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Have questions about shipping your car? We have answers to the most frequently asked auto transport questions. If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for here, contact our dedicated agents at 916-744-2228 to help you understand the process better.

Open rack, loaded transport truck

What is auto transport?

Auto transport is a service that helps you move your car from one location to another, typically over a long distance. It might be from one city to another, state to state, coast to coast, or any other location. An auto transport company will pick up your vehicle and load it onto a trailer. Then your car is transported and delivered to your chosen location. It’s that simple!

What are the benefits of auto transport?

Many people consider car transport to be the best and easiest way to ship a car. It’s quick and easy to arrange and a very convenient service. 

You’ll find most cross country car shipping companies provide a range of different services, depending on your shipping needs. Some of the advantages of auto transport include: 

  • There’s no wear and tear on your car or extra miles added to the odometer

  • Car shipping is stress-free

  • Saves you time and money

  • You can ship more than one vehicle at a time

  • Extra protection is available for valuable vehicles

  • Door-to-door service is an option

  • Express service is available if you’re in a rush

What services do car transport companies offer?

When you book a car transport service, there are several options you can choose from. Depending on the company, one or more of the following services may be offered:

Open car transport:

Open transport is the most common car shipping service. Auto transport companies are popular for the general public and car dealerships who want to transport both new and used vehicles across the country. 

Generally, auto transport companies use trailers that have one or two levels. This means they can transport several vehicles at the same time. When you ship a vehicle in an open trailer, it is exposed to the elements and environment. This is because the trailer has no sides. This doesn’t mean your vehicle isn’t safe. Open car transport is one of the safest and most secure ways to transport a vehicle.  

Enclosed auto transport:

Enclosed auto transport is different because the vehicles being moved are completely enclosed and protected from the weather and any traffic grime. It’s a popular choice and is typically recommended for owners of antique, custom, classic, high-end, luxury, and modified vehicles. 


The cost of an enclosed transport is around 30% - 40% more than open car transport. 

Express auto transport

There are times when you might need to ship a car quicker than normal. Express auto transport is a service that allows your car to be shipped faster than the standard service time. The industry standard timeline for a car transport pick-up is between 5 and 7 days. You can reduce this timeline to between 1 and 2 business days with an express or expedited auto transport service.

On average, you can expect to pay at least 30% more if you want express transport services.   


How much does car shipping cost?

The cost of shipping a car depends on several things. For example, the vehicle’s size and weight, the actual shipping distance, the route taken during transportation, and the current cost of fuel. The type of shipping service you choose also makes a difference. Specialty shipping services such as enclosed auto transport or express car shipping will cost more than the standard open car transport.

How long does it take to ship my car?

It is usual for a cross country car shipping company to cover several hundred miles a day. The time it takes for them to deliver your car varies, depending on the distance they have to travel. It could be a day for short distances, a week or even longer if your car has to be transported a long distance. It could also take much longer if the pick-up or delivery locations are remote, rather than a city. Other factors that might affect the time frame include:

  • Number of stops

  • Traffic flow

  • Weather conditions

  • Detours

  • Road constructions

  • Heavy traffic


The Department of Transportation has also mandated that a truck driver can only be legally on the road for 70 hours each week. This is one more thing that affects the time it takes for long-distance car shipping. 

How does the car shipping process work?

The car shipping process is a straightforward one. All it takes are three easy steps:

1. Get a quote and book your service

With a few basic details, you’ll be matched with a transport specialist who will assist you in setting up transport. The following details are required:

  • Pick-up city and state

  • Delivery city and state

  • Vehicle year, make, and model

  • Condition of the vehicle

  • Transport type (open or enclosed)

  • First available pick-up date

If you’re happy with the price, you will be able to book your order by speaking with an auto transport specialist. 

2. Your car is picked up

A few hours before the arranged pick-up time, your assigned carrier will contact you to confirm the pick-up information. They’ll also want to verify that the location is accessible for large commercial vehicles. If this isn’t the case, you can arrange pick-up at an alternative location. This might be a wider road nearby, a parking lot, or where you work. The carrier will also want to confirm that you’ll be available to release your vehicle. If you will be unavailable you can choose a third party to act on your behalf if you can’t be there, such as a friend or family member. Before the carrier can load your vehicle onto the trailer, you both have to inspect it for any existing damage. Any dings, dents, or scratches will be noted on the receipt also called a  Bill of Lading.

