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How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car – Cheapest Way to Ship

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How much does it cost to ship a car and what is the cheapest car shipping option? Get all your answers here in detail.

Usually, the average cost to ship a car within the United States lies around $950 but you may expect the rates ranging anywhere between $700 to $1,200. Although it's tough to determine the exact figure, there are certain factors that you can study to get rough estimates.

Cost to Ship a Car - Cheapest Way to Ship

The cost to ship a car depends on various elements as explained below:

  • The distance the car will need to travel
  • The size and the model of the car
  • The method of shipping
  • The type of transport you choose

Here's how these factors affect the total cost to ship a vehicle:

1. Distance you are shipping the car

One of the most important factors to keep in mind while shipping a vehicle is the distance that has to be covered. Depending on whether you are shipping your car cross-state or cross-country, the figures may vary from $500 to $1,500. Most auto transport companies have a base price per mile shipped, and the fare decreases the further the car goes.

The cost to ship a car 1,000 miles usually lies from $500 to $1,000 but the rates drop as you increase the distance. The table given below gives you an idea as to how distance determines the average cost.

Distance Covered Average cost per mile
500 miles $1.00
1,000 miles $0.75
2,000 miles $0.50
2,000 miles+ $0.40

Tip: Remember to have your drop off and pick up location zip codes ready before you request quotes.

2. Size and the model of the car you plan to ship

The size of the vehicle will also have a big impact on the price of shipping. Heavier cars, such as pick-up trucks and SUVs, will cost more to ship than lighter cars, like four-door sedans. Owners of heavier cars can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 more than those with lighter cars.

TIP: Make sure to know your vehicle's make, model, and year when contacting an auto transport company, so they can provide an accurate quote.

Here's the average cost to ship a vehicle based on the model of the car

Type of car From Destination Cost
Ford F-150 New York Los Angeles $1,100 - $1,300
Chevy Malibu Indianapolis Los Angeles $800 - $1,000
Sedan New York Florida $650 - $850
Small van, truck or SUV California New York $800 - $1,100

Further, the cost may differ within the same cities for shipping different sizes of cars. Here's a table that shows how compact and heavy vehicles affect the cost of shipping for the same distance.

From To Cost of Shipping
Compact Cars Heavy Vehicles
East Coast West Coast $1,105 $1270
Midwest East Coast $685 $785
Midwest West Coast $920 $1,060
South North $710 $815

3. Method of shipping

There are two different methods of shipping cars, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Door-to-door shipping is the handiest way to ship a car. The carrier comes to your location, picks up your car, and drops the vehicle off wherever you choose. This method might be a tad more costly than others, but the convenience is unparalleled.

    For example, a door-to-door auto transport from Denver to Los Angeles would cost around $850.

  • Terminal-to-terminal is another option when deciding how to ship your car. In this case, you drop off your vehicle at a designated storage spot and pick it up yourself from a predetermined location. While the cost of terminal-to-terminal shipping appears to be less expensive than door-to-door, terminal storage fees and the inconvenience of having to transport the car yourself to the storage locations make this a costly and cumbersome choice.

    For example, a terminal-to-terminal auto transport from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles would cost around $725.

4. Mode of transportation

There are plenty of reliable and completely viable options available to you when shipping your car, even if you're shipping it long distance.

  • Shipping by train

    Instead of loading your car onto a truck, a good old-fashioned train does the heavy lifting. While some train routes will be cost effective and easy, others will be ridiculously expensive or just nonexistent. The cost to ship a vehicle by train could be less than $1,000 but for certain routes, the rates might go up.

    Following are the most popular rail services available for shipping in the United States:

    • Amtrak's Auto Train Service
    • Autolog Vehicle Transport
  • Shipping by air

    Shipping a vehicle by air is usually meant for international moves which cannot be covered by road. Although it's quicker than any other method, the cost could be as high as $100,000.

  • Shipping via ocean

    This method is used for transporting vehicles to long distances, especially to places like Alaska and Hawaii. The cost of shipping in this case is estimated between $1,000 and $1,500.

  • Shipping by a trailer

    An auto transport company can be hired to ship a vehicle through trailers for ensuring a safe move. There are two kinds of carriers used for auto transport each carrying their own rates. It includes the open-air trailers that can carry multiple cars at a time while enclosed trailers keep your car protected within closed walls and hence ensure more safety. Owing to this difference in the carriers, the cost of shipping a car in enclosed trailers can be more than 60% of what you have to pay for open-air vehicles.

    To get more information on these, read our latest guide open-air trailer vs enclosed trailer car shipping.

Other factors to consider

  • If a car isn't operable, it will cost more to ship. Why? The transporters won't be able to operate the car and load it normally. They will add fees on to the final price if they need to use special equipment or take extra time loading the vehicle.
  • Another factor to consider is the time of year. Shipping your car will cost more in peak months. If you try to transport your car in spring or summer, expect to pay $200 to $300 more. Avoid the surge prices on transporting by shipping your car during the winter or fall.

Cost of shipping a car to california

The factors that influence how much auto shipping will cost include the distance the car will need to travel, the size of the car and the method of shipping. If you are shipping a normal sized sedan 1,000 miles using an open door-to-door transport service, the median price is about $1,150. As far as the regions are concerned, shipping from the Midwest would be about $750 cheaper than shipping from the East Coast.

Here's a table that shows the cost to ship a vehicle to California from different regions.

Origin State City Price
Mountain Arizona Denver $600 to $1,000
Central Michigan Chicago $900 to $1,400
East coast Virginia New York City $1,200 to $1,700

Cheapest way to ship a car

Although the cheapest car shipping option is to not to use any shipping service and drive the car yourself, that would be too tiring and difficult to manage, especially for long distance moves. So, if you want to save yourself the trouble and want to know the cheapest way to ship a car, you can keep all factors in mind and calculate as to which option costs you the least. As far as the figures are concerned, there's no way to predict the exact amount but it can be as low as $500, depending on your move.

After going through the aforementioned factors, it's quite apparent that availing terminal-to-terminal shipping via open-air trailer would turn out to be the cheapest. However, your selection of services should totally depend on your requirements.

Scott Myers  Posted by Scott Myers on October 15, 2018

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