If you’re looking for a way to ship your car, whether across the state or the nation, how do you know what’s right for you? Where do you even start looking for a company that provides this service? Below are some tips and helpful hints to get you started looking at potential carriers and finding the best fit for your needs.
Auto transport companies are plentiful and widespread—and you might be surprised at just how affordable it can be to ship your vehicle. You can narrow down the best one for your situation by comparing prices, services, and scheduling. Read on to learn more about the cheapest way to ship a car.
What is the Cheapest Method to Ship a Car?
Open transport will always be the least costly way to ship a car. What is open transport? When you see a semi-truck on the road hauling several cars on an open trailer, that’s open transport. This type of vehicle transport is perfectly fine for most vehicles—enclosed transport is significantly more expensive and an unnecessary cost burden for most cars. Enclosed transport is on average 30 to 50 percent more expensive than open transport for the same size vehicle, adding hundreds of dollars to your moving budget.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?
Typically, it can cost anywhere from around $500 to several thousand dollars to ship a car. If your trip is around 200 miles or less, you can expect to pay around $3 for every mile on the road. If your trip is 1,000 miles or more, the cost can be less than 80 cents per mile to ship. The price you’ll pay for shipping also depends on which method you choose—for instance, if you were to choose air freight, you might find that shipping the car is more expensive than the value of the car itself (around $3,000 to $12,000).
Other Options to Ship a Car
Though open transport is the cheapest way to move with a car, it might not be the best option for everyone. Explore additional options you have when you ship a car below.
Enclosed Carrier Transport
People with specialty, luxury, sports, or antique cars may opt for enclosed transport. While this is always a more expensive option than open transport, it can give you peace of mind when moving your car. Expensive sports and luxury cars are cheaper to transport than to repair if damage occurs.
People who modify cars to participate in drag races or drifting should think about opting for enclosed transport when taking their vehicles to competitions. Open transport runs the risk of damage by unforeseen events, such as debris flying up from the road or inclement weather. With enclosed transport, you can avoid those risks because your vehicle is protected from the elements.
Enclosed transport can be harder to arrange than open transport because there are fewer slots available for this car shipment. Open transport can ship around ten cars on one trailer; on the other hand, each car must have its own trailer for enclosed transport. Enclosed carrier shipping is also hundreds of dollars more expensive. However, as mentioned above, if you’re shipping a luxury or sports car, the extra money might be worth it to avoid higher repair costs in case of damage.
When shipping your car by train, you also have the option of open or enclosed transport. You can save costs of moving your belongings if you load up your car with stuff before placing it in a train car, which you cannot do when shipping over the road. Legally, train companies must be insured, so you don’t have to worry about the railroad skating by without insurance. Just as over-the-road transport, the cost lessens per mile the more miles you add to the journey.
Although moving your car by train can be less expensive than moving it with a semi-truck, you may incur extra costs, such as getting to the train terminal. This is no problem if your destination is located close to a railroad terminal, but that’s not the case for many places in the United States. It also takes longer for a train to arrive at its intended destination than a truck because of the scheduled starts and stops.
If you’re moving off the mainland, like to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or even another country in Europe, you’ll usually need to use a sea freight service to ship your car. This method can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, but if you want or need your vehicle with you when moving across a large body of water, that cost may be worth it.
You can do what’s called roll-on, roll-off moving, which is similar to what ferries do when you drive onto them. The vehicles are rolled on, fastened, or immobilized and then rolled off the vessel’s deck when they reach their destination.
You can also opt to have your car moved in a shipping container. These two options are much the same as open versus enclosed transport. However, the only benefits that shipping container vehicle moving has over the roll-on, roll-off method is that you can fill up the container with personal items, maybe enough so that you can ship everything you need overseas rather than by air (which is the most expensive form of vehicle transport).
Besides the hefty cost, there are some drawbacks to moving your car by ship. If you use the shipping container method, it’s best not to need your vehicle or belongings in the container in a hurry. Shipping schedules are fairly regular, but they take a while. This is not the fastest way to move a car.