With the paperwork complete, the driver can load your car onto the trailer. For peace of mind, it’s usual to receive regular updates via email or telephone. You can also check on the progress of your vehicle by checking in regularly with the driver. 

3. Your car is delivered

Just before the carrier reaches the drop-off location, they will give you a call. This is to let you know they are not very far away and to check that you are available to receive your car. If you will not be available you can choose a third party to act on your behalf if you can’t be there, such as a friend or family member.

When the carrier delivers your car, you will have the opportunity to inspect it closely to make sure everything is in order. If you’re happy, you sign the Bill of Lading to accept delivery of your car. 

How do I pay for car shipping?

There are typically two forms of payment. First, the auto transport company takes a deposit from your credit or debit card to hold the vehicle space on the trailer. They do this once they’ve assigned a carrier to pick up your vehicle.

Second, at delivery you pay the remaining balance when the carrier delivers your car. The carrier will accept Cash on delivery also known as a “COD payment.” It’s possible to pay with a cashier’s check or money order depending on the payment types the carrier assigned to transport your vehicle accepts. 

Can I ship personal items in my car?

You can transport up to 100 lbs. of personal items in the trunk or cargo area of your vehicle upon approval from the carrier at booking. These items must be placed in a single box or suitcase. However, there are certain items that are prohibited during transport. These items include:

  • Guns and ammunition

  • Explosives

  • Flammable products

  • Drugs

  • Alcohol

  • Live plants

  • Furs

  • Pets

  • Jewelry

  • Any unlawful contraband

It may be possible to load more personal items, but you’ll need to clarify that with the carrier/transport company. Inside your vehicle, the front seats must be empty and free of any personal items. The extra items you want to ship must be on the back seat or trunk and below the window level. No items are permitted outside of the vehicle.

When you want to ship a vehicle to or from Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico keep in mind that the rules are different. You’re not allowed to ship any personal items inside the vehicle. 

Is my car fully insured during the shipping process?

Yes! Your vehicle is fully insured from the time of pick-up to the time of delivery. How much your vehicle is insured depends on the type of trailer, the carrier, and your vehicle’s value. 

Generally, open car carriers have cargo insurance coverage between $100,000 and $1,000,000. Enclosed transport carriers offer cargo insurance coverage between $250,000 and $3,000,000. 


What does First Available Pick-up Date mean?

This is the exact date when your vehicle is ready for the carrier to pick up. It doesn’t need to be the exact pick-up date. Once a carrier has been assigned, you’ll be notified of the pick-up date. 

What is a door-to-door shipping process?

Door-to-door transport is one of the most convenient ways to ship a car long distance. You inform the transportation company of the exact address for the pick-up and delivery of your vehicle. They will then pick up and deliver as close as possible to your specified address. Keep in mind, however, that the locations you choose must be accessible to large commercial vehicles. There must be no parking restrictions, trees, or power lines overhanging the road. The street must also be wide enough to accommodate a large truck and trailer. 

If you’re at all worried about the suitability of a particular location, you can arrange to meet the carrier somewhere else nearby such as a parking lot, a wider street with no restrictions, or where you work.

How far in advance should I book the transport?

It’s best to book between 1 and 2 weeks in advance. This allows plenty of time for the auto transport specialist to find and secure your booking promptly. Should you be in a hurry, express auto transport services are generally available. 

What is a Bill of Lading?

This document serves as a receipt for the transport services. You might also hear it being called a receipt or invoice. This document details your vehicle’s condition when the carrier picks it up. 


You will get a copy of this document when the carrier comes to pick up your vehicle. You’ll fill out the pick-up and delivery location details, the year, make, and model of your vehicle, and the dollar amount you’re paying for the service. You must also use it to record any damages on your vehicle and sign it. 

You will be given a copy of the completed form, and you can use it to compare your vehicle’s condition upon delivery. 

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