How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car? A Guide

According to a Harvard research analyst, 13% of Americans move each year. If you’re moving, you’ll want your personal vehicle with you when you relocate. If you’re relocating and need to move your vehicle, car shipping is a great solution.

If it’s your first move or just your first car shipping experience, you may not know how much it costs to ship a car. There are several factors to calculating the cost of transporting your transportation. Consider this your guide to car hauling and how much it costs to ship a car.

In What Scenarios Should I Ship My Car?

There are so many reasons to move or relocate. Sometimes we move across the street, but at other times, we need to move across the state, across the country, or even across the world.

Just like the situations for each move can be different, your car shipping needs can vary from move to move as well. Logically, if you’re staying in the same area, it’s unlikely that you need to ship your car. Here are some of the scenarios when shipping your car just makes sense.

  • Moving farther than 500 miles away
  • Moving multiple vehicles
  • Helping a college student relocate
  • Protecting your car from extra mileage and wear & tear

If you’re in a situation where car shipping is the obvious solution, trusting Carvaygo, an auto transport broker, to find you the most affordable and most reliable auto transport company is the way to go.

What is the Cheapest Way To Ship a Car?

First things first, you'll want to get a car shipping quote. If you’ve never shipped a car before, you may be presented with different options, and you need to know what each option means and how it might impact your overall cost.

A generic estimate of the average cost for car shipping costs is around $1200-$1300, but like anything else, the price can fluctuate based on the situation.

One of the easiest ways to lower the price of your car shipment is to choose an open transport carrier.

What Is Open Transport?

Open transport is a vehicle carrier that is not enclosed. They can be a single car, single level with multiple cars, or multi-level with multiple cars.

How Much Does it Usually Cost To Ship a Car?

When you’re shipping a car, you need to consider how far you need to ship it. Distance might make the heart grow fonder, but it does not make the auto transport costs cheaper.

How much your shipment will cost will depend on where your car shipping originates and its destination. To lower your costs, you might want to choose to use a major city for your loading and unloading.

Here are some examples of major cities:

  • Miami, Florida
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Houston, Texas
  • New York, New York
  • Chicago, Illinois

How is Cost Calculated?

When it comes to calculating the cost of shipping, a lot of factors are taken into account. Here are three cost factors that will help determine the cost of your:

Type of Transport

Your choice of transport is one of the factors considered when calculating the cost of shipping your vehicle. The cheapest options are typically open trailers.

Vehicle Size

Just like the weight of your package can determine the cost to ship a package, the size of your vehicle can impact the cost of car shipping. For instance, shipping a full-size truck or SUV will likely cost more than shipping a small coupe or midsize sedan.


Another factor determining the cost is how far you need to ship your car. The distance between your pickup and delivery locations will play a role in your total cost. If a major city is within a reasonable distance of either, you can lower your costs usually by arranging transport to or from one of those.

You may find that the time of year causes the price to fluctuate even when the distance stays the same. The reason the price can fluctuate can be traced back to fuel costs. You probably notice when the fuel price goes up at the gas pump, and your auto transport company feels the same sting when they fuel up their large car carriers.

During times of elevated fuel costs, your distance may factor into the overall cost. If you can be flexible about when you ship your vehicle, ask your provider if there’s a better time to go.

How Much Does it Cost To Ship a Small Car?

You can expect to pay a little less than the average cost to ship a small car. Depending on your open or enclosed transport choice, you can expect to pay $970 to $1,340 for a small car.

Remember that distance may be factored in, and choosing an auto transport broker may be the easiest way to find the right ride for your budget.

How Much Does it Cost To Ship a Truck?

We all would love to think that size doesn’t matter, but from french fries to diamonds, if you want a bigger size, you’re going to pay more. Unfortunately, car shipping is no exception.

If you have a larger vehicle like an SUV or a pickup truck, you can expect to pay between $1,100 to $1,680 depending on your transport options.

How Can I Save On My Car Shipment?

Remember that five things determine the cost of shipment in the freight industry.

  • Origin & destination
  • Weight
  • Distance
  • Transportation method
  • Time allowed for delivery

To affect the cost of shipping your car, you may not be able to change how far you need to ship your car or the size of your car, but you can choose how you want to transport your vehicle.

One way to lower the cost is to choose open transport. Another way to lower the cost is to be more flexible with your pick-up and delivery expectations.

You can choose to ship during an off-season. Winter is often a better time of year for car shipping. Lastly, you can look for discounts and shop around for the best deals.

Which Transport Options Are Available?

When you’re ready to ship your car, you’ll need to know what transport options are available. Here are four options that impact your overall car shipping rate.

Open Transport

Open transport is also called an open carrier. As the name suggests, open transport means your vehicle will ride in the open air. This means that whatever elements the transport truck drives through, your vehicle will ride through it too.

Remember, the weather can change from one county to the next, and the same can be said when you’re traveling across multiple states. Some elements your vehicle may encounter include:

  • Snow
  • Hail
  • Pollution
  • Pollen
  • Sun
  • Road debris

The higher up your vehicle sits in a multi-level open transport, the better. Being on the top-level elevates your vehicle above the reach of road debris, and you avoid any unwanted drips or spills from the fluids in the other vehicle.

