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Everything You Need To Know About Car Shipping

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Whether you’re planning to relocate to grab that new job, finally letting go of your old reliable car, or are just leaving north for the winter, one thing is guaranteed: you’re exploring car shipping. If you have never done it before, then this guide is perfect for you.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll answer all the questions most people have about car shipping. By coming across answers to these common queries, you’ll be able to select the right car shipping company that will safely transport your beloved vehicle from A to B.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about car shipping.

How does the car shipping process work?

While not all auto transporters work the same, most use a similar shipping process. You place your reservation with a broker, who then arranges a carrier to ship your vehicle. Their driver loads the car at your home and transports it to the destination.

Here are the basic steps involved in car shipping:

  • Step 1: Get a quote from Slap Auto Transportation You’ll be asked to submit various pieces of information. These include your car’s model, make and year, pick-up and delivery locations, pick-up and drop-off dates, your car’s operability status (driver or not drivable), and type of shipping requested.

  • Step 2: Compare shipping companies Compare shipping prices, go through customer reviews and ensure the auto transport company has insurance. Don’t forget to check the shipping time – most companies usually deliver your car from A to B within 6 to 12 days, unless you live in the middle of nowhere and have opted for doorstep delivery.

  • Step 3: Prepare your car for shipping After selecting the shipping company, it’s time to prepare your vehicle for transport. This includes doing things like removing your personal belongings from the car and washing it inside and out. You may also want to empty your gas tank and remove any accessories on your vehicle’s exterior.

  • Step 4: Ship the car After picking up the vehicle from your location, the driver/shipping company will take around 6 – 12 days to deliver it to the destination. Depending on the distance between pick-up and drop-off locations, the process could take more or less time.

  • Step 5: Unload the car If you cannot travel to the drop-off location, make sure you have a person at the delivery site to check the car for any damage. If you see any damage, document it on the bill of lading (a document that compares the car’s condition before and after the drop-off)

What should I look for in a car shipping company? Whether you’re an individual shipping your vehicle or a dealership moving a fleet of cars across the country, it’s essential to work with an auto transporter that you trust. There are some amazing companies out there with years of experience. All you need to do is find them.

Here’s what you should look for in a car shipping company:

  • Research the market Most people make the mistake of going for the auto transporter that gives the cheapest quote. Don’t be like most people. Ask the shipping company about the insurance coverage, shipping mode, shipping time, and any other questions that may come to your mind.Next, you need to check out reviews by their previous customers. No company is perfect, yet the number of bad reviews will help you decide whether the auto transporter has a habit of misbehaving with its customers or it was just a one-off event.

  • Request a quote Get quotes from all the companies you’re in touch with. Some of them might specialize in transporting exotic cars for dealerships, while others focus on shipping passenger cars for individuals. The type of car shipping the company specializes in will influence their auto transport rates. It’s essential that you’re aware of the services a company specializes in before requesting a quote. An auto transporter that ships passenger vehicles might quote you less for a luxury car, but that won’t necessarily mean that they’re the right car shipping company for you.

  • Start asking questions Now that you’ve received quotes from multiple companies, it’s time to start asking questions. Your first question should be whether the carrier has all the licenses that are needed of them. You should also research the company’s safety record with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Before you put down the phone, you should know about how long the company takes to ship your car from A to B. You should also be aware of the type of insurance they have, what kind of delivery options they offer, whether they offer any tracking system, and the payment process. Note: Before selecting any carrier, check their license status with FMCSA. Every auto transporter has an MC number that you can verify from the FMCSA website. Don’t do business with a carrier whose MC number returns ‘Not Authorized’ in red letters.

  • 4. Check out the carrier options Car movers can ship your vehicle in 1 of 3 ways. The first is an open carrier. Transporting a car via open carrier might cost you less. But it will expose your vehicle to road elements such as dust and debris and the weather elements such as sun, rain, and snow. Then there is the multi-carrier, in which your vehicle will be shipped alongside a fleet of cars. Multi-carrier shipping will also expose your vehicle to weather and road elements. That isn’t the case with an enclosed carrier, the preferred choice of people who ship luxury or classic cars.

