Call Now: (800) 886-7135

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Shipping Your Car


At one point, you’ll have to have your car transported – maybe it’s an old car and you don’t want the slightest scratch on it, maybe you’re moving to a new state and your vehicle is just not the ‘long drive’ type, maybe you just feel safer having it shipped. Whatever the reason, we at All American Trucking and Transport can help you. We offer a wide range of services that guarantee the safe transport of your car, truck, motorcycle, and other vehicles from California to anywhere in the country.

The Cost Factors of Shipping Your Car

Now one of the first questions that people always ask about our services is the cost. There are many factors that affect the prices of transporting vehicles. The first thing to consider is there are two main ways to ship a car – Open Car Transport and Enclosed Exotic Car Transport. There is a clear difference between their prices, and we’ll discuss them later.

In general, here are the main considerations when it comes to shipping costs.

  • Vehicle size and type – the size of your vehicle is one of the biggest factors that dictate pricing. It determines how much space is needed in the carrier and how much weight will it add. The bigger vehicles generally cost more to transport. Compact cars, for example, are cheaper to haul than SUVs or minivans.
  • Transport distance – basically, the farther the destination, the more expensive it is to transport your car. The increase in price is brought on by toll fees, gas charges, man hours especially for overnight trips, and other charges for leaving the state. Deliveries to hard-to-reach areas cost more than those to major metropolitan places too.
  • Seasons – there’s usually a spike in bookings during summer. This means prices also go up. During winter, prices drop too.

Open Car Transport is cheaper than Enclosed Transport. Compared to its alternative, open carriers are two-level trailer trucks that can usually transport more vehicles. This means the operational cost of every Enclosed Car Transport trip is more expensive.

Of course, the added security of enclosed carriers is also a consideration. Although vehicles are already very safe when they are transported via open carriers, enclosed trucks offer that extra protection from the weather and other external elements.

The Shipment Process

truck driver

The shipment process also raises some mostly logistical questions. We will be there to help you through the whole course, from pick up to delivery.

After booking with us and setting a schedule, our team of experienced professionals will get the car at the appointed time and place. Before strapping it in, we meticulously survey the vehicle to mark down every little scratch and dent and note them down.

We then share the report with you to get your approval of our assessment. This is very important, and we will not proceed with the shipment until this step is complete. This document will serve as protection for both you and us.

We don’t take a deposit of the payment. If you’re paying by credit card, you will be charged when the car is successfully delivered and the service is complete.

During transit, your car is safely secured to the carrier with the help of strong straps that don’t harm the paint job. We keep tabs on the trips our carriers make to ensure we know what’s happening with your car at all times.

Drivers deliver cars between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM seven days a week. They will contact you to set up a two to four-hour delivery window. They’ll call you within an hour of their arrival.

Upon delivery of your car to its destination, we visit the report again to make sure no damage was taken during the transportation. You or your representative must be present to further check the vehicle. Once cleared, the shipment is completed.

In extremely rare cases where damage is believed to be taken during transit, all our carriers have insurance coverage amounting to at least $100,000. We will help you with your claim, as we have been doing for our clients since 1994.

The Preparations on Your End

cleaning car

Some preparations should be made on your end to ensure that your car is delivered in the best condition it can be.

Thoroughly cleaning your car is always a good idea. Before shipping it is an absolute must – both its exterior and interior.

If you plan on going for the open trailer service, a good coat of wax at the car wash can help as an added layer of protection. Keep in mind that in transit, your vehicle will be exposed to road debris, dust, and the elements, so getting it fully detailed is not recommended. We suggest you do the detailing after shipment so you can make the most of its sparkling condition.

You can check for preexisting scratches and dents on your own, so you already have an idea when we do our assessment. While you’re at it, you can also look at your car’s tire pressure, hoses for leaks, and whether the alarm is disabled. This is also the best time to note down quirks of your car that will allow us to transport it better.

Leaving only about a quarter of your gas tank filled will lessen the weight of the car during shipment while still having enough for on and off-loading.

Carriers usually allow up to 50 lbs of personal items in the trunk during shipment, but these items are not covered by transport insurance. We don’t recommend shipping anything valuable or breakable. If the weight of the items exceeds 50 lbs, the driver may either charge you with an additional fee, or simply ask you to leave the items. Plants, liquids, and firearms cannot be shipped in vehicles across state lines. These items will be confiscated by the Department of Transportation.

