So, you're moving across the country. You've bought the new place, put the old one up for sale, packed everything up and you're ready to go. There's only one problem: What should you do with the car?
Well, the most obvious (and ultimately the cheapest) option is to just drive it yourself, but it can be a burden to drive long miles and could expose your car to some wear and tear. Thankfully, there are other options available than taking on the burden yourself. One such option would be to have your vehicle shipped to your future home, which, if you know what to look for, can be a cheap and viable alternative to driving yourself.
- Hiring a driver for your car
- Having your car shipped by truck
- Ship your car via trains
- Do-it-yourself: Is it feasible?
- For the expatriates
Cheapest ways to ship a car
There are many ways by which you can choose to have your car brought to your new home. However, whether you opt to simply drive the car or have someone drive it for you, or you opt to have it shipped by truck or train, then it's best that you prepare your car for the long haul ahead.
Should you opt to go for shipping companies, it's also good to know the kind of customer service that you ought to expect from them. From getting free quotes to getting reputable reviews, there are several signs of spotting good auto companies that would do the job for you.
Hire someone to drive your car
There are companies that screen drivers and can offer people with no criminal or accident records who will drive your car to your destination for you. Auto Driveaway is one such company and requires references and deposits from each prospective driver. It can be pricey (one quote from this company is $1,250 for cross-country) but the prices can vary, especially as many drivers use this as a way to get across the country themselves.
The driver is responsible for gas and their own food and lodging, while the car owner pays the insurance. However, while you don't have to drive the car yourself, it'll still put a hefty number of miles on your vehicle and there's no guarantee that something won't go wrong. It might be easier than doing it yourself, though, and a viable option if you can find a driver that you trust and don't mind the miles.
Auto shipping by truck
Shipping a car by truck is probably the most common way to get a car from one side of the country to another. The cost of this service depends on the type of car and its condition, the season, the distance, and where the starting and ending locations. Many companies offer door-to-door service and also can arrange transport between two locations. This price varies depending on if you want a guaranteed pickup day versus a window or the type of trailer you want your car transported in. An example price range from UShip is $1,065 to $2,100.
Auto shipping by rail
Union Pacific reports that transporting a car by train is cheaper than by truck for distances exceeding around 750 miles. On a New York to San Francisco run, they estimated a savings amount of about $100. All vehicles that are transported by train travel in enclosed cars. However, they are still vulnerable while sitting in a train depot. Train transports are also intended more for auto dealers who are moving a large number of cars at once rather than an individual, and it's difficult to get a specific day on an open slot.
Amtrak does offer a car shipping service for snowbirds (people who go south in winter), allowing them to put their vehicles on a train and then hop along for the ride. However, this only goes to a station near Washington D.C and a station outside of Orlando, Florida. A one-way ticket for car and driver ranges from around $300-700 depending on the time of year and takes about 18 hours.
Do-It-Yourself: Is it feasible to ship your car by yourself?
There's no doubt that this is the cheapest way to get your car where it wants to go. You don't have to pay for any extra people or transports; there are no hidden fees or taxes. It's just you and your car. If you're not worried about putting the miles on your car (or it doesn't have many on it, to begin with) then this is going to be the best option for you. According to the IRS's standard mileage rates, the cost of a 3,000-mile trip would boil down to about $750 in gas. If you have someone else who can share the driving burden with you, that distance can be covered in 48 hours. If you're on your own expect to budget some money for a roadside hotel stay each night (there's plenty of budget options for as low as $40 a night). If you think ahead and pack plenty of food and snacks for the trip you can cut out the cost of eating too.
In the end, even with hotels and food added in, you're still looking at less than $1K to drive the car yourself. Plus, you can take whatever you want with you and don't have to worry about something happening to your car when you're not there to oversee it.
If the drive would require you to take time off work, however, or you really don't feel comfortable making that long of a drive or putting that many miles on your car, it would be best to turn to a specialized truck company.
For the expatriates
If you need to ship your car overseas, your options are limited. The only real viable option is to have your car shipped from wherever you are to wherever you want to be via a cargo container. It might take you a while to get your car, but it's the best option for getting overseas. ThomasNet offers a list of container companies that offer partial containers that you could have your car shipped in.
To make it easier on yourself, you might want to book a large 40-feet container that you can put both your car and your personal effects in. Schumacher Cargo offers 20 and 40-ft. containers and ships to multiple countries including the UK and Australia and several countries in Europe and Asia.
While ultimately the cheapest way to ship a car is just to drive it yourself, that may not always be the best option. There are several companies that will do the shipping for you for a relatively reasonable rate. No matter what option you choose, if you're going to go with a third-party company make sure their credentials check out, they don't ask for too much money up front, and they have a reliable reputation.
The last thing you need when you get to your new place is to discover that your car somehow got lost along the way. Whatever option you choose, make sure to plan everything out ahead of time to avoid unneeded moving stress.