Speed Reads:

  • Shipping your car to another state could save you time, money, and energy versus driving it.
  • The average cost to ship a car 1,550 miles, or roughly the distance from Los Angeles to Houston, is $1,425 for open-air shipping and $1,776 for enclosed shipping.
  • You can save money on shipping a car to another state by choosing open transport, meeting your carrier at a shipping terminal, and by keeping a flexible time frame.

Learning how to ship a car to another state can often be a hassle without proper preparation. However, our team spent over 300 hours researching the car shipping industry to make it easier for you to find simple and stress-free auto transport options.

In this article, we’ll run through the car shipping process from start to finish. We will also share cost estimates, mention how to save money when shipping a car to another state, and suggest some car shipping companies that stood out in our research.

To learn more about Motor1 review standards, see our full-length methodology.

7 Steps For Shipping A Car To Another State

Shipping a car to another state can quickly become complicated, expensive, and a hassle for those who don’t know the right steps. However, following the shipping process outlined below should simplify your car’s journey across state lines.

1. Choose Your Type Of Transport

You’ll need to decide on an auto transport method before shipping your vehicle. There are plenty of shipping options to choose from, and in certain circumstances you could have your car moved by Amtrak, plane, or even a boat. However, the most common choices on the market are open auto transport and enclosed auto transport.

Open Vs. Enclosed Auto Shipping

Open car shipping involves transporting your vehicle on an open trailer, making it the most cost-effective way to ship a car to another state. While an open car shipping trailer can fit several vehicles on it at once, they’ll be less protected from damages caused by severe weather, road debris, and flying objects such as rocks.

On the other hand, enclosed car shipping uses an enclosed carrier or container to haul your vehicle. This provides the ultimate level of protection from the hazards that commonly plague open transport carriers. However, the type of transport is far costlier and may only be worth it if you’ve got a luxury vehicle or a classic car.

Venn diagram marking the major differences and similarities between open and enclosed auto shipping options

2. Gather Information About Your Car

After choosing the right type of transport for your needs, start getting together details about your car. This includes your vehicle’s make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), and operability status. You’ll also need to decide on whether the convenience of door-to-door service makes it a better choice than terminal-to-terminal shipping.

3. Compare Car Shipping Quotes

Once you’ve gotten together the information needed to ship your vehicle, it’s time to shop around for car shipping quotes online. We recommend asking for instant quotes from multiple car transport companies in order to find the best possible shipping prices. Many providers even offer car shipping calculators that can help make the purchasing process even easier.

While some auto transport companies guarantee your initially quoted price, others may increase the final shipping rate due to unforeseen issues. If this is something you’d like to avoid, compare quotes from providers like Sherpa Auto Transport that offer guaranteed pricing.

4. Choose A Transport Provider

During your search for the right auto shipper, you’ll find providers that act like brokers and others that have online shipping marketplaces. Figure out which shipping model you’re more comfortable with. Brokers will find the right carrier for you while shipping marketplaces let you post your own job and deal with carriers directly.

If possible, ask friends and family members about their experience with shipping vehicles. Similarly, you can browse through internet discussion boards to read firsthand accounts of people using certain companies when shipping a car to another state.

5. Book The Move And Prepare Your Car

If at all possible, lock in your transport service sooner rather than later. Booking ahead of time can help you receive the lowest price while avoiding issues with carrier availability. While it’s possible to line up and book last-minute shipments, you’ll likely pay far higher rates for expedited shipping services.

Once the auto transport is booked, it’s time to start preparing your vehicle. Take all personal items out to prevent the possibility of thefts and leave the gas tank no more than a quarter full. Both your personal belongings and extra fuel add weight to your vehicle, which could increase auto shipping costs.

6. Meet Your Car Carrier

You’ll meet the auto carrier at a predetermined dropoff time and location. Whether at your home or at a shipping terminal, you and the trucker will inspect the car for prior damages such as dents or scratches. This is a great time to take photos to document its condition before loading. You’ll then sign the bill of lading, which is a receipt that follows the car as it gets shipped. Expect to sign it again once your vehicle arrives at its destination in another state. 

7. Pick Your Car Up

Before picking the car up, you should receive a message from the carrier as to when it’ll be delivered. Once you meet at the designated pickup time, inspect the vehicle again for new damages. If you find any, report them on the bill of lading and document them with new photos. However, if everything looks good and you’re ready to get your vehicle back, sign the bill of lading once more and you’re set.

Shipping Vs. Driving Your Car To Another State

A road trip to another state may sound exciting, but it could become burdensome during a long-distance move. Consider the points below on shipping a car vs. driving before making your final decision:

  • Driving will add miles to your vehicle: Choosing to drive your vehicle to another state, especially one that’s far away, could put hundreds or thousands of miles on it.
  • Road tripping isn’t cheap: Road trips are fun, but they’re not always affordable. You’ll need to consider gas prices as well as hotel, food, and attraction costs in your budget. You may find that the cost difference between driving and shipping your car to another state is less than you think, especially if you’re moving cross-country.
  • Driving takes time and energy: Taking the time to pack up all of your belongings and move to another state is already a time-consuming process. Adding a long drive on top of that only steals more of your time and energy.
  • Shipping is typically safer: While your car could be damaged by road debris during a shipment, you’ll save yourself the risk of a car accident or a mechanical breakdown.

