What is Car Shipping?

Learn With Nationwide: What is Car Shipping?

Also known as auto transport or car transport, car shipping is the act of moving a car from one location to another using a specialized trailer. Any company that provides car shipping should be licensed, bonded, and insured for safe hauling and delivery. Auto transport is convenient for personal vehicle transports, as well as businesses that may need to ship commercial vehicles in bulk. Door-to-door car transport services is when your vehicle is picked up and delivered directly to your home or place of business. Terminal-to-terminal car transport, on the other hand, means that your car is picked and delivered to a terminal–also known as storage facilities for cars–near you. This option is suitable for people residing in congested cities with narrow streets where drivers won’t have enough room to maneuver, places with speed bumps, low hanging trees, tight turns, and any other factors that may cause hindrance.

How Car Shipping Works

The first step to ship a car is knowing when and where you need your vehicle transported. From there, you ‌ contact several vehicle transport companies and provide them with the ‌information to prepare an accurate shipping quote. Here are a few examples of the information you’ll need to provide for an accurate car shipping quote.

  • Pick up and drop off location
  • Car details such as make, model, size, color, and estimated value
  • Preferred mode of transport (open-air or enclosed)
  • Type of service (expedited or standard)

The best type of transport solution to ship a car depends on the size, weight, and number of vehicles being shipped. Open-air trailer shipping and enclosed trailer shipping are the two main types of car shipping available.

  • Open Air Car Transport

Also known as open car transport, this is the method most commonly used. Thanks to a variety of trailer types, open air shipping is great whether you need to ship one vehicle, or transport in bulk. A dual-level trailer that can ship eight to ten vehicles at a time is one of the most common. Flatbed trailers are also commonly used to transport one or more vehicles. Open air auto transport is cost-effective because you only get to pay for the space occupied by your car. However, it can be slow because the carrier has to drop off and pick up other vehicles along the way. Open air auto transport is a great option for both individuals transporting single vehicles or dealerships and businesses shipping large numbers of vehicles.

  • Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed auto transport is a common option for classic, exotic, custom, and other unique vehicles that need extra protection from external road hazards. It’s also used by dealerships to transport multiple luxurious vehicles safely and without being exposed. Enclosed car transport uses a trailer with walls and a roof, which protects vehicles from exposure to elements such as flying rocks, snow, hail, and other natural road debris. This mode of transport is more expensive than the open air, but there is also less wait time. Since enclosed trailers can’t ship vehicles in bulk, you don’t have to wait for other cars to be delivered along the way. It’s a more secure form of car shipping for anyone with a more expensive or delicate vehicle

How to Identify a Reliable Car Shipping Company

Your car is valuable, and you need a reliable shipping company with the proper experience. When you search online, you will see different car shipping companies, but might not be sure of how to choose the best one. The first step should be to provide your transport details to multiple companies and receive shipping quotes, as mentioned earlier. Then, it’s time to compare prices. Plan your car transport early so that you have enough time to evaluate different companies. Choosing in a rush might lead you to make the wrong decision. Below, we will discuss some ‌attributes of a good car transport company. If any of the companies don’t meet the criteria below, ‌eliminate them from the list.

  • Online Reviews

A legitimate car shipping company should have some source of reviews accessible online. Past client reviews will give you an idea of what to expect, both from customer service and the quality of their transport services. There are several well-trusted review sites, such as TrustPilot, BBB, Facebook, Google, and TransportReviews. Always make sure to check the reviews of the car shipping company you’re interested in.

  • Fully Insured

Legitimate car shipping companies are fully insured in case of accidents or damage incurring along the way. The final transport quote should include insurance coverage. Always ask the prospective car shipping company about their insurance policy and what it covers. The more you know about the company, the better. Knowing that your car is fully insured for transport gives you the confidence you need because you know you will be fully compensated if anything happens. A professional car shipping company like Nationwide Transport Services provides you with the insurance cover under your name so that if you have any claims, you can go directly to the insurance company. This makes the compensation process easy and fast.

  • Instant Quotes

While some car shipping companies offer online quotes, many prefer you call. This is because an experienced agent can often get you a better rate than what a generic cost calculator provides. Rates often change throughout the year based on several factors. Car shipping quotes from different companies should be around the same range. If a quote is overpriced–or underpriced–in comparison to the majority, this is often a red flag. In addition to that, the car shipping quote provided should be all-inclusive without any hidden fees. You should only have to pay once unless you request an additional service that wasn’t included in the initial shipping quote.

