Everything You Need to Know about Shipping a Car

Safely transporting a car from point A to point B isn’t the easiest thing to plan. You’d think it would be as straightforward as finding a moving company, but it’s not. Transporting a car needs planning and permits and might require dealing with an insurer. And honestly, who has that kind of time? Even the best deal can’t be overridden by the hassle of driving a vehicle for who knows how many days.

So you want to hire someone to ship your car. Perhaps you have to move to another state, or you just bought a beautiful vintage car. Or maybe you’re a race car collector who lives on the East Coast and you’re looking for an enclosed race car transport service from California to ship a new purchase home. Or you simply don’t want to drive across the country. Regardless of your reasons, there are a few things you should know before shipping your car. Let’s start.

What are my options?

woman inside a car

There are two ways of shipping a car. You can choose a terminal-to-terminal option, or you can have it shipped door-to-door.

In a terminal-to-terminal setup, your car is brought to an originating terminal, perhaps a warehouse or a parking lot, and it is transported with other vehicles to a destination terminal. This option is often cheaper but takes longer since you’ll have to wait until the load is full. In many cases, your car will also be exposed to the elements.

The door-to-door service is more straightforward: An assigned driver will pick up your vehicle from your designated spot, and they will deliver it to your desired destination. This option allows for more flexibility but costs more than a terminal-to-terminal service.

Apart from that, you’ll have to decide whether you want to ship your car in an open carrier or an enclosed truck. Open carrier transport is cheaper, but it leaves your vehicle vulnerable to debris, the weather, or theft. Now, if you’re shipping a valuable specialty vehicle like a vintage race car and your destination is somewhere far like California, an enclosed race car transport service can give you the comfort and peace of mind you can’t get from an open carrier shipment.

How much will I spend?

Hiring a car transport service isn’t cheap, but various factors determine the final bill:

What kind of vehicle are you transporting? How large and heavy is it? Is it a working car, or is it a museum showpiece? Shipping a nonfunctional vehicle requires extra preparation. How far is your destination? The farther the destination, the more expensive it will be. When are you shipping it? Transporting a vehicle during the summer can cost more than doing it in winter. These are just some of the factors you have to consider when deciding on a transport service.

You also need to consider whether the final destination will take the driver far from his usual route. If that’s the case, the company might charge extra.

Letting someone drive your car can be nerve-racking, but if you choose the right transport service, and have prepared your vehicle for the journey, you can trust that the vehicle will arrive on time and in excellent condition.

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