Moving Across the Country: Should I Drive My Car or Ship It?

Some moves can be simple. You load up a moving truck and drive across town, unload your items, and go about your life. Those are the moves that seem frustrating until you have to pack up and move thousands of miles across the country. Whether for a job, family, or just a change in scenery, these moves can often make stress levels rise.

Once you know you have to move across the country, you have to decide if you want to ship your vehicle with your belongings or go on an impromptu road trip. It may seem like a good idea to hop in your car and see the sites while your belongings are transported. There can be a lot of dangers associated with trips like this.

The Real Cost of Driving Across the Country

Driving across the country can put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Long trips can also cause a lot of strain to your body and your mind, making you more tired and exhausted despite the fact you have just been sitting. The longer the period of time you drive, the more you are putting yourself and the others riding with you in danger.

The Strain on Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is used to normal wear from being driven locally, but taking it on long trips can cause more damage and wear than you see with your eyes. As the mileage goes up, your car requires specific maintenance. This schedule needs to be upheld to ensure proper working order. At so many miles, oil changes need to be performed, tires rotated, air filter changed, etc.

The longer the maintenance gets put off, the more problems can arise when taking a long trip. Keeping track of your maintenance can help you find out what work needs to be done before or after a big trip. It might also give you clues to repair work that may come up while on the road.

Problems with Your Car Battery

Your car battery is usually only rated to last between two and five years. If you plan on going for a cross country road trip during your move, you may want to have it tested to see what kind of life span it has, especially if it is over a year old. The temperature can affect the life of your battery as well. If you plan on driving your car, make sure you look at the climate conditions you will go through to see if your battery can withstand it. Having doubts about your car battery means you may want to go ahead and change it if you plan on driving it that far.

Flat Tire Emergencies

Flat tires are inevitable in the lifespan of your vehicle. These are just things that happen, and we get them fixed and move on. Did you know that not that many people know how to change a tire on their own? One of the best ways to keep up on the health of your tires is to check their pressure regularly, especially when the temperature changes and monitor the wear on them. You need to have them rotated and balanced with oil changes to help increase the life of them.

If you plan on going long distances, it might be worth investing in tires that are designed to go several miles while flat. These types of tires could help you get somewhere safe to have it fixed rather than have a blowout on the interstate or some country road.

Brake Issues

Brake trouble can pop up out of the blue. If you do decide you want to drive your car across the country, it is worth having a licensed mechanic look at them. The most critical areas to check are the brake fluid, pads, rotors, and drums. A once over of the lines wouldn’t hurt either. The brakes play a vital role in keeping you and any passengers that may be in your car safe. Making sure they are in great shape before driving a long distance is essential.

Engine Failure

The engine is the heart of your car. If the heart of your car dies, so does your car. You might as well buy a new one because replacing the engine can be extremely expensive. Regardless of what you choose, driving, or shipping your car, this might be an excellent time to get a tune-up. Having your vehicle ready for a new environment might be just what it needs to extend its lifespan.

Transmission Goes Out

The transmission of your car is what shifts your gears. If your transmission goes out, your vehicle isn’t going anywhere. Transmissions can be replaced, or they can be rebuilt, depending on how much you want to spend. Common signs that your transmission may be going out are:

  • Dash lights indicate it
  • Noises start happening when the car is in neutral
  • Leaking fluids
  • Grinding of the gears

The sooner you notice these symptoms of a transmission going out, the sooner you can get them addressed.


Your alternator and your battery work in tandem. If your battery is not the problem for low power, it could be your alternator. When your alternator is going out, your dash lights will come on, and it will be hard to keep your car started. You can go to an auto parts store to have it checked. If your alternator doesn’t have much life in it, you can have a certified mechanic replace it. Make sure you have this checked before a significant move. You don’t want to end up stranded in an unfamiliar place.

Running Out of Gas

It isn’t something that we expect to happen when we are taking a long trip, but sometimes we run out of gas. Some people keep a spare gas can in their car in case they run out of gas. In most circumstances, people who plan on a road trip will keep their fuel levels high just because they won’t know when the next gas station may pop up. This is a good habit to build, especially if you ever end up driving for an extended period of time.

