How Much Does Car Shipping Cost – We Have the Answer

July 16, 2019 / Posted in Car Shipping
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

When it comes to getting your vehicle safely transported across the country, the first question on your mind might be: how much does shipping a car cost? You may find the entire process very confusing at first, especially if you’ve never done this before. But there’s no need to worry about it, as it isn’t as complicated as it may seem at first glance.

black sports car
Figure out how shipping works when you want to transport your auto

Perhaps you are moving to another state and want your family car transported to your new home. Maybe you have just bought an expensive sports car, and you would like it safely shipped to you. Whatever the case is, you will be looking for the safest and the most efficient way to ship your car, but without overpaying the service. Here’s what to keep in mind before you go looking for the best auto transport companies.


Do Your Research on a Car Shipping Company and Remember That the Cheapest May Not Be the Safest

You shouldn’t rush anything when it comes to relocation. Perhaps you want to get to your new home as soon as possible because you’re moving for a new job. Maybe you just need your vehicle transported as quickly as possible as it is your only transportation option. Either way, you will want your car to be shipped in one piece and without a single scratch. It could seem like a sound idea to hire the first company you come across to ship your car or the one with the best-looking website.

Perhaps you’re already moving on a budget and have found the cheapest option available. This is one of the most common moving mistakes. When it comes to relocation, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Take the time to research different car transport companies before you make any final decisions. It will pay off in the long-run, and you won’t have to worry about your car getting damaged. What seems like the cheapest option at first often turns out to be much more expensive in car repairs – if your car even gets to the desired location.

open trailer on the road
If you are worried about safety, then don’t go for the cheapest option

What Kind of Vehicle Do You Want to Ship?

Trailers have a carrying limit for obvious safety reasons. This means that depending on the size of the cars, there is a set number of vehicles that the carriers can transport. For this reason, it’s more expensive to ship larger vehicles like vans, trucks, and SUVs. The carrier can fit more vehicles like compacts and sedans, and transport them safely.  Cars that are longer and heavier also cost more to transport. When it comes to transporting unusual or unique cars, it can also take more time for the trailer to depart.

Consider the auto transport company’s interest as well – they want to have a full trailer before they set off. In case you have any special requests regarding the transportation of your car, that could cost you additionally, depending on the shippers you are working with.

open trailer on the road stacked with cars
The trailer can transport a certain number of cars depending on their size

How Much Does Shipping a Car Cost – The Average Cost to Ship a Car With Cross-Country Movers

Wondering how much does shipping a car cost? The final price of car shipping is conditioned by many factors, including the distance and time needed for relocation. Would you like to use enclosed auto transport or have an open trailer, and whether you will be hiring movers or you will do it by yourself? Yet, those are only a few of the various factors that could affect the final cost to transport a car. In order to get a complete picture of how car shipping works we present you with the elements that inevitably influence the rise of expenses and how you can control it. Let’s delve deeper into all the factors that you should consider before you go searching for the auto transport company that suits you the most. Hopefully, you will have a good idea of what to look for, and won’t be surprised when you receive quotes from different shippers.

Main Factors That Can Affect the Cost of Shipping a Car

The Condition of Your Vehicle Matters

If your car doesn’t run on its own, it will be considered inoperable, which will increase the price of shipping. This will mean more work for the crew, who will need more time and special equipment to take care of it carefully. Depending on the vehicle, it may also require a tow truck to get it on and off the moving truck. Don’t forget that your vehicle may have to be offloaded many times due to its location on the trailer. In case your vehicle is damaged, it may have to be lifted by a forklift onto the carrier. Usually, companies charge from $100 to $150 extra to ship inoperable vehicles. If the car needs to be forklifted, the additional price can be between $200 and $500, depending on its size.

