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How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?

How long it takes to transport a vehicle using a car shipping company is determined by various factors involved in the shipping process.

six car carrier pulled by a dually

Quick Facts:

  • The average time for an auto transport company to pickup after booking is 1-7 days from the first day the car is available. How long it takes to get a car picked up depends on the area, price quote, and route distance.
  • Rural routes have less trucks on them, so it can take 5-10 days with most auto transport companies from the preferred pickup date for a driver to become available to get the car regardless of how early you book.
  • Carriers travel about 300-500 miles per day. So, for about 1000 miles that can be 2-3 days on the road. Weather and road conditions can affect travel time.

How Long it Takes to Ship a Car Going to Another State or Across the Country?

To ship a car to another state or across the country is a complex process but can both be timely and cost efficient. Car shipping times are determined by many factors, however distance and stops are one of the largest contributors to delivery time for a car.

Carriers Traveling Long Distances

A simple factor that influences how long it takes to ship a car with just about any of the car shipping services out there will be the distance the carrier has to travel. Starting from the pickup location to the delivery location.

Total shipping times will depend much on how many stops the truck driver needs to make.

Simply, the longer the travel distance, the longer it will take to have your car delivered at your doorstep.

How Long it Takes Will be Affected By The Stops Needed

Several stops at pickup and delivery locations can slow you down by a day or two as well. Delivery time is the same no matter which auto transport company you go with.

How Long does it take to ship a car Locally?

Even if it's just 100 miles, it can be same or next day as a car shipping company uses a carrier that holds multiple vehicles.

Since the distance is small, delivery time is almost purely affected the how many different locations vehicles are being picked up from and delivered to.

In other words, how long it takes auto transport companies to ship a car will depend much on how many stops the truck driver needs to make.

Examples of Distance and Time Frame

Miles to/fromDays Until Delivery
0-3001 Day
301-5001-2 Days
501-10002-3 Days
1001-15003-4 Days
1501-20004-6 Days
2001-25006-8 Days
2501+7-10 Days

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car to and from Large Cities?

If you look at a map and look at population density, you can guess what the fastest cities and towns to ship cars to and from are.

This is because so many vehicles are there to be picked up. Although cost is not the focus of this page, metropolitan areas are great locations to ship your car to and from if you want to save money.

In most cases a major metropolitan area to another will have transports that are fast. That means two locations are going be near major highways.

You can get a car pickup as quick as within a pickup window of 1-3 days with just 1 week of planning.

Delivery times after that will be based on distance as explained previously.

Why Large Cities and Populated Towns Means a Smaller Time frame for Pick Up

Car transport companies prefer going to areas that have plenty of vehicles within a small area for both pickup and and are looking for the same at delivery.

This helps them save time and money on fuel by not having to make various stops on the likely already long route. Getting on and off the highway takes time and fuel.

Auto transport car carriers much prefer condensed locations because it’s much easier to find vehicles to fill up with. With that said, not only do rural areas or far off routes take longer for a car pick up, they have a higher shipping cost.

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car in Rural or Remote Locations?

If you are in a small remote town or rural location, it can take much longer to your vehicle picked up. Sometimes 5-7 days or longer than metro areas. That means for the most remote locations, pick up could take up to two weeks of transit time, not counting the delivery time after the car is in transit.

Although travel time once it’s on the carrier will take about the same amount of time to deliver a car delivered. What could hold you back is how long it will take to get a car picked up.

Why Rural Areal and Remote Towns Mean a Longer Time for Pick Up

Just the opposite of populous areas, an auto transport company has to deviate from an area with plenty of options to pick up one or two vehicles farther away.

The truck drivers have a simple goal, and that is to run the route as quickly and as efficiently as possible to move on to the next. As a result, a carrier very much prefers vehicles to be located as close as possible to each other on each side of the route.

