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Interstate Car Shipping Timing: When Is The Best Time to Ship Your Car?

Time is of the essence when you need to ship your car across state lines. Choosing the right time to move your car can make all the difference in how much it costs, how easy it is, and how smoothly the whole process goes.

The best time to transport your vehicle depends on a few factors, including the time of year, the weather, and your unique situation. If you ship without considering these factors, you’ll face the risk of higher costs, longer transit times, or even vehicle damage. The good news? You can ensure a smooth shipping experience by considering these aspects and arranging transport ahead of time.

At uShip, we’re here to help you make an informed decision by exploring the aspects that affect interstate car shipping. Let’s explore the optimal time to ship a vehicle to another state, whether you’re moving for a job, relocating to a new house, or selling your vehicle.


Before booking a carrier, you’ll need to consider a few moving parts. In turn, you’ll be able to organize the time and process of shipping your automobile across state lines for a stress-free, budget-friendly shipping experience. Let’s look at the important factors:


Demand and cost for cars are sensitive to seasonal changes. Car carriers, for example, usually have their highest traffic in the summer (between June and August) and early autumn, owing to an uptick in vacations, moves, and snowbirds making their way to sunnier climes like Arizona or Florida.

Due to the increasing demand during these seasons, you should expect longer wait times and higher pricing. Moving from a colder state like New York to a warmer region? Consider shipping during the off-season, like the winter months, for reduced costs and greater scheduling flexibility.


Market factors of supply and demand also impact the automobile shipping sector. For instance, during busy moving seasons, you may face longer wait times and higher charges while transporting a vehicle from Los Angeles to Houston due to carriers’ restricted capacity.

To ensure a space with a reliable carrier, it’s best to arrange your transport in advance. On the other hand, when demand is low, you can score better deals and quicker delivery choices.


Vehicle shipment times and routes are susceptible to weather-related delays. For example, in January, you should be ready for possible delays caused by winter weather conditions, such as snowstorms and ice roads in the Midwest, if you’re transporting an automobile from Chicago to Denver.

Similarly, coastal areas, such as from Florida to Texas, may encounter shipping delays during hurricane season. If you’re under a tight schedule, consider the possibility of weather-related delays when planning the time of your automobile shipment.


Car shipment demand and availability might be impacted by major events and holidays in some locations. To avoid last-minute fees and restricted carrier availability, reserve your shipment well in advance. This is essential, especially if you’re transporting your automobile to a big city holding a key sporting event, such as the Super Bowl, or a major location celebrating a holiday, such as New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

In addition, since many businesses close or significantly restrict their operations during holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, delivery timetables might be affected, and delays can occur.


Your pickup and delivery locations also impact shipping times and prices. For example, due to fewer carrier alternatives and lengthier travel times, shipping an automobile from a small town in Montana to a rural location in Texas can take longer than shipping between two big cities like Seattle and Miami.

In addition, shipments to or from jurisdictions with stringent rules, like California or Hawaii, may need additional documentation and compliance steps, which might affect shipment schedules.


The timing and pricing for interstate car shipping can also vary depending on the vehicle’s make, year, and condition. For instance, moving a covered antique vehicle or huge SUV from New York to Los Angeles may require specialized carriers and equipment. This might also affect the availability and price of delivering a basic automobile.

Similarly, finding a reliable carrier and scheduling the cargo can take more time if your automobile isn’t working since it would need specific equipment and handling.


Example of interstate car shipping with an open trailer

When it comes to shipping your car interstate, timing can significantly impact your overall experience, from cost and convenience to the availability of carrier services. By understanding the best times to ship your vehicle, you can make informed decisions, save money, and ensure a smoother shipping process. Let’s explore the optimal times to transport your car and the benefits of booking.


One of the best times to ship your car interstate is during off-peak seasons. These are periods when demand for car shipping services is lower, typically resulting in more favorable rates and increased carrier availability. Consider the following off-peak seasons:

Winter months (excluding holidays): Shipping your car during the winter months, particularly from January to early March, can lead to lower prices and more flexible scheduling. As fewer people tend to relocate or travel during this time, carriers may offer discounted rates to fill their trucks. For example, if you’re moving from New York to Florida, shipping your car in February could be more cost-effective than during the busy summer months.

Mid-September to mid-November: After the peak of the summer season and before the holiday rush, there’s a window of opportunity for more affordable interstate car shipping. As families settle into the school year and fewer people relocate, carriers may have more availability and offer competitive rates. This can be an excellent time to ship your car if you’re moving for work or planning a long-distance move.

Early spring (excluding spring break): Once the winter weather subsides and before the peak moving season begins, early spring can be a favorable time to ship your car. From late March to early May, you may find more reasonable rates and a wider selection of carriers. Keep in mind that spring break can cause a temporary surge in demand, so it’s best to avoid shipping during that time if possible.