Type and Characteristics of the Vehicle

The cost of interstate moving is logically not the same for all types of vehicles. Shipping a car and moving a motorcycle is differently calculated. The average cost to ship a car depends on their size because, in some cases, larger automobiles might need some extra space. Besides, a carrier is limited on weight and the number of vehicles it can carry. The total weight of the truck, trailer and all the automobiles combined cant exceed 80,000 lbs. For that reason, you’ll have to provide your long-distance moving company with exact information associated with length, height, and curb weight. In case your auto is oversized, then count on paying a higher price.

The Distance Between the States

One of the major factors of how much auto shipping will cost you is the distance to the desired location. The distance between origin and destination is crucial for determining the charge of shipping a car: the more miles and farther the destination, the higher expenses. If you want it transported farther away, it will be more expensive, but not as much as you would expect. Many movers offer cheaper rates for long-distance relocations, which may surprise you when you get a moving quote. The effort and time spent working on the trailer and the cars are generally the same for the driver and the rest of the crew. The only difference is how much time the carriers will spend on the road.

Open Trailer or Enclosed Trailer Auto Shipping

Another factor that defines the expenses is a type of car transport – open or enclosed. The type of trailer impacts the delivery date in terms of the number of transferred vehicles. The fewer vehicles and drop-offs, the faster the truck is.

Open auto transport is the most common type of transfer people choose since it is the cheapest way to ship the car. Using an open auto trailer allows you to save up to 40%, which is a considerable amount. And this also answers one of the most common questions, what’s the cheapest way to ship my car? Still, although it is the most affordable way of transporting, you should keep in mind that the vehicle is exposed to weather conditions, consequently influencing your auto’s safety by making it more prone to damages.

Enclosed carrier transportation is the more expensive one of the two options. It’s often used if you have just bought a new car and would like it shipped in the safest way possible. Maybe you are moving to another state and don’t want to drive your classic across the country yourself. Either way, remember that the enclosed carrier service is the safest solution, but also costs more. The main advantage is that your vehicle will be safe from the road and weather conditions, like dust, rain, snow, and hail.So, if you’re moving in winter, you should be especially careful in choosing the trailer. Using enclosed trailers in this case is a much better option.

Terminal-To-Terminal or Door-To-Door Transport

Now that you’re aware that the pickup and delivery location can affect the price of the services, let’s go over the two options that you’ll have at your disposal. You will have to choose between terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door transportation, depending on your preferences and your budget.

Most major cities have terminals, carrier hubs where you can drop off and pick up your vehicle. This is often the cheapest way to ship your car, especially if you live close to a terminal facility. However, if your car will be at the storage facility for a while, the additional storage fees can quickly add up. There is also the question of safety. You have to determine whether or not your car will be in a secure storage facility or an open lot with hundreds of other cars.

As the name suggests, door-to-door auto transport means that your car will be transported straight to a chosen location. Everything will be in your hands as you get to choose where the car will be picked up and where it will be dropped off. Depending on where you live, or where you want it transported, this option can be cheaper or more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping, but it’s definitely more convenient. It will cost you more if the driver has to take weird routes to get to your home. But, you will feel much better about the safety of your vehicle, knowing that it’s waiting for you in front of your new home.

Pickup and Delivery Locations Are Important

Where do you want your vehicle transported is also an important factor. Depending on the delivery location, the rates may differ. Larger cities and metro areas just have more companies available and are connected with major highways. This makes it easier for the trucks to go about their business and makes the relocation process both safer and faster.

In case you have just moved to a smaller town that’s off the beaten track, getting your car transported there will cost more. The door-to-door deliveries are the most expensive, so if you want some more affordable option, then consider picking up your four-wheeler in our regional terminal, specially designated for this purpose. It may significantly decrease the costs. If you are already moving on a budget, you can consider waiting for the car carrier along the highway, which will lower your total costs.

Do You Need It Transported as Soon as Possible?

