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How does Car Shipping works in the US?

Car shipping, also known as auto transportation or automobile hauling, is a service that allows vehicle owners to transport their vehicles using specially designed carriers. This process involves several steps, including picking up the vehicle from your location and safely transferring it to your destination. Whether you need to ship a single vehicle or an entire fleet, understanding how car shipping works can help ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Car shipping services are designed to transport vehicles safely and efficiently over long distances.
  • There are different types of car shipping services, including open transport and enclosed transport.
  • Choosing the right car shipping company involves researching, reading reviews, and comparing quotes and services.
  • Properly preparing your car for shipping, such as cleaning and documenting its condition, is crucial for a smooth process.
  • Various factors, including distance, vehicle size, and seasonal demand, can affect the cost of car shipping.

Understanding Car Shipping Services

Types of Car Shipping Services

Car shipping companies like Tiger Auto Transport provide an important service for people who need to transport their vehicles long distances. Whether you’re moving to a new city or going on a cross-country road trip, these companies can make sure that your car arrives at its destination safely and on time. The first step in the sometimes confusing car shipping process is to find the right company to handle your vehicle shipment. Browsing providers’ websites is a great way to find out what kinds of car transport services are available, but these choices come down to what you need for your car and how much you’d like to spend.

Benefits of Using Car Shipping Services

Using car shipping services can save you time and reduce the stress associated with long-distance driving. Here are some key benefits:

  • Convenience: Door-to-door service ensures your car is picked up and delivered at specified locations.
  • Safety: Professional transporters handle your vehicle with care, reducing the risk of damage.
  • Cost-Effective: When considering fuel, lodging, and time, shipping can be more economical than driving.

Common Misconceptions About Car Shipping

There are several misconceptions about car shipping that can deter people from using these services. Here are a few:

  1. It’s too expensive: While there is a cost involved, many find it comparable to the expenses of driving long distances.
  2. Cars often get damaged: Reputable companies take extensive precautions to protect your vehicle.
  3. It’s only for luxury cars: Car shipping services are available for all types of vehicles, not just high-end models.

 Understanding the various aspects of car shipping services can help you make an informed decision and ensure a smooth experience. 

Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company

Researching Car Shipping Companies

Begin your journey by researching various car shipping companies. Look for reliable, experienced carriers with a strong track record. Evaluate their services, pricing, customer reviews, and insurance policies. Always check for their registration with the Department of Transport (DOT).

Reading Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into a company’s reliability and service quality. Pay attention to recurring themes in reviews, such as punctuality, customer service, and handling of vehicles. Websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot can be useful resources.

Preparing Your Car for Shipping

Cleaning and Inspecting Your Vehicle

Before shipping, clean your car thoroughly inside and out. This helps in the inspection process and ensures any pre-existing damage is documented. A clean vehicle makes it easier to spot scratches, dents, or other issues that need to be noted before transport.

Removing Personal Items

Remove all personal items from your car. Carriers typically do not cover personal belongings under their insurance policies, so it’s best to take everything out to avoid potential loss or damage.

Documenting Vehicle Condition

Document the condition of your vehicle before shipping. Take clear photos from multiple angles and note any existing damage. This documentation will be crucial if you need to make a claim for any damage that occurs during transport.

 A well-prepared car ensures a smoother shipping process, giving you peace of mind as your vehicle embarks on its journey. 

The Car Shipping Process

Booking Your Shipment

Booking your car shipment involves selecting a reputable car shipping company and scheduling your shipment dates. Ensure you have all necessary documents ready, such as your vehicle registration and insurance details. Most companies offer online booking systems for convenience.

Pickup and Delivery Options

You can choose between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal services. Door-to-door is more convenient but can be more expensive. Terminal-to-terminal might save you money but requires you to drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated locations.

Tracking Your Shipment

Most car shipping companies provide tracking services, allowing you to monitor your vehicle’s journey in real-time. This can give you peace of mind and help you plan for the delivery. Make sure to get the tracking details from your shipping company.