Opting for open transport can cost almost three times less than enclosed transport, but being particular about where your vehicle is in the carrier can add some of those savings back to your cost. This is one of the biggest ways to impact your cost, but you have to choose what’s right for your car and your wallet.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport is also called an enclosed carrier. Enclosed transport will keep your vehicle protected from the elements. Both the open transport and the enclosed transport have your vehicle securely in place, but the enclosed transport ensures you have additional protection from the unknown.

This is a wise option for anyone shipping a vintage, classic, or luxury vehicle. Another smart choice is to add your own cover to your vehicle, but be sure that it can be securely tied down for the duration of your car’s journey.

Full-Service Transport

A full-service transport includes shipment on an enclosed trailer. It also includes door-to-door shipping and delivery. Instead of scheduling to load and unload where it’s convenient to the carrier, they will come directly to you and deliver directly to the location you desire.

Like most full-service options, it will cost you more, but if you can afford convenience or require convenience, it’s nice to have the full-service option. If you’re shipping a luxury car or an exotic vehicle, you may prefer the full-service option.

You’ll want to get an auto transport quote to see if the cost difference is worth it to you. Quality service is to be expected at every level of service, but full service will cost you more.

Economy Transport

When you see “economy,” you know you’re going to save money. When you’re renting a car or an apartment, if you want the lowest price, you choose the economy version.

With economy transport, you can expect to get what you paid for. Your car will be safely and securely loaded onto an auto transport carrier. It is likely to be on an open carrier. You’re likely to get whatever spot is available instead of choosing the top level.

You’re also likely to get the cheapest route available. The cheapest ride is not always the fastest ride, so you may find that your delivery window is larger and less concrete.

Being flexible when you’re shipping your car is one way to save money on the overall cost of your shipment.

How Long Does it Take To Ship a Car?

How long it takes to ship a car can really depend on where you’re trying to ship it. If you live in the United States, you can expect your car shipping timeframe to be about four weeks. If you need to ship to somewhere like Hawaii or Alaska, it can take a bit longer.

If you plan to ship internationally, your shipping times can take anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. If you’ve noticed delays in your mail lately, imagine what that’s doing for shipping larger shipments like cars. Until delays aren’t part of our everyday lives again, the best way to get an estimate on your shipment is to ask your provider.

How Can I Make Sure My Car Arrives On Time?

As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When you consider that the average estimated time to ship a vehicle domestically is about four weeks from the time of pickup, you need to allow for at least that much time.

However, when you’re ready to ship your vehicle, you still need to find a transport vehicle with space for your vehicle on it. If you have specific needs like an exact pick-up date, an enclosed trailer, and the top-level spot in mind, you’ll need to allow for even more time to secure the perfect spot.

Choosing Carvaygo is one of the easiest ways to find the best ride for your situation. Carvaygo is an auto transport broker, so they’re in the business of making sure you get everything you need at the best price on the best schedule.

Will My Car Get Damaged During Shipping?

No one can predict the unpredictable. No one expects the unexpected. When you set out on any journey, whether you’re crossing the street on foot or flying around the world in a plane, you hope for safe and smooth travels.

Your auto transport company wants to get your vehicle delivered safely, so they’ll do everything they can to make sure it arrives just as it left.

For increased protection, opting for an enclosed carrier is the best option. You’ll also want to check that your auto transport company has insurance and is a reputable carrier company. You can check with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to verify the auto transport company you’re using or let the people at Carvaygo do all the homework for you.

Will it Cost More To Keep My Vehicle Safe?

Safety is when the variables that could cause harm are controlled. As far as safety goes, your vehicle is secured in place, and barring any unforeseen events; it’s likely to go from point A to point B unscathed.

To improve your vehicle’s odds, you can make choices to add:

  • Enclosed trailer
  • Top-level placement
  • Additional car cover

Your carrier will have insurance, but it never hurts to ask who the insurance provider is, what the policy covers, and the procedure for filing a claim. If you want more peace of mind, talk to your own insurance agent about your coverage during an auto transport.

It’s also advisable to remove your personal items from your vehicle, secure or remove any loose items, and take before and after pictures of any damage (pre-existing or sustained during transport).

Does it Cost More To Ship a Car Internationally?

Just like shipping your car domestically can vary widely, shipping your car internationally can range depending on your choice.

Generally, shipping internationally can cost between $1,000 to $5,000. Your car is typically crossing an ocean or at least part of one when you ship internationally, so it makes sense that it would affect the overall cost.

As with any option, the best way to get an idea of what the car shipment will cost is to ask for an auto transport quote with your options and then make some price comparisons.

How Can I Choose the Best Shipping Company?

You can check with the U.S. Department of Transportation to verify a company or check for consumer complaints. Or you can choose an auto transport broker like Carvaygo.

There’s so much to worry about when relocating. But worrying about your car shipping doesn’t have to be something on the list.

The Bottom Line

If you are moving, car shipping may be exactly what you need to relocate your ride. Now that you know what factors into the total cost of shipping your car and what to expect, you can start planning for your move.

Choose the right car hauler for you, your car, your schedule, and your budget.

Who is Moving and Why? Seven Questions about Residential Mobility | Joint Center for Housing Studies
By failing to prepare you are preparing... Benjamin Franklin | Forbes Quotes
Consumer Advisory About Automobile Transporters | FMCSA

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