Shipping Your Car for Cross Country Moving

Most people relocating a great distance hire cross country movers and then drive their car. Sometimes, this is not a practical option. For example, if you have too many family members to fit in the car at one time or you are a single parent traveling with a baby or toddler. Maybe you simply are not comfortable driving that distance. Alternately, if you have an old collector’s car or a high-dollar sports car that only gets used on special occasions, obviously this would get shipped. Since you will not be with your vehicle along the way, you need to make sure you hire the right cross country moving company when shipping your car.

Budgeting for Costs

Shipping a car is definitely not cheap. If your employer is paying for your move it is important that you find out if the cost of shipping your vehicle is included. If so, is there a maximum amount that is covered?

An auto shipper generally runs between $1,500 and $5,000 for cross country moving. Factors that influence the price include:

  • Destination and distance
  • Time of year, month, and week
  • Vehicle type

Most shipping companies require a 10 to 25 percent deposit. Some cross country movers actually offer these services in their off season, as well.

Important Things to Know

  • You will need to know the weight and dimensions of your car. Most people will be able to use Edmunds to find out this information. Having the precise specifications eliminates the shipper from estimating, which could cost you more than you should pay.
  • Make sure you are dealing with a shipping agent and not a broker. A broker will not have a DOT number; shipping agents will. If you do work with a broker understand that they are not held responsible for your shipment. Only the shipping company is responsible.
  • Understand that terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door shipping services are very different. Terminal-to-terminal is cheaper, but there are additional arrangements to make. If you don’t want to deal with extra tasks, pay extra for the door-to-door service.
  • Decide which shipping vessel type you are interested in. There are multilevel and non-stacking varieties. Deciding if you want open or enclosed will narrow down your options. Enclosures will be more expensive, but your vehicle will be protected from environmental elements, flying rocks, etc.
  • Read the bill of lading carefully, and make sure you understand everything before signing.

Preparing Your Vehicle for the Move

  • Remove all personal belongings from the car.
  • Wash your car thoroughly and go over every inch carefully, so you can identify any current flaws. It helps to take plenty of pictures of the interior and exterior, so you can prove the condition at shipping.
  • Check your fluid levels and tire pressure.
  • Find out if your GPS, CD changer, and any aftermarket items you have are covered by the moving insurance.
  • Make sure you are not moving a restricted vehicle, if you are relocating overseas.
  • Have your alarm disabled, if possible, or remember to tell the movers how to disarm it.