Regardless of the season, booking your car transport service in advance comes with several advantages. By planning and reserving your shipment early, you can:

Secure your preferred shipping dates: Booking in advance allows you to lock in your desired shipping dates, especially during peak seasons or holidays when carrier availability may be limited. For instance, if you’re planning to ship your car from Los Angeles to Houston during the summer, booking at least one month in advance can help you lock in your preferred timeline.

Access a wider selection of carriers: When you book early, you have more time to research and compare different carriers. This allows you to find a reputable carrier that meets your specific needs, such as enclosed transport for a classic car or expedited shipping for a time-sensitive move. With more lead time, you can also read reviews, request quotes, and make an informed decision.

Potentially save money: Some carriers may offer early booking discounts or promotions to encourage customers to plan. By reserving your shipment in advance, you can take advantage of these cost-saving opportunities. Additionally, booking early can help you avoid last-minute price surges that can occur during peak seasons or when capacity is limited.

Reduce stress and uncertainty: Booking your car transport well in advance provides peace of mind and reduces the stress associated with last-minute arrangements. You can plan your move or travel with greater certainty, knowing that your vehicle’s shipping is secured and confirmed.


Whether you’re planning relocation or buying or selling a car online, it’s essential to consider the unique factors that can impact your interstate car shipping experience. Here are some factors to consider before booking your shipment.


If you’re planning a relocation and need to ship your car, timing is a crucial factor to consider. Here’s how to plan your interstate car shipping in conjunction with your move:

Coordinate with your moving timeline: When scheduling your interstate car shipping, ensure it aligns with your overall moving timeline.

Consider factors such as your desired arrival date, the time needed to pack and prepare your belongings, and any specific requirements for your new residence. Ideally, you’ll want your car to arrive shortly after you’ve settled into your new home to minimize the need for alternative transportation.

Research and book in advance: As soon as you have a confirmed moving date, start researching carriers and gathering quotes.

Booking your car transport at least 4-6 weeks in advance is recommended, especially if you’re moving during peak seasons like summer or holidays. This will give you ample time to compare options, choose a reputable carrier, and secure your preferred shipping dates.

Consider your route and seasonality: When planning your relocation, consider the route your car will be traveling and any seasonal considerations. For example, if you’re moving from a northern state to a southern state during the winter, your car may encounter inclement weather during transport. Work with your chosen carrier to discuss any potential delays or additional precautions needed to ensure your car’s safe arrival.

Plan for alternative transportation. Keep in mind that your car may arrive a few days before or after your scheduled delivery date, depending on factors like weather, traffic, and carrier schedules. Plan for alternative transportation options, such as rental cars or public transit, to bridge any gaps between your arrival and your car’s delivery.


With the growing popularity of online car buying and selling platforms, more people are shipping cars that they’ve purchased or sold remotely. Here’s some guidance on timing your transactions with shipping in mind:

Communicate clearly with the buyer or seller: When buying or selling a car online, maintain clear communication with the other party regarding the shipping process and timeline. Discuss who will be responsible for arranging and paying for the shipping and agree upon a realistic timeline for the transaction and vehicle delivery.

Allow extra time for inspections and paperwork: When purchasing a car online, you may need to arrange for a professional inspection or complete additional paperwork before finalizing the transaction. Factor in this extra time when planning your shipping timeline, as you’ll want to ensure the car is in the agreed-upon condition before it’s shipped.

Coordinate with the carrier: Once you’ve chosen a carrier, work closely with them to coordinate the pickup and delivery of the vehicle. Provide accurate contact information for both the buyer and seller, and ensure all parties are aware of the expected shipping dates and any necessary preparations, such as providing keys or documentation.

Be flexible and patient: When buying or selling a car online, it’s essential to be flexible and patient throughout the shipping process. Delays can occur due to various factors, such as weather or carrier schedules, so build some buffer time into your planning. Stay in touch with the carrier and the other party to stay informed of any updates or changes to the timeline.


Interstate car shipping during the winter

When it comes to interstate car shipping, thorough research and preparation are essential for a smooth and successful experience. By taking the time to plan and organize your car shipping process, you’ll make informed decisions, avoid potential pitfalls, and ultimately save time and money. Here’s how to start planning your interstate car shipping.


  • Establish your desired pickup and delivery dates, keeping in mind any flexibility in your schedule.
  • Decide on the type of shipping service you require, such as open or enclosed transport, door-to-door, or terminal-to-terminal delivery.
  • Consider any special requirements for your vehicle, such as oversized tires, modifications, or inoperable condition.


  • Look for reputable carriers with experience in interstate car shipping.
  • Read customer reviews and testimonials to gauge the company’s reliability and service quality.
  • Verify the company’s licensing and insurance coverage through resources like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
  • Administration’s (FMCSA) website.
  • Check for any additional services offered, such as vehicle tracking or expedited shipping.


