How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?: Auto Transport Tips (2023)

How long does it take to ship a car? If you’ve ever wondered how long it takes a car to get from one state to another, this is where you’ll find out. The most important consideration after auto transport cost is how long does it take to ship a car?

Delivery time is critical if you need your car to start a new job or meet family responsibilities. You want a definite delivery date. But can you get one?

The transport method, season, and travel route all affect the transportation timeline. Be wary of transport companies that guarantee specific pickup and delivery dates. There are too many variables to promise an exact delivery time.

But what if your car must be in a certain place at a certain time?

No worries. If you understand the process you can plan ahead to move a car on your schedule.

(Video) How Long Does It Take to Ship A Car

Table of Contents

How to ship a car across to a new city.

Keep reading for details on different shipping methods and time frames.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?: Auto Transport Tips (1)

Types of Auto Transport

First, let’s review the different types of auto transport services. Each choice influences the transportation time.

(Video) How long does it take to ship a car? #shorts

Here are five options for ship a car to a new city.

Drive The Car Yourself

  • Ready for a road trip? The best choice, if you’re moving a short distance is to drive the car yourself. It’s cheap and you’ll always know where your car is.
  • Of course, if you’re moving to another state or the opposite coast, this is harder.
  • Will you transport your car separate from your furnishings or tow them behind you? If you hire movers to transport your belongings it may be easier to drive the car yourself.

Hire a Professional Driver

  • If you don’t want to load your car onto an open-air trailer, consider hiring a professional driver. Some commercial transportation companies offer professional driver services. The company insurance covers the driver.
  • You can ride along with a professional driver. Pack your personal belongings in your trunk. You don’t have to drive, but you and your car arrive together. Professional driver services handle insurance for the driver and the trip.

Hire a Freelance Driver

  • Yes, it’s a thing. You can hire a freelance driver to move your auto. Freelance drivers are college students, travelers, and retirees. These drivers offer a reasonable fee. Be sure to choose based on a referral or recommendation.
  • You can negotiate the timeline when you hire a professional or freelance driver.

Ship Your Car on the Auto Train

(Video) Top 5 mistakes to avoid when hiring an Auto Transport Company to Ship Your Car

  • Amtrak’s Auto Train is an option if you’re moving along the East Coast. The train travels from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, FL.
  • Cars, motorcycles, and SUVs are welcome on the train. Pack your vehicle with your belongings, then load it onto the auto train. You must travel with your car as a passenger on the train.

Professional Auto Transport Company

  • Hiring a professional auto transporter is a popular choice. You don’t have to drive the car yourself. You also don’t put miles on your car.
  • Professional auto transport moves the car on an open-air trailer or in an enclosed truck. The size of your car, travel distance, and other factors determine the cost.
  • Shipping in an enclosed truck is more expensive than an open-air trailer.
  • But, it protects your car from the elements and potential damage. That may be worth the cost if the car travels across the desert in summer or in severe winter weather.
  • Always check that the company has a license and insurance. It’s wise to study online reviews. Can your car dealership give you a referral? Visit the Better Business Bureau website.
  • Now that you know your transport options, let’s talk timeline.

How Long Does It Take To Ship a Car?

Once you place a transport order it takes a few days to ship a car. Commercial transporters call it the pickup window. Transit time begins after the transport company has possession of the auto.

Delivery estimates use normal drive time. Factoring in the variables listed below, delivery can take between two days and a month.

Let’s take a closer look at the delivery variables.


(Video) How Auto Transport Works - How To Ship A Vehicle

  • Where is the car now and where is it going?
  • If the car is shipping to or from a major city it’s easier to pick up and deliver. That’s because commercial transport vehicles and drivers are nearby.
  • It takes extra time and effort to send a team to pick up or deliver an auto in a remote or rural location. The added mileage and effort adds to the cost and delivery time.
  • If you’re in a rural area you can meet the trucker in or near a metro area to reduce the cost and speed up shipping.
  • The same goes for delivery.

Transportation Distance

  • How far is the car transport?
  • The transit time increases with mileage. Moving a car a few hundred miles takes a few days. Transporting a car from Maine to California can take one or two weeks.

