The cost to ship a car is not a single fixed price, as car shipping costs are affected by several factors and are typically determined through a bidding process. Auto shipping is a supply/demand business in which requests are posted to a broker's site and private shipping companies bid on the contract.
You can also receive an auto shipping quote directly from a broker, but this won’t always be the final price you pay. In this article, we’ll explain what goes into car shipping costs as well as average prices, tips for finding the lowest rate, and recommendations for auto shipping providers.
To get an idea of how much it might cost to ship your car, get free quotes from some of the industry's best auto shipping companies below.
In this article:
- What Affects Car Shipping Cost?
- Average Cost To Ship A Car
- Tips For Lowering Your Car Shipping Cost
- Is The Cost Of Auto Shipping Worth It?
- Our Recommendations For Auto Shipping
- Frequently Asked Questions: Car Shipping Cost
What Affects Car Shipping Costs?
Many factors shape the shipping cost of a car. In addition to the size of your car and shipping distance, market factors can impact pricing. Because shippers bid on your contract, carrier competition can also play a role in the price you pay. Below, we outline and explain many common factors that affect car shipping prices.
|Car Shipping Factor||Details|
|Vehicle size|| |
The height, length, and weight of your car can all determine shipping costs. The ground clearance can also be a factor, with cars lower to the ground being more expensive to ship.
|Vehicle condition||If your vehicle can brake, steer, and roll on its own, it will cost less to ship. Vehicles that are inoperable and must be forklifted or winched onto the truck cost more to ship.|
|Shipping distance||You'll get a better rate per mile the farther you ship your car, but the overall cost will be higher.|
|Pickup and destination location||Shipping to and from urban areas is cheaper than shipping to rural areas. Also, you can save money by shipping to a terminal instead of opting for door-to-door service.|
|Extra features|| |
Extra features like insurance, expedited shipping, home delivery, and single-car shipping
(your vehicle ships in its own truck with no other vehicles) will cost more.
|Transport type||You can typically choose between open and enclosed transport. Open transport is cheaper.|
|Time of year|| |
Auto shipping is more expensive during certain months due to higher demand. The highest rates are generally during the summer and in January.
|Price of fuel|| |
High fuel prices increase the operating costs for shippers,
which may be passed on to the consumer.
Average Cost To Ship A Car
According to uShip, the average cost to ship a car is $2.92 per mile for distances under 200 miles and $0.78 per mile for distances over 1,000 miles. The typical car shipping cost can range anywhere from $500 to $1,500, depending on the factors mentioned above. uShip is an auto shipping marketplace that works with 750,000 shipping providers and has posted millions of shipment listings.
Our review team has reached out for auto shipping quotes from several of the most popular car shipping companies in the industry. While your own rates may vary, the chart below can provide some idea of the average cost to ship a car. Quotes were requested in January (a peak shipping month) for operable vehicles.
|Shipping Company/Broker||Vehicle Size||Shipping Distance||Open or Enclosed||Cost|
|Montway Auto Transport||SUV||503 miles||Open||$679|
|Montway Auto Transport||SUV||1,566 miles||Open||$929|
|Montway Auto Transport||SUV||1,566 miles||Enclosed||$1,339|
|Montway Auto Transport||SUV||3,036 miles||Open||$1,389|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||SUV||1,556 miles||Open||$1,300|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||SUV||1,556 miles||Enclosed||$1,800|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||SUV||3,036 miles||Open||$1,450|
The numbers above can help give you a rough estimate of car shipping costs, but the only way to know how much it will cost to ship your car is to request personalized estimates. Use the tool at the top of the page to get started.
Tips For Lowering Your Car Shipping Cost
The best way to find the lowest car transport cost for your vehicle is to compare multiple shipping quotes. Whichever provider you choose, there are a number of ways you can bring down your total car shipping cost.
- Reserve early: The earlier you post your job, the more time providers have to bid on your contract and the better chance you will get a good deal.
- Drop off and pick up at a shipping terminal: Door-to-door delivery is expensive, and it can be much cheaper to use a shipping terminal. This is especially true if you live in a rural area where shipping rates are higher.
- Choose open shipping: Open shipping is cheaper than enclosed shipping. However, if you have a luxury vehicle or a car with low clearance, you may need the added protection of enclosed shipping.
- Discounts: See what kind of discount opportunities auto transport companies provide to lower the cost of shipping. Many car carriers offer savings for veterans, students, and first responders.
- Look into multi-car shipping: If you want to ship your car by itself, it will be far more expensive. It’s cheaper to choose a shipper that transports several vehicles together.
- Be flexible with pickup and delivery dates: With stricter drop-off and pickup dates, fewer shippers are able to fulfill your request, so you won’t benefit from the price drop that comes when shippers bid for your contract.
- Clean out your car beforehand: Adding extra weight to your vehicle can increase the shipping cost.
- Ship by train: The cheapest way to ship your car is by freight. However, this comes with some major disadvantages. Shipping by train can be significantly slower than shipping by truck and is far less secure. There are also limited options to ship a car by train.
For more information on car transport services, check out our article on how to ship a car.
Is The Cost Of Auto Shipping Worth It?
If the car shipping quotes you’re seeing seem like a challenge for your budget, you may be wondering if vehicle transport is worth the investment. The answer depends on how far the move is and the type of vehicle.
If you’re moving long-distance, say New York to Los Angeles, a car shipping company might be worth the cost since you’ll avoid adding miles to your vehicle and paying for fuel. You could potentially save on lodging costs as well depending on how you travel.
Using a car transport company might make sense for a shorter move if you want to protect a classic car or luxury vehicle from highway debris. You could add peace of mind by opting for an enclosed carrier so the car is safe. On the other hand, if you own a reliable car and are traveling less than 500 miles, hiring a car shipper may not be as practical – especially if you need your car soon after the move.
Those with plans to move to the Aloha State also have options available. Shipping a car to Hawaii involves vehicle shipment by sea and could take 8 to 19 days.
Our Recommendations For Auto Shipping
If you’re looking for a low-cost auto shipping option, we recommend posting your shipping request to Montway Auto Transport or uShip.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall
Montway is a major online shipping broker that works with over 15,000 carriers across the United States. All Montway Auto Transport shippers are insured, and the company provides an additional $250,000 of coverage on top of your trucker’s policy (should that policy fail to fully cover a valid claim). In addition to that, the Better Business Bureau rates the company an A+.
Based on our cost research, Montway Auto Transport prices are competitive. You may even be able to find the lowest rates through the company, depending on your shipping needs. You can request open or enclosed shipping, and there are options for door-to-door delivery and expedited shipping as well.
uShip: Best Car Shipping Marketplace
Like Montway Auto Transport, uShip is a marketplace that pairs shippers with customers. If you’re trying to ship your vehicle by truck, it’s a good place to find low-cost options. uShip serves the entire U.S. and even offers overseas shipping.
With uShip, you have the option to pay more for an instant rate or post your request to have auto transporters bid on your contract, reducing the final cost. While uShip does not guarantee that every contractor has insurance, you can purchase extra insurance protection from uShip for an additional fee.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of car shipping companies to formulate rankings of the best transporters. Providers receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Reputation: Shippers with a history of strong business practices and endorsements from experts receive the highest scores in this category.
- Cost: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of shipping routes, distances, and vehicles. Companies with lower prices and many discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Services: This rating is based on types of auto transport services available, insurance coverage, and the ability to guarantee pick-up and dropoff dates.
- Customer Experience: We comb through customer reviews and perform our own shopper analysis to get a sense of the responsiveness and helpfulness of each car transporter.