How Do Car Shipping Companies Work?

Figuring out how to ship a car cross-country can be tough, but not impossible. Learn about different kinds of car shipping and how it all works.
Green Image For Background
How Do Car Shipping Companies Work?
Blur Light Green Background

Sometimes, you need to transport a car across the country. Whether you’ve just bought a car online through a dealership or an individual in one state, or you are moving to resume a new job.

You may also be shipping the car to a family member. Long-distance vehicle shipping can be so expensive, but if you compare the cost to how much it will cost you to transport a car through air freight, then shipping is certainly worth it. So here is the question, how do car shippers operate?  

Car shipping companies transport vehicles from one location to another, so you, the customer don’t have to stress yourself about driving your car over the long-distance involved in your move. You must identify your expectations, especially to prepare your car before the shipping date.

This guide will not only be helpful for those moving, but also to those who just got a new car and need to ship it to their destination. 

How does Auto Shipping Work?

Auto-shipping, which is also referred to as auto transportation or car hauling is a service that enables people to move their vehicles from one place to another on a moving truck explicitly made for such purpose.

Car shipping is a very comprehensive process that requires preparation such as planning and scheduling transportation, cleaning the vehicle, inspecting the car, and a complete checklist, transportation, which involves picking up from your location and/or safe delivery of the vehicle by the auto shipper to your destination. 

A lot of steps, people, and planning are involved in auto shipping. An auto shipping company will provide open or enclosed shipping options to haul vehicles from one place to another. These auto transport companies will help you move your car to anywhere.  

Open Transport or Open Carrier

Open transport simply means that your car will be loaded on an open trailer and exposed to the elements throughout the journey. Different shipping vehicles can offer open transport vehicle shipping options, such as single-car trailers and trucks that can tow ten or more vehicles. There are also open-air vehicle carriers that can hold about twelve cars based on the vehicle’s weight and size. 


  • You should expect an affordable rate from your open transport option since it is the most popular option.
  • You will stay up to date all through the shipping till delivery with direct communication with your driver.
  • The safest location on the open car trailer is the top placement option
  • Open car shipping is the cheapest transportation option
  • Open car shipping is the less-expensive car shipping method. 


  • Your car would not be protected against the elements during shipping.
  • The car would likely be covered in dirt from the road but can be easily fixed with an instant wash.
  • Your vehicle will be loaded and shipped with many others for both pickups and delivery.
  • Maximum delivery time is between 10 and 14 days based on the required route and mileage.

Enclosed Trailer or Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed vehicle shipping is a type of auto shipping that protects the cars with the use of higher-end vehicles. This option is great for shipping exotic, classic, or luxury cars. Enclosed car carriers can only hold few vehicles at a time, up to 7 autos in most cases.

Enclosed car carriers are not so available compared to open auto shipping, which is the most popular means of auto shipping. Choosing the enclosed shipping option will cost more, and you also have to consider availability.

The less availability of enclosed carriers also affects the cost because of demand and supply. You may be required to pick a longer period for pickup due to the less availability.  


  • The enclosed option is the safest way to ship a car during a move
  • It has Lift Gate Tech that uses a hydraulic lift to load and unload your precious car safely. 
  • Your car gets VIP treatment from carriers that are specially trained to handle highly-valuable vehicles
  • Comprehensive protection inside a trailer with full insurance coverage
  • Quick delivery times as fewer cars are loaded into the carriers compared to the regular open car transport. 


  • Comprehensive service commands a higher cost. Cost is around $600, that’s $300 higher than the rate of the open shipping option
  • Two to five days will be required for pickup because of limited availability. 

Door Front Delivery

Door-to-door auto shipping simply means an auto shipping where an auto shipper picks up or delivers a car to or closer to a specified location. However, it might not mean that your vehicle will be delivered right at your doorstep; drivers in most cases like to deliver to customer’s doorstep because it prevents them from waiting for someone to arrive for pickup or delivery. They just arrive at the location, load or unload, and leave. 