First of all, unless you’re moving last-minute, you should research different shippers and arrange the auto transport two weeks or ten days before the moving day. Secondly, you should discuss the time of the pickup and delivery with the movers, and, if possible, get a guarantee of how long the relocation will take, especially if you decide to go with the door-to-door service. In case you want your car to be transported as soon as possible, you can pay extra for express delivery. In most cases, express delivery costs around 30% more than the standard one.

Delivery Time Has an Effect

The rate per mile is not the only factor to consider when calculating the costs of shipping a car cross country. Another element that tremendously affects the expenses is time. Or more precisely, how long does it take to ship a car, what time the carrier needs to deliver the automobile.

A single driver can roll 500 miles per day, so the date of delivery depends on the number of drop-offs, too. Some general rule on the average period needed to deliver the car would look like this:

  • East Coast to West Coast, 5–14 days,
  • Midwest to East Coast, 3–8 days,
  • South to North, 3–8 days.

Knowing all this will provide you with time orientation and help you book a date with the car shipping company in time and avoid one of the most common moving mistakes – late transportation scheduling and last-minute moving.

Season of Your Relocation Can Affect How Much Shipping a Car Costs

The timing of the move can also affect how much you will have to pay for car relocation. In case you are moving during the holidays, car transportation may cost you more. The same goes for relocating during summer, as that’s the most popular season to move. Car carriers are in high demand, and the rates jump accordingly.

Relocating in bad weather, for example, if you are moving during the winter months, can also mean an additional fee. The additional price can vary between different companies, and it’s often between $100 and $500. Perhaps you are moving on a budget, and you’ve decided to do it during the winter as the rates are lower than when it comes to moving in the summer. Just keep in mind that due to the bad road and weather conditions, transporting your vehicle could end up costing you more, and might take more time.

Using an Online Calculator to Get an Idea of the Car Shipping Cost

Now that you know what to look for, you can search for helpful online auto shipping cost calculators. That is if you plan on checking how much everything would cost you, and want to get a rough idea before you get a quote from any carrier. Most calculators work by requesting the exact state you are moving from and the state you are moving to. Then you can select the type and make of the car that you want to be transported. The calculator will then give you a rough estimate so you will know how to organize your budget before you move.

In general, the most common rate is $1 per mile transported, with the rates going down when it comes to relocating long distance. On top of the rates, which can be fixed or not, there are additional costs that you should be aware of. Transporting larger vehicles can mean an added fee that can range from $75 to $150. In case you want your car to be loaded on the top, this request will be around $100. If you have chosen enclosed auto transport, then expect the price of the move to be about 80% percent higher than the standard. The only variable that can vary greatly is the price of gas, because it depends on the economy and the current market, and can differ from state to state.

Get a Quote From Different Companies

Going with the first company that offers you an amazing shipping quote is a bad idea. This is why getting many different quotes is among the most popular tips and advice that you will get. After you have researched different movers, get quotes from the ones that you find most suitable. Then you can create a shortlist that will help in your decision-making process. Comparing the quotes will give you a good idea of what seems too good to be true, and which business offers reasonable prices.

a mover holding a box on his shoulder
Don’t make any rash decisions before you get quotes from different movers

How to Prepare an Automobile for Auto Transport

The very first step you need to undertake is to prepare the car for shipping. No matter if you decide to drive it on your own or hire a professional freight company, this means that you’ll have to see the mechanic and perform all the necessary repairs.

The second step is to clean out the car of all personal belongings and other stuff. Still, most companies will set a weight limit for belongings that can be left in a vehicle. Also, most transportation companies insist on removing the gas out of the tank down to a quarter, which will be just enough for you to drive it home after a pick-up.

The third step is to take pictures of the car from inside and outside, from many angles. This is important in the case that something happens, and the service provider is asking you to prove the previous state of your automobile. With these photos, you will be absolutely secured in case of an accident, while your shipper will be responsible for reimbursing the damage.

