past, and what they’ve done to remedy the situation. From there, hop on the phone with the companies that stand out to you.

During these calls, you have a couple of objectives. First, see how they treat you during the call.

This first impression indicates what customer service will be like throughout your relationship. Pay attention to your gut instincts.

Second, ask them for their US DOT and MC numbers. If they can’t provide you with these numbers, then they’re not properly registered. Cross them off your list.

After you do get some numbers from companies, head to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s website to search these numbers. You’ll gain access to their safety records, providing plenty of insights about each company.

How to Get a Deal on Car Shipping Cost

Once you’ve found reputable companies, do a little comparison shopping. That way, you’ll feel confident about the final car shipping cost you receive.

The best car transport companies have easy-to-find car shipping calculators on their websites. Fill out their form, and you’ll get an instantaneous and anonymous quote.

What will the company ask you for? Details that will impact the final price you pay. These include:

  • Pickup location
  • Dropoff location
  • Car make and model
  • Car running condition
  • Preferred shipping type

Answering these questions is relatively straightforward, but we should provide a little clarity when it comes to “preferred shipping type.” In 95 percent of cases, you’ll want to opt for an open carrier.

While your car will get exposed to the elements during transport, it’s similar to the exposure it would face during interstate travel. What’s more, it’s the cheapest way to go.

What about enclosed carriers? Reserve these for the most expensive vehicles, like classics and exotics.

As the name suggests, these trailers have a roof and walls that shield them from the weather, etc. That said, booking one will cost you about 30 percent more than an open carrier.

Ship a Car Across the Country

As you can see, when you ship a car across the country, going DIY comes with many risks and unanticipated costs. For these reasons, the better choice for car shipping remains hiring a professional.

Would you like to learn more about auto transport? Check out our FAQ page for answers to your questions.

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