How Much Does It Cost to Ship A Car?

Find out how much it costs to ship a car. We cover the factors affecting the cost and break down what you can expect when shipping your own vehicle.

Car Shipping

If you are planning a move across the country, you might choose to ship your vehicle versus driving it. How much does it cost to ship a car and is it a feasible option for your needs?

On average, you might spend $500 to $2,000 to ship your car. Obviously, the shorter distance is going to be your cheapest option, with a longer cross-country trip costing the most. There are other factors that also influence the total price. 

In this guide, we show you what affects the car shipping price. We also give you some steps to ensure your car ships efficiently and safely. 

Factors Affecting Car Shipping

1. Vehicle Size

One of the largest factors is the size of your vehicle. The larger the vehicle is, the more space it’s going to take up on the truck. If a truck can carry more vehicles overall, the price per vehicle can be slightly lower.

As an example, it might cost you $600 to transport your sedan down the east coast. The same trek could cost $1,200 if it’s an SUV, truck or van. 

2. Time

There are times in the year when shipping prices are higher. For example, if you ship during the summer, you could pay a premium price because the companies have more work and there’s less space on the truck. 

On the other hand, if you book during the winter, there could be bad weather, which will also increase the price. If there are snowstorms, not only will this affect the price but your time in transit. 

You might also get a better rate if you choose to ship during the week. Transport is much busier during the weekends. 

3. Distance

Obviously, the further your car needs to go, the more you can expect to pay for it. With that said, you might be able to get a better per-mile rate if you are transporting across long distances.

If you have the car on a truck across open highways, the rate should be lower than if it’s traveling the back roads of the country. With that said, the more cities the truck has to go through, the more you can also expect to pay. 

4. Open vs. Enclosed

If you aren’t concerned about protecting the vehicle from the elements, you want to send it on an open carrier. This is the cheapest option available. 

If you have a high-end or classic car, it’s important that the car is protected. For this, an enclosed carrier is necessary. However, these trucks carry fewer cars and more care is needed, so the price goes up accordingly. 

5. Rush vs. Standard

As with anything that needs to be shipped, the faster you need it the more you are going to pay. If you aren’t in a hurry to get your vehicle, you can take advantage of some discounts.

Unless you want to pay a premium price for shipping your car, be flexible. Let the transport company operate within a window, so your vehicle can be put on the best truck for them. 

How to Ship a Car

1. Determine Pickup/Delivery

You have multiple decisions to make when planning to ship your car. The terminal-to-terminal option is cheaper, but door-to-door service is best if you need convenience. 

With terminal-to-terminal shipping, you have to pick the locations closest to your destination. Don’t forget to factor in your travel time back and forth to the terminal both ways. If you have to choose door-to-door, you must also consider the roads that the truck has to travel down to get to you.

RELATED: How to Ship a Car You Bought Online (6 Simple Tips)

2. Pick Truck Type

The majority of transport companies offer both open and enclosed trailer options. With the open transport trailer, you can spend less, but the car is susceptible to damage, especially from bad weather. 

The enclosed trailer is a better option if your vehicle is worth more money. It’s protected from the elements but causes the price to go much higher. 

3. Gather Quotes

You should never pick a transport service simply by getting one quote. Instead, you want to get quotes from at least three carriers. As you ask for quotes, make sure you take advantage of any discounts you might be entitled to. Ask if there are discounts for military, student, senior, fleet and multicar transport. 

Don’t judge the quotes based on price alone. You should see some insurance coverage with each quote. Check what this coverage includes, as it will differ between companies. Additionally, the providers can add shipping fees to the total. Look to see if everything is charged at a flat rate or per mile. Finally, find out what the reimbursement is if there are any delays or changes to the shipment/delivery dates. 

4. Schedule 

The earlier you can schedule your transport, the better it will go for you. It’s best to give the shipper at least eight weeks’ notice. Additionally, if you are willing to be flexible with the terms, state that upfront.

Once the transport is scheduled, set a reminder to follow up the week before. It’s always best to check back in with the company to finalize details closer to the pickup. 

5. Prepare

Before you send your car for transport, you need to get it ready. For starters, you should always clean out the vehicle. Get rid of any personal belongings because the carriers aren’t normally covered for these goods. Additionally, you could pay more if the belongings cause the car to weigh more than it should. To help keep the weight down, you might consider sending it with just a ¼ tank of fuel. 

Take photos and a video of the car before it heads out. You want to show any damage that already exists and get documentation for how it looks. This way if damage occurs while on the road, you have the proof you need to show what happened. 

Is It Cheaper to Drive a Car vs. Transport?

Initially, it might appear that driving the car might be a cheaper option. However, once you sit and calculate all of the other expenses you are responsible for, it can quickly close the gap between the two. Don’t forget that you will need fuel, meals on the road and lodging.

You must also think about the time it takes to drive a car. Could you be spending this time in another way that would earn you money? If you are taking time off of work to make the drive, this is money that is lost in the end. Sit down and evaluate the two based on the costs. You might be surprised to see that shipping the car comes out slightly lower than driving it yourself. 

How to Ship a Car Overseas?

If your car needs to go somewhere that’s not connected by roadway, you have to choose either boat or plane transportation. Going with a sea vessel is going to take a good amount of time, but it is going to be the cheaper option. While shipping the car on a plane will cut out a ton of time, most people aren’t prepared to foot the expensive bill.

READ MORE: Buying a Car Out of State – What You Need To Know