  • Response Rate

When you contact a car shipping company, response rate matters. Reliable companies will assign you one dedicated agent who will be available any time you have a question or concern. The last thing you want is a company that doesn’t respond to your questions in a timely manner, as this may cause concern once your vehicle is on the road.

  • Licensed

Work with a licensed vehicle shipping company. To confirm you’re working with a licensed company, ask for the MC Professional car shipping companies have the resources to ship your vehicle safely. The availability of well-maintained open and enclosed trailers across the country is a sign that a car shipping company is committed to serving its clients fast and efficiently. A car transport company with resources will pick up your car within a short time frame unless they’re heavily booked.

  • Resources

Professional car shipping companies have the resources to ship your vehicle safely. The availability of well-maintained open and enclosed trailers across the country is a sign that a car shipping company is committed to serving its clients fast and efficiently. A car transport company with resources will pick up your car within a short time frame unless they’re heavily booked.

  • Personalized Services

Professional car shipping services providers tend to assign your shipment to a specific agent. This makes communication easier because you don’t have to go through a chain of people anytime you want an update about your shipment. Besides that, there’s no room for important information being lost in the way. 

The Cost of Shipping a Car

Car shipping cost isn’t fixed and varies from one load to another. Several factors go into determining an accurate quote, and as mentioned before, rates can change. For example, the cost of transporting a car from New York to Florida, or any other southern state, is much higher during certain months because that’s when snowbirds are traveling en masse. Car shipping costs are determined based on factors that we’ll discuss later. Below is a table showing the average car shipping costs, depending on the number of miles.

DistanceEnclosed Transport CostOpen Air Transport Cost
Below 500 miles$ 899$ 590
500 – 1000 miles$ 1125$ 810
1000 – 1500 miles$ 1550$ 1050
1500 – 2000 miles$ 1770$ 1290
2000 – 2500 miles$ 1830$ 1340
Above 2500 miles$ 1810$ 1315

Factors that Affect Car Shipping Cost

  • Distance

The number of miles between the pickup and drop-off location influences the car shipping quote. The farther the distance, the more expensive the quote. However, cost per mile reduces with an increase in the number of miles to be traveled. In addition to that, if your car is to be shipped further from the highway, you will get to pay more than a person shipping a car over the same distance but near the highway. The cost of transporting a car from Florida to Texas, for example, is around $700, pending on the various factors.

  • Make and Model

PThe type of car is also a factor in determining an accurate shipping rate. For example, if you’re shipping a luxurious, classic, or custom car model, it will cost more than transporting a regular car. This is because the insurance coverage will cost more and it will also need to be shipped using an enclosed trailer, which is more expensive. Some car models are bigger than others, meaning that they will occupy more space on the trailer, resulting in a higher payment.

  • Mode of Transport

The weight limit of class 5 pickup trucks is 16,001 to 19,500 pounds. They’re medium-duty trucks and can transport As mentioned above, you’ll have the option of open-air or enclosed transport. If you choose open trailer shipping, and your car is transported along with other vehicles, this will help reduce costs. Because enclosed trailer transport is a dedicated shipment for your vehicle, it costs a little more.

  • Vehicle Condition

Transporting a car that’s in good condition is cheaper than transporting inoperable vehicles. This is because the shipping company will have to provide load assistance to get the car on the trailer. This may be as simple as providing a jump start or acquiring cranes to lift the vehicle. Because load assistance is required, the rate goes up.

  • Expedited Services

Transporting a car urgently costs more than a regular schedule because the car shipping company has to set aside resources and manpower within a short period of time to make your car shipping request successful. To avoid having to pay more, you can always plan early so that your car can be picked around the time you need it shipped.

  • Location

People living far from the cities tend to pay more than those in urban areas. This is because the distance not only increases, but roads leading to remote areas can be challenging and hard to maneuver large trailers. To save some money, you can move your car to the nearest city and have it picked there or have the shipping company drop it off at the nearest terminal if you’re shipping in.

  • Route

The route leading to the pickup and drop-off location plays a role in the car shipping cost. For example, if you live in a city that has heavy traffic and bridges, you will have to pay more because the shipping company has to cater more fuel and charges for crossing the bridges. In such areas, it’s better to have your car delivered to a terminal where you can pick it up.

