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How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?

A car carrier transports vehicles down a road.

If you’re planning on shipping your vehicle from your current location to a new one, it’s only natural to wonder about delivery time frames.

Your car is a valuable asset and, in many situations, your most reliable connection to everything from the grocery store to your friends and family. Depending on where you’re headed, you may need your car to do your shopping, get to school or your job, and otherwise reach the wider world around your home.

That means many of our customers wonder about how long it takes to ship their car. As you might expect, there isn’t one single answer. Each car shipping situation is different, with a variety of factors that can influence the schedule and delivery date.

What we can do is break down the process for shipping a car to make its major components a little clearer. We’ll also share some average timelines and explain how certain circumstances can speed up or slow down the shipping process. 

Remember that your specific shipping dates will become clearer once you place your order and schedule service with one of our vehicle transporter partners.

How Does the Car Transport Process Work? And How Can it Influence my Car’s Delivery Timeline?

Auto transport brings your car to a new location — your new home, your winter or summer residence, your college campus — without the need to drive it there yourself. That’s a major convenience, whether you’re committed to driving a moving truck or simply don’t want to spend many hours or days behind the wheel.

The new car shortage has only just begun to ease up as of the end of 2022, according to Kelly Blue Book. Prices for used cars are still exceptionally high. Those are two more great reasons to keep your current vehicle and ship it to wherever you’re headed.

At National Transport Services, we break the larger auto-shipping process down into three major phases.

1. Requesting a Free Quote and Booking Car Carrier Service

The vehicle shipping process starts with getting your free quote. We want all of our customers to understand the costs of auto transport service. That way, you can make a cost-effective choice that fits into your budget.

We take your schedule into account from the very beginning, too. We specifically request information about your desired timeline and what kind of flexibility you have around it. 

Our carriers can work with strict schedules. However, it’s often possible to save money when you can align your schedule with other shipments. Ultimately, you can let your priorities guide you and make the best decision for your personal needs.

How long does it take for a car to ship? You’ll have a clear view of your delivery date once your booking is confirmed.

2. Vehicle Pick-Up and Departure

With your booking (including pickup time, date, and location) confirmed, the next step is meeting your driver and handing over your vehicle. You’ll both inspect your vehicle. 

Then, you’ll sign your bill of lading. That’s the contract that states what’s being shipped, its origin point, and its drop-off location. Finally, your vehicle will start its trip on a secure car carrier trailer.

This stage marks the start of your auto transport timeline. That means it’s a good time to share our average car shipping times.

How Long to Ship a Car, Exactly? Standard Auto Shipping Timelines

We want to be clear that these are estimates based on our deep experience in auto shipping. Certain issues, like road conditions and bad weather, can cause unavoidable delays. With that said, here’s what you can normally expect for a car shipment timetable based on total distance traveled:

  • Up to 500 miles: 1-2 days
  • 501-1,000 miles: 2-3 days
  • 1,001-1,500 miles: 3-5 days
  • 1,501-2,000 miles: 4-7 days
  • 2,001-2,500 miles: 7-10 days
  • More than 2,500 miles: 10-14 days

Vehicle Delivery

As your the delivery date approaches, your driver will get in touch to share a location update and confirm the dropoff. You’ll meet the driver, sign the bill of lading, and have your vehicle back in your hands.

Factors That Can Influence Your Vehicle Delivery Date

A close-up view of vehicles held on a car carrier trailer.

Our delivery partners make every effort to align with the delivery date you choose. In the vast majority of cases, vehicles arrive on the date our customers choose when booking. However, there are a few issues that can cause delays and disruptions — things that are out of the driver’s control. They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Bad weather: Snow, rain, ice, and other weather issues can slow or temporarily stop the progress of a shipment. Safety is always our drivers’ first priority, for themselves and for your vehicle.
  • Traffic, accidents, and roadwork: It’s often possible to bypass scheduled roadwork and avoid heavy traffic in major metro areas. However, drivers may have no other option if they’re completing the delivery or an accident occurs near their vehicle while on the road.
  • Location accessibility: While not an issue in most areas, some locations only have so many roads leading to and from them. Think of towns situated in mountainous areas, like the parts of the Colorado Rockies and Appalachians. When the main road into such a town is closed or backed up, it can take longer to complete delivery.

How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car? Final Thoughts

Car shipping is a flexible process. You have the option to set a flexible timeline to save on shipping costs, and to have more concrete delivery dates if you need them. 

Our team works with a wide range of carriers. That means it’s easier to find the exact type of service, whether open or enclosed, and schedule you prefer.

At National Transport Services, we’re committed to delivering your vehicle on a schedule that suits your needs. Ship Your Car Today!