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How long does it take to ship a car from California?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Overview of Common Car Transport Methods in California
  2. Detailed Exploration of Common Methods
  3. Open-Air Transport
  4. Enclosed Transport
  5. Door-to-Door Service
  6. Terminal-to-Terminal Service
  7. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Transport Method
  8. Preparing Your Car for Transport in California
  9. Conclusion
How long does it take to ship a car from California?

When it comes to moving a vehicle across the Golden State or beyond, understanding your options for car shipping in California is crucial. Whether you're a car dealer, a new resident, or simply relocating within the state, the method you choose for transporting your car can significantly impact both your wallet and your peace of mind. This article aims to shed light on the common methods of auto transport in California, helping you make an informed decision that suits your needs. From the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the scenic routes of the Pacific Coast Highway, we'll guide you through the essentials of car shipping services, ensuring your vehicle arrives safely at its destination. Join us as we explore the most reliable and efficient ways to ship a car in California, presented by your trusted car shipping company.

Overview of Common Car Transport Methods in California

In California, the most common methods of transporting a car include open-air transport, enclosed transport, door-to-door service, and terminal-to-terminal service. Each method offers different benefits depending on your specific needs, such as budget, vehicle type, and urgency.

  • Open-Air Transport: This is the most cost-effective option, where vehicles are shipped on an open trailer. It's ideal for standard models but exposes the car to the elements during transit.
  • Enclosed Transport: For those with luxury, antique, or special vehicles, enclosed transport provides added protection against weather and road debris, albeit at a higher cost.
  • Door-to-Door Service: This convenient option ensures the auto transport company picks up and delivers your vehicle as close to your specified locations as possible, eliminating the need to travel to drop off locations.
  • Terminal-to-Terminal Service: A more affordable choice that requires you to drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated terminals. This method can be less convenient but cuts down on costs.

When considering how long does it take to ship a car from California, factors like the chosen transport method, distance, and the car shipping company’s schedule play crucial roles.


Detailed Exploration of Common Methods

Open-Air Transport

Open-air transport is the go-to method for many when it comes to auto transport companies. Your vehicle is loaded onto an open trailer, secured, and transported to its destination. This method is not only cost-effective but also offers flexibility in scheduling due to its popularity. However, it's worth noting that while your vehicle is safe, it will be exposed to weather and road conditions, which might not be ideal for all types of vehicles or for long-distance moves.

Enclosed Transport

For those with vehicles that demand extra care, such as classic cars, luxury models, or high-performance vehicles, enclosed transport offers a solution that protects against the elements and potential road debris. Enclosed trailers provide a secure environment for your vehicle, with added peace of mind. This method, while more expensive, is often considered a worthwhile investment for protecting valuable assets during transit.

Door-to-Door Service

The convenience of door-to-door service is unmatched. Opting for this service means the car shipping company will pick up your vehicle from your current location and deliver it directly to your new address or as close as legally and safely possible. This method removes the need for you to drive your car to and from drop off locations, saving you time and hassle. While this option is generally more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping, its convenience factor makes it a popular choice among those who value time and ease.

Terminal-to-Terminal Service

Terminal-to-terminal service is an economical option for shipping a car. It requires you to drop off your vehicle at a predetermined location, where it will be transported to another terminal close to your destination. From there, you are responsible for picking up your vehicle. This method can significantly reduce costs, especially for those who live close to the terminals or have flexible schedules. However, it's important to consider the logistics of getting to and from these terminals and the potential storage fees if you're unable to pick up your vehicle immediately upon arrival.

Each of these methods has its advantages and considerations, making it important to weigh your options carefully. Factors such as how long it takes to ship a car from California, the level of protection you desire for your vehicle, and your budget all play into deciding which car shipping services best meet your needs. Auto transport companies offer a range of options to cater to diverse requirements, ensuring that whether you're moving a standard sedan or a prized sports car, there's a solution that fits.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Transport Method

When selecting a method for shipping your car in California, several key factors come into play. Understanding these can help you make the best choice for your situation, ensuring your vehicle arrives safely and efficiently at its destination.

  • Shipping Route and Distance: The route your car will travel can significantly affect the car shipping time. Shipping a car cross-country may take longer and cost more compared to shorter, more direct routes. The availability of more car transport trucks along popular routes can also influence both cost and timing.
  • Car Shipping Delivery Time: How long does it take to ship a car? This is a common question with varying answers, depending on the shipping method chosen and the distance. Enclosed transport and door-to-door services might offer faster delivery times but at a higher cost. It's essential to discuss the expected car shipping delivery time with your auto transport company to align with your schedule.
  • Budget: Your budget plays a crucial role in deciding between open-air and enclosed transport or choosing between terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door services. While enclosed and door-to-door options offer more convenience and protection, they come at a premium compared to their counterparts.
  • Vehicle Type and Condition: The type and condition of your vehicle can also dictate the most suitable transport method. High-value, luxury, or classic cars might require the added protection of enclosed transport. In contrast, a standard model car might be perfectly safe on an open-air trailer.
  • Pickup and Delivery Locations: Consider the convenience of the pickup and delivery locations offered by the car transport services. Door-to-door service offers the utmost convenience, directly handling your car from your current location to your new one, whereas terminal-to-terminal service might necessitate travel to and from the terminals but could save you money.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the car shipping service that best fits your needs, ensuring a smooth and stress-free transport experience for your vehicle.

Preparing Your Car for Transport in California

Ensuring your car is properly prepared for shipping is a vital step in guaranteeing its safe and secure transportation. Start by cleaning your vehicle inside and out. This not only helps with a smooth inspection process but also ensures you can easily spot any damage that might occur during transit. Remove personal items and any loose parts or accessories that could be damaged or cause harm to your vehicle or others during transport.

Check your car for any leaks and make sure the battery is charged and secured. It's also wise to document your car's condition with photos and notes before handing it over. Ensure your gas tank is only a quarter full; this reduces weight and helps keep the transport safer. Lastly, make sure all necessary documentation is in order and readily available for the auto transport company. Following these steps can help minimize risks and streamline the car shipment process.



Choosing the right method to ship your car in California involves considering various factors, including the shipping route, delivery time, budget, and the specific needs of your vehicle. Whether you opt for open-air transport, enclosed transport, door-to-door service, or terminal-to-terminal service, understanding the advantages and preparing your vehicle accordingly can make a significant difference. Remember, the goal is to ensure your car arrives safely and on time, matching your expectations. By selecting a reputable car shipping service and following the necessary preparation steps, you can enjoy a hassle-free experience when transporting your car in California.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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