  • Season / Time of the Year

The car transport industry is highly influenced by seasons. At certain times of the year, car shipping companies are overwhelmed by car shipping requests, while other times the number of people shipping cars are fewer. Below is how seasons affect car shipping rates.


Shipping a car during winter is slow because there’s less daylight and snow. Below is how each month affects car shipping rates. 

December – Around this time, car shipping services are expensive because the majority of the drivers go on leave to celebrate the holidays. This means there might be no drivers passing your route and the available ones are expensive. 

January –  Car shipping rates are high because the snowbirds are moving from north to south for warmer weather. 

February – The cost of shipping a car is cheap because demand for car shipping services is low.


March – Car shipping demand is still low at the beginning of the month but picks up towards the end of the month. During this time, car shipping rates are cheap.

April and May – These two months are busy because the snowbirds are now moving back to home. Increased demand for car shipping services leads to an increase in car transport costs.


Summer is the peak season because people are busy moving back to universities, relocating for work, taking vacations among others. 

July, June, and August – These are busy months in the transport industry. However, the car shipping cost is low because there is stiff competition between car shipping companies. This season means your car might take longer than usual to be delivered because everyone is busy.


The weather tends to be mild and drivers are a lot more available compared to summer. 

September – During this time, a high number of students are shipping cars to universities, causing a slight increase in transport costs. 

October and November – These months have low car shipping requests. The car shipping cost is low, making it the right time to move your car before winter begins.

How to Prepare Your Car for Transport

Shipping a car involves a little more than just hiring a professional. You need to prepare your car in advance so that your car is ready to go, and doesn’t cause any delays in transport. Below we will discuss some of the things you need to do prior to the pickup day.

  • Ensure your car is ready for transport seven days to the actual pick up date

These trailers transport loads that are 10,000lbs or less. Anything past that weight will cause them to lose stability. It’s important to be ready to give up your car for transport seven days to the agreed up shipping date. This is because sometimes the car shipping company might have a driver available around your area earlier than that date. This doesn’t always happen but it’s good to be ready because car shipping can take place earlier or later than the date suggested.

  • Remove personal belongings

Make a point of removing all the items in the car, because if they’re lost or destroyed, the shipping company won’t be held liable. In case you want to transport personal belongings in the car, let the company know in advance. Some companies allow clients to transport a maximum of 100lbs of items in the trunk. However, the driver has to inspect and confirm that there are no illegal goods.

  • Clean your car

A clean car will make an inspection at the pickup and drop-off location easy because the driver can see all the details. It’s easy to identify scratches and any other marks so that in case your car is delivered with new dents, you’re able to identify them. This is important so anything can be marked on the Bill of Lading.

  • Ensure emergency brakes are functioning

These lowboy trailers transport the heaviest oversize loads. They have a low center of gravity, meaning once they’re When the vehicles are loaded on a trailer, they should have a fully functional emergency brake. This is to ensure it’s steady throughout the journey. A car with a faulty emergency brake might move while on transit or when the trailer slows down, which could lead to a fatal accident.

  • Fix any cracked windows

If a window is cracked, movement on the trailer could cause this to worsen, or even shatter the window completely. In this case, the insurance company can’t compensate. To avoid receiving a car with a missing window, make a point of having it repaired.

Bill of Lading for Car Transport

Also known as the BOL form, this is a legal document issued by the car shipping company to the client with details about their car. It’s where all the car information is filled in before it’s loaded on the trailer. When the driver transporting your car gets to the pickup location, the first thing they do is to inspect the car and fill out a BOL form. This information is important because it’s used at the drop-off location to confirm whether the car has been delivered in the condition it was picked in. The  BOL form must accompany the car after being signed by the authorized carrier and the shipper at the pickup point. This is after confirming all the information filled is correct. Once the car is delivered, the process is repeated where the carrier and receiver inspect the car again in reference to the BOL form filled earlier. If everything seems okay, they both sign the BOL form. If the inspection details don’t match the condition of the car, the owner has the right to claim compensation. A BOL form acts as the receipt of goods and a contract between the carrier and the shipper. Here is a sample of a blank BOL form.

Advantages of Car Shipping Services

Shipping a car with a professional is without a doubt advantageous. Cars come in handy when it comes to running errands or generally moving from point A to point B. With a personal car, you get to go about your business as you would like because you can use it at any time and as much as you would like. At some point, the majority of us need to move from one place to another and we need our car with us. If you’re moving for a short distance, you can opt to drive it but if you’re moving far, you need a professional to do it for you. Below are some of the advantages of shipping a car using a reliable company like Nationwide Transport Services.

