You’ve decided to transport your vehicle, but exactly how long will it take to ship? Car shipping companies typically won’t give you a strict time frame for how long it takes to ship a car because several factors impact that answer. Once you understand the process and what aspects affect the time it takes to ship your vehicle, you can prepare for your shipment.

This guide will help you get a handle on the car shipping process and help you understand what affects a carrier’s timeline for your vehicle’s delivery.

In This Review:

    How Does the Car Shipping Process Work?

    It typically takes between one and ten days to ship a car, but the length of time depends on a few things. To figure out how long it could take to ship your car, you should first be familiar with the car shipping process. We’ve broken it down step by step below.

    Get Free Quotes

    First, you’ll get car shipping quotes online. Most car shipping companies’ websites have instant quote tools or car shipping calculators, but some require you to provide your information over the phone. When getting a quote, you’ll need to give the auto transport company the following information:

    • Your car’s make, model, age, and operability
    • Preferred pickup and delivery times
    • Preferred pickup location and drop-off location
    • Preferred transport type (open vs. enclosed transport)
    • Your name and contact information

    The company will either assign one of its carriers or, if it’s a broker, present this information to independent car carriers that will bid on your job. If the company offers an instant quote tool online, you’ll get a quoted price back within a few moments.

    Most of the time, a vehicle shipping company will email you the details of your quote. Keep in mind that unless the company provides locked-in pricing, the quote is often an estimate that doesn’t take insurance costs or service fees into account.

    When you choose Sherpa Auto Transport for the car shipping services you need, our Price Lock Promise ensures that the price you’re quoted is the final price you’ll pay.

    Choose a Car Shipping Company

    After you receive a few quotes, you’ll need to decide which car shipping company best suits your needs. Choose a company that is fully insured and licensed with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Most auto shipping companies, like Sherpa, vet car carriers, making sure that each one is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

    Book Your Car Shipment

    Once you’ve chosen your provider, you can book your auto transport. Some companies will require an up-front payment or deposit to secure your shipment. Depending on the company, you may get a discount if you pay in full when you book.

    With Sherpa Auto Transport, you’ll make an initial payment once we secure a carrier for your transport. Once your shipment is complete, you’ll pay the remaining balance in full.

    Prepare Your Vehicle

    Once your pickup date is confirmed, you’ll prepare your car for shipment. Here are the steps you need to take to make sure your vehicle is ready:

    • Wash your car.
    • Inspect your vehicle for dings, scratches, and dents.
    • Remove all personal items and valuables.
    • Top off all fluids and make sure your car battery has charge.
    • Reduce your gas tank (tank should be no more than a quarter full).
    • Remove any loose parts (antenna, spoiler, hood ornament).
    • Make an extra set of keys.

    Track Your Shipment

    After the truck driver picks your car up, most auto transport companies provide a way to track the status of your shipment. Some car shippers provide an app with GPS tracking, while others offer 24/7 customer service. This way, you’ll know of any shipping delays immediately.

    Pick Your Car Up

    Depending on the auto transport service you choose, your car will be delivered either right to your door or to a terminal in a central location. When you choose Sherpa, you’ll have the convenience of door-to-door shipping.

    Either way, you and the trucker will need to inspect the vehicle again for any damage that may have happened during transit. You’ll then sign a bill of lading and pay the carrier the remaining balance.

    What Factors Affect How Long it Takes to Ship a Car?

    There are a few factors that can affect a car shipment’s transit time, including:

    Type of Vehicle

    Larger vehicles, such as RVs, ATVs, and farm equipment, take longer to transport. To ship larger alternative vehicles, you may have to seek out specific shipping companies.

    If you have a classic car or luxury vehicle, consider enclosed auto transport for peace of mind. Enclosed trailers can only fit one or two vehicles, though, so the shipment could take extra time.

    Shipping Distance

    The longer the distance between your pickup and drop-off locations, the longer your shipment will take to arrive. Shipments up to 500 miles may only take a couple of days, but a cross-country transport could take over a week. Shipping to Alaska or Hawaii can take three weeks or more, as there are different shipping regulations to follow

    Pickup and Delivery Locations

    Shipping times increase if you’re shipping a vehicle to or from rural areas. Car transport companies provide faster service to and from major cities, as the shipping routes are more frequently traveled.

    Road Conditions

    The physical state of the shipping routes the carrier uses can influence how long your auto transport takes. If the roads are in good condition, the shipment may not take very long. However, if the trucker runs into construction or takes a road with lower speed limits, your transport could be delayed by hours or days.

    Time of Year

    Bad weather conditions can slow a transport vehicle down significantly. If, for instance, the car hauler is driving through a part of the country that experiences heavy snowfall in the winter, roads could become impassable, adding significant time to the shipment.

    Additionally, demand for shipping increases significantly in January and during the summer, so finding a carrier to ship your vehicle may take longer during those times of year.

    Why You Should Choose Sherpa Auto Transport

    Sherpa Auto Transport is a leader in the auto transport industry. Our company specializes in shipping standard vehicles, as well as high-end and exotic cars. We offer door-to-door delivery, open and enclosed auto transport, and frequent updates on the status of your shipment.

    Sherpa is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and holds an A+ rating from the organization. Customer reviews on the BBB’s website give us an average star rating of 4.9 out of 5.

    Price Lock Promise

    Through our Price Lock Promise, Sherpa locks in the price you’re quoted as the final price you pay for an auto transport. If the quoted price isn’t enough to secure a carrier for your job, we’ll cover up to $300 of the difference to ensure your shipment is locked in.

    Clean Car Guarantee

    One of the perks available to customers who book with Sherpa Auto Transport is our Clean Car Guarantee. Should your vehicle arrive dirty, Sherpa will reimburse you up to $20 for a car wash. Simply send a copy of the bill of lading and the receipt from your car wash and we’ll issue a reimbursement on the card you used for the shipment.

    FAQ: How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?