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How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?

Published by Joe Webster.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?

People who need to ship their car usually have two things on their minds: the total cost and the car shipping time estimate. However, estimating the time to ship a car across country or outside the U.S. can be quite challenging because it depends on several factors.

This guide will answer the “how long does car shipping take?” question and discuss the factors that affect the time frame. You’ll also learn how long to ship car across country and overseas.

The Process of Shipping a Car

Shipping a car is much more than calling a car shipping company. To get a better idea of how long it takes to ship a car, we need to understand the entire process.

Search for a Car Shipping Company

One of the first and most important steps in the process is finding a car shipping company. Search for the companies online and offline, ask your family, friends, or neighbors for recommendations, and get multiple quotes. Remember that the lowest shipping quote doesn’t mean the best service.

Choose whether you’d like to work with a broker or a carrier. A broker is a mediator between you and the carrier, while a carrier is a company that specializes in shipping cars. Don’t forget to check if the company you decide on has insurance and the necessary licenses.

Provide Information

If you want to get a quote and/or schedule a service, you’ll need to provide these details:

  • Vehicle’s make, model, age, and operability
  • Pickup and drop-off locations
  • Desired time frame
  • Your personal information (name, email address, phone number, etc.)

You’ll receive a car shipping rate quote based on this information. Keep in mind that the quotes vary depending on the service option you choose, the desired insurance plan, etc.


Book the Shipment

Once you review the quotes from multiple companies and find the one that matches your needs, it’s time to book the shipment. Some companies may require you to pay the full amount right away, while others need only a part of the payment upfront.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Before shipping your car, you’ll need to remove all personal items from it. Besides safety reasons, removing such belongings from the car could result in lower shipping costs because some companies weigh the vehicle before shipping.

Remember to inspect the car for existing damage before shipping.

Check-In With the Car Shipping Company

Once the company picks up your vehicle, you’ll most likely get GPS tracking information through an app or text message. This allows you to keep track of your car and prepare for potential delays.

Pick Up Your Car

Depending on your chosen service, the car will be delivered to a specific address or the company’s terminal. Before leaving, inspect the car for potential damage, sign the bill, and pay the remaining balance if necessary.

Now that you’re familiar with the process, you’re probably wondering, “how long does it take to get a car delivered?” The answer is: it depends. On average, the process could last anywhere from five days to two weeks, sometimes even longer. Why does the time frame vary? We’ll explain in the next section.

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Factors That Affect the Car Shipping Time Estimate

If you’re planning to ship your car, you need to know what time frame to expect. But you may be surprised to learn that many vehicle shipping companies won’t be able to give you an exact date. Why? Because the answer to the “how long does it take to ship a car” question depends on numerous factors.



One of the most obvious factors that affect the car shipping time estimate is the distance between pickup and drop-off locations. Naturally, the longer the distance, the higher the costs. Shipping the car a few hundred miles can take a day or two, but shipping it across the country or overseas can take much longer.

A general rule of thumb for calculating the delivery time is to divide mileage by 150. For example, if you need to ship your car 600 miles, the estimated delivery date according to this formula would be four days.

While important, distance isn’t the only factor that affects how long it takes to get a car shipped.

Time of Year

If you’re shipping your car during winter, you should be prepared for potential delays. Cold temperatures, wind, snow, and ice can delay the delivery.

On the other hand, shipping a car during summer can also take some time because of the peak season. Ideally, you should try to have your car shipped during early spring or late fall. Since this isn’t always possible, ensure to contact the carrier as soon as possible and discuss the estimated delivery dates.

Road Conditions

Traffic jams, road closures, or accidents along the way can cause significant delays. Unfortunately, these factors aren’t something neither you nor the carrier can control. Therefore, being patient and flexible is essential when shipping a car.

Vehicle Type

Some vehicle types are more challenging to ship than others. For example, if you have a van or a heavy-duty pickup truck, you’ll need specialized transport that can take longer to find.

The same goes for high-end or rare cars. If you have a classic car or a Ferrari, you’ll probably want an enclosed trailer and a carrier that specializes in transporting such vehicles.

Extra Stops

Car carriers transport multiple vehicles at once. If a carrier is at full capacity and your car is last in line for drop-off, it will take longer to deliver.

Pickup and Drop-Off Locations

Pickup and drop-off locations have a major impact on how long it takes to ship a car. If both locations are big cities, metropolitan areas, or major interstates, shipping your car will be much faster.

If either location is in a rural area though, you’ll probably need to wait longer for the carrier to schedule shipping. Namely, most carriers have scheduled routes that go along highways and between metropolitan areas, so getting to a remote location isn’t that simple.


Type of Transportation

The transportation type you select can also affect how long it takes to ship the car. For example, open-air carriers can transport more vehicles at a time and are usually one of the fastest ways to ship a car. However, if an open-air carrier is fully loaded, it will need to make several stops along the way, thus increasing the transit time.

