How Much does it Cost to Ship a Car?



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Cost to Ship a Car - Moving Feedback

If you are relocating or temporarily moving to a new place or newly bought a car from an out-of-state car dealer, the thought of how much to transport your vehicle to your current location usually gets you confused.

While there are a number of options available to ship your vehicle to your preferred destination, there are services whose work is to ship cars to different destinations nationwide.

Generally, the major two options to move your car with you to your new home are:

  • Drive the car by yourself to your new home, or
  • Ship it by professional auto transport services.

While each option has its own pros and cons, your choice may depend on a variety of factors such as distance involved, the cost, stress involved in each, the delivery timing required, and the overall time required for each option.

For instance, if you have a short destination distance or moving to the next state temporarily, driving your car may be the best option. However, if you are relocating permanently abroad in a short moving window of time or newly procure a car in another country; driving the car yourself may be infeasible.

Hence, you will need an auto transport service to take the burden away from you.

Apart from these considerations, there are other factors to consider in deciding which way to go. There is no doubt, transporting your car yourself to your new destination involves stress and can be time-consuming.

The best way to avoid such a demanding task is to give the work to the professionals who are experienced in shipping cars with insurance and guaranteed services.

The question now is – how much does it cost to ship a car? If you are considering shipping your car professionally, there are other people out there who are in your shoe.

Many people use the services of auto transport services to ship their vehicles to different destinations across the globe.

Getting your car shipped through a reputable auto shipping service means that your car will be picked up at a given location and delivered to you at your designated location or at home within the stipulated time.

The cost of shipping a car depends on various factors. Once these factors are considered, you can tell how much it costs to ship your car. The post will look at these factors as they are related to calculating the cost of shipping a car both at short- or long-distances.

Determining Car Shipping Cost

It is not an easy task to determine the actual cost of shipping a car especially as a consumer of the service. This is because of the many factors involved in determining the shipping costs of a car.

Most of these factors do tell consumers what an Auto Transport Company charges to transport a vehicle to their preferred destinations.

Yes, I think I mentioned the destination now? That implies the distance to be covered before reaching your home. The cost of shipping a car from a particular location to Pennsylvania is different from the amount to ship the same car from the same location to California; as a result of labor and associated costs involved in the process.

While there are other several factors used in determining the cost of shipping your car, distance is the major indicator. This will be discussed extensively for more understanding later in this post.

The point is that if you have never shipped a car before, you may be confused about how the costs are being calculated. However, if you are a layman in shipping cars, you may be cheated or felt being cheated with strange terms of auto transport services to arrive at the cost of transporting your vehicle.

To prevent this, let’s take a rundown of all determining factors considered in calculating your car shipping cost.

Factors Affecting the Price of Shipping a Car

The actual cost of transporting your car varies based on a number of factors, and these are not limited to the following:


Without mixing words, the farther the distance the car will be shipped, the higher the shipping cost. This is because there are many costs associated with delivery distance.

For example, the cost of fuel, the labor cost of the truck driver to drive a long or short distance, and other related costs play a vital role in determining the cost of shipping a car.

There is no doubt, the cost of shipping from New York to Illinois is cheaper than shipping the sane car to California. The cost to transport your vehicle cross country is higher than within the state.

Some companies charge per mileage to calculate your shipping cost; hence, the farther they move your car, the higher the cost of delivery.


Another factor that affects your shipping cost is the size and dimension of your vehicle. While some cars can fit into the shipping container, some are too wide to enter; hence, such vehicles should be shipped by the RORO method using a cargo deck to secure the vehicles.

Weight is also another consideration referred to as “curb weight.” Some transport companies will tell you the higher the weight of your car, the higher cost of shipping.


Your location also plays a role in charging you. Your destination and origin affect both time and shipping rates. This is not only in the case of vehicles but also other goods. Some areas are rarely a final choice of people.

If you live in popular areas such as metropolitan areas, there is no doubt many trucks are coming to your city to pick up or deliver related goods; hence, other things or cars will be shipped along with your car and this tends to reduce the cost of shipping.

Compared to rural or remote areas where your car will be only goods to be shipped because they are no other consumer requesting for the same or related service in the area.

There are no many or fewer customers looking to ship a car which implies truck drivers may not/or have fewer opportunities to make more money shipping to those areas.

This makes the shipping cost to go higher because no one to share the burden with you. We can associate this higher cost of shipping to low demand.


Customers do pay more during peak periods compared to other times. For example, car shipping costs do increase during the summer months up to $200-$300 higher per trip.

If you plan your shipping early enough, you will be able to get a good deal. Request quotes from various transport companies and asks if they offer discounts during off-seasons and peak periods.

