Is It Cheaper To Drive My Car Across Country Or To Have It Shipped?

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Is It Cheaper To Drive My Car Across Country Or To Have It Shipped?
Is It Cheaper To Drive My Car Across Country Or To Have It Shipped?

Moving to a new place is always a great and memorable adventure, full of excitement and anticipation. It can also be quite stressful and challenging. As you prepare the move from your current place to a far-off new home, many questions come up and call for decisions. One of these is on the subject of getting to your destination. Are you going to drive or fly to your new place? How will you get your car there? Is it cheaper to drive your vehicle or have it shipped? 

It is common to miscalculate the total cost of driving a car to a new place. That is because many drivers only account for fuel, gas, and tolls, disregarding an array of other, less obvious and quantifiable, but nevertheless, important expenses such as mileage, possible damages to the exterior of the vehicle, time, convenience, and safety. To stay as organized as possible, let’s take a look at different factors and their pros and cons. 

Distance and Driving Costs

The first thing to consider when choosing between driving and shipping your vehicle is the actual driving distance to your new home. Oftentimes, people account only for a straight line from point A to point B without looking into the exact road distance between them. Avoiding such a simple mistake can save you time and stress. Take a detailed look at a map and carefully examine the road, infrastructure, road conditions, and roadside amenities. If possible, check online for any temporary road closures. When picking a course, the shortest may not necessarily be the best. Once you decide which route to take, add up the total mileage and estimate the following:

Fuel: depending on your car, how much fuel will you need? 

  • Gas: how much gas will you need? Remember that prices vary from region to region.
  • Tolls: how much will they add up to? This will heavily depend on the route you choose.
  • Speed: how long will the journey take? You can calculate based on speed limits of different regions or use an average speed of 60 mph. 
  • Meals and lodging: if you are traveling long distance, you will need to make several stops to eat and sleep. Be sure to budget for these costs, too, unless your friends or family can host you. 
  • Parking fees
  • Servicing: allocate an extra fund for an event your vehicle requires service prior to hitting the road or during the journey.

These elements will help you understand the costs of driving your car and come closer to determining your choice. They should not be considered solely on their own, however, but in combination with the following aspects.

Shipping Costs

The costs of transporting your vehicle via a carrier are determined by several factors: the size and weight of your car, insurance, distance, fuel costs, and routes. Furthermore, demand can skew the pricing, too. Shipping your car during peak seasons – when the number of vehicles transported on a certain route and direction goes up – can surge quotes. You can anticipate the fees to increase by $200-$400 in the summer months.

The type of method determines the price too. Should you opt for an enclosed auto transport carrier, you can expect to pay approximately 50% more than you would for an open-air trailer. Since shipping companies always account for any unforeseen delays or accidents, they usually provide a time frame for delivery to a terminal but those seeking a guaranteed delivery date or a door-to-door service could surely agree on such arrangements with carriers for additional costs.

Customers are always advised to shop for quotes, speak to agents, and only opt for licensed, registered, and trusted companies such as A-1 Auto Transport. Once you gather estimated or confirmed transportation quotes, be sure to factor in the following additional expenses:

  • Airline or train fare for each member of your family.
  • Taxi or train fare to and from the airport or train station.
  • Accumulated transportation costs in a new city until your vehicle is delivered.
  • Moving costs of all your household and personal belongings. 

Transporting a vehicle cross-country by truck is common. What is less common, but possible, is to arrange the shipment of your car by train. Though routes and availability are limited, train transport can be cheaper for longer distances.

Is It Cheaper To Drive My Car Across Country Or To Have It Shipped

Seasonal Considerations

Depending on the parts of the country you are traversing, time of year and seasonal considerations may play a big role. Inclement weather can be quite challenging and require extra protection due to the increased risk of exterior damage. Icy roads, too, can cause delays and pose safety risks. If your move is taking place during the colder seasons, hiring a carrier to ship your car is much safer. An enclosed truck will ensure protection for your vehicle and off-season discounts might even make it more affordable. Warmer months tend to be more convenient and stress-free, though they also result in long travel times due to heavier traffic. 


Time is a decisive factor when it comes to the dilemma of driving vs. shipping your car. If you are intending to drive, you may need to dedicate several days to being on the road and take an extended time off work. A cross-country trip of nearly 3,000 miles will require about four days of driving. It may take longer if you make more stops to rest and replenish, encounter heavy traffic or bad weather, or if accidents occur. Letting a shipping carrier transport your vehicle while you fly to a new home, on the other hand, will save you lots of time and allow you to get back to work right away. 

Consider how much time you can afford to dedicate to your move. Driving might a fantastic option for those with plenty of time on hand, looking to travel at their own pace and enjoy the scenery. If, however, you and your family are pressed for time due to work, school, or other commitments then opting for a shipping carrier might be a more suitable option. Plus, you can spend your spare time on unpacking and decorating your new place. 


It is important to be mindful of safety. Driving across the country carries great risks: getting into an accident, falling asleep at the wheel, car malfunctioning, encountering auto theft, and so on. All such risks will incur exorbitant expenses. Wear and tear born from the long road and inclement weather can also significantly damage your car. Indeed, when it comes to the potential safety hazards for you and your family, shipping your car is an optimal choice. Statistically, flying or commuting on a train is much safer.


Moving to any new place comes at a price, but moving long distances or cross-country is always an expensive experience. This is why, if you decide to ship your car, you might look for the cheapest methods and companies. Instead, it is worth assessing your most convenient option. 

Planning a road trip, whether alone or with your family, is time- and thought-consuming but it can make the journey itself feel hassle-free and adventurous, providing quality bonding time with your loved ones. Indeed, road trips are a wonderful and rare opportunity to spend so much time together on the road and visit historical sites and nature, friends and relatives along the way, play games and converse. That way you can also bring some valuable or heavy items with you, which will decrease the weight of your shipment and thus reduce moving costs. 

For those seeking a swift, stress-free move, not a road trip, transportation companies can offer a safe and efficient shipment of your car. You do not have to worry about any road conditions, traffic and delays, malfunctions, and meals and lodging along the way. Instead, you can get to your new home in comfort and with plenty of time on hand. 

Choosing a professional company is an important task. Trustworthy, experienced car shippers such as A-1 Auto Transport have the necessary knowledge, training, and tools to deal with any situation that might occur on the road. There are many carrier companies on the market, and bearing in mind the costly move, you might want to pick shippers who offer the most affordable quote. But the cheapest does not necessarily mean best. It is paramount to select a company that is registered with the Department of Transportation, licensed (if you are not sure, you can personally check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and adequately insured. 

When it comes to choosing between driving or shipping your car, all of these factors can influence your decision but the choice is ultimately yours. Consider the distance, the time you have on your hands, the expenses involved, and the level of convenience you desire. Other details might emerge and, while some may seem too minor to determine your selection, they do accumulate and compose a hole, so it is highly recommended to examine and weigh in all factors. Organizing a move of an entire household is stressful enough as it is, shipping your vehicle will give you peace of mind and time.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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

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
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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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