If they opt to go get a remote vehicle, the car carrier expects a vehicle to pay a higher rate for the mileage there and back, as well as the transit time on the shipping route. The auto transport company will also need a flexible pick up schedule in order to allow for a truck to make it there.

The main reason it will take longer really is that there will be a few car carriers that will want to pass on the vehicle if it's far until one comes around that wants to grab it. In this business, the car carrier directly decides what cars they get for the auto transport broker.

Delivery estimate time frames after pick up remain virtually the same, as most carriers travel 300-500 miles a day as mentioned.

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car with All Factors Involved?

There are several factors that are taken to account which will determine how long it takes from the moment a car ready to pick up, until the car reaches the final destination. All these factors below will affect transit time.

Hours Drivers Can Be On the Road Influence How Long It Takes

Car carriers have limits on how long they can drive without a required break. There are only so many hours they can drive until it is not safe.

They can drive up to 14 hours and are then required to rest 10. That can include driving or other tasks having to do with the transport.

If driving for 7 days, they must take a 34 hour break before getting on with their route. Carriers can travel 300-500 miles a day hauling vehicles. The exception is team drivers (1 truck, two drivers), but this is not typical.

Most driving is limited by the 60/70-hour limit. Driving time is to be no more than 60 hours within seven back to back days, or can drive up to 70 hours if working 8 days nonstop.

Since the advent of E-Logs, drivers can no longer use the honor system to determine how long they are on the road. Safety and delivery records are now electronic.

Weather Conditions Can Help Or Delay Delivery

On a cool sunny day, expected delivery times are optimal. Drivers can make their way quickly to deliver a car. However, if there is bad weather on your route like heavy rain, deep snow, that can cause delays to ship your car. Below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the hydraulics can freeze up.

Ice on the road can be dangerous. Conversely, extreme heat can cause issues with over 40,000 pounds of steel pulling across desert roads. The carrier will take extra safety precautions when moving through these areas.

Seasonality Can Be A Big Factor

There’s a season for auto transport? Yes! There are actually peak seasons that have a lot to do with timing and pricing. Though peak season is more expensive, auto transport will have faster transit times. There are two reasons for this.

The first is that since there are so many vehicles, carriers can pick up and drop off within a smaller radius so therefore will only spend a short time on pickup and drop-off.

The second reason is that demand starts late spring, ends by the summer and begins again in late fall, there’s a huge demand for car transport services because its peak moving season for Snowbirds.

This means your car could get picked up sooner since there’s a huge amount of trucks traveling back and forth across the country, doing that type of delivery.

During the winter auto shipping can slow down a bit. Cold weather, less demand, and holiday breaks can limit your the amount of available carriers, so keep in mind to be patient during holiday breaks like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day.

Road Conditions / Problems on the Highway Can Affect the Shipping Process

Carriers run into all sorts of issues on the roads. From police roadblocks, closed roads due to landslides, mudslides, constructions detours.

Just imagine any situation you could run into on your regular commute. How long does it take with these delays? The answer is it depends on how severe and how far away an alternative route may be.

Consider that they aren’t driving to the next town, but to the next state covering hundreds of miles. There’s a lot they can encounter, and pretty much experience one or all of these every few trips on the route to drop off your car.

Transportation Methods Has Some Influence on Estimated Transit Time

The method of transport you select for your car will affect the length of time it will take to ship your vehicle. There are two common ways to ship your car to another state or across the country.

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car on Open Transport?

How long does it take top ship a car with an open auto transport carriers? Well, big open car carriers can ship up to 10 vehicles at one time, while smaller trucks take 2-5.

Smaller trucks make less Stops. Bigger ones make more because they obviously hold more vehicles and each car takes extra time. This affects transit times by +/- 1 day depending on configuration.

As mentioned stops will have a most influence. That does mean they’ll take more time as they will have various stops to drop off cars for delivery.

This is also the most popular way to ship, so they are usually full most of the time. But surprisingly, they are a very fast method of moving a car.

