Maybe you found the job of a lifetime on the opposite coast. Maybe you discovered your dream car online in a distant state. Either way, your vehicle is in one place, but you need it in another place far, far away. You’ve decided that shipping your car across the country is a better option than driving it but may be wondering how long the process will take.

To help you estimate how long it will take to ship your car, here are 5 items to consider:

ship your car

01. Distance

This one seems obvious. The farther your vehicle must travel, the longer the shipping will take. For example, if your car travels from New York City to Los Angeles, a distance of just under 2500 miles, it would take approximately six days in transit to complete the trip, assuming an average travel rate of 450 miles per day. It is important to note, however, that this calculation begins once the transport vehicle is fully loaded and on the road. It does not account for the time it takes to schedule a shipping window or to complete the pickup, and it does not account for any stops before your car’s arrival. Additional variables such as road construction or traveling through high-traffic areas can also extend the in-transit period.

02. Seasonal Demand

Most people probably don’t think of automobile shipping as a seasonal business, but the season can have a significant impact on delivery timeframe and cost. Below are a few examples of high-demand shipping times that may affect how long it takes to ship your car.

  • Shipping vehicles for students who are traveling to school in September and returning home in May increases the demand for transport services.
  • Relocations or job transfers tend to occur more frequently in summer months when children are out of school and it is easier to make a move.
  • Snowbirds transport cars to warm climates beginning in November and return to their northern homes in April or May.

Consider any time between late Spring and early Fall to be a peak shipping season. Also, note that the holiday season means fewer available drivers, and that means it will take longer to ship your car. If your timing is flexible, contact your shipping provider to determine times that allow for the most rapid and cost-effective delivery.

03. Weather

Along with seasonal demand, weather can play an important role in the delivery time for your car. When making transport arrangements, a reputable shipping company will provide a delivery range that attempts to account for any unforeseen delays, but the unexpected can still happen. Snow or ice storms leading to route closures do occur in the northern part of the country in winter months, as do flooding and tropical storms in the south. Although significant delays are unlikely, you should be prepared for this possibility when determining how long it will take to ship your car.

04. Type Of Shipping

Whether you ship your car cross country on an open trailer or in an enclosed shipping trailer will impact both the timeframe and cost of the shipment. Many shipping companies offer both options, so it is important to compare the differences.

Open shipping means that your car will travel on a large, often multi-tiered trailer with open sides and without a roof. Most of these trailers hold an average of 8-10 vehicles. Because open trailers typically hold more cars, and because there are more open trailers than enclosed trailers on the road today, open shipping means generally more readily available transportation and ultimately leads to a lower cost.

The caveat to open shipping is that your vehicle remains exposed to the elements for the duration of the trip. In addition to weather conditions, dust, dirt, rock chips, and other road debris are all potential risks, especially for a car shipping 1000 miles or more. You can minimize some of these risks by requesting “top-load” service where your vehicle rides on the top tier of the transport trailer. Even without top-load service, many cars require, at most, a car wash on delivery. If you are transporting a vehicle where time and cost-effectiveness are your primary concern, open shipping may be a viable option.

Enclosed shipping means that your car remains in a fully enclosed trailer from the time it is picked up until it arrives at its destination. Yes, enclosed shipping is more expensive. There are fewer enclosed trailers on the road, some trailers hold fewer cars, and the additional weight makes them more costly to pull. However, there are decided advantages to enclosed shipping that make it worthy of consideration, especially for high-value, rare or vintage vehicles shipping across the country.

05. Pick-up And Drop-off Locations

Where your vehicle is being picked up or dropped off can impact how long it takes to ship your car. Shipping to or from major metropolitan areas offers greater access to drivers and transport vehicles whereas shipping from a rural destination means a driver must first travel to that location before completing the pick-up. On the other hand, vehicles located in areas of major congestion where driving and parking a trailer are difficult can also impact the time it takes to ship your car. Each situation is unique, so expect your shipping partner to ask you a series of questions regarding your pick-up and delivery locations to prepare the most accurate estimate.

Once the pick-up location and destination are identified, your shipper will be able to provide you with a pick-up window and estimated delivery window. An average window is typically 2-3 days.

To help ensure that the process runs smoothly, make sure that your car is accessible and in proper working order. Check for properly inflated tires, a working emergency brake, and a fully charged battery. Depending on the size of your vehicle, your shipper may also request that you remove roof racks or other accessories that may impact the move.

Ready To Transport? Request A Quote From ShipLux

Begin by selecting an experienced and respected partner like ShipLux to handle your shipping needs. We will explain your options complete with an all-inclusive price and will provide an estimate on how long it will take to ship your car from start to finish. We will notify you when a carrier is assigned, you’ll receive regular updates throughout the shipping process, and we’ll be available to answer your questions - any time, day or night. It is our goal to make your experience easy and worry-free.

To get started, request a quote today!