  • Request quotes from multiple carriers based on your specific needs and requirements. (uShip makes this part easy)
  • Provide accurate information about your vehicle, including make, model, year, and any modifications.
  • Be clear about your pick-up and delivery locations, as well as your desired shipping dates.
  • Compare the quotes, taking into account factors like price, services included, added protection, and estimated transit time.
  • Ask about any additional fees or charges that may apply, such as fuel surcharges or booking fees.


  • Once you’ve chosen a reputable carrier, confirm your booking and provide all necessary details.
  • Agree on a pick-up and delivery window, allowing for some flexibility in case of unforeseen delays.
  • Provide accurate contact information for yourself and any authorized individuals involved in the pick-up or delivery process.
  • Confirm the payment terms and any required deposits or upfront payments.
  • Obtain a written confirmation of your booking, including the agreed-upon terms, dates, and prices.


  • Clean your car inside and out, removing any personal belongings and valuables.
  • Perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle, noting any existing damage or scratches.
  • Take photos of your car from various angles to document its condition before shipping.
  • Ensure your vehicle has a quarter tank of fuel or less to minimize weight and potential fire hazards.
  • Turn off any alarm systems and provide a spare set of keys for the carrier.
  • Address any maintenance issues, such as fluid leaks or low tire pressure, before shipping.


Choosing the best time to ship your car involves considering various factors, such as weather conditions, demand fluctuations, and personal schedules. Regardless of when you decide to ship your vehicle, taking steps to prepare and research the process can help you ensure a smooth and reliable shipping experience.

At uShip, we’re here to connect you with experienced carriers for interstate car shipping. With our extensive network and user-friendly platform, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your vehicle will be handled with care and delivered safely to its destination.

Whether you’re relocating, purchasing a vehicle online, or sending a car as a gift, trust uShip to make the process seamless and stress-free. Make the smart choice for your car shipping needs and choose uShip today.


What are the busiest times for interstate car shipping?

The busiest times for interstate car shipping are typically during the summer months, particularly from May to September, as well as during major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s. These periods see a higher demand for vehicle transport services due to increased leisure travel, relocations, and students moving to and from college.

How far in advance should I book interstate car transport?

To ensure the best rates and availability for interstate car transport, it’s recommended to book your shipment at least 2-4 weeks in advance. This allows you to secure a spot with a reputable carrier, avoid last-minute price surges, and give you more flexibility in choosing your preferred pickup and delivery dates.

Are there seasonal discounts available for car shipping?

Some car carriers may offer seasonal discounts, particularly during the off-peak months, such as winter (from January to March). These discounts can help you save money on your vehicle transport, as carriers aim to fill their trucks during periods of lower demand. However, the availability of discounts may vary depending on the company and route.

Can I choose a specific pickup and delivery date for my vehicle?

Most carriers allow you to choose specific pickup and delivery dates for your vehicle, but this often comes with an additional fee. By opting for a specific date, you can ensure that your vehicle is shipped and delivered according to your timeline, which is particularly useful if you have tight moving or travel schedules.

What factors affect the cost of shipping a car across states?

Several factors influence the cost of shipping a car across states, including the distance between the pickup and delivery locations, the size and weight of your vehicle, the type of transport (open or enclosed), and seasonality. Generally, longer distances, larger vehicles, enclosed transport, and shipping during peak seasons will result in higher costs.

Is enclosed transport worth the extra cost of long-distance shipping?

Enclosed transport is worth the extra cost for long-distance shipping if you have a classic, luxury, or high-value vehicle that requires additional protection from the elements and road debris. While enclosed transport is more expensive than open transport, it provides a higher level of security and minimizes the risk of damage during transit.

Are there any restrictions on the types of vehicles that can be shipped interstate?

Most standard vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans, can be shipped interstate without any restrictions. However, oversized or modified vehicles, such as large trucks, RVs, or vehicles with aftermarket modifications, may face some limitations and require special accommodations. It’s essential to discuss your vehicle’s specifics with the carrier to ensure they can transport it safely.

How can I track the progress of my vehicle during transit?

Many carriers offer online tracking or regular updates on your vehicle’s progress during transit. This allows you to monitor your car’s location and estimated delivery time, providing peace of mind throughout the shipping process. Some carriers use GPS tracking, while others provide daily or weekly updates via phone, email, or text message.

What should I do if my vehicle arrives damaged during shipping?

If your vehicle arrives damaged during shipping, it’s crucial to document the damage thoroughly. Take photos of the damage, make notes about the extent and location of the issues, and immediately inform the carrier’s representative.

Are there any additional fees or charges I should be aware of for interstate car shipping?

When shipping your car interstate, be aware of potential additional fees or charges, such as those for remote locations, vehicle modifications, or expedited shipping. Remote pickup or delivery locations may incur additional costs due to the extra time and effort required for the carrier to reach them. Similarly, vehicles with modifications or those requiring expedited shipping may also be subject to higher fees.