Step-By-Step Guide And Tips For Shipping A Car Across Country

Tips for shipping a car across country

Shipping a car across country refers to moving vehicles from one side of the country to another across the U.S. This is usually done with the help of a car carrier truck or trailer, customized for transporting multiple vehicles at once. If you purchase a car from a seller on the other side of the country or decide to take a cross-country trip or move across the country, we suggest you ship your car rather than drive yourself.

A reputable car shipping company like AutoStar Transport Express offers open and enclosed car shipping services. With over 15 years of experience in shipping a car across the country, we suggest 26 useful tips to make your shipping process hassle-free.

26 Useful Tips for Shipping a Car Across Country

Useful Tips for Shipping a Car Across Country


1. Research your car shipping company

Choose a car shipping company that offers the best prices and services. You can take advantage of shipment records of companies. You can read reviews from customers to make an informed decision. The best car shipping company for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

2. Get quotes from different car shipping companies

After researching car shipping companies, you should get quotes from all these shipping companies. Compare the quotes carefully to ensure that you are getting the best price. If you want to know how much shipping will cost, there are many shipping companies that provide an instant shipping quote calculator for their customers.

3. Select the best shipping company

It is time to select the most suitable car shipping company after researching all possible shipping options and receiving quotes. The company may offer low prices, but you must also consider the company’s flexibility and services. A balanced price and the most reliable services should be your criteria for selecting a company.

4. Choose a transportation method

Depending on your needs, you may choose to ship your car by land, air, or sea. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, so when making your decision, you should take into account factors such as distance, cost, and time. 

5. Avoid paying too much

Make sure you consider all your options before shipping a car to avoid paying too much. Shipping companies often offer discounts for off-peak or non-rush deliveries, so if you are flexible with your schedule, you may save some money. Moreover, open-air transport carriers are typically less expensive than enclosed car transport, so you must take note of these things to save money.

6. Make sure you have insurance

If you are shipping your vehicle, you should make sure that it is insured before shipping. During transport, anything can happen, from damage to theft, including an accident. Unforeseen events can be covered by insurance so double-check your insurance policy and/or purchase an insurance rider. Car shipping companies typically require you to insure your vehicle before they transport it. As part of their services, some companies offer insurance. However, you should always check the terms of the policy to make sure it provides the coverage you need.

7. Provide exact pickup and delivery address

You will need to schedule the pickup and delivery of your car once you have selected a car shipping company. It is important that you provide the car shipping company with accurate pickup and delivery addresses, as well as special instructions for accessing the locations.

8. Perform Physical Inspection

It is important to prepare your car for the shipping journey before it is shipped. There is a need to physically inspect the car. You can perform this task by yourself and you can also hire a mechanic to inspect the car before shipping to ensure that it is in good working order.

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9. Remove any personal items from the car

The car should be empty of any personal items. You must remove any valuables or items that you don’t want to risk losing when leaving the car. Be sure not to leave anything in the car. Among these items are clothing, electronics, bags, and other personal effects. You should also remove any aftermarket accessories, like a car stereo or custom wheels, since the transport company’s insurance may not cover them.

10. Wash your car

The exterior and interior of a car should be thoroughly washed before shipping a car across country. In this way, the transport company can assess the condition of the car accurately. Additionally, washing the car will protect it from dirt and make sure that it is ready for transport and arrives at its destination in the best possible condition.

11. Check the Engine and other important parts of your car

It is the most critical step in preparing your car for shipping. It is important to check the car for any fluid leaks or other mechanical issues. It is highly recommended to take the car to a mechanic for a pre-transport inspection. Mechanics can identify any potential issues that need to be addressed before shipping by checking for fluid leaks or other mechanical issues.

12. Checking the tire pressure of the car

The pressure in the tires as well as the tread depth should be checked to ensure that they are in proper condition. A worn or underinflated tire may not be able to handle the stresses of shipping a car across the country

13. Check car emergency brakes

Ensure that the brakes are functioning properly. Keep an eye on the brake fluid level and the brake pads’ condition. Check for any issues with the emergency brake when you apply it, such as a dragging or pulling sensation. You may need to adjust or repair the emergency brake if you notice any problems.

14. Check car batteries

It is highly recommended to disconnect the batteries before shipping a car across the country. This will help prevent any issues with car shipping. In order to prevent accidental contact with the terminals, wrap the terminals with electrical tape after removing the cables.

15. Put gas in your car – A quarter of the gas tank

It is essential to fill up the gas tank of your car before shipping it across the country. Thus, there will be enough gas in the car to last during transport. The majority of transport companies require that a vehicle’s gas tank be at least 1\4 full before accepting it for transportation. Fuel could leak out of the gas tank if the tank is too full. After filling the tank, tighten the gas cap, this prevents fuel leaks during transportation.

16. Secure the car’s exterior components

The exterior components of the vehicle should be secured during transportation in order to prevent damage. This includes items such as an antenna, spoilers, or other aftermarket accessories. Protect sensitive parts of your car with protective padding or covers. You can secure loose objects on the car by using tie-downs or straps.

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17. Find the car’s spare key

Consider getting a spare key before shipping your car if you don’t have one. Spare keys are not required for shipping a car across the country, but they are highly recommended. Car transport companies may find it easier to load and unload your car if they have a spare key. If the primary key is lost during shipping or damaged, this can be useful.

