How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?

Once you find out how much it costs, you’ll want pick up and delivery estimates. Most are based on the averages seen for an area. However, the following factors will lay out exactly what decides how long it takes to ship a car.

six car carrier pulled by a dually

The Short Version

 

  • The average time for pickup after booking is 1-3 days from the first day we can come get the vehicle.
  • It can be up to 5 days when booked at the last minute. Rural routes can take 5-7 from the preferred pickup date for a driver to become available regardless of when 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.
  • You can arrange for immediate pickup, but travel times are based on limits by the DOT.  Most auto shipping takes about less than a week from state to state.

 

 

How Long it Takes to Ship a Car Explained

 

 

Here’s everything you need to know about how long auto shipping takes. Each section will explain the factors that will affect the amount of time you’ll be waiting for your vehicle.

 

 

Distance Matters

 

 

Another simple factor that influences car transport delivery times will be the distance the carrier has to travel from the pickup location to the delivery location. Simply, the longer the travel distance, the longer it will take to have your car delivered at your doorstep. Remember , as mentioned when you are looking for expedited shipping it refers to how fast they pick your vehicle up, and not how long they take to get there. Even if they wanted to go out of their way, they can’t. That is explained in the next section.

The distance of your shipping will determine the timeframe.  Here’s a simple breakdown:

 

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

 

 

Pickup and Drop Off Locations Affect Travel Time

 

 

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. In most cases metro area to metro area transports are fast. You can get a pickup within 1-3 days with just 1 week of planning. Delivery times after that will be based on distance as explained previously.

If you are in a small town or rural location, it can take much longer to get picked up. Sometimes 5-7 days or longer. Although travel time once it’s on the carrier will take about the same amount of time, what could hold you back is how long it will take to get picked up.

Carriers like going to areas that have plenty of vehicles within a small area both at pickup and at delivery. This helps them save time and money on fuel by not having to make various stops on the route, getting on and off the highway. They much prefer condensed locations because it’s much easier to find vehicles to fill up with.   With that said, not only do rural or far off routes take longer, they cost more.

 

Hours Drivers Can Be On the Road (E-Logs)

 

 

Carriers have limits on how long they can drive without a required break. They can drive up to 14 hours and are then required to rest 10.  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.

 

 

Weather Conditions

 

 

On a cool sunny day, driver’s can make their way quickly. However, if there is bad weather on your route like heavy rain, deep snow, that can cause delays. 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 precautions when moving through these areas.

 

 

The Season

 

 

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 demand starts late in the spring, ends by the summer and begins again in 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.

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 and Problems on the Highway

 

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. Now 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 your route.

 

 

Transportation Methods

 

The method of transport 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.

The open car carriers can ship up to 10 vehicles at one time, depending on the configuration. That does means they’ll take more time as they will have various stops to pick up and drop off other cars as they make their way to you.  This is also the most popular way to ship, so they are usually full most of the time.

Although more expensive, Enclosed car carriers generally hold less vehicles so could potentially take less time. There will be instances that they can take longer to get underway as there are far less requests for enclosed carriers, however. You will have the benefit of extra protection, but if speed after pickup is your ultimate goal, talk to your auto shipping advisor about enclosed shipping for speedy delivery.

 

 

Overseas Transport

 

 

If you are moving a vehicle 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 timeframe cause by the ship.

Our Puerto Rico service uses (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.

 

 

Is the Length of Time It Will Take Guaranteed?

 

 

In most cases the length of time is reliable. But it is important to note that something as simple as a road closure or tire replacement can add 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 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. Keeping this in mind, you should book no later than 2 weeks ahead, but no less than 3 days before your preferred pickup date.

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