Even with a full load, they can cover similar ground regardless of shipping size because most pick up and drop off locations are planned to have groups of cars within a 50 mile radius of each location..

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car on Enclosed Transport?

Although more expensive, an enclosed trailer generally hold less vehicles so could potentially take less time for delivery.

There will be instances that they can take longer to get shipping underway as there are far less requests for enclosed car carriers, however.

You will have the benefit of extra protection for your car, but if speed after pickup is your ultimate goal, talk to your auto shipping advisor about enclosed shipping for a speedy delivery time.

Vehicle Type Affects How Long It Takes to Ship a Car

Although most cars, medium trucks, minivans, and regular SUVs have similar timeframes, oversized shipping can add delays as some car carriers are not equipped to take certain vehicles.

This can be lifted trucks, high roof vans, and limos, other vehicles that are taller than 7 feet, longer than 25 feet, and over 7,000 lbs.

Vehicle Condition

If the vehicle in non-running, it has both a price impact and time delay. This is because less carriers have the necessary training and equipment than those that handle a running car.

These timeframes can compound. For example, a vehicle in a rural area that in non-running (inop) will take longer than one that is just in a rural area.

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car on Overseas Transport?

If you are moving a car to Hawaii or Puerto Rico, aside from trucking there will be maritime travel.

These will take longer as we must pick up and drop off at a port, then wait for a sailing. So there is an additional step and addition to the delivery time frame caused by the ship making it to the port destination.

Our Puerto Rico service uses Roll On Roll Off Car shipping (RORO) and our Hawaii transport service uses container shipping. Puerto Rico takes about a week from Jacksonville, and Hawaii takes about 2-3 weeks from Long Beach, CA as container shipping has more steps and the distance is greater. Shipping time is the fastest it's been for going overseas, however.

Can the Pick Up Date be Guaranteed?

No car transport company should 100% a pick up date unless it has been confirmed with the carrier and on contract with the carrier.

Even then, if the carrier has an unexpected shipping delays this means you will wait. For example, truck breakdowns are common. Flat tires, detours, and more happen all the time. There are too many variables involved to promise a specific date.

With any auto shipping route, nothing is guaranteed when shipping a car. Any auto transport company that guarantees pick up dates and/or delivery dates before even securing a carrier should raise a red flag.

Is the Delivery Date Guaranteed?

In most cases the length of time is reliable to a degree. No auto transport company should guarantee an exact delivery date or an actual time of the day.

It is important to note that something as simple as a road closure or tire replacement can add shipping time. Then there’s traffic, time of year, and bad weather.

Combine these together and you have delays. These are in many cases completely unavoidable. It is always a good idea to be ready and give yourself extra time for the unexpected.

How about Expedited Shipping For My Car?

With expedited shipping, you are simply offering the highest amount of all the similar vehicles in the same vehicle type, vehicle condition, and route.

Like with practically every auto transport company, a carrier has to be there needing that load for it to be picked up. However, if this is a populated area as previously discussed with lots of vehicles, then it's likely that pick up will be same or next day. 

Remember, delivery times after pick up are usually the same due to the factors and limits we went over.  It's pick up that is faster with expedited. Unexpected delays on the road can add to how long it will take for delivery.

Like with scenarios when planning to ship your car, no 100% "no chance of failure" absolute guarantee can be made because the carriers are independent owner operators.  Auto transport companies making these promises are using sales tactics.  

How Can I Make Sure it Doesn’t Take Longer Than it Has To?

Plan ahead. Most auto shipping is last minute. Meaning, a carrier that is coming to your area will organize to pick up vehicles just a couple of days before arriving.

This is so to take advantage of what is available at the moment they are getting there. So that means most vehicles will be scheduled up to 3 days prior to the carrier getting to the area.

Use expedited shipping in a case where it is very urgent to have your car picked up. 

Keep in mind, you should reserve to ship your car no later than 2 weeks ahead, but no less than 3 days before your preferred pickup date.