18. Disable any alarms or security systems

If your car has an alarm or other security system like a tracking device, it is a wise idea to disable it before shipping a car across the country. An active car alarm can be annoying for the trucker. It is good to manually stop the alarm during transport since the driver will try to stop it during the journey.

19. Take Pictures as helpful documentation

Make sure you get pictures of the front, back, sides, and interior of the vehicle from all angles. It is a smart idea to take pictures of your car before shipping it so you can document its condition before it is transported. If a dispute or claim arises later, this will prove useful. The odometer reading and gas level, as well as any damage or scratches, should be included in the pictures. Ideally, you should also take close-up photos of the wheels and tires, as well as any other areas that are particularly important.

20. Drop off your car

It is your responsibility to drop off your vehicle at the designated location on the day of pickup. Make sure to hand over any keys or remote entry devices, and to provide the car shipping company with any necessary documents or paperwork. Incase If you are unable to come physically, door-to-door car shipping is now hassle-free thanks to AutoStar Transport Express. Just schedule an appointment by calling us at 888-802-8250 and you’re done.

21. Track your car

During the shipping process, you can track your car using the car shipping company’s website or app. Carriers with good reputations will frequently provide necessary updates by text or email. These updates will allow you to see the progress of your car and to make any necessary arrangements for delivery. 

22. Update your auto insurance

Despite the fact that your auto insurance covers you across the country, you still need to buy coverage from an insurance provider in your new home state. Do this step after your car is picked up for shipping as it will take some time.

23. Do another inspection upon arrival

It is important to inspect the car carefully for any damage. If you have photos before the car is picked up by the transport company, this is the time to check these photos and sign any paperwork before taking possession of the car.

24. Report if any extra damage

If your car suffers extra damage while being shipped across the country, contact the shipping company immediately. In the event of any damage to your car during transport, your shipping company must repair it or compensate you according to their shipping policies. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before reporting it. Afterward, contact the shipping company.

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25. Receive your Vehicle

You must pick up your car on the day of delivery from the designated location. After performing the second inspection, you will then need to sign some paperwork and pay any remaining fees or charges before you can take possession of your car. Make sure to have your driver’s license and proof of insurance with you when you pick up your car.

26. Approach to the Motor Vehicle Department

After taking possession of a car, you must register it with the motor vehicle department to obtain a new license for your new hometown. You will need to provide proof of ownership, such as a title or a bill of sale. You must provide proof of insurance and pay any applicable fees. Additionally, your vehicle may have to be inspected to meet safety and emission standards in your area.

Avoid Scams

You should take several precautions when shipping a car across the country to avoid falling victim to a scam.

  • Ensure that you thoroughly research the car shipping company before working with them. 
  • Ensure they are reliable and trustworthy by reading reviews from previous customers.
  • Check that the company has a physical address and phone number and that it is licensed and insured.
  • Scammers often request large deposits or full payments upfront, so avoid these companies. Make sure you read and understand the contract before signing it, and look for a company that offers a transparent and flexible payment plan.
  • A company that offers an outrageous quote may be scamming you. Be cautious of such companies.

By following these steps, you can successfully ship your car across the country. It’s important to do your research and to choose a reputable car shipping company to ensure that your car is transported safely and securely.

Shipping a car across country FAQs

How much does it cost to ship a car across the country?

The cost of shipping a car across the country will vary depending on factors such as the size of the car, the distance it is being shipped, and the type of transport service you choose. If you need an exact car shipping quote, you can contact one of our customer representatives at 888-802-8250.

How long does it take to ship a car across the country?

The transit time for shipping a car across the country will vary depending on the distance and the route taken by the car shipping company. On average, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 days to ship a car across the country.

Is my presence required at the pickup and delivery of my car?

It is not required that you be present when your car is picked up or delivered, but it is recommended. Being present at the pickup and delivery can ensure that your car is in good condition and that the process goes smoothly. It also gives you an opportunity to ask any questions or address any concerns you may have about the transport.

Is my car insured during transport?

Yes, most car shipping companies are required by law to carry insurance that covers any potential damage to your car during transport. However, it’s important to check with the car shipping company to confirm their insurance coverage and to make sure it is adequate for your needs.

What if my car is damaged during transport?

If your car is damaged during transport, the car shipping company should have insurance to cover the cost of repairs. You should file a claim with the company as soon as possible to get the repairs done.

Is it possible to ship a car containing personal items?

It is not recommended to ship your car with personal items inside. Most car shipping companies have strict rules about what can and cannot be shipped in the car, and personal items can potentially cause damage to the car during transport. It’s best to remove all personal items from the car before shipping it.


Victoria Ruiz

A wanderer at heart, Victoria keeps taking her RAM 1500 to new places. She has been working in the auto transport industry for 7+ years. As an evangelist for Auto Star Transport (and as a friend who transports her vehicle), Victoria loves helping Auto Star Transport customers with help guides and insights. She is nowhere to be found when she is not in the office.
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Edward Larrivee

Introducing Edward - the beach-loving car carrier guru at AutoStar Transport Express! With his expertise, Edward helps clients surf through the car shipping process with ease. And when he's not working, he's making waves on the sand court as an avid beach volleyball player. With Edward on your team, your car will arrive safely and on time, and you might even catch a tan!
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