How to Transport Vehicles

Moving your car across the country 

Transporting vehicles is often an important part of long-distance moving, especially if you’re relocating to a place without substantial public transportation. Many people drive during a move, but that isn’t always possible. But what can you do to move a car if you can’t drive it yourself? We’ll share some options and provide all the info you need to make the best decision.

Cars on a vehicle transport trailer moving across the country.


3 ways to transport a vehicle during a move

Three popular options for moving a car include towing, shipping and paying someone to drive it.

Cross-country towing

For moving a car long-distance, there are two rental equipment options for towing. 

  • Option 1: Rent equipment to tow one car with a second personal vehicle so your family can travel together.  
  • Option 2: Use towing equipment that can be pulled behind a rental truck.

Keep in mind that the cost of adding towing to your move can be more expensive than you think, so it’s not always the most cost-effective plan. Plus, not all vehicles can tow or be towed by the available equipment, and the inventory (and cost) for rentals will vary by location. 

Shipping a car to another state

You might choose to ship your vehicle with one of many car transportation companies. Each shipper will have their own rules and policies for preparing vehicles, but most will not allow transport of personal items in vehicles and will expect most of the fuel to be drained for safety.

These companies typically offer options with open-air trailers, enclosed trailers, trains or ocean containers depending on your origin and destination. Costs and shipping times will vary between companies but are often figured by distance, type of vehicle and the current cost of fuel. 

While U-Pack® doesn’t ship cars, we refer customers to a U-Pack affiliate, Mr. Car Shipper, for auto-shipping services. You can contact them directly at 877-528-9627 for a quote or we can put you in touch with them during your U-Pack quoting process. 

Hiring a long-distance driver

Some people decide to hire a driver to get a vehicle across the country. This works if you want to travel with your family, plan to drive a rental truck that can’t tow or you have more cars than drivers.

Whether you hire a professional driver, a friend or a family member, make sure you agree to the terms before the trip, such as: 

  • Compensation
  • Who is responsible for travel expenses like hotels and meals 
  • How the driver will return home

What else to consider before moving a vehicle

Before the trip, make sure you clean your car inside and out and take photos to document any existing damage. It’s also helpful to have the vehicle checked out by a mechanic or handle it yourself with our car maintenance checklist to make sure everything is in working order before setting off.

How soon should I make arrangements?

It’s best to book auto shipping or towing as soon as possible, but at least 30 days before the move. Don’t forget to include transit time based on when you’ll need your car at the new place.

How is car insurance handled?

While each carrier or rental company will have different policies, many have options for liability coverage. It’s also a good idea to contact your insurance agency to ask about coverage options while your car is in transit.  

What’s the cheapest option to move a car? 

If possible, driving is usually the cheapest way to get your vehicle to another state. By letting a company like U-Pack handle your belongings, you’re free to travel across the country in the comfort of your own vehicle — without the hassle of towing your car behind a rental truck. 

Would it be better to sell the car instead of transporting it?

Maybe. It depends on the car’s value. If the cost of moving the vehicle is more than what the car is worth, it might make more sense to sell it before you relocate. Then, you can consider buying something comparable or using public transportation as you get settled in your new city. 

What about a motorcycle or ATV? 

U-Pack® is an affordable choice for transporting motorcycles, ATVs or lawnmowers since you can move them with your other belongings.  Learn more about moving motorcycles with U-Pack

Questions about moving a car? 

Let us know in the comments! We’re always happy to help!