How Much Does It Cost To Ship a Car?

The average cost to ship a car is $1,000. However, there’s a lot more you need to know about the cost of car shipping.

From snowbirds shipping classic cars to winter homes in Florida, Arizona, and Southern California, to parents sending old beaters to college students on distant campuses, there are a variety of reasons why consumers use car transport services in the United States.

Though getting auto transport quotes is easy, the cheapest way may not always be the best.

Many car shipping calculators spit out instant quotes, but you’ll likely find that prices are all over the board—and they may not be particularly accurate.

If you’d rather let brokers do the legwork, they’ll take your information and contact the carriers they work with to see who’s willing to handle the move.

Sometimes they only deal with trusted partners, other times it’s just a matter of who’ll do it the cheapest.

Get quotes from top-rated car shipping companies now!

The Average Price to Ship a Car

Based on multiple quotes from a number of partner websites, we discovered that the average cost to ship a car is a little over $1,000.

But don’t panic!

This number may be larger than you were expecting, but remember, it’s just an average that includes figures from the priciest long-distance enclosed transport automobile moves.

If you need open transportation for a family car going a few hundred miles, you’ll pay much less.

Average Car Shipping Price by Transport Type

The cheapest way to ship a car is by open transport.

Our searches found that it can be as much as 70% less expensive than enclosed transport.

Type of transport Average price
Open $789
Enclosed $1,224
Difference $435

Variations Based on Vehicle Size and Type

Vehicle Type Open transport Enclosed transport Average cost
Car $676 $1,171 $924
SUV $784 $1,247 $1,016
Light truck $821 $1,298 $1,060

Costs were calculated by averaging the estimated prices for shipping three vehicle types across multiple lanes. Again, they’re based on a limited number of samplings, and therefore may not be applicable to your particular situation. Always get quotes based on your specific circumstances.

Cost Factors in Shipping a Car

Numerous factors affect the cost of shipping a car, often making it a frustrating and unpredictable endeavor for rookies.

  • Distance— the farther you’re going the more it’ll cost (usually)
  • Extra services— here we’re talking about things like enclosed transport and hauling a vehicle that’s not in working order
  • Season— it’s cheaper to ship a car in the fall and winter than the spring and summer
  • Vehicle type— bigger, heavier cars, pickup trucks and SUVS are more expensive to ship than subcompact
  • Vehicle value—there’s a premium associated with shipping extraordinarily valuable cars, because the company is assuming more risk
  • Geographic location—some lanes between cities like Miami and New York and Phoenix and LA have high year-round auto shipping volumes that may keep rates stable

Remember, shipping rates are subject to change on a dime, so the process of getting quotes needs to be a fluid one up until a few weeks before your proposed move date.

And always have a backup plan… or two.

How Bidding Works when Shipping a Car

First, let’s assume you’ll be using an auto transport broker.

Once you’ve given them your information, they’ll request bids from companies they work with.

However, most experienced brokers will quote prices even before they’ve received bids from their partners because they generally know what the rates are before you’ve stopped talking.

Let’s say they quote you a price of $1,400.

If they find a carrier willing to haul your vehicle for $900, they probably won’t mention that.

That extra $500 is their commission.

Commissions aren’t always that big—but sometimes they’re even bigger.

Like their household goods counterparts, some car shipping brokers have solid reputations, but nefarious players abound too.

The latter may lure you in with low prices and demand non-refundable deposits, knowing full well that your car will never get moved for the quoted price.

Many auto transport services use independent truck drivers.

These men and women own their own rigs, and when they’re offered unprofitable loads, they’re free to turn them down.

If you need to have your vehicle moved during the peak moving season (between June and September) and you get stiffed at the last minute, you’ll have a heck of a time finding an alternate option.

It’s an especially common occurrence when less than reputable auto shippers have more business than they can handle.

In scenarios like this, they often choose the best paying car shipments—and leave their other ‘customers’ high and dry.

Getting decent service at a reasonable price isn’t impossible, but you’ll need to put in the time and effort to ensure you’ve covered all the bases.

Or let us do it!

We’ve covered all of those bases. Having helped thousands of people move and ship their cars, we’ve been able to weed out the bad shippers and only work with reputable car shippers.

Going Carrier Direct

First off, dealing directly with an actual car carrier instead of a broker won’t guarantee a great experience.

That said, if they’re properly vetted, chances are good that things will go smoothly.

A particularly safe (though sometimes pricy) option is to use the in-house car hauling fleets operated by the large national van lines.

Some have hundreds of car haulers working exclusively for them, and though they may subcontract work during peak times, they usually only deal with reputable companies.

Remember, many van lines do significant business with corporate customers that demand superior service.