What to Do in the Meantime

After the shipping company gets and loads your car up on their transport, it’s natural to feel a bit uneasy, particularly if you’re trying out a new service provider. Don’t worry. This is why many shipping companies offer a way for you to track your car throughout the whole shipping process. Some have GPS tracking for your car. Be warned that this may come with an extra charge.

Schedule changes can also happen. Weather events, traffic, and other unavoidable circumstances can all affect the estimated time of arrival. Include a buffer time of a day or two when you’re shipping your car. We at All American Trucking and Transport always do our absolute best to stay on schedule. If there are unforeseen situations, we will make sure you are notified and aware of the change.

Besides these rather rare occurrences, shipping companies will usually adhere to the agreed-upon schedule. Some companies have other arrangements for late deliveries.

On the other hand, some companies charge extra for storage if no one is there to receive the car when it’s delivered. So, take that into account as well.

How to Pick the Best Auto Transport Company

Even if the end goal is the same, auto transport services from different companies have different levels of care. How do you find one that will handle your car as if it’s their own?

Here are ten points to consider.

  1. Are they licensed?

Your first order of business is to determine if the company operates legally. You wouldn’t want to work with a company that would be flagged when they cross state lines, especially because there are a lot of car shipping scams out there now. It’s one of the main things to look for in an auto transport company.

A credible car transport company would be able to present their license number. Ours is 325231. All American Trucking and Transport is bonded and insured.

  1. What kinds of vehicles do they transport?

It doesn’t make sense to talk about transport deadlines if the company doesn’t move the type of vehicle you own. Your next task is to make sure the company will move your specific vehicle.

If you own common vehicles, like cars, vans, and SUVs, you won’t have trouble finding an auto transport company. Matters change if you’re moving an extremely valuable vehicle, like a race car, vintage car, or a vehicle that’s heavily customized. Inquire if the company handles cars like yours.

We transport all that and more, including motorcycles, boats, and heavy equipment.

  1. What are your transportation options?

Companies offer two types of transportation: open car and enclosed exotic transport. If you know which suits your car and budget, inquire if the company offers that specific transport option. All American Trucking and Transport specializes in both.

  1. How do they calculate their rates?

Go beyond asking how much rates are — ask how they compute their rates. How do vehicle size and type, transport distance, and seasons affect the costs? Moreover, how different is an open car rate from an enclosed transport rate? By asking these questions, you get a breakdown of your expenses, and you have the assurance that you’ll be working with a credible company.

  1. Does the rate include everything?

Ask about additional costs to avoid unexpected fees down the road. When you request a quote, ask for a list of everything that the quote covers. Then, inquire about your payment options. For example, All American Trucking and Transport doesn’t need a deposit payment.

  1. Will they move your personal belongings?

Companies have different policies about personal items. They have a weight limit, and anything that exceeds it is either left behind or charged extra. To avoid problems, make these protocols clear.

  1. How long will shipping take?

The delivery time depends on the distance and the method of transport. All American Trucking and Transport completes a cross-country transport in 7-12 days. We also guarantee delivery within 16 days from the date of loading, or we provide a rental reimbursement of $35 per day until it’s delivered. Some companies take 30 days before applying this safeguard. 

  1. Will your vehicle be insured?

Even if the company promises the utmost level of care, you can’t be sure of external factors they’ll encounter in transit. Insurance is essential. At All American Trucking and Transport, our carriers have an insurance coverage of at least $100,000. 

  1. How will you prepare your car?

To increase the chances of a successful transport, ask the company about the best ways to prepare your car. For example, ensure ¼ tank of fuel or less to make the car lighter.

  1. What happens if the car is damaged?

Here is where insurance comes in. If the car sustains damage during transport, choose a company that will help you process your claim. Clarify the protocols. What should you do in case something went wrong, especially in terms of documentation?

If something happens to your vehicle, All American Trucking and Transport pledges to assist you with your claim.

The All American Trucking and Transport Edge

If you’re planning on shipping your vehicle from California to any part of the US, we are the best choice. All our delivery dates are guaranteed, and we never require a deposit. We stay in touch with all our drivers throughout their trips. Most of all, we always treat your car like our own and take the highest level of care when handling them.

Give us a call to learn more. You can also check out our other services.

Get Your Quote