Car Shipping Survey Results

If you’re wondering how people who previously shipped their car felt about the experience, consider the results of our 2021 customer satisfaction survey. We found that 69 percent of the 1,000 survey respondents were either very or somewhat satisfied with their overall auto shipping experience.

Results of a car shipping survey showing that 69 percent of customers were very or somewhat satisfied with the process

Average Cost To Ship A Car To Another State

The cost to ship a car to another state largely depends on your shipping distance. After all, moving a car from New York to Florida will cost far less than from New York to Alaska or Hawaii. There are other factors that affect your costs as well, and we’ll explain a few of them below.

Through our extensive research, we found that the average cost to ship a car 1,550 miles is $1,425 for open carrier shipping and $1,776 for enclosed. This average rate was calculated using quotes received from many of the market’s most reputable auto shipping companies.

Open Shipping Cost Estimates

Below are some vehicle shipping quotes for the 1,550-mile open transport delivery of an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4. Remember that your rates will likely vary, even if you’re shipping a similar model along the same transport route.

Car Shipping CompanyEstimated Cost
Montway Auto Transport$1,369
Sherpa Auto Transport$1,575
SGT Auto Transport$1,499
American Auto Shipping$1,319

Enclosed Shipping Cost Estimates

See below for enclosed car shipping quotes for the same 1,550-mile delivery of an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4:

Car Shipping CompanyEstimated Cost
Montway Auto Transport$1,739
Sherpa Auto Transport$1,750
SGT Auto Transport$1,699
American Auto Shipping$1,819

Factors That Vary Car Shipping Costs

The factors that can affect your car shipping costs include but are not limited to:

  • Time of year: Sending your car away during peak season will likely increase the total cost to ship your car to another state. It’s most expensive to ship your vehicle in January and throughout the summer months.
  • Shipping distance: If you’re moving the car a short distance across state lines, expect to pay more per mile but less overall than if you’re transporting it a longer distance.
  • Pickup and delivery locations: Those who pick door-to-door car shipping services will likely pay more than those who opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping.
  • Size and type of car: If you own a larger type of vehicle such as a truck or SUV, you’ll probably pay a higher price for car shipping. Those with motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) may instead be charged less than for a typical car shipment.
  • Vehicle operability: Inoperable vehicles that need to be winched or forklifted onto the moving truck will most likely face additional fees.
  • Transport type: You’ll be charged less to ship your car via open carrier transport. However, the protection of an enclosed trailer could be worth it for expensive car models.

Display of icons that represent the factors that determine overall auto shipping costs

How To Save Money On Car Shipping

If you want to ship your car to another state but are concerned about the cost of shipping, there are various methods to help you find cheap car transport. Jack Savov, CEO of SGT Auto Transport, offered our team some tips on how to lower the cost of moving your car.

Choose Open Carrier Transport

Choosing open carrier vehicle transport will likely be the cheapest way to move a car. However, if you’re worried about the risk of damages from road debris or inclement weather, Savov said that “requesting top-load placement can provide adequate protection from oil leaks and rock chips, without the extra expense of an enclosed transport.” Check with your chosen auto shipping company to see if you can request this if you select open shipping.

Meet Your Carrier In A Big City

If you live in or are moving to a rural part of the United States, you’ll probably pay higher fees for vehicle pickups and dropoffs. Savov stated that “if the location is not a major city or along a common route, meeting the carrier in a nearby larger city can help avoid additional charges for dry miles.”

Have A Flexible Time Frame

Savov pointed out that if customers are able, they should “consider being more flexible with their pickup and delivery dates to avoid the added expense of expedited or rushed shipping.” Since professional drivers often have many orders, a pickup date that isn’t set in stone can help them to fit you in. Planning ahead also lets you avoid expedited shipping, which can drive up shipping costs exponentially.

How To Ship A Car To Another State: Conclusion

There’s a lot to remember when you need to ship a car to another state, but it’s all relatively straightforward once you know where to start. Be sure to consider your shipping preferences, compare instant quotes from multiple providers, and book a legitimate but affordable provider.

Top Companies For Shipping A Car To Another State

Shipping your car to another state isn’t a small feat, which is why you should do research on car shipping companies to choose the best one. We suggest starting out by getting free quotes from reputable providers like Montway Auto Transport and uShip.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall

Montway Auto Transport has nearly 20 years of experience, holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and earns strong reviews in the auto transport industry. The company only works with insured car carriers but offers an extra cargo insurance policy worth $250,000 in case potential damages don’t get fully covered.

We found that Montway Auto Transport earned the highest customer satisfaction score in our 2021 auto shipping survey. The factors above drove us to give the provider 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.

Read more: Montway Auto Transport review

uShip: Best Car Shipping Marketplace

uShip offers car transport services through an online marketplace that allows you to post your own bid and work directly with a carrier. If you have time to plan ahead, posting your job on uShip could attract multiple movers and reduce the price to ship a car to another state. Truckers on the marketplace aren’t vetted, though, so make sure that your shipment comes with an adequate level of insurance coverage.

If you’re in more of a hurry, uShip also offers instant quotes from major car moving companies. We awarded uShip with an overall score of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

Read more: uShip reviews

How To Ship A Car To Another State: FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions about how to ship a car to another state: