Perhaps you’re relocating? Some might be buying or selling a car across state lines. What if you have kids going to college in another state… Maybe, you identify as a snowbird?
There are a variety of reasons why you might need to transport a car from one state to another. Whatever your reasons are, you want the safest, least expensive, and most hassle-free way to get the job done.
What are your options for shipping a car to another state?
When you ship a car from state to state you have just three options.
Option #1 – Drive it Yourself
This is the most straightforward option. Yet it’s often not the cheap, safe, convenient option many people assume it is. If the move is long distance, your timeline is tight, and you lack the stamina for a long drive this option can be a recipe for trouble.
Only you can make this determination. How much will gas cost? How many hours can you drive in a day before you’re exhausted? Will the drive take one day or five? How much will hotels cost? How much will food cost? Is the car the only thing you have to contend with, or are you worrying about a moving van, too?
How much wear-and-tear will the trip put on your vehicle? Will you have the money and time to handle an unexpected breakdown?
One variation on the theme of driving your car yourself is to tow the car yourself, using a moving van and a rented tow dolly. This helps with wear and tear, and it helps with logistics, but if you’re not comfortable driving that kind of heavy-duty setup it may be a recipe for unnecessary stress. If you don’t have the skill to handle this set-up it can even be dangerous. Think carefully before deciding this is the right option for you.
Option #2 – Hire a Driver
Some people hire family members or friends. Others opt for professional drivers.
This option is safe and convenient, but it is also more expensive than driving yourself. You’ll have to cover all of your driver’s costs while paying them enough to allow them to make a profit.
There’s also the matter of trust. Who are you putting behind the wheel of your car? Do you believe they’re a good enough driver to get the job done? Are they safe? How will you feel if they get into a car accident? Are they insured properly? These are all considerations you’ll need to tackle before you hand someone your keys.
Option #3 – Hire an Auto-Hauling Company
This is the option a lot of people don’t even realize they have. Anyone can hire an auto transport company to ship a car to another state.
This is a safe, convenient, and surprisingly affordable option.
Of course, there are thousands of auto transport companies out there. It’s smart to do some research before you turn your vehicle over to any of them. Read on to find out whether this is going to be the right option for you, and what you need to know if you want to take advantage of it.
How much does it cost to ship your car to another state?
Costs will of course vary based on the following factors:
- The weight of your car.
- The distance the car needs to travel.
- The carrier’s hauling capacity.
- Vehicle’s origin and destination locations.
At J&S Transport we can usually ship a car coast to coast for $1,600 to $2,000.
Sometimes these prices are even lower, if you’re not shipping your car quite so far. For example, a compact car that needs to travel 7 hours away could be shipped for less than $600.
How should you prepare a car for transport?
Preparing your car for transport is easy. Follow these ten steps.
- Clean your vehicle inside and out.
- Take pictures of your vehicle, again, inside and out.
- Take an odometer reading.
- Remove bike racks, luggage racks, ski racks, antennas, and custom spoilers.
- Get a tune-up and address all mechanical problems if necessary (leaking fluids are a major concern).
- If possible, leave fuel between 1/8 and 1/4 full.
- Disable alarms.
- Deactivate or remove toll tags.
- Make spare keys if necessary.
- Be sure your car is covered by insurance.
For a more thorough explanation of these steps, see: How to Prepare a Car for Transport
We allow up to 100 pounds of personal belongings in cars, but you leave them inside at your own risk. They need to be secure either in the trunk or in the cargo area. If they are lost, stolen, or damaged we are not responsible for these damages. Often customers find that it’s wiser to find a different way to ship their personal belongings.
We can, by the way, ship inoperable vehicles, but they must meet certain requirements. First, they must have a working foot pedal brake. A working emergency brake is not enough. There must be air in all four tires and there must be no obvious fluid leaks. This is for the safety of our drivers, our equipment, and the other cars we’re shipping. You also need to be able to provide our driver with a set of keys. We do add extra charges for non-working vehicles as they typically require special equipment for loading and unloading.
How to Select the Right Auto Transport Company to Ship Your Vehicle
You want your auto transport experience to run as smoothly as possible. That means you’re going to have to do your homework here.
First, get quotes from multiple companies so you have a general idea of how much it’s going to cost to ship a car. Note that you should be using these quotes to get an idea of market rates. The goal here is not to just choose the cheapest option you can find. “Cheap” sometimes means “headaches.” Sure, it’s always nice to pay less, but avoiding logistical problems and car damage is worth paying a little more money on the front end.
