Entrusting a carrier to transport your car to its destination is the most common way to ship a car. These truck-mounted vehicle carriers can travel thousands of miles quickly and carry up to 10 vehicles simultaneously, but at what cost? The average cost to ship a car is $1,215 but ranges between $745 and $1,660. Most car owners pay between $0.55 and $1.85 per mile.
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator per Mile
- Cost Estimator by Car Size
- Cost Estimator by Route
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Cost to Ship a Car in 2023
The style, weight, distance, and mode of transportation are all factors that affect how much you’ll pay. The national average cost to ship a car is $1,215, with a range between $745 and $1,660.
|National Average Cost||$1,215|
|Typical Price Range||$745 – $1,660|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$655|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$1,950|
The estimates above are for how much it will cost to move a running vehicle using open carrier shipping.
The cost of shipping your vehicle will increase if it has special requirements. For example, if you have a large vehicle or heavy pickup truck, a non-working car, or need an enclosed trailer for a specialty vehicle, car shipping prices will be higher.
Consider these three significant factors when shipping your vehicle:
- Vehicle size and weight: Transporting larger or heavier vehicles costs more due to the additional size or weight.
- Distance: Long-distance routes cost more overall than local routes but charge less per mile.
- Mode of transport: Open car transport is the least expensive mode of shipping a car, while enclosed transport, which gives greater protection for show or custom cars, will cost more.
Cost Estimator Per Mile
To estimate the cost of shipping a car, multiply the distance by the estimated cost per mile. The average cost ranges between $0.55 to $1.85 per mile. Shorter trips are more expensive per mile. The size of the vehicle, the distance, the time of year, and the mode of transportation all affect the car’s shipping price.
We compared the rates from four sources to reach an average cost per mile by distance on an open carrier transport for a mid-sized sedan. Factors like enclosed or open trailers, extra insurance, and your vehicle’s driveability can affect rates.
For a 2018 Chevrolet Malibu (average midsize sedan), you can estimate approximately how much per mile it will cost to ship from the chart below. Larger or smaller vehicles will have a slightly higher or lower rate. Any add-on services like door-to-door delivery will increase the price.
|Distance||Simulated Route||Average per mile rate||Base estimate|
|500 miles||San Jose, CA to Las Vegas, NV||$1.25||$625|
|1000 miles||Philadelphia, PA to Orlando, FL||$0.90||$900|
|2000 miles||Seattle, WA to Chicago, IL||$0.60||$1,200|
|Cross-country (North to South)||Dallas, TX to St. Paul, MN||$.90||$855|
|Cross-country (coast to coast)||Baltimore, MD to Los Angeles, CA||$0.55||$1,430|
Cost Estimator by Car Size
The size and weight of the vehicle have a major influence on vehicle transport costs. When a large truck is aboard, there is less space on a trailer for other cars. Bigger vehicles also weigh more, limiting the number of cars the transporter can carry. Thus, a compact car will cost less to ship than a large truck or SUV.
A car is the least expensive type of vehicle to ship because it takes up the least space and weight on a trailer. Six to 10 standard sedans can typically fit on open vehicle carriers. However, even a small car that weighs more than the average vehicle limits the total number of cars transported due to the increased weight.
|Vehicle Style||Average Weight (pounds)||Estimated Cost for 1,000 miles|
|Mid-size sedan||3,500 lbs||$855|
|Mid-size truck, or SUV||4,300 lbs||$935|
|Truck or minivan||4,500+ lbs||$1,245|
The average costs were derived by comparing multiple rates for shipping a vehicle 1,000 miles based on vehicle size. Costs are subject to change and may differ depending on location.
Cost Estimator by Route
Here are a few example routes to help you get an idea of what each route (or distance in miles) will cost. Although it costs more to ship a longer distance, it will cost less per mile for longer trips and common destinations.
We compared the shipping costs from three car transport companies across three types of cars to arrive at the average prices. Other factors like fuel rates, season, and type of transport carrier will all affect the final price.
|Route and Distance||Average Cost|
|San Diego, CA to Reno, NV – 550 miles||$590|
|Austin, TX to Jacksonville, FL – 1,000 miles||$950|
|Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA – 1,135 miles||$1,260|
|Denver, CO to Baltimore, MD – 1,600 miles||$1,475|
|Rome, NY to San Diego, CA – 2,750 miles||$1,120|
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Regardless of the general information offered above, estimating the cost of shipping a car is often difficult because many variables can influence the final price. See the list of factors impacting car shipping rates below.
- Open Carrier vs. Closed Carrier
- Delivery Location
- Fuel Rates
- Available Shippers
- Multiple Vehicles
Open Carrier vs. Closed Carrier
Using an open carrier is the most affordable way to ship your car. Comparatively speaking, enclosed shipping is more expensive per trip for the same vehicle type and distance. On average, you can expect to pay $875 for an enclosed carrier to travel 500 miles, while an open carrier for the same trip and car averages $600.
Whether to use open or closed transport depends on the vehicle type. Enclosed transport is recommended for classic cars or extremely expensive autos. Comparing quotes for closed and open transport, we arrived at the below averages. Season, market conditions, and location all have an impact on price.
|Miles Shipped||Open Carrier||Closed Carrier|
|Coast to Coast (2,000+ miles)||$1,425||$1,900|
Vehicle condition also affects the car transport cost. Driveable autos ship for significantly less than non-driveable vehicles because a winch or forklift is often needed to move a car onto and off a trailer if it does not start, brake, or steer correctly. Because they are more difficult to load and unload from the carrier, inoperable vehicles cost extra to move.
