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Transporting Your Vehicle

Writer - John Linden
Vehicle Transportation Trailer

Sometimes it’s not convenient or possible for you to drive your car across country or to another location. In that case, you’ll need to look into transporting your vehicle. Many people hire an auto shipping or vehicle transportation company to safely get their vehicle to its destination. Here are some reasons why vehicle transport may be necessary, the methods available, some of the big names in the vehicle transportation industry, and the cost involved.

Why Transport Your Vehicle?

If you’re moving a considerable distance from your current home, it may be simply too time-consuming and expensive to make multiple trips to move all your possessions. This means you’ll want to do everything in one trip, and that requires a moving truck. If you have helpers, someone can drive the truck while you drive your car. But if it’s just you, you’re going to need an auto shipping company to get your car to your new home.

Another reason for vehicle transport would be urgency. If you have a new job that starts right away, for example, you may not have the time it takes to drive your car there. You can fly to your new home while a company brings you your vehicle.

If you have purchased a vehicle from a private seller in another state, you may want to hire a company to bring your new car to you. This is especially true if you’ve bought an older car that you plan on restoring.

Vehicle Transportation Train

Methods of Vehicle Transportation

There are a few different ways your vehicle can be transported:

  • Enclosed truck
  • Flatbed trailer (make sure that Shelby is protected with a mustang car cover)
  • Car carrier (when it’s being transported along with other vehicles)
  • Train
  • Ship or ship container
  • Plane

Some of these methods are obviously more expensive than others, but if you’re moving your car to another country, having your auto shipped by plane or boat is often your only option if you’re moving across an ocean and want to keep your car. In most cases, flatbed trailers, car carriers, and enclosed trucks are used. They also tend to be the more affordable options.

Major Vehicle Shipping Companies

There are a number of different companies out there that you can hire to ship your vehicle, but some of them are limited to a small region. The larger companies offer transportation across the entire U.S. and even to other countries. Here are some of the largest:

  • Ship a Car Direct – This company will pick up your car at your old home and drive it to your new location with no deposit. They also guarantee a refund if your vehicle is damaged while in their care.
  • Executive Auto Shippers – If you’re shipping a luxury or classic car, this is your company of choice because they specialize in moving these types of cars, although they will also ship regular vehicles, too.
  • AmeriFreight – AmeriFreight offers insurance for every vehicle shipped with them, plus scheduling, rates, and payment options are available online.
  • Dependable Auto Shippers – DAS provides transportation for more than just cars: planes, boats, and other recreational vehicles can be shipped on their flatbeds and car carriers to any location in the U.S.

Remember that any reputable auto shipping company is going to be licensed and insured. They will also follow all U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. If you have any questions, check with either the Department of Transportation or with the Better Business Bureau.


There are no standard costs in vehicle transportation because there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Your location and the destination are two of the largest items that determine cost. If you’re shipping a vehicle from New York to California, of course the cost is going to be more than if you were having it shipped from New York to Washington, D.C., simply because the distance is greater.

Vehicle Transportation Container

The size of the vehicle is another factor. Larger cars such as SUVs or large trucks may be subject to an oversized load cost.

The time frame is another factor. If you don’t need the vehicle for several weeks, the company may be able to arrange the delivery schedule so they are near the next pickup. If you need it right away, they will have to drive straight to your location, possibly even paying drivers overtime, which will cost you more.

There may also be a charge for door-to-door pickup and delivery. It may be cheaper for you to drop off and pick up your vehicle at the closest shipping terminal.

Overall, most auto shipping companies charge between $1,500 and $4,500, and many will ask for a deposit of anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent. Shipping multiple vehicles or shipping overseas will, of course, greatly increase this price.

Common Mistakes

There are a few basic mistakes that a lot of people make when planning to have their vehicle transported, especially if they have never used one of these services before. Here are a few of the common mistakes:

Not shopping around. Always look to see where you can get the best rates and service. Remember that cheaper isn’t always better, though—be sure you take a look at what you’re actually getting for your money.

Not getting it in writing. If a company gives you a guaranteed delivery date, get it in writing. Otherwise, there’s nothing you can do when your car doesn’t show up on time.

Look at cancellation fees. Some companies do have a cancellation fee if you decide you’re not having your car shipped. Know what the fee is, when it applies, and how to cancel your contract without a fee.

Make sure the company is fully insured. Ask if they offer additional insurance as well. This is especially important if you’re having a luxury or classic car transported.

Don’t leave valuables in your car. In fact, you should thoroughly clean out your car before having it shipped.

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