  • 5. Check their cancellation and insurance policies Ask the carrier if you cancel your reservation, how much will you have to pay? What’s the deadline for cancellation? Don’t take the company’s word and get everything on paper. This way, you’ll be on the safe side in case an unforeseen scenario forces you to cancel your reservation. The next thing you need to do is check the company’s insurance policy. Ask them to provide you with a copy of the policy before making the reservation. Some auto transporters let owners of a sports car or a vintage car opt for a premium insurance policy that gives them better cover.

  • 6. Decide which company best meets your needs Don’t settle for the cheapest option. Some companies try to get as much business as possible by quoting dirt-cheap prices at first, but they often surprise their customers with hidden fees down the line. Remember, the lower the quote, the lower the quality of service you’ll get. Now that you’ve collected information on the company’s reputation, carrier options, and price, it’s time to select the carrier that best meets your needs. However, if you’re still undecided, you can get in touch with the companies again to ask any questions you still have.

How much does it cost to ship a car? According to Forbes, the average cost to ship a car is more than $2.00 per mile for journeys less than 200 miles. It’s estimated that the shipping price drops to less than $0.58 per mile if the transporting distance exceeds 1,500 miles.

Keep in mind that open transport – where the vehicle isn’t covered from above – costs less than an enclosed carrier. Research carried out by Move shows that, on average, open shipping is $420 less expensive per trip for the same car type and distance traveled. Some carriers might quote you a figure too good to be true. They will do that to secure your business. By the time you realize the actual cost, they will already have your non-refundable deposit. That’s why it’s essential to get a reputable car shipping company like Slap Auto Transport.

  • Season. Winter season is extremely busy for carriers, as it’s the time when many retirees relocate to warmer places. Increased traffic and poor road conditions may push the car shipping costs higher during the winter season.

  • Trip distance. It goes without saying that the longer the length of the trip, the higher the auto transportation cost. Even though many shipping companies charge less per mile for long-distance journeys.

  • Vehicle size and type. Crossovers and SUVs will cost more to be shipped than sedans or smaller passenger vehicles. Longer and taller cars could also require extra transport adjustments, hiking up your total shipping bill.

  • Open vs. enclosed. Open car shipping might be the most budget-friendly option out there, but it isn’t as safe as enclosed auto transport. Many car owners who intend to ship luxury or vintage cars opt for enclosed shipping.

  • Location. Shipping to and from an area close to the terminal costs less than if you reside in a rural area. If you’re living in the countryside, you might be quoted longer pick-up and delivery times due to the reduced availability of carriers.

Here are multiple ways you could save money on car shipping:

  • Ship in the off-peak period If you live up north, you might already know that the winter months are the busiest for car shipping. These are the months when retirees relocate in search of warm weather. Conversely, if you live near the coast, try to avoid the months from May to December.

  • Use terminal-to-terminal transport Sure, it is very convenient to get your car shipped to your doorstep. But it can also be a bit more expensive. If you do a little research, you may find various car shipping terminals near where you live. All you need to do to save money on car shipping is drive your vehicle to and from the terminal.

  • Opt for open carriers Open car carriers aren’t as bad as most people think. Their drivers are equally experienced as those of closed carriers. Plus, high-end shipping companies will take every measure to ensure your car’s safety. Unless you’re shipping a high-end sports car, open carriers should be your go-to choice.

  • Be flexible with pick-up and drop-off dates Car movers charge extra when you tell them to pick up and deliver your car on specific dates. But if you give them flexible dates, they could fit your car into their transport schedule. Some auto transporters might even offer a discount if your car’s pickoff or delivery date doesn’t fall on a busy day.

  • Leverage your personal status Some car transport companies quote lower prices to members of a particular group. For instance, serving military personnel, veterans, and first responders often get better quotes. Ask a broker if they offer any discounts to members of the group you belong to.


Credible car shipping companies like Slap Auto Transportation make your life easy. When you don’t have the time to drive your car from point A to B, they take on the responsibility, letting you focus your attention on the innumerable things you need to take care of before relocating to your new home.

However, as stated above, not all auto transporters are the same. It’s essential that you do your research before selecting a carrier for shipping your vehicle. And always go for a car shipping company whose reputation is top-notch, even if that means paying a few extra bucks.

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