Time of Year

  • Commercial auto transport companies are busiest from late Spring to early Fall. There are more trucks moving across the United States during the warm months.
  • If you ship a car at the height of summer vacation travel, it may move faster. More trucks on the road mean they’re available for pickups and deliveries.
  • It may take longer to transport a car during the winter when fewer trucks make deliveries.


  • Snow, sleet, rain, high winds, tropical storms, and more along the route can delay delivery.
  • Good weather and light traffic can mean your vehicle arrives early. It’s important to plan for the chance your car delivers ahead of schedule.

Travel Route

  • Another factor in delivery time is the travel route. Are you moving a car along major highways and interstates? It’s faster than transporting a vehicle on less traveled roads.
  • Door-to-door delivery means your car goes to the desired location. But, it may take longer if the route is rural or remote.

Expedited Shipping

(Video) Auto Transport - Tips You Should Know When Hiring an Auto Transport Company

  • What if there’s no leeway on the date you must ship or receive your car? It’s more expensive, but expedited shipping is available. Talk to the auto transport company to arrange a guaranteed date for pickup or delivery.

Final Tips for Choosing Auto Transport Services

  1. Need a professional auto transport company for yourself or an important customer? Weigh all the options outlined here. Don’t base the decision on cost alone.
  2. Partner with a licensed, insured transporter. There may be exclusions in cargo insurance. It’s important to have your own car insurance, too.
  3. Request a quote and ask how long does it take to ship a car. Then you can plan delivery to fit your budget and schedule.
  4. Compare reviews and recommendations. Choose the company that delivers great service along with the vehicle.

What Affects the Time Required to Ship a Car?

Due to unanticipated delays caused by atypical routes or the time required to pick up the vehicle, the total shipping time by the provider of car transport services may be extended. The factors influencing time are:

  • Stops at different locations: Nobody enjoys them, yet they do occur. When it does occur, carriers can often repair the problem quickly, resulting in just a little delay.
  • Highway Conditions: Your vehicle may need to traverse a major route that is undergoing construction; thus, you should anticipate a delay.
  • Traffic: As previously indicated, traffic is unavoidable. So are weather conditions, particularly if drivers must drive more cautiously to prevent collisions and maintain the safety of their cars.
  • Locations for Pickup and Return: Where will the car be delivered and picked up? If both sites are in neighborhoods that are difficult to maneuver, or if they are in rural regions where the driver must be off the major highway, the shipping time of a vehicle may be affected.
  • Truck Failures and Mechanical Problems: A car carrier may carry several vehicles to multiple delivery locations.
  • Route Length: Obviously, the longer the journey, the longer it will take to transport a vehicle.


How long does it take for a car to transport? ›

Typically, a car shipping company will pick up your vehicle in 5 days, and the actual transportation will take around 3 to 5 days. How long does it take to transport a car across the country? Generally, it takes 12-15 days to ship a car cross-country door-to-door in the United States.

How long does it take for a car to be made and shipped? ›

Generally, it can take four to six weeks for dealers to get new cars in the shops from factories. Sometimes, the shipments might be held longer to fill the shipping container. It could take up to two months before the next consignment arrives.

How long does it take to ship a car from Seattle to Anchorage? ›

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car from Seattle to Anchorage? It takes approximately 6-7 days to ship a car or truck from Seattle, WA to Anchorage, AK. If you are shipping your car from any other city other than Seattle, you have to add the time it takes to transport the car from your location to Seattle.

Can you put stuff in a car when you ship it? ›

Although it is legal to ship items in your vehicle or trunk, many companies prefer that you do not as there is always a risk of theft or damage to the items during transport. Most companies recommend that you remove all personal items from the vehicle prior to shipment.

How long does it take to ship a car 1000 miles? ›

How long does it take to ship a car 1,000 miles? The average transit time for a 1000-mile car shipment is 3-4 days, depending on extenuating factors such as inclement weather and road conditions.

Why are cars taking so long to be delivered? ›

Demand for new cars has skyrocketed, but the people buying them are left waiting weeks and even months to drive them off the lot. It's partly because of a global shortage of microchips that are key to most makes and models.