 Man is holding his mobile phone with both hands and taking pictures of its black automobile.
Don't forget to take the pictures of your automobile before it gets on a truck, ready for transfer

Hiring the Right Auto Transport Company to Ship Your Car

You will have to choose the long-distance movers able to suit your cross-country moving needs and budget the most. The cheapest services can also be the most dangerous choice. On the other hand, the most expensive one doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the best service.

This is why you should contact the companies on your shortlist before you make any crucial decisions. Not only to get a moving quote but to talk about the service you need as well. You can find out if they can help you out with any special requests and whether or not the company can help you out. In case you have already hired movers for their packing and moving services, don’t be afraid to ask if they offer auto transport services, as well. If it’s a business you can place your trust in with your household belongings, such as Flat Price Moving & Auto Transport, then you can trust them to ship your vehicle as well.


How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Within the Same State?

The cost to ship a car within the same state can vary depending on a few factors, such as the distance between the pickup and delivery locations, the type of transport service you choose, and any additional services you may require. It’s important to get a detailed quote from the company beforehand and to review their pricing and policies to ensure that you’re getting a fair price for the services you need.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

The final cost depends on several factors, including the distance, the type of transport service chosen, and the specific make and model of the car. To get an accurate quote for your specific car shipping needs, it’s best to contact a reputable auto transport company and provide them with the necessary information.

How Is the Cost of Shipping a Car Calculated?

Firstly, the distance between the pickup and delivery locations is a major factor in determining the cost, with longer distances typically resulting in higher costs. Additionally, the type of transport service you choose can impact the price, with enclosed transport generally costing more than open transport. The size and weight of your car can also impact the cost, as larger and heavier vehicles may require special equipment or handling. Finally, any additional services you may require, such as expedited shipping or extra insurance coverage, can also impact the overall cost.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Shipping a Car

Several factors can affect the cost of shipping a car, including the distance between the pickup and delivery locations, the type of transport service chosen (such as open or enclosed transport), the size and weight of the car, any additional services requested, and the time of year. The specific make and model of the car can also impact the cost, as some vehicles may require special handling or equipment. It’s important to provide the car shipping company with as much information as possible to get an accurate quote for your car shipping needs.

Is It More Expensive to Ship a Car During Peak Moving Season?

Yes, it is generally more expensive to ship a car during peak moving season. This is because peak relocation season, typically occurring in the summer months, is when many people are relocating and demand for relocation and shipping services is high. As a result, shipping companies may increase their rates due to the increased demand and limited availability of trucks and drivers. Additionally, during peak season, routes can become congested, leading to longer delivery times and potential delays, which can also contribute to higher shipping costs.

Are There Any Discounts Available for Shipping a Car?

Yes, there are often discounts available for shipping a car, depending on the shipping company and the circumstances of your shipment. For example, some shipping companies, such as Flat Price Moving & Auto Transport, offer discounts if you decide to combine auto transport with other relocation services. It’s important to shop around and compare rates from multiple shipping companies to find the best deal for your specific needs. Be sure to also ask about any available discounts or promotions to potentially save money on your car shipment.

How Do I Get an Accurate Quote for Shipping My Car?

To get an accurate quote for shipping your car, there are several important factors to consider:

  • Distance – the distance your car needs to be shipped is one of the most significant factors that affect the shipping cost. The longer the distance, the more expensive the shipping will be.
  • Vehicle type – larger and heavier vehicles may require specialized equipment and more labor to transport, leading to a higher shipping cost.
  • Pickup and delivery locations – particularly if they are in hard-to-reach or remote areas that may require additional time and resources.
  • Shipping method – the shipping method you choose, such as open or enclosed transport, can also affect the cost. Enclosed transport is generally more expensive than open transport because it provides additional protection for your vehicle.

Can I Negotiate the Cost of Shipping My Car?

