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Moving Across the Country: Your Guide to the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car

Did you finally get that dream offer you’ve been waiting for in Seattle?

Is your spouse getting transferred to their firm’s London office?

Whatever the reason, you’re on the move! It’s pretty exciting, but it might be a little scary, too.

The comforting news is that you’re not alone. 35.5 million Americans move every year. Thirty-four percent move to another county or state.

There’s a lot to prepare for with a long-distance move. You have to secure housing, pack your household, and hire movers to get your belongings to your new city.

But, what about your car? You probably didn’t think about that, did you?

We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’re giving you suggestions for the cheapest way to ship a car.

1. Sell It

If you’re moving to a city that has excellent public transportation like Washington D.C. or San Francisco, you may want to consider selling it.

If you can’t live without a car, you have options. If you’re relocating to Portland, Chicago, or San Diego, the cost of a new car is roughly $10,000 less there than the national average.

If your move was sudden and you can’t wait around to place an ad and hope you get a call, why not salvage it? You won’t get the price you’d ask for if you placed an ad, but there are ways to get the most cash possible.

And yes, we said cash!

That could help with your moving expenses or to tide you over at your new place. Or, you could use the money for a down payment on that new car when you get to the Windy City.

2. Drive It Yourself

Driving your car from Phoenix to Atlanta may not sound like the ideal situation. Did you know it takes about 14 hours to get through Texas?

But, if you have time before starting your new job and movers are handling your belongings, why not make a fun road trip out of it?

Pick places on a map — or Google — to see what’s along your route. If you have kids, you can show them sights they only heard about in school.

You can even give your family a break from fast food and find small-town diners. If you need to rest for the night, opt for a historic hotel instead of a chain.

3. Have a Friend Drive It

If you have a family member or friend you trust, you can ask them to drive your car for you.

Make sure your car is up to date with maintenance so they don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere. Check the tires and top off all the fluids.

Pay for their return trip home and give them money for food, lodging, and gas. Check with your insurance carrier to ensure they’re covered.

Offer to show them around your new digs when they get there. But, they’d probably prefer to not be in a car during your sight-seeing tour.

4. Hire a Professional Driver

Some auto transport companies have professionals that can drive your car for you. The company covers insurance and screens the drivers, so it’s less for you to worry about.

But, this may not an option for everyone. It can also get pricey, especially if you have an exact date you need the driver to arrive.

5. Use an Auto Transport Service

You were waiting for this one, weren’t you?

Hiring a reliable auto transport service is the obvious choice for shipping your car. You have a couple of options for this one.

You can book your car on an open-air trailer. In general, this is the cheapest way to ship a car. But, if you’re moving in winter or expect inclement weather, you can opt for an enclosed truck instead.

The cost of this will vary, based on a few factors. Distance is one of them. The other is the size of your car.

The same as hiring a professional driver, if they need to meet a deadline it may be a premium charge. You’ll need to find out if they’re delivering your car to your new address or if you have to pick it up at their hub.

Always make sure the company has proper licensing and insurance. Check all online reviews and even the Better Business Bureau.

6. Check with the Moving Company

Some moving companies can transport your vehicle with your furniture. There could be some restrictions like the size and how far they’re transporting your belongings.

Keep in mind, the moving company is likely charging you by weight. Adding a 4,000-pound item is going to add quite a lot to your final bill.

7. Use the Auto Train

If you’re moving anywhere along the east coast, Amtrak can give your car a lift. The Amtrak Auto Train can transport just about any vehicle from motorcycles to SUVs.

You can even pack up your vehicle and ride along with it if you’d like. The bad news is that the service runs from D.C. to Orlando, so you’re a bit limited in destinations.

8. Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Overseas

If you’re moving overseas and want to bring your car with you, there are ways to do this. And, if you’re worried, you can drive an American car in the U.K.

Remember, you’ll have to drive on the left side of the road, though!

As you can imagine, there are more steps involved when you’re shipping your car overseas. You’ll have to find an international auto shipper or shipping company that can get your vehicle across The Pond.

Check their certifications, credentials, insurance, licenses, and make sure they’re bonded. If they are, they won’t have any hesitation in giving you the proof.

The cheapest way to ship your car overseas might mean that you have to get your car to the closest port to them. In other words, if you live in Omaha, the company’s closest departure spot may be Houston. You need to get your vehicle there.

The cost of transporting a vehicle overseas depends on a lot of factors. Time is the biggest one. Anytime you’re shipping anything, putting a “rush” on it will cost you extra.

You also need to find out what happens to your car when it arrives at port. Do they hold it there? Will they take it to a hub?

This all needs to get planned out well in advance to avoid any major issues.

Need More Vehicle Advice?

When it comes to the cheapest way to ship a car, you have several options. The most important factor is the one you’re most comfortable with.

If you get a lower price from a company you just have a bad feeling about, it’s best to move on. Sometimes, you do get what you pay for.

Are you curious about that up-to-date maintenance we mentioned? Do you know the eight easiest tips to extend your car’s life? Check them all out here!