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

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Estimated Costs for Shipping a Car Within California
  2. Factors Influencing Shipping Costs
  3. Distance and Location
  4. Type of Transport
  5. Vehicle Size and Weight
  6. Service Type
  7. Time of Year
  8. Additional Costs to Consider
  9. Saving Money on Car Shipping in California
  10. Conclusion
How much does it cost to ship a car in California?

When it comes to moving a vehicle across the Golden State, one of the first questions that pops up is, "How much does it cost to ship a car in California?" Whether you're a car dealer, a new resident, or simply looking to transport your vehicle to another part of the state, understanding the costs involved is crucial. California car shipping can vary significantly based on several factors, which we will explore in this article. From the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the scenic routes of the Pacific Coast Highway, we'll guide you through everything you need to know about car shipping costs in California, ensuring you're well-informed to make the best decision for your auto transport needs.


Estimated Costs for Shipping a Car Within California

Shipping a car in California can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on various factors. On average, the shipping cost for a standard sedan can range between $500 to $1,000 for intra-state transport. However, this is a broad estimate, and the actual cost can vary. Factors such as the type of transport (open-air or enclosed transport), the distance between pickup and delivery locations, the size and weight of the vehicle, and the time of year all play significant roles in determining the final price. For those looking for cheap car shipping options, open-air transport during off-peak seasons might offer the most economical choice. Meanwhile, enclosed transport is preferred for luxury or classic cars, albeit at a higher cost. It's essential to get a personalized quote from reputable California car shippers for the most accurate pricing.

Shipping a car in California can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on various factors. Below is a quick overview of the average cost range for shipping a car within California, based on current market rates:

DistanceOpen-Air TransportEnclosed Transport
Under 100 miles$100 - $200$200 - $300
100-500 miles$250 - $600$350 - $800
Over 500 miles$600 - $1,000$800 - $1,400

This table clearly differentiates the cost ranges for shipping a car using open-air transport versus enclosed transport, based on the distance the vehicle is being shipped.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the provided shipping cost is an estimate and the actual rate may vary.

Factors Influencing Shipping Costs

Distance and Location

The distance your car needs to travel is one of the primary factors affecting the shipping cost. Generally, the longer the distance, the higher the cost. However, shipping a car over a longer distance might result in a lower cost per mile but a higher overall price. Additionally, shipping from and to major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego might be cheaper due to the higher volume of shipments, compared to more rural or remote areas in California.

Type of Transport

There are mainly two types of auto transport: open-air and enclosed transport. Open-air transport is the most common and affordable option, where vehicles are shipped on an open trailer. This method is perfectly safe for most vehicles but exposes them to the elements. On the other hand, enclosed transport provides additional protection from weather and road debris, making it a preferred choice for shipping high-value, luxury, or classic cars. As expected, enclosed transport comes at a premium, often costing 40-60% more than open-air shipping.

Vehicle Size and Weight

The size and weight of your vehicle directly impact the shipping cost. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, take up more space on the carrier and add to the weight, leading to higher charges compared to compact cars. Auto transport companies often have specific brackets for vehicle sizes, and knowing where your vehicle falls can help you estimate the cost more accurately.

Service Type

You can choose between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal car shipping services. Door-to-door shipping offers the convenience of having your car picked up and delivered to specific addresses, saving you time and hassle. However, this convenience comes at a higher cost compared to terminal-to-terminal shipping, where you're responsible for dropping off and picking up your vehicle at designated locations.

Time of Year

The time of year can significantly affect your car shipping cost in California. Demand for auto transport services fluctuates, with prices typically peaking during the summer months and around the start of the new year. If you're looking for cheap car shipping, consider scheduling your shipment during the off-peak seasons, like late fall or early winter.

Understanding these factors can help you navigate the complexities of California car shipping costs, allowing you to budget accordingly and choose the best shipping option for your needs.


Additional Costs to Consider

When calculating the cost to ship a car in California, it's essential to factor in additional expenses that can affect the overall price. One significant extra cost is car insurance. While all reputable car shipping companies will have their insurance, ensuring your vehicle has adequate coverage during transport is crucial. This might mean purchasing additional insurance for peace of mind, especially for high-value vehicles.

Fuel prices also play a role in the shipping cost. As fuel prices fluctuate, so do the costs associated with transporting your vehicle. Higher fuel prices mean higher costs to operate the transport truck, which, in turn, increases the price of shipping your car.

Another potential additional cost is for special requests, such as a free car wash before delivery, which some companies offer as part of their premium services. While not a significant expense, it's an added value that can enhance your auto shipping experience, particularly if you're receiving a luxury vehicle in San Francisco and want it in pristine condition upon arrival.

Lastly, if you opt for enclosed shipping, expect to pay more than you would for open-air transport. Enclosed shipping provides extra protection against the elements and road debris, making it a preferred option for transporting high-value cars. This shipping method, while more expensive, offers greater peace of mind for owners of luxury or classic cars.

Saving Money on Car Shipping in California

Everyone loves to save money, and when it comes to shipping your car in California, there are several strategies to help reduce costs. Planning ahead can significantly impact the price. Booking your auto transport well in advance can secure you a better rate, as last-minute shipments often come at a premium due to the urgency and lower availability of transport options.

Gathering and comparing quotes from various car shipping companies is an effective strategy to guarantee you secure the best deal available. Don't settle for the first quote you receive. Instead, gather several quotes to compare prices and services. Look for companies that offer a free quote without any commitment, allowing you to explore your options thoroughly.

Being flexible with your pickup and delivery dates can also help you save money. If you're not in a rush, you can opt for a more cost-effective shipping method by allowing the auto shipping company to schedule your transport during a less busy time, potentially lowering the cost.

Choosing the right shipping method can also impact the overall cost. While enclosed shipping offers more protection, it's significantly more expensive than open-air transport. If you're shipping a standard vehicle and want to save money, open-air transport is a reliable and cheaper option.



Understanding the cost to ship a car in California involves considering various factors, including the distance, type of transport, vehicle size, and additional costs like insurance and fuel prices. By being informed and considering the tips provided, you can make a more educated decision that fits your needs and budget. Remember, the cheapest option may not always be the best choice, especially when shipping valuable vehicles that require extra care.

To ensure you're getting the most accurate and competitive pricing, it's advisable to contact reputable car shipping companies for personalized quotes. These companies can offer detailed information based on your specific requirements, helping you to navigate the complexities of auto transport with ease. Whether you're shipping your car to or from San Francisco or any other part of California, taking the time to research and plan your auto transport can lead to significant savings and a stress-free experience.

Ready to ship your car in California with confidence? Contact A1 Auto Transport today for a personalized, no-obligation quote! Our expertise ensures your vehicle arrives safely and affordably. Don't wait, secure the best service and price for your car shipping needs now. Click here to get started!

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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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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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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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