How long does it take to ship a car 500 miles? ›

As you might expect, the destination you're sending your vehicle to is a significant factor in how long the delivery takes. Generally, you can expect a short-haul shipment of fewer than 500 miles to take a day or two, while shipments traveling between 500 and 2,000 miles can take anywhere from two to seven days.

How long does it take to unload cars from a ship? ›

At the destination, vehicles are unloaded the same way, by driving them off the cargo vessel. This process usually takes anywhere from three-weeks to a month to get from port to port.

Is it better to ship a car or drive? ›

It's cheaper to drive your car than to ship it. On average, it costs about $180 less to drive yourself ($530) than to hire a professional auto transport company ($710).

How long does it take to unload a vehicle carrier ship? ›

Just unloading the ocean vessel can take 1-3 business days, because many ships have more than 10,000 containers on board. An FCL (Full Container Load) shipment will be available for pickup after the container is unloaded and placed in the arrival port's container yard.

Is it better to ship a car open or enclosed? ›

An enclosed carrier can keep your automobile safer than an open carrier since it isn't exposed to the elements (or burglars) during shipping.

How long does it take for Toyota to ship a car to us? ›

Average build time for a new Toyota vehicle is roughly 4-12 weeks. However, because of our vast model lineup there are some circumstances where specific models can take anywhere from 3-6 months.

How long does it take to ship a car from Los Angeles to Seattle? ›

While there are approximately 1200 miles between Los Angeles and Seattle, deliveries can be made within five days.

How do I prepare my car for shipping? ›

9 steps to prepare your car for shipment
  1. Gather your vehicle's documents. ...
  2. Wash your car—inside and out. ...
  3. Document damage. ...
  4. Remove personal items. ...
  5. Perform any necessary maintenance. ...
  6. Empty your gas tank. ...
  7. Remove outside accessories. ...
  8. Lock up, but leave the keys.
11 Dec 2019

What items are not allowed to ship? ›

Prohibited and Restricted Items for U.S. Import/Export
  • Alcoholic beverages*
  • Animal products, non-domesticated (e.g. mother of pearl inlay, snakeskin watchband)
  • Articles of unusual value.
  • Biological substances, Category B and exempt human or animal specimens.
  • Dangerous goods.
  • Electronic cigarettes.
  • Firearms and weapons.
  • Furs.

Do they weigh your car when you ship it? ›

It is important to note that car shipping companies do not weigh your vehicle during the pickup while loading it onto the vessel. The weight depends on the make and the model of the car. In most cases, the companies also add extra weight to the car's factory weight, such as 100 lbs.

How much does it cost to ship a car 300 miles? ›

How much does car shipping cost? Car shipping costs around $1.96/mile for short distances (1-500 miles) or $588 for a 300-mile trip. Medium distances will run you about $. 93/mile (500-1500 miles) or $930 for 1000 miles.

How long does it take Ford to ship a vehicle? ›

If everything is in stock, your order will be shipped in one to two business days.

How long does it take to ship a car 200 miles? ›

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?
Distance to travelLength of shipment
1-200 miles1-2 days
201-600 miles2-4 days
601-1,000 miles3-5 days
1,001-1,500 miles4-6 days
2 more rows
24 Sept 2018

Can you track car delivery by Vin? ›

No, you can't really track shipments even if you have the VIN.

How long does it take to make a car in 2022? ›

At best, it takes four weeks to get a custom-order car from a factory in the U.S. or Canada. For cars coming from Europe and Asia, it can be eight to 12 weeks.

Are new car deliveries being delayed? ›

What causes new car delays? Right now a global computer chip shortage is causing delays of up to six months on the delivery of some new cars. There's also a shortage of nearly-new cars because of low sales last year and more buyers opting for a secondhand model instead of waiting for a new one.

How much does it cost to ship a car 1000 miles? ›

Average car shipping cost by distance
DistanceOpen transport costEnclosed transport cost
<500 miles$630$930
500-1,000 miles$790$1,120
1,000-1,500 miles$1,070$1,510
1,500-2,000 miles$1,320$1,730
2 more rows
4 Feb 2022

How much would it be to ship a car? ›

The industry average cost to ship a car with an auto transport company is upwards of $2.00 per mile for journeys less than 200 miles. The price dips down to an average of $0.58 per mile for true long-distance moves exceeding 1,500 miles. An enclosed carrier offers more protection and security than an open carrier.