Next, look for customer testimonials. Note that self-published testimonials are fine, but they’re also fully under the control of the company that owns the site, so make sure you pay attention to 3rd party sites like Google, the BBB, and directory sites like Transport Reviews. If the feedback on third party sites matches the feedback on the website then you’re probably looking at a set of reviews that you can trust.
Don’t stop there though. You also want to check the company’s safety rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can do this by company name, or you can use their USDOT number or MC/MX Number. Our USDOT Number is 911585. Our MC/MX/FF Number is MC-394293.
Checking the safety record lets you see the number of crashes that the company’s drivers have been involved in. It also tells you what the federal government has actually authorized the carrier to do.
You can also ask the company themselves some questions. For example, how long have they been in business? How many vehicles have they shipped? What are their standards for success?
Ask if the car shipping company is a carrier, a broker, or both. A carrier owns their own trucks. A broker pairs customers with carriers. J&S Transport is both. We use whatever method is best to make sure our customer’s cars get where they need to go. This means you get more flexibility, better prices, and a truly hassle-free experience.
Finally, evaluate your own comfort level. When you contact the company, do the people you’re speaking to seem caring? Knowledgeable? Confident in their ability to get the job done right? Are they helpful and friendly? Do you like them? If you don’t like the way the company makes you feel, move on.
When to Schedule Your Auto Shipment
You want to call to schedule your shipment at least 3-8 days before your target pick-up date. Keep in mind it will take 1-7 days to ship the vehicle after pick-up. The earlier you can do it, the better, since the amount of time that it will take depends on your vehicle type and the route you’re sending the vehicle out on.
Shipping times can vary. They can depend on the driver, on road conditions, on traffic, on construction, even on truck breakdowns. All shipping times are approximate, so leave yourself as much wriggle room as possible. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re stressed out and unable to do what you need to do because your car hasn’t arrived yet.
J&S Transportation tries to take some stress out of the process by communicating with you consistently about the status of your order. We provide a 24-hour notice on pick-up and on delivery. Your driver will also give a 1-2 hour notice. We instantly alert you when there are changes in your schedule. It’s one of the things that makes us unique. We also give you general updates by phone, email, or text at your request.
If you want a more in-depth explanation of shipping times to help your scheduling and planning along, see: How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?
Essential Documents for Shipping Your Car to Another State
There isn’t any formal documentation required to transport a vehicle from state-to-state. You will be required to do a vehicle inspection report (aka vehicle condition report) with the driver at the time of pick up and delivery. This is a detailed report that documents the condition of the vehicle. It typically includes photos of the vehicle taken by the driver but we encourage our customers to take their own photos as well for their own records and peace of mind. Once the vehicle inspection is completed, the pick up person will sign it and then it will be signed again when the delivery person accepts delivery of the vehicle.
Any original documents such as the vehicle’s registration and title should NOT be left with the vehicle or given to the driver!
Concerned about insurance? J&S Transport insures your car under our own policy when we ship your car on our own trucks. If we have to broker your transport, then the carrier’s policy will provide coverage for your car. We do a thorough examination of the insurance coverage our partner carriers provide to make sure your vehicle will be adequately covered!
These insurance policies, however, only cover your vehicle for damage that occurs because of negligence or an accident. They do not cover “Acts of God.” While these are very rare, they can happen so we strongly encourage our customers to have their own auto insurance in place at the time of the transport.
Last Steps: What to Do When Your Car Arrives
Unless you are shipping your vehicle to Alaska or Hawaii we ship your vehicle right to your door. This literally means we can pick up the car from your old home and bring it right to your new one. If you ship to Alaska or Hawaii we ship port-to-port instead.
There may be times we need to suggest an alternate location for safety and practical reasons. For example, if you live up in a mountain or if you live on a tight dead-end street, it may be impossible to get a truck right to your home. In those instances, we get our trucks as close to you as we can. Drivers will typically meet our customers at a nearby church, school, big-box store, or even somewhere off a quiet road where the driver can safely pull over and load or unload your vehicle. We make every effort, however, to get right to your door whenever and wherever possible.
When we arrive, you’ll need to be on-site, or have someone you trust on-site that is at least 18 years-old, to accept delivery of the car. Plan on spending some time to review the vehicle inspection report the driver will provide you and to inspect the car for damage. If everything looks good, you’ll sign off on the vehicle condition report and you’ll be on your way. If damage is discovered, you’ll file a damage claim. Fortunately, damage is rare so expect the delivery to be a pretty straight forward and painless process!