How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car

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So you need to move your car across the country, but super long road trips aren’t always the peachiest experiences in the world, especially if you’re moving. Did you know that moving is the most stressful life event in the United States coming out on top over divorce and even family member death. Disrupting your living situation can be traumatic, but moving your car doesn’t have to be.

If you are wondering if you can ship your vehicle across the country, the answer is yes you absolutely can, but it will cost you to do so. On average, shipping a car across the country will cost you $1100. The cheapest way to do this is by calling around for the best quote among all companies and choosing the least expensive option. The smaller your car is and the shorter the distance it needs to be transported the less you will pay.

Cost Of Shipping A Car

The average cost of shipping a car that weighs about 2 tons is $1,080 for an open style car carrier (the ones where the car is in open air) and $1,500 for a closed carrier where the vehicle is protected from the elements. Of course, there are quite a few factors that influence this cost and the price of shipping the same car on a different day can vary based on driver availability and a slew of other factors.

The best way to estimate your cost is to call a car shipping service and get a quote, however we have provided some rough estimates below based primarily on the most influential factors.

Common Factors That Affect the Cost Of Shipping a Car

Size and weight are very important factors that influence how much you will spend, the bigger the car the greater the cost. However there are other factors that you may not have considered, let’s look into them further.

Timeframe To Ship

If you need a car moved fast, it’s going to cost you more to make your delivery a priority to whichever carrier bids on your contract. A tight time frame will lead you to a steeper price in every scenario, but if you have more flexibility in when the car can reach it’s destination then you can save yourself some cash. On average a car delivery will take between 5 and 21 days to make which will be impacted by how far the trip is.

Convenience Of Shipping

Another factor that will impact price is where the car is being picked up and dropped off. If you are driving the vehicle and dropping it off at the terminal it will cost you less, but you will have to spend the time to take the car in and arrange transportation for yourself home. The same thing goes with drop off.

Where The Car Is Coming From And Going To

If you live in the middle of Montana in an area that isn’t highly trafficked, your car is going to cost more to ship versus someone who lives in a large city like Dallas, TX. If your vehicle is being picked up or dropped off somewhere off of the beaten path you can expect your cost to be higher than the average.

Open Vs. Closed Transport

The open air trailers are the ones you likely identify as car carriers. These are the trailers that have multiple vehicle piled up and you can see them from the road. The cars are exposed to all the natural elements as well as some road debris that may bounce up. The trailer does not have walls or a ceiling.

Closed car carriers you have likely passed and never realized the truck was hauling vehicles, the truck looks like any other 18 wheeler you’d pass on the highway whose freight is unknown. These types of car carriers are harder to find and tend to be significantly more expensive at 1.5x the cost of an open air trailer. Most people do not need a closed carrier, they are designed to transport rare and expensive vehicles.

  • Antique cars
  • Classic cars
  • Custom cars
  • Exotic cars
  • Luxury cars
Transport typeAverage cost
Open transport$1,080
Enclosed transport$1,500

Distance Shipped

The most telling factor in determining price is the distance that the car is being shipped. The further the distance, the higher the price. Less miles = less cost for you when the bill comes for the shipping.

Open transport costEnclosed transport costAverage cost
<500 miles$470$630$780
500-1,000 miles$790$1,120$960
1,000-1,500 miles$1,070$1,510$1,290
1,500-2,000 miles$1,320$1,730$1,530
2,000-2,500 miles$1,360$1,850$1,600
>2,500 miles$1,350$1,830$1,590

How Large Is The Car

Size and weight are big factors for determining the cost of shipping a vehicle. If you have an SUV that is large and in charge you will pay more to ship the car. Overall dimensions are a factor as well as the weight of the vehicle. If you have a compact car like a smart car you can expect to pay far less than the average to ship your car, because it doesn’t burn as much fuel to carry and it takes up less space.

Average car shipping cost by vehicle size

Average costOpen transportEnclosed transport
Car$970$1,340$1,150
SUV$1,080$1,480$1,280
Truck$1,210$1,680$1,450

Price Of Fuel

A huge cost for a trucker is the cost of fuel. For this reason it also has a big impact on how much the consumer will pay. The cost of fuel is transferred directly to the customer. If fuel prices go up 5% you can expect carrier costs to rise 5% as well. Fuel costs are possibly the biggest variable expense associated with auto transport and they do affect what you’ll pay to ship a vehicle.

