Shipping a car is unfamiliar territory for most people. There are so many unknowns that the idea of somehow getting your car from point A to point B within a given timeframe can seem impossible.
One of the biggest unknowns relates to how long it actually takes to get your car from point A to point B. Here’s everything you need to know about how long it takes to ship a car and what you can do to ensure quick transport:
What Factors Affect Car Transportation Time?
Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to how long it takes to ship a car. Instead, multiple factors affect car transportation times, including distance, pickup and drop-off locations, vehicle type, season, road conditions, other stops, and mechanical difficulties. Let’s explore each of these different factors so that you can have your car shipped as quickly as possible:
Perhaps the biggest factor that affects car transportation time is distance. Generally speaking, the longer the distance that the car has to travel, the longer it will take to transport.
This is because truck drivers are limited to how many hours they can drive per day based on Hours of Service (HOS) standards set by the federal government.
These standards are put in place for safety reasons, as tired drivers are often unsafe drivers. So instead of being able to drive for all hours of the day and night, drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving time each day.
After driving for 11 hours, drivers must spend at least ten consecutive hours off-duty. And of these off-duty hours, drivers must spend at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
Finally, drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty within 7/8 consecutive days. However, drivers can restart this period by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
So how many miles can a driver realistically cover each day with these standards in mind? Most truckers drive between 55 to 60 miles while on the road — meaning that they can cover about 605 to 650 miles per day.
2. Pick Up and Drop Off Locations
Another factor that affects car transportation time relates to pick-up and drop-off locations. For example, if a driver has to drive to a rural location to pick up your vehicle, this may extend the length of the overall trip.
Or, if the driver has to pick up the vehicle in a historic neighborhood with narrow streets that are difficult to navigate, this could also extend the length of the trip.
One way that you can effectively expedite your car transport is to choose a terminal-to-terminal service. Terminal-to-terminal service involves driving your car to an auto transport terminal and dropping it off there so a driver can pick it up — along with the other cars in their load.
This service means that drivers have to spend an entire day driving around to different locations to pick up cars.
The other end of terminal-to-terminal service involves picking up your car at another auto transport terminal.
These auto transport terminals are typically located close to large cities, so this service is ideal if you’re shipping your car to and from large cities with terminals nearby.
However, if you’re shipping your car to and from more rural areas, this option may not save you a lot of time.
This terminal-to-terminal service differs from door-to-door service, wherein you set specific pick-up and drop-off locations that are convenient to you.
For example, you could schedule your pick up from your office in your old city and have it dropped off at your house in your new city. And while this method of transport is definitely convenient, it often costs more and can extend the timeframe of your transport.
3. Vehicle Type
The next factor that can affect the time of your can transport is the type of vehicle you have. In most cases, it’s going to be faster and easier to ship a smaller car like a sedan since they easily fit onto most transport trailers.
On the other hand, it might take longer to ship larger cars like vans, trucks, and SUVs since they take up more room on trailers.
If you have a luxury vehicle that’s going to require special shipping and handling, you can expect your car transport to take even longer. For example, some luxury car owners want to have their cars shipped using an enclosed trailer rather than an open one.
These enclosed trailers provide extra safety and security to the vehicle since it’s not exposed to the elements or road hazards.
At the same time, these enclosed trailers are harder to come by since most car owners are perfectly fine with transporting their cars on open trailers.
This can make it more difficult for you to book transport for your car and can extend your overall time frame until you can find a driver with that specific type of trailer.
Yet another factor that impacts car transportation is the time of year. Peak car shipping season runs during the summer, so it may take longer for you to secure transport during that time as many people will be competing for a limited number of drivers.
Additionally, the time of year can affect the weather — which then affects your car transport time. For example, hurricane season also runs during the summer, so your transport could easily be slowed down by rain, winds, and flooding from a hurricane.
Conversely, if you’re trying to ship your car during the winter from the Northeast or Midwest, then you can run into issues due to snow.
Unfortunately, weather issues cannot be foreseen and can quickly impact the timing of your car transport, as drivers will need to slow down and drive with caution to avoid an accident in difficult conditions.
5. Road Conditions
On a similar note, road conditions can also affect the time it takes to transport your car. Just as we’ve all been stuck on the interstate as a result of construction, the same thing can happen when your car is being shipped. And although you don’t have to sit and wait in the traffic — your car does.
Even if there’s no active construction on the road, poor road conditions can also cause the driver to slow down and add time to the transport.
After all, it’s not a good idea for them to go flying over huge potholes at 60 miles per hour with several vehicles on the trailer. Doing so could end up damaging the vehicles, so extra caution is necessary for these conditions.
6. Other Stops
Unexpected stops could also slow down your transport time. Life happens, and sometimes extra stops are needed. In this case, the transport company will contact you and update you on the status of your car.