Getting Roadside Assistance

In the case of long road trips, a lot of people will get roadside assistance. Roadside assistance can mean a lot of different things. Some roadside assistance companies only offer minimal coverages like fetching gas or changing your tire for you. Others offer a lot more services, such as towing and rental car coverages. You will want to see which company fits your budget best and your needs just in case something happens to your vehicle.

Choosing to Ship Your Vehicle

The other option you have in a cross country move is to ship your vehicle along with your belongings. Although it may seem like a cheaper option to drive your own car, utilizing the company that is transporting your belongings may be a better option. There are a lot of things that can happen along the way if you are driving, which could delay you reaching your destination on time. You want to make sure you are there when your belongings arrive at your new home.

Why should I ship my vehicle?

Most people who are moving across the country can’t just take off an extended period of work to travel across the country. What this means is they need to make sure they travel in a way that takes less time than driving. Most people will stay while their items are getting loaded and do the Bill of Lading for their car with the driver and then catch a flight to their new destination.

Shipping your vehicle with your items ensures that all things arrive at the same time, and you aren’t waiting for items. Shipping your vehicle is also a safer method of transport than driving your car yourself. The different methods of transport can keep your vehicle safe and won’t require all those miles to be put on it. Here are some things that transport companies can offer that make your car more reliable than driving on your own.

  • Using a professional auto transport company is more convenient.
    • Moving is a frustrating task and trying to move your belongings, and your car can be even more frustrating. Letting professionals who do the job daily can make the move so much easier. You can continue doing the things that need to be done while they tend to the moving.
  • Professional auto transport companies offer safety.
    • The miles you have to drive your car on a cross country move can cause a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle. The more miles you drive, the more your vehicle depreciates. Your car will lose value the more miles you put on it. Using a professional transporter also saves your vehicle from the harsh conditions the road can inflict on it.
  • The insurance coverage is phenomenal.
    • Auto transport companies are required to carry liability insurance for all belongings and vehicles they transport. This coverage they offer, in conjunction with your own auto insurance coverage, could be enough to cover your vehicle in event of an accident completely.
  • The price isn’t as high as you might think.
    • A lot of people assume that shipping a car can be high. But most of the rates a shipping company charges are all-inclusive. When you drive your car across the company, you will end up having to make various stops along the way, most likely spending money at each stop, which can add up.
  • Professional car shipping saves you a lot of time by shipping.
    • If you find that you need to be at your destination sooner than driving yourself, shipping your vehicle can alleviate your time constraints. You can fly to the destination and do the things that you are required to do while you wait on your items to arrive.

Preparing for Transport

Your transport company will make sure to give you a detailed list of items and requirements that you will need to do to prepare your vehicle for transport. This list is important as it helps ensure your vehicle remains safe during transport. Once you have prepared your vehicle for transport and the moving day has come, the driver or company representative will do an inspection of your vehicle with you. This inspection is written on a Bill of Lading, which is your personal documentation for the transport. Keep this document safe.

Making Sure You Choose the Right Auto Transport Company

Auto transport companies are easy to find. All you have to do is a quick internet search to see that there are a lot of different companies that may be options. Not all of these options are the right one to choose from. There are a lot of companies out there that describe themselves as reputable and legitimate, but they aren’t always what they seem.

Before you choose a transport company, you will want to make sure they offer the services you need and are reputable. The last thing you want to do is lose all of your moving budget to a scam. Ship Vehicles has been in the business of transport for over 30 years. Our expert movers have worked multiple moves and auto transports from coast to coast with an excellent success rate.

When it comes to shipping your belongings and your vehicle, get a quote from Ship Vehicles. You will see that we offer the most competitive prices in the industry and offer a unique touch to the shipping process. Once you are a customer of Ship Vehicles, you are family. We treat all of your belongings and your vehicle like they belonged to us. We offer free quotes that can accommodate any type of transport need that you may have. Give us a call and let us take care of your transport needs today.