Is The Car Able To Be Driven

The car has to get on and off of the carrier and the easiest way for this to happen is for the car to be driven onto the truck. If the car doesn’t run, this can lead to a more complicated process as the car will have to be pulled or pushed onto and off of the carrier. This inconvenience will cost the owner of the car more money. If the car doesn’t drive, expect to pay more to ship it.

How to Save Money When Shipping a Vehicle

Most costs associated with shipping a car are out of your control. You need the car shipped to a certain spot and you can’t shrink the car without replacing it with a new car. You’re usually stuck with what you’ve got.

You can save money by shopping around for the best quote. Call multiple places before purchasing a service.

Other Ways To Move Your Vehicle

There are other options other than shipping your vehicle, they include:

  • Shipping the vehicle
  • Driving the car yourself
  • Attaching it to the back of a moving truck
  • Hiring someone else to drive the car

Driving The Car Yourself

You need to factor in a few things when considering if it is worth it to drive your car instead of shipping it. You need to take into account the mileage you’ll be putting on the car. Los Angeles is 2,800 miles from New York City by car, and putting that many miles on your vehicle can devalue it.

You also need to put a value on your time. How much do you make per hour? If you were to work the 30+ hours that you’re going to spend driving how much would you make? Another thing to factor in is the cash that you have on hand and if you have to opportunity to better utilize your time. Consider your current financial situation and money making prospects. It may make more sense for some people to drive the car themselves while others would have a large opportunity cost for doing so.

Cost Of Driving The Car Yourself

It’s tough to put a monetary amount on this, but you can evaluate the cost of these factors to estimate how much driving your car will cost you.

  • Cost of car devaluation due to mileage
  • Cost of fuel
  • Cost of room and board if you decide to stay in a hotel or Airbnb
  • Cost of your time
  • Cost of the liability of driving your vehicle
  • Cost of the chance you will be in a bad accident

Attaching the Car To The Back Of A Moving Truck

If you decided to move your belongings using a moving truck than your best option could be to attach your vehicle to the back of it and towing. You won’t rack up mileage by towing a vehicle because most cars use an electric odometer system that only counts wheel rotation when the car is propelling itself.

Cost Of Towing Your Car Behind A Moving Truck

Towing your car behind a moving truck will add extra expenses to your overall cost. Uhaul and Budget will both cost just under $700 to add the tow dolly and the auto transport trailer to a truck.

Hiring Someone Else To Drive The Car

Hiring a driveway service, AKA having someone else drive your car to another state can be an awesome option. There are pros and cons to this service, but overall it can be perfect for the right person.

Cost Of Having Someone Else Drive Your Vehicle

There are a few important factors that will heavily impact the cost of hiring a driveway service. They include

  • The type of car you own
  • Mechanical condition
  • The time of year and how busy the company is
  • How expensive gasoline is at the time.
  • The type of auto transport service you require
  • Where the car needs to be picked up from and delivered to (and how remote the locations are)

It’s very difficult to pin down an exact estimate without calling and getting one yourself from a company, However there is an average range. Here is a table that gives the average price per mile. 

DistanceType of transportAvg. price per mileSample distanceSample price
0-500 milesOpen$0.80250 miles$200
500-1000 milesOpen$0.73700 miles$511
1000-1500 milesOpen$0.701000 miles$700
1500-2000 milesOpen$0.481750 miles$840
2000-2500 milesOpen$0.372400 miles$888
2500-3000 milesOpen$0.352700 miles$945
3000+ milesOpen$0.333200 miles$1122

Benefits

  • You can have the car dropped off anywhere, even at the airport and have the car checked in for you by the driver.
  • The driver and car are insured by the company reducing your liability
  • The car is inspected for you
  • Experienced driver

Drawbacks

  • You don’t know how your vehicle is being driven
  • Wear and tear on the vehicle
  • Your car’s mileage will increase substantially
  • Your car may not be accepted for driver safety concerns if it is older or mechanically declining
  • It may be only slightly cheaper than having the car transported on a truck
  • Minor wear and tear will not be covered including hail, paint damage and tire wear.

FAQ About Shipping Cars

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?

On average it costs about $1,100 to ship a car. Costs can range from about $500 to transport your car a few hundred miles on an open carrier to more than $2,500 to ship a vehicle in a closed car carrier.

What Is The Average Cost Per Mile To Ship A Car?

It costs on average 85 cents per mile to ship a vehicle, however this average is for a standard vehicle. Larger cars will cost more money to move. Other factors include distance, the route and what time of year you are hoping to have your car shipped. This cost will also vary from company to company.

