How Long Does It Take to Ship a Vehicle Cross Country?

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A variety of factors determine how long it takes to ship a car from point A to point B

Moving to another part of the country comes with a lot to figure out. After all, you’re packing up your life and taking it to a faraway destination. You likely know you can hire a moving company to take your belongings to your new home, but what about your car?

Driving your vehicle across the nation could take over a week, and you might not have the time if you’re starting a new job or have another date to meet. It’s also a hassle and may not be possible with a secondary vehicle. 

Fortunately, you can ship your vehicle cross-country and then fly to your new home city, eliminating one of the most time-consuming aspects of your move. 

The amount of time it will take to ship your car varies, so here’s some information on what you can expect.

Key takeaways

  • The benefits of shipping your vehicle cross-country
  • Shipping a car takes time
  • The distance, chosen carrier, and destination factor into the timeline
  • Reputable carriers will often provide an ETA


The benefits of shipping your car cross-country

There are a few good reasons to ship your vehicle to your destination rather than driving it. 

First, the cost of transporting it is usually similar to what it would cost you to drive. You can even save money by shipping the car because you don’t have to worry about spending nights in hotels or eating at restaurants. 

Second, putting the car on a truck won’t increase its mileage. Driving 2,500+ miles could put wear on the vehicle’s components, including its tires, which could reduce its value and force you to replace parts sooner. 

Finally, you won’t have to worry about damaging your car on the drive. Accidents, bad weather, and blown-out tires add stress to a long drive. These factors are no longer a concern if you put the vehicle on a truck. Often, eliminating the stress of driving cross-country is reason enough to consider an auto transport service.

The destination matters

As you might expect, the destination you’re sending your vehicle to is a significant factor in how long the delivery takes. Generally, you can expect a short-haul shipment of fewer than 500 miles to take a day or two, while shipments traveling between 500 and 2,000 miles can take anywhere from two to seven days. 

When you start getting into lengthier distances, like shipments of more than 2,000 miles, it’ll take anywhere from seven to ten days for your car to arrive at your new home. Deliveries of more than 2,500 miles can take up to two weeks.

Make sure you plan the time your car shipment will take into your move. You don’t want to be without a vehicle for too long once you reach your new home, especially if you’ll be reliant on it as your sole means of transportation. However, walking the area before driving it does have its advantages.

Other shipping factors

Distance isn’t the only thing that determines how long a vehicle shipment can take. Another aspect to think about is the location of the pickup and delivery. 

If you’re moving to or from a major city, there could be a substantial amount of traffic that slows the delivery. Keep in mind that truck drivers can only stay behind the wheel for a certain number of hours per day, and traffic can quickly eat into that.

The season you ship in is a factor, too. In the winter, poor road conditions could slow the delivery considerably, leaving you waiting longer than you had envisioned. 

Finally, the shipping company you select will influence how soon you receive your car. Some vendors are faster than others. 

Consider all of these factors when figuring out how long the shipment could take from start to finish.

Consider the shipping method

As you book your car transport, you can choose between an open trailer and an enclosed trailer. 

An open trailer is like the car haulers you frequently see on the interstates. The cars are carefully loaded onto a car trailer and moved between cities. Your vehicle will be exposed to the elements and road hazards for the entire trip.

An enclosed trailer provides additional protection because it’s like putting the car in the back of a traditional semi-truck trailer. With walls all around it, your car will be better protected from road damage and dirt.

Enclosed trailers cost more and can be a slower method of delivery. They generally take longer because loading and unloading the vehicles is more challenging and leads to slowdowns. 

Keep in mind that you can ship a car via plane, as well, but that generally isn’t recommended for cross-country travel. Air shipment will generally cost more than the vehicle is worth unless it’s a rare vintage automobile.

Finding an acceptable quote

How long your cross-country car shipment will take depends on all these factors. However, you should generally plan for the process to take between ten days and two weeks for trips across the country (three to five days for travel within your time zone). 

Of course, there are other factors to consider, and few vehicle carriers provide timeline guarantees because there are so many variables. They will offer you an estimated arrival time, though, which can help you make plans at your destination.

Mercury Auto Transport is a broker that can connect you with quotes from some of the nation’s most reputable auto transport carriers. Our team knows that shipping a car is a large job, which is why we take much of the guesswork out of the equation for you.

Contact us to speak with a car shipping representative or to request a quote.


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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.