Yes, it is often possible to negotiate the cost of shipping your car with a car shipping company or broker. Shipping rates can vary depending on factors such as distance, type of transport, time of year, and demand. Therefore, it is recommended to compare quotes from multiple companies to determine the market rate for your specific situation. Once you have a baseline, you can negotiate with the company by asking for a discount, inquiring about any promotions or special deals, or discussing any other factors that could potentially lower the cost. However, it is important to keep in mind that shipping companies have their own operating costs and profit margins, so negotiating too aggressively may not always be successful.

Are There Any Hidden Fees or Charges When Shipping a Car?

Yes, there can be hidden fees or charges when shipping a car, so it is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any shipping agreement before signing it. Some common fees or charges that may not be immediately apparent include fuel surcharges, insurance fees, storage fees, terminal fees, and additional fees for oversized or modified vehicles. It is also possible that a company may add additional fees or charges during the shipping process for reasons such as delays or changes in the route. To avoid surprises, it is recommended to obtain a detailed breakdown of all charges and fees upfront, as well as to read reviews and research the reputation of the car shipping company.

How Do I Know if the Cost of Shipping My Car Is Reasonable?

To determine if the cost of shipping your car is reasonable, it is important to obtain quotes from multiple reputable companies or brokers and compare them. You can use online tools or contact companies directly to request quotes, and make sure to provide accurate information about your car, pickup and delivery locations, and desired timeframe. Once you have collected several quotes, review them carefully and consider factors such as the level of service, shipping method, insurance coverage, and any additional fees or charges. Be wary of quotes that are significantly lower than others, as they may not include all necessary services or could be a sign of an unreliable auto transport company. Conversely, quotes that are significantly higher than others may not necessarily indicate better service or value. To get a better sense of the market rate for car shipping, you can also consult industry resources and online forums for advice from other car owners who have shipped their vehicles.

Should I Choose the Cheapest Car Shipping Company?

Choosing the cheapest car shipping company may not always be the best option. While it may be tempting to go with the lowest price, it is important to consider other factors such as the level of service, insurance coverage, and reputation of the company. Some cheap car shipping companies may cut corners or offer subpar services to keep costs low, which can lead to delays, damage to your car, or hidden fees. Additionally, some companies may lure customers in with low initial quotes, only to add on additional fees later in the shipping process. To avoid these potential issues, it is recommended to research and compare multiple long-distance moving services, paying attention to their reputation, level of insurance coverage, and customer service ratings.

What Insurance Options Are Available When Shipping a Car?

The type and level of insurance coverage may vary depending on the car shipping company, so it is important to review the terms and conditions carefully before signing any agreement. One of the most common insurance options for car shipping includes basic liability insurance. Basic liability insurance is typically included in the cost of shipping and provides coverage for damage or loss caused by the shipping company or its employees, up to certain limits.

Can I Ship My Car Internationally and How Much Does It Cost?

Yes, it is possible to ship your car internationally, but the cost will depend on various factors such as the distance, mode of transportation, and the size of the vehicle. Shipping a car by sea is usually the most cost-effective option, with prices varying depending on the origin and destination ports, as well as the type of service required. Generally, the cost of shipping a car internationally can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It’s important to research and compare different shipping options and providers to find the best deal that suits your needs and budget.

What Happens if My Car Is Damaged During Shipping?

If your car is damaged during shipping, the first thing you should do is document the damage by taking photos or videos. Then, you should immediately notify the long-distance moving company that arranged the shipment. They will provide you with instructions on how to file a claim for the damages. The process for filing a claim and receiving compensation for damages will vary depending on the company and the terms of the contract. It’s important to carefully review the contract and understand the liability and insurance coverage offered by the shipping company before agreeing to the shipment.

How Do I Ensure a Smooth and Stress-Free Car Shipping Experience?

To ensure a smooth and stress-free car shipping experience, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable car shipping company. Read reviews and compare prices and services offered by different companies before making a decision. Make sure to carefully review and understand the contract  Before the shipment, clean your car and remove any personal belongings to prevent damage or theft during transport. Finally, stay in communication with the auto transport company, which will provide you with information about your vehicle while it’s being transported.

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