Shipping Options

Your choice of shipping is also one of the factors that determine the cost of shipping. There are different shipping options available to ship cars.

The one you choose out of those options to transport your vehicle says something about your overall shipping cost. Below is a list of options available to you to ship your car:

  • Terminal-to-terminal: This option entails you drop off your car at the company’s terminal or storage location nearest to you, and your carrier takes it from there and drops it off at another service location or terminal closed to your preferred final destination. Then, you pick it up from there and drive it home by yourself.
  • Door-to-door: If you don’t want to undergo the stress of dropping off and picking up from service locations, door-to-door is the best option for you. It is probably one of the most convenient alternatives to terminal-to-terminal. Door-to-door implies that your carrier will pick up your car from your location (usually your office or home) and transport it to your preferred final destination. Though it costs slightly higher than terminal-to-terminal because some hidden costs are involved in accessing your location, it saves you stress and time involved in dropping off and picking up the car from terminals.

It is worthy of mentioning that some home locations may be difficult to access by the truck or shipping equipment, hence, you may be required to drive the car to a place for pick up close to your final destination and as well as drop off as applicable.

  • Open transport: This type of transport cannot be used for some vehicles due to the nature of the service. It involves your car being transported on an open truck; hence, it is exposed to foreign elements including rain, dust, wind, snow, and hail.
  • Enclosed transport: Your car is shipped with an enclosed truck. It is the opposite of open transport. Your vehicle is protected against foreign elements such as rain, dust, wind, snow, and hail. While this option may seem 60% costlier than open transport, it is recommended for high class or high-end cars due to adequate protections offered by the service.
  • Operable/serviceable: If your vehicle is in good condition and can be driven onto the truck directly and unload without the use of special equipment, your car is operable. It means carrier need not stress him loading and unloading your vehicle; hence, you may pay less than otherwise.
  • Inoperable/unserviceable: This is the opposite of operable. If your car cannot be driven directly onto the truck, it means it will require extra equipment and time to load and unload your vehicle. This will be incorporated into your cost of shipping. Ensure you intimate your shipping carrier the condition of the vehicle during negotiation, so, they can prepare for it and quote for it. This will prevent disappointment or argument on pickup day.


If your car is shipped by a reputable company, you should expect an insurance package along with the quote. Such a shipping company cannot ship vehicles without insuring the car.

In fact, insurance is a standard in their shipping service. Ensure you confirm from your carrier whether their package is primary or secondary to your insurance policy.

It is also advisable to confirm from your insurance company if your vehicle insurance covers any damage that might be caused during shipping. Insurance can only cover damage or theft of the vehicle; hence, ensure you remove every item from the vehicle and keep them in a safe place.

Also, make sure you find out if the carrier’s insurance incorporates damage deductible, and ensure you document everything about insurance in the case of accident or theft.

Delivery Time

A short delivery means additional cost. Each shipping company has a standard delivery time to each location. If you need your car to be delivered in a shorter time, expect to pay more.

This is one of the reasons it is advisable to start planning for your car shipping early enough to prevent the high cost associated with quick delivery, and also, to get a good deal from shipping companies.

For example, most auto transport companies give a three-day window for vehicle pick up. But if you want your car to be picked up urgently (maybe due to urgent transfer or tenancy issue), the company needs to store your car in the warehouse and charge you for it. Rushed shipping can gush up to $250 to $500 more compared to otherwise.

Payment Methods

Though the additional charge may be insignificant, it is worthy of note that most auto transport companies charge an extra 2 – 3% when you use credit cards to make payment. There are other payment options such as cash and bank payment, but when you choose to pay through credit card, you pay a little higher.

However, this is not the case for all companies. Also, while most auto transport services do charge a deposit before delivery, some will require that you pay the total shipping amount before pick up.

Ensure you ask your carrier their terms and conditions such as refund policy, additional charges, and much more.

Vehicle Fleets

If you are shipping a fleet of vehicles at the same time, you will surely get a discount which can be huge in some cases. This is mostly in the case of the cab business or large-scale organization with a fleet of cars. 

However, some auto shipping services may be silent about it if you don’t ask. Whenever you are shipping cars in bulk, ensure you ask your shipping company for a discount.

Can I Get a Unique Quote From Auto Transport Companies?

Having gotten ideas about how the shipping costs are being calculated, you would be wondered if possible to get the same quote from shippers. Well, the answer is “no.”

Quotes from various shippers can be varied due to the quality of services delivered by each of them. For instance, the quality of the transport equipment, the experience of driver, the reputation of the company, and much more can determine the quote of each company.

Some companies do quote low to win the bid but they turn out to disappoint you in the long run. Many quotes lack some services such as insurance coverage, etc.

