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How to Ship a Car That You Bought Online or in Another State (Podcast)

How to Ship a Car That You Bought Online or in Another State (Podcast)

Mike Scenna, sales manager at PreOwned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts,, discusses shipping a car you bought online or in another state.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Mike Scenna, sales manager at PreOwned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. And our topic today is how to ship a car that you bought online, or in another state. Welcome, Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John, thanks for having me.

John: Sure. So Mike what are some of the reasons that I might want to buy a car out of state?

Why Purchase a Car Out-of-State?

Mike: Yeah. So there are all kinds of reasons people want to buy cars out of state, and it’s actually happening a lot more now than ever. We’re seeing a lot more purchases of cars online from other states and shipping is increasing due to that. One reason could be you’re looking for a very specific car, so cars come in all different shapes and forms now and a specific model of a car might come in certain ways with colors of interior, and trim, and a submodel that you’re looking for, or if it’s an older car, a classic car in a specific color, again, specific trims and models, it might not be available in the state that you’re in and you may have to look out of state. So we see that a lot. People spend time to find that specific car, that perfect car that they’ve been looking for and they’ll go to another state to get it if they have to.

The other thing is price. We’ve noticed a lot of people, being up in the Northeast here is, things are a little bit more expensive. Cars are expensive up here. People looking for trucks, we see a lot, can save. I’ve seen as much as four or five, $6,000 on the same make and model of a truck and getting it from out in the Midwest or down towards Texas. So we move a lot of trucks to individuals, to dealerships who are purchasing them to save some money in different parts of the country.

And also condition. Again, being up here in the Northeast and in New England, we’re known for those harsh winters and they’re just as tough on the cars as they are on us. So buying a car that is a little older, four or five, six years, maybe even more, from down South and knowing that it hasn’t seen any winters, you know that you’re getting a car in much better shape. So that’s very appealing to people. And many more too, but there are all kinds of reasons people could be purchasing a car from a different state.

John: Right up here in the Northeast, we put salt on the roads to melt the ice and the snow and things like that. And that salt can really damage, especially the underside of a car and create a lot of rust and things like that. So I know that my brother purchased a car. He lives in New Hampshire, but he purchased a car from Florida. And because it was a few years old and, like you said, maybe five years old, but he said it was just an absolutely perfect condition because it had only been driven in Florida.

Mike: Right? Yeah. You hear that term a lot for collectors up here, they’ll say like, “Oh, it’s a Florida car.” And like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” They know that it’s not going to have that rust, like you said, that the salt kills the cars underneath and they rust up pretty fast.

Buying Cars Online

John: So where can I buy cars online? And should I look for cars in a certain area or a certain state? Again, like we said, is buying a car online from Florida better than buying one from the Northeast in general? And do you have any favorite places where you might go online to buy a car?

Mike: Yeah. So I mean, there are so many places you can buy online now. I think we’ve all seen it with Carvana and CarGurus and Autotrader, those being the big places, to the dealerships really promoting themselves now for online, with last mile delivery and things like that. Saying, “Check out our inventory on our website. We have options to get the car to you as well. That’s not completely up to you now, we can help you deliver the car.” So online purchasing for vehicles has become huge and there’s endless amounts of sources for where you could be looking. It’s really about what’s important to you, what kind of car you’re looking for and where you’re going to find that. So, yeah, just doing your research and looking out there, you’re definitely not going to hit a dead end for options when it comes to buying online.

John: Can I get a car loan for a car that I buy remotely, like online like that? Or do I need to be able to pay cash and pay for the full amount of the car?

Mike: Yeah. So depends on where you’re buying from. I mean, if it’s an individual who posted the car themselves online, that it’s up to them how they decide they want to make the sale go. But when it comes to dealerships, large ones and small ones, there are all kinds of options. I’m sure you could go to your current bank where you finance with and who you have other loans out with, or you could work with the dealership that you’re looking at buying the car from, but you definitely, again, you won’t hit a wall with that either when it comes to financing. These people want to sell these cars and they know that they’re not only selling them locally, so they’ll do everything they can to help you. You want to purchase it from out of state.

