The question “how long does it take to transport a car,” doesn’t have one correct answer because transit time depends on many different factors. According to the FMCSA rules, drivers are allowed to be on active duty for no more than 11 hours per day. This includes driving time, vehicle loading and unloading, traffic and 30-minute breaks. Depending on the speed limit and traffic, a CDL driver can drive between 400 and 700 miles per day.

Most car shipping companies can transport your car across the country in less than two weeks. Many of the companies do not specify exact pickup and delivery dates due to unpredictable factors such as weather conditions, equipment maintenance and road closures. However, you might be able to reduce changes of your car shipment from being delayed by using these valuable recommendations.

If you are looking for a more specific transit time calculation, you can divide the total distance from the origin to destination by 700 miles and add 1-3 days. For instance, transit time for a 1400 miles trip would equal around 2-5 days. Moreover, a few different factors may impact the transit time and cost of vehicle shipping. We will review those factors to help you better understand the car shipping process.

Most auto shipping companies require at least a five-day to pick up window. There are a small number of companies that provide quick pickup services or the same day pickup services so when it comes to urgent shipping transport, costs will go up. 

open car transport

Overall transportation timeframe can be as short as 1 day and as long as 30 days from the first available pickup date but it is usually not longer than two weeks. Planning your car shipping service in advance will help you to save money since the shorter the pickup time frame is, the more expensive the service will cost.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?

Depending on your vehicle relocation needs, the time to ship your car may vary: 0-500 miles – 1-3 days, 500-1000 miles – 2-5 days, 1000-1500 miles – 2-6 days, 1500-2000 miles – 3-8 days.

For example, to ship your car between California and Texas usually takes between 3 to 8 days. On the other hand, to ship your vehicle between Northern and Southern California usually takes only 1 or 2 days.

Estimated Timetable for Car Transportation Transit Time

Most auto transport companies do not specify accurate delivery dates however they will typically provide an approximate time frame which gives you estimated pickup and delivery dates. Transit time may also be impacted depending if you choose to ship it on an open or enclosed car carrier. Usually it takes longer to book and transport vehicles on enclosed trailers than on open.

Depending on many factors, car shipping time estimates may vary. The following table is shown to demonstrate transit time in days based on the distance as well as typical pickup and delivery time frame.

Travel distance in milesApproximated transit time in daysAverage pickup time frameAverage car shipping rate per mile

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

Open transport is much faster than other types of auto transport carriers, it is also the most frequently used method of shipping and it offers more available scheduling opportunities than enclosed. For one enclosed transport, there are at least eight open trucks available. To put it simply, you will spend less time on booking your open carrier relocation service than on an enclosed carrier. It is also cheaper to ship on open and you can save at least $200-$300 if not more when you choose open transport. Nevertheless, in the table below you can find estimated distance for open transport and corresponding transit time.

Open car carrier
Distance in milesShipment time in days

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

Chosen transportation methods will directly influence the delivery time and shipping route. There are different means of high-quality transportation, and some of them are a bit slower than the others. 

So, how long does it take to ship a car using an enclosed transport? Taking into account that enclosed car carriers are generally slower, it may take more time to deliver, however a great advantage is that they protect the cars from various weather conditions. In the following table, you can see an estimated transit time for enclosed transport.

Distance in milesTransit time in days

How about Expedited Car Shipping?

The expedited shipping method has a lot of advantages for example, the pick-up time frame is usually shorter than a regular shipping service. However, the delivery time frame will be about the. With regular and expedited car shipping service, unexpected delays or hard-to-prevent weather conditions on the road can alter an auto transport time and can make it longer than expected. It is true that with an expedited shipping method your pickup time frame is shorter, but there is no 100% guarantee of precise delivery dates.

What To Expect from The Car Shipping Process?

The process of shipping your car should be simple and easy and it does not have to include a lot of bureaucracy and official documentation. Just remember to collect a Bill of Lading at the pickup and delivery so that you can use this document as proof of your vehicle’s preexisting condition. Here are the important steps of the shipment process:

Choose a car shipping company

Read the reviews or ask your friends for car shipping referrals of a good auto transport company. The best car shipping companies are very famous and easy to find.

Provide all necessary information

Do not forget to provide the pickup and delivery location, preferable shipment method and year, the make and model of your vehicle.

Select the type of auto transport service

It can be either an open car carrier or enclosed car carrier.

Book your shipment

Place the reservation and wait a bit for the shipping agent to contact you.

Inspect your vehicle

Check your vehicle for any imperfections and wash it before releasing it to the driver. Later it can be beneficial in case of any claims.

Check in with the auto shipping company

Contact your car shipping agent for pickup and delivery updates.

Get your vehicle shipped!

And be ready for rapid transportation. Sometimes a car shipping company will contact you with the driver’s availability just within a few minutes after you place your order.

Overnight classic vehicle transport

Main Factors That Affect the Time it Takes to Ship a Car

Answering the question ‘how long does car shipping take,’ we will say that it depends on several unexpected factors.

Among them are:

Route distance

Above, you can check the tables explaining how the distance influences the transit time. The longer the distance is, the longer the shipping transit time.

Pickup and drop-off locations

Your pick-up time may be extended to a pickup or drop off location that is far away from a major city, since it is harder to find a driver that goes to more suburban areas. An example of the expensive shipping locations would be Key West in Florida.


Seasonality is a vital aspect of car shipping pricing. The cheapest time to ship your car is mid-winter and mid-fall while the most expensive time is summer, any holidays, or school and college break time such as a spring break or winter holidays.

Vehicle condition

Some vehicles may require additional time for transportation such as inoperable or oversized cars. It is harder to find a suitable trailer for shipping vehicles that require special loading and unloading skills.

Weather conditions

Weather conditions are truly hard to foresee, therefore be prepared for a possible delay.

Road conditions

Car shipping delivery time also highly depends on road conditions and possible road closures. It is not possible to give any guarantees for an exact pickup or delivery schedule. Auto transport companies that provide specific pickup or delivery times usually do it for marketing to attract more customers.


In case of traffic congestion, your shipment time may take longer than expected. There is nothing that a driver can do to prevent this.

Type of transportation method

You are free to choose between open transport or enclosed, depending on your preferences. However, plan on scheduling ahead of time if you choose enclosed.

Driver’s availability

Each truck driver is available at different days and times, therefore your shipping agent may be able to provide different shipping schedules to choose from. However, keep in mind that they still can change due to unexpected delays.

Truck breakdowns

It can happen, and it will also impact the pickup or delivery date. Please be patient as equipment does break down even if it is maintained well.

Can the Pick-Up Date be Guaranteed?

Usually, a 5-day pickup window is required by most companies, but it can vary depending on the route.

Is the Delivery Date Guaranteed?

No, since a lot can happen on the road and it may prevent a driver from delivering your vehicle on time.

Bottom Line

All things considered, there are many aspects to keep in mind before shipping your car. Many things can happen on the road and many of them cannot be foreseen or prevented. Be ready to consider all these factors listed above when booking your vehicle relocation service.

Published by Katerina Boyko
Categories: Uncategorized