  • Safe

Shipping a car with a professional is both safe for you and the car. Driving your car over long distances can be tiresome which is risky to your safety and the cars. You might fall asleep behind the wheel and get into an accident that’s fatal, compromising both your well-being and the car.

  • Affordable

Shipping a car with a professional company will save you some money. If you’re moving a car across the country, driving it will cost you more than shipping it. This is because you have to spend money on food, gas, accommodation and other miscellaneous things. Your car is also saved from wear and tear, which would cost you more money to fix than hiring a professional car shipping company.

  • Fully Insured

Shipping a car with a professional company means that it’s fully insured, and if anything happens to it, you’re fully compensated. A professional company like Nationwide Transport Services will even give you a copy of the insurance with your name on it so that if any compensation is needed, you can claim it directly from the insurance company. This makes the process easy and fast.

  • Low Mileage

When you transport a car with a professional, you don’t add any significant number of miles to it. If you have leased a car, for example, it’s good to move it over long distances through a professional so that you don’t pass the maximum number of miles allowed by the lease company.

  • Transport Multiple Vehicles

Using a professional allows you to transport more than one car per trip. Whether you’re a dealership, business, or a family with more than one car, you can trust a car shipping company with resources to get them to your destination safely. It’s impossible to drive multiple cars to a different location all by yourself.

  • Stress-Free Car Shipping

Once you book your shipment, the car shipping company handles the rest. They will deal with everything and all you have to do is hand them your car on the agreed-upon date and wait for it to be safely delivered. Driving a car over long distances by yourself can be tiresome and very stressful.

  • Save Time

Shipping a car with a professional transport company means that you will spend the time it would have taken you to drive it doing something else. With a professional, your car will be delivered to your doorstep or nearest terminal safely. Transporting a car across the country would have consumed you so much time that you can spend being productive.


  1. When will my car be delivered?
    Car transport drivers are allowed to travel 500 miles per day. To know when your car will be delivered, you can divide the number of miles to be traveled by 500 and know how many days it will take. It’s important to keep in mind that factors such as weather and traffic may slow down the transport process. Your car can be delivered on the time estimated or slightly after depending on the factors mentioned among others.
  2. What’s the cost of shipping a car?
    The cost of shipping a car changes from one shipment to another depending on factors that were discussed earlier. Enclosed transport will cost you more than open-air transport because your car is protected from elements such as snow, debris, and fast-flying rocks. Regardless of the mode of transport you chose and other factors, a professional like Nationwide Transport Services will transport your car to a destination of your choice at affordable rates.
  3. Do I have to pay for car shipping insurance?
    Car insurance cost is included in the transport quote and it varies from one shipment to another depending on the size, model, and make of the car. For luxurious, custom, and classic cars, insurance is higher because of their value. More insurance is needed, in case any damage occurs.
  4. Should I use a car shipping company near me?
    Yes. If you’ve followed the guidelines mentioned earlier about how to identify a reliable car shipping company and it ticks all the boxes, book your shipment. Using a car shipping company near you comes at an advantage because their resources are readily available around that area unless it’s a peak season.
  5. Do I have to pay for tolls on the highway?
    This depends on the car pickup and drop-off location. When using some highways in Florida, Texas, and New York, for example, a tolling fee must be included in the shipping quote. Car shipping companies try to use alternative routes, but when that’s not possible, the shipper must pay for tolling fees.
  6. Do I have to pay before or after my car is shipped?
    The majority of companies don’t charge any booking fee at the pickup location. You get to pay at the drop-off location after confirming your car has been safely delivered. Nationwide Transport Services accepts different modes of payment.

Car Shipping Conclusion

Whether you’re a dealership, business, or individual, you should never hesitate to contact a professional like Nationwide Transport Services anytime you need car shipping services. Your car will get to a destination of your choice on time and intact at affordable rates. Car shipping services are not only helpful for your car but also for you. You get to have peace of mind as you wait for your car to be delivered across the country, Canada or Mexico. It’s also possible to transport multiple vehicles on a single trip.


Reach out to a logistics specialist from Nationwide Transport Services, LLC for more information on any topic in logistics by dialing (877) 278-3135.

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