How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car?

Before shipping a car, it’s normal to have many questions on your mind. Once you’ve determined the answers to all your cost-related questions, it’s likely that the next question you’ll ask is – How long does it actually take to ship a car? This isn’t exactly a quick answer since it’ll depend on several factors.

However, a car is typically picked up for shipping between 2 and 7 days. The delivery time will usually depend on distance traveled and standard driving time. Excluding any unexpected delays along the route, you can typically expect your car to be delivered within 1-9 days.

Although your professional auto transport company will provide you with delivery time estimates, let’s explore all of the factors that will determine the actual time it takes to ship your car.

How does distance impact my car’s shipment?

As previously mentioned, distance is probably the most important factor that affects your car shipping delivery time. Specifically, this involves the distance between the final destination and the vehicle’s pickup location. The longer the distance between the two, the longer the shipping route will be and the longer it will take for your vehicle to arrive.

At Ship Vehicles, we do offer expedited delivery services for a fee but we need to be realistic in speaking about shipping time as it relates to route distance. For example, if you want your car shipped between California and New York in just two days, this is an almost impossible task. With 3000+ miles between these two locations, it will take several days to cover the distance and deliver your car.

Reference the following table for a realistic expectation about delivery time based on route distance. Keep in mind that distance isn’t the only factor involved. However, this table will give you a good guideline and help you know what to expect when you’re planning to schedule the shipment of your car.

Distance in Miles Expected Delivery Time
0-500 miles 1-2 days
500-1000 miles 2-3 days
1000-1500 miles 3-4 days
1500-2000 miles 5-6 days
2000-2500 miles 6-7 days
2500-3000 miles 7-8 days
3000+ miles 10-12 days


How do the pickup and drop-off locations affect delivery time?

Aside from the distance between the pickup and drop-off locations, the physical location itself plays a major role in delivery time of your vehicle. Locations that are hard to reach or considered to be off the grid will naturally take longer. On the opposite side, if the locations are heavily traveled and easily accessible, this can significantly shorten the time it requires to pick up and deliver your vehicle.

In general, pickup and drop-off locations that are in major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or Miami provide much easier access for your shipping company. The pickup and delivery will be faster because of access to major interstates and highways. However, if the location is in a more rural area, this will typically deviate from most standard shipping routes and require implementation of a longer pickup and delivery schedule.

How do the seasons impact the delivery of my vehicle?

Just like any other industry, auto transport has high and low seasons. Peak moving seasons for vehicle transport companies are generally in the warmer months. However, in late spring and early fall, there’s another huge demand for transport services since this is considered to be peak moving season. This likely means that your vehicle has the opportunity to be picked up and delivered sooner since there are more trucks on the road to compensate for the high demand.

Whereas in winter months, the demand for auto transport services is typically lower. In these cases, it may take longer to arrange the delivery and pickup of your car.  Also, keep in mind that during holiday seasons some drivers and carriers may be off. This causes less of them on the road to help fit within your specific schedule.

What impact does weather conditions have on the shipment of my car?

Consider how rain can easily impact the amount of time it takes you to drive home from work. The same concept applies to auto transport as bad weather will cause a longer shipping time. Severe weather conditions such as blizzards, thunderstorms and even hurricanes have a huge chance of delaying your delivery.

Conditions such as these may create unsafe driving situations by affecting visibility and causing the roads to become slippery or hazardous. In this case, the drivers may have to slow down or stop until conditions clear in order to prioritize their own safety and the safety of your car.

How do road conditions alter a vehicle shipment’s delivery time?

Aside from the roads possibly becoming hazardous due to weather conditions, unexpected detours or road construction can delay the transport route. Also, drivers could come in contact with accidents and roads that are closed or blocked because of this. These conditions on the road and along the route will affect the time it takes for your car to reach its final destination.

How does my preferred transportation method affect delivery time?

The transportation method that you choose for your vehicle will also affect the time it takes to ship it. Each option that is offered by your auto transport company will have some disparities in delivery time.

If you’ve chosen open transport, this is a more cost-effective option and can also be one of the fastest. With so many vehicles on the transport, the driver will need to make several stops along the way to pick up the other vehicles. Although this may slightly increase delivery time, open carriers are generally the fastest way to ship a vehicle.

Enclosed car carriers only consist of about 10% of all vehicle shipping. Since there are less enclosed carriers than open, it may take longer to coordinate a delivery like this. Also, the enclosed option does not house as many vehicles as open transport does. However, the benefit of enclosed is that your car will be protected from weather conditions.

Best Practices to Achieve the Fastest Shipping Time

After considering all of these individual factors, there are some things you can do to ensure the quickest car shipping delivery possible. Here are a few of the best practices you can follow if you’d like a faster delivery time:

  • Begin speaking with an auto transport company as early as possible. Do not wait until the very last minute to schedule your shipment. The process requires a lot of coordination and preparation to ensure that your car is delivered within the time frame you desire. In general, you should book your shipment with your vehicle transport company at least 2-3 weeks out from the pickup date.
  • Conduct thorough research on your car shipping company. Read customer reviews, check third-party websites and make sure you’re comfortable with their quality of service.
  • Review the company’s delivery and safety records through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. This site will tell you if the auto transport company is capable of shipping your car safely and delivering it in a timely manner.

Ready for transport?

There are many factors that play a role in the overall delivery time of your vehicle. When scheduling your next transport, be sure to keep all of these in mind. At Ship Vehicles, we recommend booking as early as possible in order to fit within your schedule and receive your preferred delivery time. Speak with one of your car shipping experts today to help guide you through the whole process. We’re happy to provide you with a FREE estimate and answer any questions you have!