Benefits of Shipping a Car versus Driving Yourself

John: Why is shipping a car a better option than, say, just flying to where that car is and then driving it back to my home?

Mike: Right, the biggest thing here is time, depending on where you purchase it from. So, you know, if it’s all the way across the country, if you’re buying a car from California and bringing it to Massachusetts, that could be putting you out a week, which will segue into the next factor here, which is cost. And if you break down the cost, it’s usually cheaper to have the car shipped than to fly out and drive it. Week’s worth of time is a week off of work. That’s a week that you have to use PTO or you’re getting paid for. A week means that you have five nights that you’re staying in a hotel, five days of eating on the road, gas for the whole trip.

So as far as looking at it as a cost saver to do that, it’s usually not the case. And I always tell people to really break down the numbers and spend some time before pulling the trigger and making that decision. The only time I think it’s worth it to do that is if there’s a reason you want to be on the road. If maybe you’re looking to get this new car and immediately take a road trip. But other than that, it’s a lot safer and cheaper to have the car shipped than to fly in drive.

Arranging Car Shipping and Auto Transport

John: Okay. Talk a little bit about the process. You know, I found a car online, I want to purchase it. How do I go ahead and arrange car shipping for that car that I’ve purchased online?

Mike: Yeah. So there are several ways you could go about this process. You could be doing the research yourself in securing the shipper yourself, or maybe the place that you’re buying the car has a preferred shipper that they use, or some of these dealerships even handle it completely for you. You never even talked to the shipper. They take care of it and keep you in the loop throughout the shipment letting you know when the car is going to arrive. So as far as expectations go there, I would say, you’re really not going to know what you’re in for until you decide where you’re purchasing the car from.

And then from there, as I say a lot, ask a lot of questions. If this is something that you’re going to do on a consistent basis, if you plan on buying cars online and you think you might do it again, then I think it’s important to look outside of it. Do the research yourself and find a company you feel safe with shipping cars on a regular basis. Then if the dealership you buy from does have a preferred vendor or they were planning on handling it themselves, you could use that to your advantage. You could negotiate that and say, “You know what, I’m going to handle the shipping myself. So we’ll negotiate that into the cost.” You can start getting a better idea of what shipping goes for and knowing what you should be able to save yourself on the car, if you’re going to handle the shipping yourself.

John: And should I be concerned about registering my vehicle and do you know what the process is for registering my vehicle when I purchase it online? Again, I might be purchasing it from another state so that person or that dealership is in a different state than the one that I might be registering the car in. Do you know what the process is there?

Mike: Yeah. So the process there is going to be different depending on where you buy it. But it’s very important to be thinking about that. And you’d be surprised that people don’t always think about that until the car arrives and they realize, “Wow, I thought it was going to be registered, or I didn’t even think of this.” So it’s important to be having that go through your mind throughout the process. Some dealerships, they might go out and make the phone calls for you and handle that work and get that all done for you, but that’s not always going to be the case. That might be on you and you might have different needs yourself. You might need to transfer plates and you’re driving a car around currently that you need to transfer those plates from.

So you need to know where the car is going to sit when it lands and how long it’s going to take you to register and then transfer the plates and know what you’re going to do with the new car until you’re able to get rid of the old one. So yeah, it’s very important to be considering all that and ask those questions and understand how it’s going to work with who you’re buying the car from.

John: Right, and different states, I’m sure, have different rules in terms of their registry of motor vehicles. So definitely checking in with what the rules are for your state and talking to that dealership. If you’re purchasing it from a dealership, asking them that question, “Do you handle this for me? Or do I need to do this myself?” And just making sure you’re knowledgeable about that ahead of time is probably the most important thing.

Mike: Right, yes. Especially if you’re moving to a new state, because depending on how long you’ve been at your current residence, you’re going somewhere new, you have no idea how their registration works and what the registry of motor vehicles is like in that state. And you might want to do a little homework and some research or talk to some people about what you should expect as far as getting a car on the road.

John: Okay. That’s great information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Mike: Yeah, of course. Thank you, John.

John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at or call 877-542-1955.