Enclosed-car carriers are great because they transport fewer vehicles at a time and protect your vehicle from weather elements. However, there aren’t as many enclosed-car carriers as open-car carriers, so it may take longer to find a spot.

Of course, there are other options like rail freight, air transport, or roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ships. The last two options are valuable for shipping cars overseas.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Across Country?

Shipping a car across the country is definitely less complicated than shipping it overseas. That said, there is no definitive answer to “how long does it take to ship a car to another state?”

The estimated time to ship car across country depends on several factors. But, as mentioned, you can calculate the delivery date by dividing the total mileage by 150. Shipping your car to a neighboring state will naturally take less time than shipping it across the entire country. The larger the distance, the harder it is to give an estimated delivery time.

If you’re wondering, “how long does it take to ship a car cross country?” the answer is anything from one day to a few weeks. Reliable car shipping companies will give you an estimated date, but remember that this isn’t written in stone. Many things can change along the way, and it can take more time to ship a car across the country.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Overseas?

Contrary to popular belief, shipping a car overseas doesn’t have to last longer than shipping it across country. In fact, shipping a car overseas can take only a few days if you decide on air transport. But since this option is costly, most people do RORO car shipping. This is the most cost-effective option but doesn’t offer as much protection.

If you want to ship your car overseas, be prepared for a process that lasts between 30-40 days on average.

Tips for Shipping Your Car Faster

Now that you know how long to ship a car cross country and overseas, you may be wondering how to expedite the process. Here are a few tips.

Plan Ahead

As mentioned, shipping a car can be a complicated and lengthy process. If you want to ship your car faster, proper planning is key. Don’t wait until the last moment to contact a car shipping company, especially if it’s peak season.

Ideally, reserve a spot two or three weeks in advance. This gives the car shipping company just enough time to find a carrier that goes your way and organize pickup and drop-off.

Choose a Reputable Company

If you want to avoid problems and unpleasant surprises when shipping your car, you need to be very careful about which company you’re hiring. The company you opt for should have years of experience and dozens of satisfied clients. Moreover, the company should have insurance and the licenses necessary for vehicle transportation. Finding a reliable car shipping company should be your priority because it lowers the risk of anything going wrong.

Communicate Clearly

If you’ve never had your car shipped and aren’t sure about the available options, talk to the company you hired. They’ll be able to recommend the best choice for your situation, depending on the distance, vehicle type, time of year, etc.

If you already know what you’d like, ensure to communicate your requests and preferences clearly. That way, the company will know right away whether they can grant your wishes, and you’ll avoid misunderstandings.


Drive to the Pickup Location

When scheduling car shipping, you can choose between door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal transportation. Door-to-door means the car will be picked up and delivered to specific addresses of your choice. Besides being more expensive, this option could last longer because the driver needs to go out of his way to meet you.

You can save some time by driving to the company’s pickup terminal.

Go to the Driver

Those living in rural areas can shave a few hours or even an entire day off their delivery if they can meet the driver and pick up their car near a big city. This can even save you some money because the driver won’t have to take a detour to deliver your car.

Use Open-Air Transport

Open-air carriers can usually haul up to nine vehicles. Compared to enclosed carriers that usually transport high-end or rare cars, reserving a spot on an open-air carrier is much faster.


How to Prepare for Car Shipping

If you’re about to ship your car across the country or overseas, there are certain actions you can take to make the process as smooth as possible. While the carrier is responsible for getting the car from point A to point B, you’re responsible for preparing it. Here’s what you need to take care of before the carrier picks up your car.

Wash the Car’s Exterior

Your vehicle should be squeaky clean from the bottom to the top before the carrier arrives. Besides saving yourself the work after delivery, having a clean car is important for the next step.

Inspect the Car

Now that your car is clean, you can inspect it visually and look for scratches, dents, paint chips, etc. Since there’s no dust or grime, you can clearly see every detail. Although it’s highly unlikely your car would get damaged during the shipping process, it’s not impossible. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize the new damage.

Take Photos of the Car

Take pictures of the existing damage and the entire car. These pictures will serve as proof in case your car gets damaged during transportation.

Remove Personal Items

As highlighted earlier, no personal items should be in your car during transportation. Removing them from your car lowers the risk of theft, damage, and loss.

Remove Toll Tags

If you leave your toll tag in the car during transport, you may be charged for every toll the car goes through. This is definitely an unnecessary expense you can easily avoid.

A-1 Auto Transport Can Help

As one of the largest auto shippers in the U.S., we can help you ship your car across country or overseas. Our team is comprised of professional and experienced individuals who are more than happy to answer all your questions regarding car shipping.

Get your free car shipping quote, or call us at 1-888-230-9116 to learn how we can help you.

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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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It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
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Cristine Benoit
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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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