Interstate Car Transport 101 – What You Need to Know

You have a number of different choices when you need to move your car across the country. You can either drive the car yourself, pay someone else to drive it, or hire an interstate car transport company. Many people choose the last option because it’s the most convenient, and it’s usually comparable to the other two in terms of cost.

If you’re looking at shipping a car to another state here’s a quick guide to interstate car transport using one of these companies.

Types of shipping

While shipping companies can move just about any type of vehicle to practically any location, there are a number of different ways they can get it there. The cheapest option, and the one that most people choose, is an open transporter. While this may mean that it costs less to ship your car, it does leave it open to the elements while it is being transported, and there is a greater risk of it being damaged. The alternative is enclosed car transport, which moves the car in a covered trailer and provides greater protection. While this is obviously the better option, it could be up to 50% more expensive.

As well as the type of truck your car will be carried on, you also have the option of choosing a door-to-door service, or drop off and collection at a depot. As you’d expect with the door-to-door service, the shipping company will come and collect your car and deliver it to a specified address at the other end. Keep in mind that the large transporters most shipping companies use could struggle with narrow residential roads, so door-to-door usually means as close as they can possibly get. If you decide to drop off and collect your car from a depot this makes the shipping company’s life easier and is therefore usually cheaper.


As we’ve already seen, the cost of shipping your car will depends on what kind of service you require, as well as the type of vehicle you want moved and how far you want to move it. Car shipping quotes will vary from one company to the next, so it’s always worth making a few enquiries so you can compare the services offered and how much they cost.

As a rough guide, if you’re looking to ship an average car from New York to San Francisco using an open trailer, you should expect to pay around $1,000, but whenever you ask for a car transport quote, always make sure you know exactly what is included in the price, to make sure you avoid any surprise surcharges.


How long it will take your vehicle to get to its destination can depend on a number of factors. Cheaper services are usually less flexible, so you will have to rely on your vehicle being shipped on the transportation company’s schedule rather than yours. In these situations, moving a car across the country could take 2-4 weeks, but some companies may specify 7-14 days if you’re prepared to pay a little more for their service. It’s worth bearing in mind that because shipping can be affected by breakdowns, traffic conditions and the weather, most companies don’t guarantee delivery dates.

You also need to consider that you will probably need to make your booking 2-4 weeks before the date you want your car shipped.


As well as being registered with the Department of Transport and FMCSA, all car shipping companies are required by law to provide insurance for the vehicles they transport, in case they get damaged. However, because they only need to provide $50,000 of cover, this might not be enough for some car owners. There may also be a deductible if you do need to make a claim, so it’s important to look into the cover offered by your mover in detail.

Always ask to see a copy of their insurance document, to make sure your vehicle is insured, and to see what coverage you will have. Your own insurance may also cover your car while it’s being shipped, and it may even allow you to make a no-fault claim without losing your deductible if anything does go wrong. If you’re planning on shipping your car it’s always worth speaking to your broker to see what they advise.

If you need to move your car across the country, understanding a bit more about how car transportation companies operate and the different choices you’ll have, should help to make choosing the right one a lot easier.

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