Similarly, some planned stops can also extend your transport time. For example, if you choose door-to-door service, the driver will have to drive to multiple locations on the way in and on the way out.
Depending on the exact location of these pick-ups and drop-offs, the driver may spend a full day on each end of the trip loading and unloading the trailer.
7. Mechanical Difficulties
Finally, mechanical difficulties can impact your car transportation time. Again, these are unexpected issues that sometimes happen while on the road. And even though drivers try to avoid them with regular maintenance, you truly never know when you’re going to blow a tire or have engine trouble.
In these cases, the transport company would again contact you to let you know about the issue. They would then keep you up to date about the status of the shipment based on how extensive the repairs are.
Hopefully, the driver can get everything fixed quickly and get back on the road in no time. In some extreme cases, your car may need to be picked up by a different driver if the mechanical issues are not easy to fix.
How to Choose a Car Transport Company?
Believe it or not, but the car transport company you choose to transport your car can also impact transportation time. It’s no secret that there’s a driver shortage impacting transport companies and supply chains all over the company.
This driver shortage can make it more difficult for you to book timely transport for your car since you’re competing with other individuals looking to ship their cars as well as car dealerships, rental car companies, etc.
The best way to essentially bypass the driver shortage issue is to work with a car transport company that already has an established network of trusted drivers. For example, Carvaygo has an extensive network of over 40,000+ independent car haulers who understand what it takes to ship personally owned vehicles.
How Early Should Customers Book a Car Transport?
Since it’s difficult to determine how long it’s going to take to ship your car, it’s always a good idea to book your transport with your chosen transport company as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that you receive an accurate shipping estimate from them. It also helps ensure that they will be able to work within your set dates for pick-up and drop-off.
At the same time, it’s important to note that even though you can book with a transport company pretty far in advance, your vehicle will not be assigned to a driver until about ten days before your desired pickup date. This is because drivers don’t schedule their loads further out than ten days.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to try to book your car transport about two weeks out. That way, the transport company has time to process it and prioritize it when they begin distributing loads to carriers about a week later.
What Is the Average Time It Takes to Transport a Car Across the Country?
Although various factors can affect the time it takes to transport a car across the country, you can use the distance traveled to get a good idea of how long it will take, on average.
- For cars being shipped 0 to 200 miles, it takes about one to two calendar days.
- It takes about two to four calendar days for cars to be shipped 200 to 600 miles.
- It takes about three to five calendar days for cars to be shipped 600 to 1,000 miles.
- It takes about four to six calendar days for cars to be shipped 1,000 to 1,500 miles.
- It takes about five to seven calendar days for cars to be shipped 1,500 to 2,000 miles.
- It takes about six to eight calendar days for cars to be shipped 2,000 to 2,400 miles.
- For cars being shipped over 2,400 miles, it takes about seven to nine calendar days.
As you can see, unsurprisingly, the longer the distance, the longer it will take to transport the car. Let’s put some real locations into these different categories so that you can gain a better understanding of how this works.
- To transport a car from Boston to New York City (~200 miles), it would take about one to two days.
- To transport a car from Boston to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (~600 miles), it would take about two to four days.
- To transport a car from Boston to Chicago, Illinois (~1,000 miles), it would take about three to five days.
- To transport a car from Boston to Kansas City, Missouri (~1,500 miles), it would take about four to six days.
- To transport a car from Boston to San Antonio, Texas (~2,000 miles), it would take about five to seven days.
- To transport a car from Boston to Albuquerque, New Mexico (~2,200 miles), it would take about six to eight days.
- To transport a car from Boston to Phoenix, Arizona (~2,600 miles), it would take about seven to nine days.
It’s also important to note that these timeframes only apply to cars being shipped within the continental United States. For cars being shipped to or from places outside of the continental United States like Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, the shipping times will differ from those listed above.
- To transport a car between Seattle, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska (~2,300 miles), it typically takes anywhere between ten to 14 days.
- To transport a car between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Anchorage, Alaska, it typically takes anywhere between 18 to 25 days.
- To transport a car between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Los Angeles, California, it typically takes anywhere between ten to 12 days.
- To transport a car between Puerto Rico and Jacksonville, Florida, it typically takes anywhere between seven to ten days.
While there’s no easy answer to how long it takes to ship a car, the process can be made easier with the right transport company. If you’re looking for the best transport company that can offer you fast timelines with competitive rates, then you definitely need to check out Carvaygo. Carvaygo has a network of 40,000+ independent car haulers across the country who provide fast, safe and effective transport of personally owned vehicles. A wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM, an award-winning vehicle logistics provider trusted by some of the world's largest automotive manufacturers around the world, Carvaygo was designed to be a technologically advanced vehicle shipping operation. Carvaygo's relationship with RPM lets our customers benefit from RPM's strength and experience.