How many cars fit on a car transporter? ›

In the United States, car haulers typically carry anywhere between 2 to 9 cars at a time.

How many cars fit on a car carrier ship? ›

How are Cars Shipped By Sea? Ocean vessels that specialize in shipping cars have been built to hold up to 8,000 vehicles, although most are designed to transport between 4,000 and 5,000 vehicles.

What happens when cars arrive at port? ›

Upon arrival at the U.S. port, cars are unloaded from the cargo ship and placed in a storage lot to await pickup by a car hauler, a type of trailer or semi-trailer built to transport passenger vehicles. Typically, they can hold up to nine cars at once.

What is the cheapest company to ship your car? ›

We found that the best cheap car shipping companies in 2022 are Easy Auto Ship, Montway Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, and uShip.

Do USPS ship cars? ›

The postal-owned fleet is predominantly used for the transportation and delivery of mail. However, postal vehicles are also used for law enforcement, maintenance support, mobile Post Offices, and other functions.
Postal-Owned Transportation.
Vehicle TypeEnd of Year
Inspection Service and Law Enforcement2,843
5 more rows

How many miles do delivery drivers drive a day? ›

I've heard stories of drivers putting 400 miles per day on a package car. In Southern California, I typically clocked about 35 - 45 miles per day; consisting of about 15 miles each way to/from my area, followed by another 15 or so on route. Can drivers see if you tip before delivery?

How do they load a car carrier ship? ›

Whilst shipping containers are loaded and unloaded onto a cargo or container ship using cranes or derricks and chemicals are loaded and discharged from chemical tankers using a system of pipes, the car carrier needs a different method to load its freight onboard. Typically this is done by ramps. A whole lot of ramps.

How are cars loaded on cargo ships? ›

Behind these side walls, the ships have several tweendecks so that the vehicles can be loaded on top of each other. Ramps inside the ship take the vehicles from the lower to the higher tweendecks. Particularly noteworthy is the low height of the tweendecks in order to keep the loss of cargo space to a minimum.

How much does it cost to unload a ship? ›

It would take only a few hours to unload a ship as opposed to days. Typically, the cost of hand-loading a ship would be about $5.86 per ton.

How do new cars get transported? ›

In order to get the vehicles to the United States, they will be placed on a cargo ship. There are cargo ships that are designed to hold up to 8,000 vehicles at a time with multiple decks to maximize capacity, although most ships hold between 4,000 and 5,000 vehicles.

How can I track my car delivery? ›

Call your car shipping company to ask about the location of your vehicle. Your driver may have enabled GPS tracking, meaning that you can find out exactly where your vehicle is. The broker can often estimate your delivery date even if the driver didn't turn on vehicle tracking.

How long do cars take to clear customs? ›

0 - 1 week: vehicle purchased to be finalized and moved to the port for shipping. 2 - 4 weeks: waiting for the next ship. 2 weeks: shipping. 1 week: customs clearance.

How many cars does a car ship carry? ›

Ocean vessels that specialize in shipping cars have been built to hold up to 8,000 vehicles, although most are designed to transport between 4,000 and 5,000 vehicles.

Can I track a car shipment by VIN number? ›

Even if you trust the carrier, you can still find yourself wondering if your car is in good hands or if there's any way that you can track the shipment. Luckily, there is. You can use your car's VIN number to track your shipment with ease.

How long after VIN number is car delivered? ›

Your order is assigned a VIN as soon as your car is built or just after. Then 3 days to two weeks for delivery depending on your location. You can also get a VIN earlier than expected if an exact config is rejected by someone else.

Can I track a car by VIN number? ›

Once you have your VIN, use a company like AutoCheck or CarFax to get a vehicle history report. These reports note whenever a vehicle has been registered, titled, or serviced, meaning they can help you track it down. Look for the last location noted on the report and contact the authorities in that area to report it.

How can I speed up customs clearance? ›

Trusted Traveler Program Enrollment

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.

How much tax do I pay to import a car? ›

Import declaration fee - 2% of dutiable value. Withholding tax - 4% of dutiable value.


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