  • The ease of having your vehicle delivered at your home is worth considering.
  • Being able to inspect the car comfortable with the driver when delivered at your home.


  • Some delivery locations have restrictions on shipping trailers because of their laws, poor road access, or low hanging trees. 

Reasons for Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company

You can easily find auto shipping companies, but you’ve got to figure out which company you can trust with your car. It is not easy to rely on some strangers to haul your vehicle or motorcycle for you. However, you may want to look into factors aside from price when choosing the perfect vehicle carrier service for your need. 

  • Insurance: Auto shipping companies are by law required to possess up-to-date insurance, request for proof. Take a look at how the company responds to damages to your vehicle and the kind of coverage they have on each type of damage. Determine if you would be required to pay a deductible and if your car transport is also covered by insurance.  
  • Guaranteed rates: Will you be paying your quoted price as your final cost? What are the things that can cause your quoted price to change, and how you can prevent yourself from being charged extra? Clearly inform them of your vehicle’s current condition and give the shipping company all the necessary information they need. Find out if a locked-in price is offered by the shipping company you consider hiring for you to be comfortable. 
  • An additional bonus: Vehicle shipping is generally not cheap, so you should grab any bonuses offered by a shipping company with both hands. Auto-shipping companies such as Sherpa Auto Transport reimburses you for about $20 on a car wash after the move. Other shippers like AmeriFreight offer discounts to the repeated customer.   


Am I allowed to communicate with the driver directly?

Companies allow you and the driver to connect by giving you the selected carrier’s contact information. Although you can directly communicate with the driver, we advise you to make your dispatching agent the first line of contact. Everything can be handled right from the dispatch office. 

How long before a car gets shipped?

The time to ship a vehicle is determined by the route. Note that majority of car carriers can haul between 5 and 9 at once. This may mean there will be five to nine different stops during pickup and delivery.

Also, consider loading and unloading at each stop alongside the drive time. There is difference between routes and delivery times and it is calculated after the booking is added to the schedule. 

Is there insurance on my car during transport?

Yes, your vehicle is fully covered under the shipment protection policy as required by the USDOT to operate in the country. You can get proof of vehicle shipping insurance from the vehicle carrier before the pickup day. Make sure the car inspection is completely done with the driver before your vehicle leaves your location to ensure its current condition.

What is the less expensive way to ship my car?

The cheapest way to ship a car is open-air shipping where carriers will pick up and haul your car to its delivery location in an open trailer. This option is mostly available with U-Ship car carriers.

Is shipping a car a worthy service to go for?

Auto-shipping is a worthy investment if you need to transport a highly valuable vehicle. Even if the vehicle only holds sentimental value to you, shipping it is still worth it. Also, note that auto shipping companies can schedule any shipping option, whether the open or enclosed trailers satisfy our budget and desired safety level.  

How much should my car shipping cost me?

Shipping a vehicle within the country will cost an average of $950. The maximum average cost is $1,200, and the lowest is $700. The average per mile cost for shipping a car is $0.60 for 1,000 miles move or more.


Moving your house is already a difficult task, so it will be another level of stress to add long-distance car shipping to it. But yet you have a great number of vehicle shipping options. Allow a capable and expert car shipping company to handle your long-distance car shipping. Conduct proper research, read reviews on auto shipping companies, obtain shipping quotes, and determine the ideal company for your need.  

Table of Contents

Green Background Image

Related Articles

How To Get Cheap Moving Assistance

How To Get Cheap Moving Assistance

Getting affordable help with your move might sound impossible, but not when you have these actionable moving assistance ideas. We shared top low-income moving assistance that you can get right away. Read on!

Read More »
Top Reasons Why People Are Moving Out of California
Moving To

Top Reasons Why People Are Moving Out of California

Wondering why people are moving out of California? There are many reasons for this development, which include high cost of living, crisis, crime rate, high state taxes, and much more. We highlighted them in post, plus top places they are moving to.

Read More »
Blur Dots for Background