This method of transporting involves hiring someone to drive your car to its destination for you. This way, you don’t have to drive it yourself if the long-distance concerns you or if you just don’t want the hassle. This is the most personalized service for moving cars that you can find. You can communicate with the company that will then assign a trained and experienced driver to drive your car where it needs to go.
While this is the most specialized option (door-to-door delivery, you can load the car up with personal items), not many people go with this option to move their everyday vehicles. This option is mainly used for large trailers or recreational vehicles since those can be cumbersome to drive if you don’t have a lot of experience or comfort doing so. This can also be pretty pricey since you’re paying for driver transfers (you may need more than one driver), and you may also incur wear and tear on your vehicle as it makes its way across the country.
Should I Drive My Own Car to My Destination?
There are plenty of reasons why driving your car yourself to your destination can be amazing. Depending on the length of the journey, the sights you can see may just be worth it. If you can take your time on your trip and you’re not on a tight deadline, you can use the time for a road trip and explore the different areas of our fascinating country. This can be especially enticing if you’re taking the trip with a loved one with whom you can have this experience and make these memories.
It can also be a bonus to get familiar with main highways and points of interest between your origin and destination if you’d like to revisit where you came from. It can be extremely cost-effective to take the steering wheel into your own hands; you can use the cash you’d need to pay for shipping fees for accommodations and sightseeing instead.
There are also several reasons you may not want to drive your own car when moving a long distance. Maybe you’re simply not ready for a cross-country drive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the middle part of the US is known for unpredictable weather conditions, and in some states, the roads can be less than pristine. You always have to think about the fact that if you drive your car long distances, its resale value can decrease. If you simply ship the car over land, then the car isn’t being driven, and you can stretch out the maintenance intervals on your car.
Tips to Ship a Car Cheaply
Afraid of the cost that you’ll incur when you ship your car? Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to save money on your upcoming move, including the following.
Make Your Reservation as Early as Possible
You may be able to get deals on your shipping quote if you schedule your car move early. You’ll usually be able to find a car shipping service two weeks in advance of your move but to have the best scheduling options and lowest bids, consider scheduling a month or two out. That way, you can coordinate with the company to schedule the best possible move at the best possible price—the companies you’re talking to will attempt to outbid each other on their prices, so starting early can aid this process and help you get a lower quote.
Get Multiple Quotes
The key to choosing a company to ship your car is not choosing the company with the highest price, of course, but you shouldn’t choose the company with the lowest, either. If a price is too good to be true, it probably is. A company may present you with an absurdly low quote that you know to be impossible simply because they may provide terrible service. However, the more likely scenario is that they’ll present you with that low quote and then tack on hidden fees after you’ve already paid some deposit.
Be wary of any bids that are significantly lower than competitors and don’t pay the highest price. Check out at least three competing companies to see what they offer you before booking your move.
Use Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping
Terminal-to-terminal shipping is when you drop your car off at a shipping terminal, and then they transport the car to another carrier terminal at or near your destination. This can save costs over door-to-door shipping, and you can also use it for more convenient scheduling. You can leave the car at the terminal until it’s convenient for you to pick it up without arranging for someone to drop it off at your home. You can also have a friend or family member pick up the car from the terminal or hire a tow company or a friend with a pickup truck to drop your car off. Be aware that all terminal-to-terminal transport is open carrier transport.
Our Recommended Car Shipping Services
The company you choose to provide your auto shipping services is almost as important as the method of shipment you use. Explore a few of our recommended auto shipping service providers below.
International Van Lines
If you’re moving long-distance or to a new country, International Van Lines (IVL) can be a strong choice for affordable auto shipping services. IVL is a full-service moving company, so their team can provide you with expanded services beyond what you’d find with a normal moving company. Some of the services you can book with IVL’s team include packing, furniture disassembly, and crating for larger items. IVL also has a more generous cancellation policy when compared to other full-service movers.
IVL can be an excellent choice if you’re shipping your car internationally. Unlike many other auto shipping services, IVL has experience shipping vehicles to more than 150 countries worldwide. Their team can arrange both sea freight and air freight transfers for international moves that require them, and you can combine terminal and door pickup and drop-off services to balance costs and convenience.