Though you may not be associated with a corporation, you can still take advantage of the transportation services they use, and the premium you pay might be negligible when all factors are considered.

There are plenty of independent auto transport services too.

Many of them go the extra mile to exceed their customer’s expectations, but finding them isn’t easy.

Car Shipping Terms

  • Open (standard) transport— when vehicles are shipped on trailers with open tops and sides. This is how most vehicles are transported, including new ones from factories and ports to dealerships
  • Enclosed transport— when valuable, vintage and race cars are shipped in enclosed trailers to prevent exposure to weather and flying road debris like sand and rocks
  • Inoperable vehicle— vehicles that aren’t able to move under their own power. Inoperable vehicles may still be moved, but they require special equipment and therefore cost more
  • Lanes— an industry term for routes between major transportation hubs. For example, Phoenix to Los Angeles and Chicago to Las Vegas are both big auto shipping lanes
  • Expedited delivery— when customers pay extra to have their vehicles delivered more quickly than they normally would be. This may be necessary if they’re scheduled to be in races, parades, or car shows
  • Exclusive use— when a customer reserves an entire trailer, even though they may only be shipping one or two vehicles. This is a popular option for priceless, vintage, and truly one-of-a-kind automobiles
  • Door-to-Door service— when a vehicle shipping company transports a customer’s vehicle directly from one location to the other. Customers looking to save a few bucks may alternately have their vehicle shipped from or delivered to a nearby metropolitan area or company terminal

Common Car Shipping Myths

“All auto transport companies are the same.”

Not by a long shot.

Some have been providing high-quality services at reasonable prices for decades.

Others change their names three times a year because their business models involve bilking unsuspecting customers and dodging federal regulators.

Hands down, the best way to avoid being a victim is by doing your research, and using a company you can trust.

“Bad weather and traffic jams may increase cost.”

Say what?

Under no circumstances should inclement weather or unforeseen traffic issues result in additional charges.
Period.

Bring this up on the front-end when you’re screening companies.

Issues like these may legitimately delay delivery, but if you’re told you may be financially responsible for things over which you have no control, run for the hills.

“The price I was quoted will be my final cost.”

Though we often assume estimates are fixed, sometimes they’re not.

If you change dates or decide to move a Hummer instead of a Prius, the cost will definitely go up.

But if you haven’t changed dates or any other move details, there’s no reason this should be the case.

This is precisely why you’ll want to read a sample copy of the contract BEFORE signing on the dotted line.

If they’re unwilling to share their contract with you, it’s not a good sign.

Average Vehicle Shipping Cost by Distance

Open transport Enclosed transport Average cost
Less than 150 miles $260 $509 $385
150 to 500 $604 $949 $777
501 to 1,000 $984 $1,459 $1,222
1,001 to 1,500 $1,127 $1,508 $1,318
More than 1,500 $1,332 $1,944 $1,638

*Costs were calculated from partner websites using multiple lanes, vehicle models, transport types, and dates. The auto transportation market is subject to wide price swings, so the above figures should be used as general points of reference only.

FAQ

1. How much does it cost to ship a car?

Usually between about $400 and $2,000.

The actual cost will depend on vehicle condition and value, distance, the time of year, and if it’s a car, truck, or SUV.

2. What is the cheapest way to ship a car?

Funny you should ask. We have an article answering just that.

Check out: The Cheapest Way to Ship a Car

3. How much does it cost to ship a car from New York to Los Angeles?

About $1,300 on the low side, to more than twice that for an SUV in an enclosed trailer.

4. What is the best company to ship a car?

There are a number of top auto shipping companies we’ve already vetted for you.

5. What is the average cost-per-mile to ship a car?

Based on national averages, it usually costs about $1.30 per mile to ship a car.

If your car is moving a short distance, however, the rate will likely be higher.

For long-distance automobile relocations, the rate-per-mile can be significantly less.

Like opting for a jumbo bottle of ketchup instead of a tiny one, there are built-in discounts for buying in bulk—in this case, bulk miles.

6. Do car transport costs depend on the shipping company?

Yes, car transport costs can vary greatly from one company to another.

Companies consider a number of factors before determining how much they’ll charge for a job.

7. How much does it cost to transport a car from Miami to Chicago?

About $940 on the low side, to nearly $1,400 for an inoperable vehicle in an enclosed trailer.

8. What is the average price to ship a car on an open carrier?

The average price is slightly less than $700, but actual costs can range from just over $300 on short moves, to well over $1,500 on the longest.

9. Does car shipping cost a lot?

It can.

You can often save big bucks by moving during the non-peak months, and by being flexible with pick-up and delivery locations and dates.

Auto transport companies love flexible customers!

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