Each company quotes based on the equipment they have, and they may not be explicit enough in their quotes. The truth of each quote will be known after delivery – if your car is delivered without asking for an additional charge for home delivery, if you are not asked to standby on the day of delivery, amongst others.

However, it is advisable to choose a reputable transport service that offers the best package that is all-inclusive with insurance, rigid pickup and delivery method, no hidden charge, etc. Keep searching until you get one that fits into your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best season to ship my vehicle?

The ideal season to ship your vehicle depends on the area where you live and where you are moving.

Shipping from south to north in the winter is one of the best ways to save money. People prefer to go south when it is colder, so shipping your car the opposite way can save you up to 50% on the cost of the service.

If you live in a colder area up north and are moving south, you may not have as much chance to save money between seasons. In general, summer is the most expensive, as there are a lot of people on the road and many requesting car relocation services.

Will changing the location of my pickup and drop off impact the price of car shipping?

Yes, if you live in a rural area or require your car shipped to a rural destination, you are looking at a higher cost. Most transportation companies prefer to deliver in major hubs, as they are within range of their other deliveries.

If you wish to lower the cost of this service, you may want to bring your car to a big city for pickup, and pick it up at a large city near your destination when it is delivered.

I know someone who is moving to the same location. Can we both have our cars shipped by the same company? Will that save us any money?

Yes! “Carpooling” your vehicle transport can save a lot of money. Most trucking companies offer a discount if you are transporting more than one vehicle, compared to the cost of two separate single vehicle transactions.

If your friend wants to ship their vehicle with yours, both of you can save a decent amount of money. Discuss your options first (like enclosed vs. open carrier, extra insurance, etc.) and then decide which company will best suit your needs.

How can I prove the transport company damaged my vehicle?

The best way to prove that your vehicle suffered damage during transit is by taking plenty of photographs of the car before it is loaded onto their truck. Take pictures from every angle in good lighting, and try to take a video as well.

Then you can do the same when the vehicle arrives to prove the damage occurred within those dates. Photographs and videos have digital time stamps, which the insurance company can use to corroborate your claims.

I am being offered a very low quote to move my vehicle. Is it too good to be true?

Without knowing more information, it is impossible to tell whether the quote is genuine. Some companies do offer very low quotes to attract business, but jack up the price when the move is complete.

Look at reviews of the company online. If other customers had positive experiences, you may be safe. It is also helpful to request a binding quote, if the company provides it. Binding quotes cannot be drastically altered, unless you request added services afterward.

Can date flexibility allow me to save money on car transportation?

Yes, companies are very willing to lower their rates if you are flexible on the pickup and delivery dates. The vehicle mover may offer you an entire week for pickup and delivery, and they could arrive on any of the dates within those weeks.

In contrast, requesting specific dates for pickup and delivery will raise the price of the service. It is up to you to determine if the savings are worth having your vehicle picked up and delivered on a set schedule.


The cost of shipping a car is based on a number of factors as discussed above. At a point in time, factors such as varied exchange rates can sometimes tell on the cost of shipping a vehicle at that particular time. Other factors such as fluctuations in oil and gas prices, the season you chose to ship your car if you choose to do part of the job (by dropping off and picking up from the nearest terminal), and other factors play significant roles in your overall shipping cost.

The auto transporter you choose can also determine the cost of shipping your car. You can check from the different suggestions above. However, the cost of shipping a car basically depends on distance. For example, for a distance of 1 – 500 miles typically cost an average of $1 per mile and above 1000 miles further reduces below $0.7 per mile. We will keep you updated on this as time goes on. Stay tuned for informative posts on this page!

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Thomas Curry
Thomas Curry
Thomas has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
Thomas Curry - Moving Feedback Research Team
Thomas Curry - Moving Feedback Research Team

Thomas has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

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Andrew O.
July 16, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Great article! Very informative for someone looking to get a car shipping quote.

I would advice to avoid getting quotes from ‘online calculators’ as they are merely estimates. In addition, most websites with ‘calculators’ are ‘lead generating’ sites that will sell your inquiry and bombard you with multiple quotes for months.

I would suggest to call an actual car shipping company and speak with a shipping agent especially if you’re working with specific details about your move. Speaking with someone about your move helps facilitate the entire process and you get the actual cost, not an estimate, to ship your car.


jack hudson
March 16, 2020 at 12:07 pm

Even though you have a few informative matters about automobile delivery, car transport, vehicle delivery however I might wish to understand extra approximate car delivery services and method and consequently, the way to avail these services properly for automobile delivery from one nation to and any other country in the vehicle shipping industry go to ship-a1 for the most latest services and for the proper manual with none trouble.

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