When searching for the best deal on a salvage vehicle, you must also think about the additional costs. Bidding is easy, but making a profit requires a precise calculation. 

Apart from the expenses, you also need to be aware of how long does it take to ship a car. This is an important part of the bigger picture, and we’ll give you the details about shipping and the time it takes.

Factors Determining How Long Does It Take for a Car to Ship

Shipping a vehicle always depends on several factors, such as distance, weather, and road conditions. Every carrier tries to give a time estimate of the process, but the actual time may be different than suggested. Let’s take a look at all these factors.


If you want to predict how long does it take to get a car shipped, you need to know the exact distance between the vehicle location and its final destination. Needless to say, longer transits require more delivery time.

When choosing a carrier, make sure you select a reasonable offer with a realistic estimate. Sometimes, companies promise an expedited service with nearly impossible shipping duration, and accepting such an offer would likely end up in disappointment. 

Usually, delivering a car via land transport takes roughly two or three days for distances between 200 and 1,000 miles. When the vehicle needs to be delivered to a location that’s more than 3,000 miles away, you should expect an estimated delivery time of at least 10 days.


The pickup location and the destination also matter when you need to know how long does it take to get a car shipped. Certain areas are not that easy to access which would always cause a delay. 

Metropolitan areas are usually much easier for a carrier to reach compared to remote rural areas that are most often nowhere near a carrier’s usual route.


Weather is just as important as all the other factors mentioned in this article. Bad weather equals longer shipping time. You can imagine how big of an obstacle a thunderstorm or heavy snowfall could be. 

When roads get slippery and visibility is bad, drivers are cautious, and safety becomes a main priority. Usually, carriers consider the most accurate weather forecasts and estimate the delivery time according to them. Still, weather can be unpredictable, and that sometimes leads to changes in delivery time. 


Just like every other business, car shipping has peak seasons. This, of course, means that costs are rising during these periods. The higher costs, however, are compensated by faster delivery. Carriers’ peak seasons are during spring and fall. 

Given the great variety of transportation routes, chances are that your car would be picked up faster from its initial location and it would arrive at its destination sooner, too. Pickup is harder in winter and during holidays, as carriers have the least number of orders then.

Road Conditions

Here’s another important factor that could determine how long does it take for a car to ship. Any schedule could be interrupted by an unexpected roadblock or detour due to construction, an accident, or another reason. Bad roads are also an obstacle that could lead to longer delivery time. 

What Types of Transportation Methods Are Most Often Used to Ship a Car?

Here is a short list of the most common transportation options:

  • Car carriers: the typical open trailers are usually the preferred type of road shipping. They can transport many vehicles at a time, which means lower costs and presumably better coordination when it comes to pickup schedules.
  • Enclosed trailers and carriers: this is the best option to choose if you want to haul a vehicle of great value, as it protects it from the elements. Enclosed carriers, however, can take fewer vehicles at a time and they are usually much more expensive to hire, too. Such means of transportation are harder to coordinate and take more time to complete.
  • If you are wondering how long does it take to ship a car overseas, there isn’t a straight answer. There are two main options to choose from: container shipping and RORO (short for “roll-on, roll-off”). RORO shipping is usually tied to a strict schedule, and you would know the exact delivery date with certainty. Container shipping may take longer and is not a safer option but it is a preferred method, as it is possible to load the vehicle at every given harbor. Container shipping from the U.S. to Europe, for example, usually takes between four and eight weeks.
  • The fastest and most expensive option of all is air freight. Shipping a car of great value overseas fast is sometimes a priority, which is when people choose air freight as their best option.

Tips to Shorten Shipping Time

The best thing to do if you want the vehicle to reach its destination fast is to plan ahead. Make sure you pick the best transportation method and schedule it as early as possible, ideally a couple of weeks before pick up time. This would allow you to lower the costs and avoid unexpected delays or the need to store the car longer in case the planned shipping fails for some reason. 

When the time comes to contact a carrier, you need to check the company’s background and find solid feedback on their services. Reviews and rating matter: you will be able to choose the most reliable car shipping company when you rely on their customers’ opinions.

An important detail to consider when you pick a carrier company is to check their delivery and safety records on the FMCSA website. The information provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the best assessment tool you could find, and you will know what to expect from a particular company after checking their records.

In Conclusion

As you’ve already realized, it is relatively hard to tell how long does it take to ship a car. That’s because the answer to that question is related to one too many factors, most of which are not up to the client. 

Still, most shipping companies will give you an estimated delivery schedule, and you can only hope that it all goes according to the initial plan.

If you’ve been craving your dream car for a while, we have good news.

On our website, we have the best salvage cars for sale. You only need to register, bid on a car of your choice, and eventually get it.