Best Full-Service Mover
- Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
- Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker Nationwide
- Live Chat & 24/7 Customer Service
Allied Van Lines
Allied Van Lines can be an excellent choice if you’re considering enclosed transport and looking for the most personalized moving services possible. Though Allied Van Lines offers both open and enclosed carry options, their team shines when it comes to trust with exotic and antique car movers. Allied’s team offers carrier services for nearly every type of major vehicle—including yachts and SUVs. You can ship any type of vehicle with Allied, including cars that are not currently able to run and non-traditional vehicles like snowmobiles. If you’re moving multiple vehicles, Allied Van Lines can offer you a one-stop-shop for all of your needs.
You can rest easy when you leave your expensive vehicle in the hands of Allied Van Lines. The company has over 90 years of experience in the moving industry and is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has awarded Allied Van Lines an A+ grade thanks to their non-stop commitment to transparency and fair practices with their customers. Your vehicle will also be covered up to $100,000 valuation at zero deductible when you move with Allied’s team—and this coverage applies to every vehicle you move.
Best for Extended Storage
- Local, National, & International Moving
- Extensive Add-On Service Options
- Short-Term & Long-Term Storage
uShip is a unique moving option that provides you with a moving marketplace you can use to connect with local teams that can help you ship your car. If you’ve ever used a platform like eBay or Poshmark, you might already know how uShip’s basic mechanics work. You have two options when searching for a moving team for a car:
- Name your price: If you have an idea of what you want to pay for your vehicle transportation services, you can create a listing for your job with a specific price point that you’re willing to pay. Moving companies that have availability will apply to your job, and you’ll choose the auto mover that offers the best price after reading reviews directly on uShip’s platform.
- Request bids: Not sure how much you should charge for your move? You can also list your auto shipping job without a price and request that movers bid on your job. You can then review these bids and the companies offering them to select the team that works best for you.
uShip’s unique platform can help you pay less for your automobile shipping by giving you more direct control over your pricing.
Best for Single-Item Shipping
- Provides Shipping Services for Furniture, Cars, Boats, etc.
- Easy Mobile App for Tracking
- Ships for Residential and Commercial Moving
Get Your Quote Now
Getting multiple quotes from car shipping services is the best way to ensure that you get the best pricing possible. We recommend getting a quote from each of our recommended auto shipping services before you book your move date. Remember—there’s no way to know if you’re overpaying for your car shipment until you know your options.
Car Shipping Cost FAQ
What is the average cost to ship a car?
The average cost to ship a car is about $1,000 to $1,300. This is the cost for long-distance open transport, which is used in most vehicle shipments. It’s more cost-effective to ship a car over longer distances than short distances because the price per mile rises significantly if the car is only being moved a few miles. Over two or three hundred miles, the prices shift downwards to less than a dollar per mile to move the vehicle.
Is it cheaper to tow or ship a car?
It’s cheaper to tow your car than to pay a company to ship it. You simply need to rent a tow dolly to attach another vehicle, whether yours or a friend’s and take the car yourself to its new destination. It can be less than half the cost of shipping your car just to rent a tow dolly that you then drop off once you’re finished with it at whichever mover you rented it from since they should have branches all over the country.
Is it worth it to ship a car?
If you’re going through a long-distance move, shipping your car can be worth it. If your car is an early model and only worth a couple of thousand dollars in the first place, the best thing to do for your moving budget may be to sell your car, especially if you’re moving overseas. But if you have a late model car in good to excellent condition, it can be worth it to ship the car, even if just for convenience’s sake. It depends on whether you want to make the cross-country or long-distance drive or if you would rather send it with a company like the rest of your belongings and simply meet your car at your new home.
Is it cheaper to ship a car by train or truck?
It’s almost always cheaper to ship your car by open transport on a truck. Yes, you can opt for open or enclosed transport on a train, but shipping by truck can be more convenient than shipping by train. Train shipping can be less environmentally impactful and slightly cheaper at first. However, by the time you factor in picking up your car from the closest terminal and waiting for the train to arrive, it may be best to opt for the classic and least expensive open transport by truck.