Does Cost Of Shipping A Vehicle Vary Based On The Company?

Yep! The cost will vary from company to company as stated above. You should always call around and get multiple quotes for car transport before settling on one.

Can I Pack My Car Before I Ship It?

Yes you can pack things in your vehicle and really load up the car before you ship it, however there are a few things that you should know before you decide to do this.

Is It Legal To Pack Your Car Before Shipping It?

Yes. It is technically a legal practice to pack up your car before you ship it according to the department of transportation. Well, it hasn’t been declared against the law at this point for you to ship your household or personal items in the car. Most companies will have their own rules for this practice though. Let’s talk about it further

It Will Cost You More To Pack The Car

One of the main variable costs of shipping a car is the cost of fuel that the freighter burns. The heavier loaded the truck is the more fuel the company will have to purchase. For this reason most companies will have a weight limit in their quote that is based off of the make and model of the vehicle.

If you fail to stay under this weight limit the company will likely charge you fees or you may even be rejected from having your car put on the truck, though they will likely keep your deposit for reserving a spot on the truck.

If you go over 200lbs past what the car should weigh then you will likely see additional fees. The fees will be less severe if you are making a quick trip and greater if the trip is longer to offset the additional fuel costs. So if you are shipping your car under 500 miles this may not be as big of a deal.

Talk to the vehicle carrier and see what the limitations are in terms of additional weight and see if it makes sense to pay the extra amount to move your belongings in your car. In some cases it may be cheaper to send them via an air carrier or to put them in a moving truck.

The Benefits and Downsides Of Shipping Your Car With Personal Items Inside

Bennefits

  • You are able to take more with you
  • More stable than packing things in a moving truck
  • You can fit a fair amount of things in your car

Downsides

  • It will cost you extra
  • You may not be able to bring as much as you would like
  • You risk being robbed
  • An extra communication step

The Risks Of Shipping Items In Your Car

Most car carriers ask that you keep personal items outside of the line of site for the purpose of reducing theft. If the car appears to be empty or everything is in the trunk then the vehicle is less likely to be vandalized for what is inside. If the car is vandalized the car carrier is liable.

Most of these car carriers are stopped at rest areas, restaurants and hotels. The truck likely isn’t going to be driving straight through which gives plenty of time for people to break into your car if they think there is something valuable inside. If your car is filled up this makes the likelihood of a break in much more possible.

This is a good practice to observe at all times with your vehicle. You don’t ever want to leave valuables where they can be seen by someone looking for an easy opportunity to rob you. Keep all personal items hidden below the window lines or in the trunk or glove box of the vehicle.

If You Plan On Shipping Items In Your Car Follow These Guidelines

You can’t eliminate all risk when it comes to shipping items in your vehicle. Someone may still decide to break into your car even if you follow the guidelines, your items may be damaged even if packed properly, something you packed may rip the seats, you never know what might happen. There are a few ways to avoid having misfortune fall on your vehicle when shipping it with personal items inside. Check out these best practices to keep you , your car and your personal items safe while in transit.

  • Keep high priced items out of your vehicle when shipping it and on your person instead
  • Keep al items below the line of vision when packing the car to avoid theft
  • Carefully package items to avoid damaging them
  • Make sure items will not tear or destroy your seats or carpeting
  • Don’t ship a lot of extra weight to avoid increasing costs
  • Check with the company and communicate about how you plan to pack your vehicle.
  • Don’t ever leave things in the driver seat because someone will be driving your car onto the truck and off of the truck.

Is It Worth It To Ship A Vehicle?

So you need to move your car across the country, but super long road trips aren’t always the peachiest experiences in the world, especially if you’re moving. Did you know that moving is the most stressful life event in the United States coming out on top over divorce and even family member death. Disrupting your living situation can be traumatic, but moving your car doesn’t have to be.

If you are wondering if you can ship your vehicle across the country, the answer is yes you absolutely can, but it will cost you to do so. On average, shipping a car across the country will cost you XYZ. The cheapest way to do this is by using X service and you can put things in the vehicle when you ship your car.

Does AAA offer car transport?

Yes AAA the roadside assistance company does ship cars, trucks and vans using their AAA Discount Auto and Truck transporters. Their experienced staff services all 48 states and offers a fair price point for their service. All AAA auto transport carriers are bonded, licensed and insured and the experienced drivers keep safety as their number one concern.

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