People are using car transport services to move their vehicle out of state every day, and for a good reason — to relocate for a new job, move closer to family, buy a new house or report to a new base for the military.
It may seem like a headache to move your car to a new location, especially if it’s several hundreds or thousands of miles away. Driving the car yourself may be too stressful and time consuming. In the case that the car doesn’t run well or you need to move more than one vehicle, it may actually be impossible if you don’t have the necessary equipment.
Luckily, driving the car yourself isn’t the only option! Hiring a professional car transport service takes care of the logistics, long travel times, and added expenses for all car types. Best of all, it gives you more time to focus on the more exciting parts of your big move!
How Do Car Transport Services Work?
Here is a step-by-step guide to successfully shipping your car with a transport service.
Prepare Your Car for Transport
Before your car leaves for the transportation process, it’s crucial to conduct a visual inspection and maintenance check on your vehicle. If you forget this step, the car shipping company may not be held liable in the rare case your vehicle is damaged en route to your destination.
Familiarize yourself with the condition of your car by recording any visible cosmetic and integral damage. It’s best to wash your car as much as possible so the wear and tear are easily visible. Take photos of your vehicle from several angles, with close-ups to show the detail of damaged areas. Don’t leave out minor scratches, dings, dents, discoloration, or paint chipping.
Ship anything safely, from pets to cars, motorcycles, furniture and much more with trusted drivers.We’ll keep your email safe & you can unsubscribe any time.
Next, create a checklist for yourself to be sure your car is in working order and ready to go:
- Check for any leaks and measure fluid levels
- Check that battery is fully charged
- Check the tire pressure (for over-inflation or under-inflation)
- Check the amount of gas in the tank (there should only be ¼ tank or less to reduce weight)
- Disengage your car’s alarm (the jolty movements of the trailer may set it off during transport)
- Stow removable parts of the vehicle inside (bike, ski, or luggage racks, for example)
- Remove personal items to reduce the risk of damage, loss, or theft
Determine Pick-up and Drop-off Method
Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping:
Terminal-to-terminal car shipping requires you to take your vehicle to a designated drop-off location near you, determined by the car shipping company. You then will also pick up your vehicle at another terminal. This option is the cheapest because it allows car shipping companies to pick up and drop off several vehicles at a time, reducing distance and the amount of gas.
However, terminal-to-terminal shipping may not be suitable if you have strict time constraints. If your vehicle is not in working condition, you’ll need to find a way to transport it to the terminal location. Additionally, your car could spend extra time at the terminal lot awaiting pickup. This may leave your car exposed to the elements and delay the arrival time.
Door-to-Door Car Transport:
It’s just like it sounds — your vehicle is picked up from your preferred location and delivered to the location of your choice. This method of shipping can be more costly because the transporter spends more time on the road, but the convenience may be worth it. Your car must be in an accessible area with enough room for transporters to access their equipment and load the vehicle up.
Choose Method of Transport
There are a couple of different options for the type of trailer you haul your car with. You’ll want to decide which is best for your vehicle before you book a transport service. (More information below!)
Select a Transporter that Reflects Your Needs
Start your transporter research as early in the process as you can. This way, you’ll have the most options available — you won’t want to settle when it comes to your car. The shipping service you choose should reflect your budget, time frame, and the parameters of your specific car.
Types of Trailers Used for Car Transport
Enclosed Auto Transport
Enclosed car transport is usually recommended for custom, luxury, exotic or classic vehicles because it protects the vehicle from the elements. During rainy and snowy months, this is especially useful. An enclosed trailer also offers extra security. Your car will not be left out in the open if the transporter makes a stop along the way or needs to find lodging for extended drives of several days. Transporters who haul enclosed vehicles generally are more experienced in handling high-end vehicles.
Enclosed transport trailers come in various sizes and styles. There are multi-car, double, or single trailers for the option to have your car hauled with other vehicles or by itself. The typical maximum for enclosed trailers is seven cars at a time. This makes enclosed transport ideal for expedited shipping — your car can ride solo or with one to five other cars, shortening the route to your destination.
While shipping fewer cars at a time might sound appealing, it also comes at a higher price tag. Enclosed carriers are heavier and less fuel efficient than open carriers. Higher fuel costs mean higher shipping costs as well.
Open Car Transport
Open car transport involves carrying a car out in the open, usually on a multi-level, multi-vehicle hauling trailer. This is the most commonly used method of hauling vehicles because it suits the average car.
The transporter can accommodate several vehicles at once — usually up to a maximum of 10. More common means easier to book and a higher range of flexibility for pick up and drop off dates. This contributes to open car shipping being the most cost-effective choice. Open trailers also typically weigh less than enclosed trailers which cut down on fuel costs.
The most notable downside to open car shipping is exposure to weather and road debris during the transportation process. It’s not ideal for shipping your car on an open air trailer during the winter months when rain and snow are forecasted the most. Your car may arrive dirty.
Additionally, if your car is larger or heavier, there may not be enough room for your vehicle. Demand for spots on an open trailer may be high.
Types of Vehicles Transported Using Car Transport Service
Those in the military move frequently to report to new stations. To recognize their service, most transport companies offer a discount to military personnel that need to move their vehicle to a new location.
Classic and Exotic Cars
Whether you drive a well-loved classic sports car like the 1963 Porsche 911 or a glistening brand new 2023 Porsche 911, one thing is clear — it’s a gem to be handled with care.