Cost Factors in Car Shipping

Distance and Location

The total distance in miles is the primary factor in determining the cost to ship a car. Shipping a car to locations that require drivers to navigate through heavier traffic congestion could result in higher shipping costs.

Vehicle Size and Weight

Larger, heavier vehicles such as trucks and vans will cost more to ship than sedans and smaller vehicles. Your car’s value, dimensions, and condition can all impact shipping costs. Additionally, you may want to opt for the enclosed transport option if you’re shipping a high-value car.

Seasonal Demand and Timing

It’s best to schedule a shipping date as far in advance as possible – you may have to pay more money for expedited transport. Seasonal demand can also affect prices; for instance, shipping costs may be higher during peak moving seasons like summer.

 Remember, comparing quotes from multiple providers can help you find the best deal for your car shipping needs. 

Different Methods of Car Shipping

Open Transport

Open transport is the most common and cost-effective method of car shipping. Vehicles are loaded onto an open trailer, which can carry multiple cars at once. This method is ideal for standard vehicles and offers a balance between cost and convenience. However, your car will be exposed to weather and road conditions during transit.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport provides additional protection for your vehicle by placing it inside a covered trailer. This method is more expensive but is recommended for luxury, classic, or high-value cars. The enclosed environment shields your vehicle from weather, debris, and potential damage.

Door-to-Door vs. Terminal-to-Terminal

  • Door-to-Door: The transport company picks up and delivers your vehicle directly to your specified locations. This option offers maximum convenience but may come at a higher cost.
  • Terminal-to-Terminal: Your vehicle is dropped off and picked up at designated terminals. This method is usually cheaper but requires you to travel to and from the terminals.

 Choosing the right method depends on your budget, the type of vehicle, and your personal preferences. Each option has its own set of advantages and considerations. 

Legal and Insurance Considerations

Understanding Shipping Contracts

When shipping a car, it’s crucial to thoroughly read and understand the shipping contract. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the service, including pickup and delivery times, costs, and liability. Always ensure you have a copy of the contract and clarify any doubts before signing.

Insurance Coverage Options

All car shipping companies are required to have insurance, but the level of coverage can vary. It’s essential to:

  • Ask for proof of insurance.
  • Understand the coverage, deductible, and exclusions.
  • Check if your personal car insurance policy covers shipping.

Some companies offer additional protection for purchase. Always review the insurance details and limitations before committing.

Dealing with Damages and Claims

In the unfortunate event that your vehicle is damaged during transport, you need to know the process for filing a claim. Here are the steps:

  1. Document the damage with photos and notes.
  2. Contact the shipping company immediately.
  3. Submit a claim with all required documentation.

 Information on the insurance coverage provided by your shipping provider will also be included in the paperwork you receive. Ensure you understand the minimum coverage required and whether it meets your needs. 


Car shipping in the United States is a streamlined and efficient process that caters to various needs, whether you’re relocating, purchasing a vehicle from another state, or transporting a fleet. By understanding the different methods available, such as over-the-road transport, freight shipping, and even air transport, you can choose the best option for your situation. Car shipping companies offer a range of services to ensure your vehicle arrives safely and on time, providing peace of mind during what can often be a stressful transition. With the right preparation and by selecting a reputable car shipping company, you can navigate the complexities of auto transportation with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is car shipping and how does it work?

Car shipping is a service that transports cars from one location to another using specialized carriers. The process involves booking the shipment, preparing the vehicle, and then having it picked up and delivered to the desired location.

How do I choose the right car shipping company?

Research different companies, read reviews and testimonials, and compare quotes and services to find the best car shipping company for your needs.

What are the different methods of car shipping?

The main methods are open transport, enclosed transport, and door-to-door vs. terminal-to-terminal shipping. Each method has its own benefits and cost considerations.

How should I prepare my car for shipping?

Clean and inspect your vehicle, remove personal items, and document its condition before shipping to ensure a smooth process.

What factors affect the cost of car shipping?

The cost is influenced by factors such as distance and location, vehicle size and weight, and seasonal demand and timing.

What should I do if my car is damaged during shipping?

Understand the shipping contract and insurance coverage options. If damage occurs, document it and file a claim with the shipping company as soon as possible.

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