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How Expensive Is It To Ship A Car

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Introduction
  2. Detailed Examination of Factors Influencing Car Shipping Cost
  3. Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company
  4. Understanding the Car Shipping Process
  5. Trends in the Auto Transport Industry
  6. How to Save Money on Car Shipping
  7. Conclusion
How Expensive Is It To Ship A Car

The cost of shipping a car can vary extensively, influenced by several key factors including distance, vehicle type, transport method, and seasonality. On average, you might expect to pay around $1,150 to ship a car, but this figure can fluctuate anywhere from $550 to as much as $2,450. For shorter distances (500 miles or less), car shipping costs might average around $1.63 per mile or $893 in total. For medium distances (500-1500 miles), the cost is typically around $.93 per mile.

One major factor impacting car shipping prices is the mode of transport. Open transport, which is the most common method, is usually cheaper than enclosed transport. While enclosed transport offers more protection for the vehicle, it comes with a heftier price tag.

It's important to note that these are ballpark figures, and actual costs may vary depending on your unique situation. Therefore, it's always recommended to obtain quotes from multiple car shipping companies to ensure you're getting the best possible deal.


Shipping a car is a task that many individuals and businesses may find themselves needing to undertake. Whether you're relocating across the country, purchasing a vehicle from a distant location, or a dealer transporting a fleet of cars, understanding car shipping costs is crucial.

In 2023, the average cost to ship a car sits at around $1,290. However, this can vary depending on several factors like the type of vehicle being shipped, the distance it needs to travel, the current season, and the chosen method of transport.

Car shipping services are provided by a variety of auto transport companies, each with their own unique pricing structures and service offerings. Costs can range from 40 cents to $1.96 per mile, or from $500 to $2,000 for longer distances or cross-country shipments.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive look at how much it costs to ship a car. We'll delve into the factors that influence these costs, the differences between open and enclosed transport, and how to choose between various car shipping companies. We'll also provide tips on how you could potentially save on your car transport costs.

Whether you're a first-time shipper or have experience in transporting vehicles, this guide is designed to equip you with valuable insights to navigate the complexities of car shipping costs effectively.


Detailed Examination of Factors Influencing Car Shipping Cost

  • Distance and Location: Distance is one of the most significant factors in determining car shipping prices. As a rule of thumb, the further the distance, the higher the cost to ship a car. However, costs per mile decrease as the total distance increases. For instance, a 500-mile trip may cost around $1.63 per mile, while a 1500-mile trip might cost $.93 per mile. Location also plays a role in car shipping rates. If the pickup or delivery location is in a remote area or a place that's difficult for the transport truck to access, there may be additional charges. Major cities and locations close to highways typically have lower shipping rates.
  • Vehicle Details: The specifics of the vehicle being shipped, such as its size, weight, and operability, can significantly influence car shipping costs. Larger and heavier vehicles take up more space on the carrier and add to the weight the truck has to carry, increasing fuel consumption. Therefore, shipping a large SUV will typically cost more than shipping a compact car. Additionally, if the vehicle isn't operational and requires special equipment to load and unload, this can add to the cost. Some car shipping companies provide a car shipping calculator on their website to help you estimate these costs.
  • Type of Transport: The method of transport you choose is another crucial factor that affects car shipping prices. There are two main types: open car transport and enclosed auto transport. Open car transport is the most common and affordable method. Your vehicle is transported on an open trailer with other cars. However, it exposes your car to weather elements and road debris. On the other hand, enclosed auto transport provides more protection as the vehicle is transported inside a covered trailer, but it comes at a higher cost. It's often recommended for luxury, classic, or antique cars.
  • Season and Availability: The time of year can impact car shipping rates. Peak seasons like summer and early fall typically have higher demand for car shipping services, leading to higher prices. Conversely, shipping a car in the winter may be cheaper due to lower demand, but it might come with challenges like delays due to bad weather. Availability of carriers also affects the cost. If carriers are scarce in your area, the cost to ship your car might increase. Booking well in advance can help you secure better rates.
  • Type of Carrier: Car shipping companies offer different types of carriers, and the choice can influence the cost. Single-car carriers provide a dedicated service, transporting only your vehicle, which comes with a higher price tag. Multi-car carriers transport several vehicles at once, making them a more affordable option. Some companies also provide specialized carriers for unique needs, such as for transporting luxury or classic cars, which come at a premium.
  • Additional Services: Additional services can add to the overall cost of shipping a car. For instance, if you opt for door-to-door delivery instead of terminal-to-terminal, this convenience will cost more. Extra insurance coverage for peace of mind is another add-on that increases the cost. Some auto transport companies offer guaranteed pickup and delivery dates or expedited shipping at an additional cost. GPS tracking is another service that some companies offer, allowing you to track your vehicle during transit. Remember, while these services add to the total car transport costs, they also provide added convenience and reassurance.

Choosing the Right Car Shipping Company

When it comes to car shipping, choosing the right auto transport company is essential for a smooth and stress-free moving experience. Based on web research, some of the top-rated car shipping companies include Montway Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, SGT Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, Easy Auto Ship, and RoadRunner Auto Transport. Each company has its unique offerings and customer reviews, so it's crucial to consider several factors when making your choice.

Firstly, reputation matters. Look for a car shipping company with a strong track record and positive online reviews. For instance, Montway Auto Transport boasts over 80,000 online reviews showcasing their 5-star customer service. Similarly, SGT Auto Transport has delivered safe, reliable car shipping services to more than 34,000 customers across the US.