Classic cars may not be in the condition to be driven for long distances. Extended periods of time at high speeds, like on the freeway, for example, may not fare as well for the engine as they used to. Additionally, the seats may not be super comfortable for a long road trip either.
Whether brand new or classic, you want to avoid any cosmetic or serious damage to the vehicle during transport. To prevent debris, grit, and dust from coming in contact with your car, you can hire a transporter with an enclosed trailer to haul it safely to the destination. This option also keeps mileage down on the vehicle and prevents the wear that would happen from driving it long distances.
Cars Bought Online
If you’re buying a new car online, whether from a dealership or from an ad posted by a private seller, car transport services will definitely come in handy. This way, you don’t have to have a friend or family drop you off at the pickup location or pay for a flight to drive it back yourself. You can simply give a transporter the pickup address and the dropoff address, and the rest is handled!
Heavy Vehicles, Trucks, and SUVs
There are car shipping companies that specialize in heavier and bulkier vehicles like trucks and SUVs, providing the necessary equipment to handle an oversized vehicle.
Sedans and Other Passenger Cars
Common compact cars and sedans are perhaps the easiest to ship because they are more compact and lightweight.
Can Your Car Be Transported Overseas?
International Car Shipping By Boat
The cheapest way to ship your car internationally may be by boat. There is a type of shipping called roll-on/roll-off, or RO/RO — think of a parking lot floating across the ocean — you drive your car onto the boat and drive it off at the destination. You can also ship your car in a sea container, but this is more expensive.
International Car Shipping by Plane
Shipping your car internationally by plane (air freight) is by far the fastest option, but it is also extremely expensive. This option is usually used for high-end or exotic cars.
Is it Expensive to Ship a Car?
There are many variables that go into the total cost of car shipping, and everybody’s budgets look different, so let’s break down what factors into the price:
Distance — It goes without saying that the longer the trip, the more it will cost. Some traditional car shipping companies charge on a per-mile basis. The mileage rate varies depending on the company. On the other hand, some companies offer a flat rate.
Vehicle Size — The weight your car adds to the trailer and the amount of space it takes up will affect the cost of shipping it. Compact cars, like a Prius, for example, will be less expensive to ship than a larger SUV or truck, like a Ford F-450. Larger vehicles may also require extra equipment.
Delivery Timeframe — Expedited car shipping services typically require added fees. If you are more flexible with your delivery time, it can reduce the price.
Vehicle Transport Type — Shipping your car on a multi-car trailer versus a singular trailer can save you money. In doing so, you are splitting the overall cost of the trip with other people who are hauling their vehicles on the same route. Shipping your vehicle on an open trailer can be more cost-effective because it can haul more vehicles simultaneously.
Vehicle Condition – Additional equipment is necessary to transport non-running vehicles.
Time of Year – Winter and summer are typically the most expensive months to ship your car. May through August are popular times for people to move, so car shipping companies will be in high demand. During the winter, adverse weather conditions may affect car shipping prices.
How to Get Car Transport Service Quotes Within Minutes
CitizenShipper makes calculating car shipping estimates short and sweet. To receive quotes from transporters through CitizenShipper, just create a free listing with some simple information about your car:
- Year, make, and model of the vehicle
- Photos of the vehicle
- Whether the vehicle is in operable condition (starts, runs, and has keys)
- Ideal pick-up and drop-off dates and locations
- Any other details you think are important to share with your transporter, such as the type of trailer you prefer, pre-existing damage to the vehicle, modifications made to the vehicle, etc. (detailed listings get faster quotes and more refined matches!)
Next, you’ll receive quotes from prospective car transporters within minutes! An advantage of an online marketplace like CitizenShipper is the competitive rates for car shipping. 2,500+ transporters are competing for your business and check for new transport gigs daily. Since each match for your listing wants to carry out the transport, they’ll put their best efforts — and price — forward.
Another advantage is that CitizenShipper narrows down the pool of prospective transporters to only the best car shipping companies — ones that meet your specific criteria. This way, you don’t have to spend hours, or even days, weeding through services that don’t match your ideal car transport journey.
Delivering Peace of Mind, And Then Some
Hiring a car transporter through CitizenShipper is a stress-free experience — you can leave the logistics to the pros so you can focus on what’s important to you.
Keeping it Affordable
Transporters hired through CitizenShipper offer competitive transport prices without sacrificing quality service. The right shipping company will invest in the specialized equipment needed for your car. This could be a high-end sports car or a heavy work truck.
The CitizenShipper marketplace connects you with a transporter that’s professional, reliable, and safe. Every transporter goes through carrier vetting and background check processes for extra peace of mind. As an added layer of security, CitizenShipper offers a Booking Assurance Guarantee. This policy protects you from fraudulent transactions and provides driver replacement assistance in the rare case of cancellation.
You can enjoy peace of mind knowing your vehicle is in the hands of a shipper that is well-versed in the world of cars. Their CitizenShipper profile will speak for itself, featuring:
- Average rating on a 5-star scale
- Number of completed transports and cancellations
- Detailed reviews are written by past customers
CitizenShipper has accumulated 100,000,000+ miles driven by qualified transporters with 14+ years of experience connecting you with the best transport experience.
Paige Strickland is a content writer with a background in journalism. She is an advocate for animals, the environment, and local issues.