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How much does it cost to ship a car from California?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Factors Influencing Shipping Costs
  2. Cost Breakdown by Transport Type
  3. Tips for Reducing Shipping Costs
  4. Preparing Your Car for Shipping
  5. Conclusion
How much does it cost to ship a car from California?

Are you planning to move out of the Golden State or have you purchased a vehicle from California? One of the first questions that might cross your mind is, "How much does it cost to ship a car from California?" Car shipping can seem like a complex process, but it's a common necessity for many individuals. Whether you're relocating for work, sending a car to a family member, or buying a vehicle from afar, understanding the costs involved in shipping a car is crucial. This article aims to provide you with a detailed guide on the factors that influence car shipping costs from California, helping you make informed decisions. From the type of transport to the time of year, we'll cover everything you need to know about California car shipping.

Shipping a car from California can vary widely in cost, primarily depending on the distance to the delivery location and the type of shipping service chosen. On average, the cost to ship a car from California ranges from $500 to $1,500 for short to medium distances (e.g., California to Nevada), and between $1,000 to $4,000 for longer distances (e.g., California to New York). These figures are meant to give you a ballpark estimate; actual rates can differ based on specific needs and circumstances.

Two main options affect car shipping costs significantly: open and enclosed transport. Open transport, the more economical choice, typically costs less than enclosed transport. Enclosed transport offers more protection for your vehicle against the elements and is recommended for luxury or classic cars, albeit at a higher price point. The time of year also plays a role, with prices potentially increasing during peak moving seasons due to higher demand. Understanding these basic cost factors can help you start planning your car shipping from California with more clarity.


Factors Influencing Shipping Costs

Several key factors influence the cost of shipping a car from California, making it important to consider each aspect when planning your auto transport.

  1. Distance and Location: The further the car needs to travel, the higher the cost will be. Delivery locations that are remote or harder to access can also drive up the price due to the extra time and fuel required.
  2. Type of Transport: As mentioned, you have the choice between open and enclosed transport. Open transport is more common and affordable, exposing vehicles to the elements but safely delivering them to their destination. Enclosed transport provides a shield against weather and road debris, offering a premium service at a higher cost. This option is particularly favored for shipping high-value, classic, or luxury cars.
  3. Vehicle Type and Condition: Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, take up more space on the carrier and weigh more, leading to higher shipping costs. Additionally, if your vehicle is not running, it will require extra equipment and labor to load and unload, increasing the price.
  4. Time of Year: Demand for car shipping services fluctuates throughout the year, affecting prices. Summer months and the end of the year are typically busier, leading to higher costs due to increased demand. Planning your shipment during off-peak times can lead to more favorable pricing.
  5. Insurance and Additional Services: Most car shipping companies offer basic insurance coverage in their quotes, but you may opt for additional coverage for peace of mind. Services like door-to-door delivery offer convenience but will add to the overall cost compared to terminal-to-terminal shipping.

Understanding these factors can help you navigate the complexities of auto transport and influence your decisions to ensure a smooth and cost-effective car shipping experience from California.

Cost Breakdown by Transport Type

When considering vehicle transport from California, understanding the difference in costs between open and enclosed shipping methods is crucial. Open transport is the most common and cost-effective option. Your vehicle is loaded onto an open trailer with other vehicles, exposed to the elements but securely transported. This method is ideal for standard models and is the go-to choice for those looking to balance efficiency with affordability. For a typical car, open transport can reduce car shipping costs significantly compared to enclosed options.

Enclosed transport, on the other hand, offers a premium service by protecting vehicles from weather and road debris in a fully covered trailer. This shipping method is preferred for luxury, classic, or high-value cars that require extra care. While enclosed transport can increase auto transport costs, the added protection is often worth the investment for owners of such vehicles. The cost difference between open and enclosed transport can vary, but enclosed transport can be up to 50% more expensive due to the specialized service and reduced capacity compared to open carriers.

For those needing to ship multiple vehicles, many auto transport companies offer discounts, which can make a significant difference in overall vehicle transport costs. Whether choosing open or enclosed transport, it's important to consider the size of your vehicle. Larger vehicles take up more space, potentially affecting the cost and the number of vehicles the carrier can transport simultaneously.


Tips for Reducing Shipping Costs

To minimize car shipping costs, consider these practical tips. First, flexibility in your pickup and delivery locations can lead to savings. Choosing terminal-to-terminal shipping over door-to-door service can reduce costs, as it saves the carrier time and resources. However, this means you'll need to arrange for your vehicle's drop-off and pickup at specified locations.

Another strategy is to be flexible with your shipping dates. Auto transport costs can fluctuate based on demand, so if you're able to ship your vehicle during off-peak seasons, you may benefit from lower rates. Additionally, shipping multiple vehicles at once can also lead to discounts. If you're moving with family or friends, consolidating your vehicle transport can offer significant savings.

Comparing quotes from different auto transport companies is also essential. Don't settle for the first quote you receive. Instead, gather multiple estimates to ensure you're getting a competitive rate. Be sure to verify the included services in each quote to make an accurate comparison.

Preparing Your Car for Shipping

Preparing your car for transport not only ensures its safety but can also influence the overall cost. Start by cleaning your vehicle inside and out. This allows for a more accurate inspection before transport, helping to identify any existing damage. Remove personal items and any loose parts or accessories that could be damaged or cause damage during transport. Reducing your vehicle's weight by minimizing fuel in the tank (around a quarter tank is recommended) can also impact vehicle transport costs slightly, especially when shipping multiple vehicles.

Ensure your car is in good running condition, as operational issues can increase the cost and complexity of loading and unloading. If your vehicle has any peculiarities, like a tricky ignition or a specific way to handle the brakes, inform the transport service beforehand. Proper preparation not only helps in reducing potential additional charges but also contributes to a smooth car transport service experience.



The cost of shipping a car from California is influenced by a variety of factors, including the distance to the delivery location, the type of transport (open or enclosed), the size and condition of the vehicle, the time of year, and any additional services required. By understanding these factors, you can make more informed decisions and potentially reduce your auto transport costs. For those looking to ship a car, working with a reputable company like A1 Auto Transport ensures that you receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your specific needs.

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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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A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

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Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

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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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