Expedited shipping, like any other service, will cost you more. Additional fees apply if you need your vehicle picked up or delivered quickly. By contrast, the costs are lower if you arrange your service early or have a flexible delivery timeframe.
Terminal-to-terminal delivery is moving your car between pickup and drop-off locations. Door-to-door services usually include picking up the car from its current location and delivering it directly to your new destination. Terminal-to-terminal drop-off is less expensive than door-to-door service, but the alternative is more convenient. However, only some providers offer both options.
Consider shipping in early spring or late fall. Compared to the popular moving seasons of spring and summer, as well as the additional travel time expected in the winter, these are usually the cheapest and fastest times of year for shipping.
Fuel prices vary from location to location and are constantly changing. One significant variable expense in auto shipping is fuel, affecting the cost of transporting your vehicle. If fuel rates are high, shippers must increase their prices.
Prices can vary based on how many carriers are available because carriers bid on how much it costs to move your car. The more car transport companies can deliver to your destination, the better the pricing. Since each provider has a different pricing model, compare your options to find the best bargain.
Shipping more than one car together can get you a discount for both. However, if you need to add or remove a vehicle from your order after your broker confirms shipping, it will impact the overall price.
If a driver arrives to pick up or deliver your car, but the pickup contact is not there, the driver can charge a fee for a dry run or for rescheduling. Check the contract for what they’ll charge if you fail to meet your agreement. Also, ensure the shipper will provide you with refunds, or free car rentals, for any unreasonable delays on its account.
It is essential to ensure the company’s liability insurance will cover any damages If your vehicle is damaged in any way during transportation. Reputable car carriers provide coverage starting from $50,000 and up. You should also contact your own insurance company to determine what protection you have in case of any mishaps.
Ship Your Car by Train
While freight trains do ship cars, it’s on a commercial basis only. There is only one option currently for shipping a personal car by train: through Amtrak.
It is quick and inexpensive, with an average cost of $235, not including your own train ticket. However, Amtrak only operates between Sanford, Florida, and Lorton, Virginia. You must get quotes from traditional auto transport companies to move your car elsewhere.
Transporting your car by sea is possible, say, if your new home is in Alaska or Hawaii. The cost of shipping an automobile can range from $1,170 to $3,300, depending on the distance traveled.
You can ship your car via air, but it’s the most expensive option, ranging between $3,500 to $22,000 on average.
Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost (aka Shipping vs. Driving Your Car)
Shipping a vehicle is usually more expensive than driving it the same distance. Even when other costs, such as motels, gas, and food, are included, driving is probably still less expensive.
Gas rates and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle will largely determine the cost of driving your car. According to AAA, at the time of this posting, the average cost of unleaded is $3.508 per gallon. Based on an average of 25 miles per gallon, plus your typical hotel, food, and gas costs for a single person, you’ll expect to pay the ranges below.
|Distance||Average Cost to Drive||Average Cost to Ship|
|500 miles||$90 to $110||$625|
|1000 miles||$305 to $345||$900|
|2000 miles||$735 to $815||$1,240|
|Coast to coast (2,645 miles)||$900 to $950||$1,430|
Your three main cost factors when driving are gas, lodging, and meals.
It is hard to predict the cost of gas for any potential trip because prices vary from state to state and change daily. If you opt to drive yourself, especially if you have the extra weight of moving your belongings, budget for extra gas and areas with high fuel rates.
According to the Road Trip Expert, you should limit your daily driving to 500 miles or nine hours. This means that after the first 500 miles, you should budget for at least one hotel stay (about $125 per night) for every extra 500 miles traveled. If you need to stop frequently or encounter high traffic, you may need to arrange an extra hotel stay.
You can probably travel several hundred miles without stopping if you pack drinks and food for the journey ahead of time. However, if you’re traveling a longer distance, budget $20 to $40 daily for meals and snacks for each person.
When driving your car 500 miles, you’re adding 500 miles of wear and tear. The big advantage of shipping your car is saving the mileage on your vehicle. Also, you don’t have to worry about it breaking down along the way.
The same goes for you. Road fatigue is dangerous, and you can never account for driver error from the car in the lane next to you. For a long-distance move, car shipping services are safe for you and your car.
Cost by Location
There are many factors involved with estimating how much it will cost to ship your car. The two main factors are size and distance, but where you’re shipping from and to affect the cost as well.
Shipping to and from rural areas typically costs more than shipping between big cities since there are fewer carriers nearby. In addition, the lack of nearby shippers may result in you waiting longer for pickups and deliveries. In large cities, there are often more trucks available, so prices are usually lower.
FAQ About the Cost to Ship a Car
The average cost to ship a car in the U.S. is $1,215, with a typical range of $745 to $1,660. The average cost of car shipping for routes longer than 1,000 miles is $0.90 per mile. Cross-country prices average $0.55 per mile. Shorter routes, closer to 500 miles, cost approximately $1.25 per mile. Type of vehicle, distance, and service options affect the final cost
About two weeks from start to finish. Once booked, your carrier will need a few days to arrange pickup, so plan ahead. Depending on how far your car travels, it can take two to 10 days to reach its destination, factoring in weather and traffic delays.
A bill of lading and your insurance policies and terms are needed for car delivery. A lienholder authorization and absent owner authorization are also necessary for shipments to or from Hawaii.
Hiring an auto transport service to ship your car is a convenient and time-saving solution for many people. Depending on where you’re going and why, having your car shipped is the best option to save mileage while getting where you need to go. Get car shipping quotes today so you can plan your drive into the sunset of your future.
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Main Image Credit: transport-auto.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0