How to Ship a Car Anywhere in the USA: Your Ultimate Guide

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated May 16, 2023

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Do you want to safely ship a car anywhere in the USA? You’ve come to the right place! This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. From choosing the right auto transport company to understanding insurance and preparation tips, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!

1. Finding the Right Auto Transport Company

The first step in shipping your car is finding a reliable and trustworthy auto transport company. Here’s what to look for:

  • Reputation: Research reviews and testimonials from previous customers to gauge the company’s reliability and customer satisfaction.
  • Experience: A company with years of experience in the industry is more likely to provide efficient and professional service.
  • Licensing and Registration: Ensure the company is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and has a valid USDOT number.
  • Insurance Coverage: Verify the company’s insurance policy, including coverage limits and any potential deductibles.

2. Understanding the Different Types of Auto Transport Services

There are various auto transport services available to suit your specific needs. Some common options include:

  • Open Carrier Transport: This is the most popular and cost-effective method, transporting your car on an open trailer along with other vehicles.
  • Enclosed Carrier Transport: If you have a luxury, classic, or high-value car, you may prefer an enclosed carrier for added protection from weather and road debris.
  • Door-to-Door Service: The transport company picks up and delivers your car directly to your desired locations, offering maximum convenience.
  • Terminal-to-Terminal Service: A more affordable option, where you drop off and pick up your car at designated terminals.

3. Preparing Your Car for Shipping

Before handing over your vehicle to the transport company, follow these steps to ensure a smooth process:

  • Inspect and Document: Thoroughly inspect your car for any existing damage, and take detailed photos as a record.
  • Remove Personal Items: Clear out all personal belongings and valuable items from the car, as the transport company’s insurance does not cover these.
  • Perform Maintenance Checks: Check fluid levels, tire pressure, and battery charge to avoid any potential delays or complications during transport.
  • Disable Alarm Systems: Turn off or disable any car alarms to prevent accidental activation during transit.

4. Understanding Insurance and Protection

Understanding the insurance coverage provided by your auto transport company is crucial. Inquire about the following:

  • Coverage Limits: Verify the carrier’s liability insurance limits, and consider purchasing additional coverage if needed.
  • Exclusions and Deductibles: Familiarize yourself with any exclusions or deductibles in the policy, and be prepared to cover these costs if necessary.
  • Claims Process: Understand the process for filing a claim in case of any damage to your car during shipping.

5. Receiving Your Car at the Destination

Upon arrival, follow these steps to ensure everything is in order:

  • Inspect the Vehicle: Carefully inspect your car for any damage that may have occurred during transit. Compare with the photos taken before shipping.
  • Document Any Issues: If you notice any damage, document it thoroughly and notify the transport company immediately.
  • Sign the Bill of Lading: Once you’re satisfied with the condition of your car, sign the Bill of Lading to complete the delivery process.

6. Planning Your Car Shipping Schedule for a Stress-free Experience

When planning to ship a car anywhere in the USA, it’s essential to consider your schedule and any potential deadlines. Whether you’re moving, selling your vehicle, or taking an extended trip, timing is crucial to ensure a smooth shipping process. Start by researching auto transport companies well in advance and obtain multiple quotes to compare services and pricing.

Once you’ve chosen a transport company, discuss your desired pick-up and delivery dates, and be prepared to provide some flexibility. Shipping a car across the country can be affected by factors such as weather, traffic, and unforeseen delays. Providing a window of dates for pick-up and delivery allows the transport company to accommodate any potential obstacles, ensuring a stress-free experience.

Additionally, plan for any necessary car maintenance and preparation tasks ahead of time. This may include servicing your vehicle, checking fluid levels, and addressing any potential mechanical issues. By being proactive and attentive to your car’s needs, you can prevent complications during the shipping process and protect your investment.

7. Choosing the Best Season to Ship Your Car in the USA

The season in which you choose to ship a car anywhere in the USA can impact factors such as cost, availability, and transit time. While car shipping services are available year-round, understanding the pros and cons of each season can help you make an informed decision.

  • Spring: With milder weather and fewer severe storms, spring can be ideal for car shipping. However, increased demand during this season can lead to higher prices and longer wait times.
  • Summer: Summer offers favorable weather conditions for car shipping, but high demand and higher gas prices can result in increased costs.
  • Fall: As demand decreases in the fall, you may find more competitive pricing and faster service. However, the risk of hurricanes and other severe weather events may impact transit times.
  • Winter: While winter often sees the lowest demand and prices for car shipping, adverse weather conditions and road closures can result in longer transit times and potential delays.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Shipping

To further assist you, we’ve compiled a list of common questions related to car shipping in the USA:

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Bottom Line: Ship a Car Anywhere in the USA

Shipping a car anywhere in the USA can be a stress-free experience with the right preparation and knowledge. By choosing a reputable auto transport company, understanding the various services available, and following the necessary steps to prepare your car and protect it during transit, you can ensure a seamless and worry-free process.

Remember to inspect your vehicle upon delivery and address any concerns promptly with the transport company. With these tips in hand, you’ll be able to ship your car confidently and efficiently, no matter the destination within the United States.