Next, consider the range of services offered. Some companies provide door-to-door service, which adds convenience but can also increase the cost to ship. Others may offer terminal-to-terminal service, which is typically cheaper but requires you to drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated locations.

Price is another important factor. While everyone wants cheap car shipping, it's essential to ensure that low cost doesn't compromise service quality. Use a car shipping calculator, if available, to get an estimate of the shipping cost. Remember, the cheapest quote isn't always the best. Beware of unusually low quotes as they may come with hidden fees or subpar service.

Lastly, customer service is key. Choose a car shipping company that provides excellent customer support throughout the shipping process. This includes clear communication, prompt responses to inquiries, and assistance in case of any issues during transit.


Understanding the Car Shipping Process

Understanding the car shipping process can help alleviate any anxiety you might have about entrusting your vehicle to a car transport service. Here's a step-by-step guide to what you can expect.

  • Research and Quote: Start by researching different car shipping companies and getting cost estimates. Many companies offer online quotes, like American Auto Shipping, which provides an instant car shipping estimate through their website. When comparing quotes, consider not just the price but also the services included and the company's reputation.
  • Booking: Once you've chosen a company, the next step is to book their services. This typically involves providing details about your vehicle and the pickup and delivery locations. Some companies may require a deposit at this stage.
  • Vehicle Pickup: On the scheduled date, the carrier will arrive to pick up your vehicle. Before loading, they will conduct a thorough inspection to note any existing damage for your protection. It's advisable to be present during this inspection.
  • Transport: Your vehicle is then loaded onto the carrier and transported to the destination. The length of time this takes depends on the distance and route. Some companies provide tracking so you can monitor your vehicle's progress.
  • Delivery: Upon arrival at the destination, the carrier will again inspect the vehicle before unloading. Make sure to check for any potential damage before signing off on the delivery. If door-to-door delivery was arranged, the vehicle would be delivered to the specified address. Otherwise, you'll need to pick it up from a designated location.
  • Payment: If you haven't already paid in full, the final payment is usually due at delivery. Payment methods vary by company, so be sure to confirm this beforehand.

Remember, every car shipping company may have its unique process, so it's crucial to understand their specific procedures. By knowing what to expect, you can ensure a smooth and successful car shipping experience.

The auto transport industry is continually evolving, driven by advances in technology, changing consumer preferences, and shifts in the global economy. Here are some current trends shaping the car shipping landscape in 2023.

  • Digitalization: The digital revolution has significantly impacted the auto transport industry. Many car shipping companies now offer online platforms where customers can easily obtain car shipping quotes, book services, track vehicle shipments, and make payments. This move towards digitalization has made the car shipping process more convenient and transparent.
  • Green Initiatives: As society becomes more environmentally conscious, many car shipping companies are exploring ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes investing in fuel-efficient carriers, utilizing optimal routes to minimize mileage, and offsetting emissions through various environmental initiatives.
  • Increased Demand for Enclosed Shipping: With the rise in luxury and classic car ownership, there's an increased demand for enclosed shipping. While it comes at a higher cost, it offers added protection for valuable vehicles, making it a popular choice among owners of high-end cars.
  • Door-to-Door Services: Convenience is king in today's fast-paced world. As such, door-to-door car shipping services are becoming increasingly popular. Customers appreciate the convenience of having their vehicle picked up from their location and delivered right to their destination.
  • Growth in International Shipping: With globalization and the ease of international trade, there's been growth in the demand for international car shipping. Whether it's for relocation, overseas purchases, or business needs, more people are shipping cars across borders than ever before.

How to Save Money on Car Shipping

Shipping a car can be a significant expense, but there are ways to save money on your vehicle shipment.

  • Plan Ahead: By planning your car shipment well in advance, you can avoid rush fees and have more time to compare car shipping quotes from various companies. This can help you secure a better deal.
  • Choose Open Transport: Open transport is typically cheaper than enclosed shipping. Unless you're shipping a luxury, classic, or antique car that requires extra protection, open transport can save you money.
  • Use Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping: While door-to-door service offers the ultimate convenience, it typically costs more. Opting for terminal-to-terminal shipping, where you drop off and pick up your vehicle at designated locations, can be a more economical choice.
  • Avoid Peak Seasons: If possible, try to avoid shipping your car during peak seasons like summer and early fall when demand is high, and prices tend to increase. Shipping in the off-peak season can lead to lower costs.
  • Negotiate: Don't be afraid to negotiate with car shipping companies. If you've received lower quotes elsewhere, let them know. They may be willing to match or even beat their competitor's price to win your business.

Remember, while saving money is essential, it shouldn't come at the expense of quality service. Always choose a reliable and reputable car shipping company to ensure your vehicle is in safe hands.



Navigating the world of car shipping can be complex, but with the right information and understanding, it doesn't have to be daunting. Knowing the factors that influence the cost to ship a car, from distance and vehicle details to the type of transport and additional services, can help you make informed decisions and potentially save on auto shipping costs.

Choosing the right car shipping company plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience. Look for a company with a strong reputation, excellent customer service, and a range of services that meet your specific needs.

Stay updated with the latest trends in the auto transport industry, from digitalization and green initiatives to the growing demand for enclosed shipping and door-to-door services. These trends not only influence the car shipping landscape but also offer opportunities for enhanced service and convenience.

Finally, while car shipping can be a significant expense, there are ways to save. Planning ahead, choosing open transport, opting for terminal-to-terminal shipping, avoiding peak seasons, and negotiating can all help reduce your car shipping cost.

Whether you're shipping your car across the state or across the country, understanding the ins and outs of car shipping can help ensure a successful vehicle transport experience.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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