By on July 18, 2018

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?

So really, how much does it cost to ship a car? Whether you’re moving, temporarily relocating for an extended job contract, or buying a vehicle from an out-of-state seller, options are numerous in transporting your vehicle from its current location to its new home. In general, these options boil down to one of two alternatives: drive the vehicle to its new home yourself, or have it transported there, professionally using some kind of auto transport services.

Each option comes with its own set of pros and cons. Your final decision may be based on numerous factors, including the distance to the new destination, the timing of your trip, the cost of each alternative, and the overall time and effort required for each.

If you’re relocating to the next state temporarily for a new job contract, driving your vehicle yourself may be feasible. If you’re moving permanently across the country in a small window of time, driving the vehicle yourself may not be. There are many factors at play, and the best answer is the one that best suits your specific preferences and situation.

If you’re considering having your vehicle shipped professionally over a long distance, you’re not alone. Every year, countless customers take advantage of vehicle shipping services, like those offered by Auto Transport Quote Services. Working with a reputable vehicle shipping company means your vehicle is picked up at your current location, delivered to your new location some time later, and that there’s no worry or hassle required on your part for the duration of that trip.

Of course, the cost of shipping a vehicle varies on a wide array of factors—and you’ll probably compare the cost of shipping your vehicle to the cost of driving it yourself.

To quickly obtain an accurate quote for shipping your vehicle, whether across the state or across the country, visit a site like Auto Transport Quote Services. You’ll find online tools for a quick and accurate quote, as well as contact information to get in touch with a car shipping expert who can quickly gather information on your needs and provide an accurate quote, fast.

Photo by Nicholas Dutko.

Some factors that affect the cost of shipping your vehicle include the origin and destination locations, the distance between them, the popularity of the route between the locations, and the actual vehicle being transported. Factors like the vehicle’s overall length and weight play a significant role in the shipping quote.

Seasonality also affects pricing, based on demand and competition. As a generalized example, the cost of shipping a midsize sedan from New York to Florida is about $525 in springtime, but the figure jumps to $900 or more for the same job in the fall, because this route is more popular with snowbirds later in the year. You’ll also typically pay more for a shipping job if it’s urgent—if you need to ship your vehicle next week, it’ll probably cost you more than planning to have it shipped in 2 months. The more lead time you’re able to provide, the less you’ll typically pay, all else being equal.

Vehicles can be shipped by various methods, too. These include open transport on a high-capacity car carrier trailer, or via a solo drive in an enclosed and protected transport. The latter option is popular with owners of specialty cars, show cars, and exotic or luxury cars, and is often faster, though it costs more. For many shoppers, the less-expensive option is to transport a vehicle via an open carrier, where it will ride along a route with a number of other vehicles. This option typically costs the least, though it may take longer for your vehicle to arrive at its destination as the transport has numerous stops to make along the route.

Shipping costs also vary based on proximity to metropolitan areas. If you currently live an hour outside of a big city, and you’re moving to a town that’s two hours from a big city, you may be able to save substantially with cheap car transport by arranging to have the vehicle picked up/dropped off at the city nearest to your origin/destination, rather than having the transport retrieve and drop the vehicle, door to door.

A generalized dollar figure is hard to accurately nail down for any specific car transport job—but a quick call or visit to Auto Transport Quote Services will give you an accurate quote in minutes.

Once you’ve got a shipping quote in hand that accurately represents your specific requirements for your specific vehicle delivery, you may wish to compare it to the costs of driving the vehicle to its new home yourself.

Just be sure to consider all costs.

Shipping via an auto transport specialist comes with one price, up front, that’s set ahead of time and won’t fluctuate. Compare that figure to the cost of driving the same distance—factoring in wear and tear, fuel, lodging, meals, time away from work if applicable, and any potential setbacks (repairs, flat tires) you may encounter on the drive. If it’s a lengthy trip, note that adding thousands of miles to your vehicle’s odometer may have a tangible impact on its resale value, too.

A side-by-side comparison of the costs of shipping versus driving a car to its new home is useful, to make sure that shipping the vehicle is right for you.

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47 Comments on “How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So what are you selling exactly, reservations to transport vehicles which you then sell to the actual transporters? This is a business?

    “but the figure jumps to $900 or more for the same job in the fall, because this route is more popular with snowbirds later in the year”

    Gotta gouge those snowbirds don’tcha know.

    “If it’s a lengthy trip, note that adding thousands of miles to your vehicle’s odometer may have a tangible impact on its resale value”

    Possibly, but not likely outside of certain oddballs and exotics. A better reason would be the extremely limited lease mileage amounts which are designed to steal as much money as they can from you. Protip: Vehicle mileage does not have as much of an impact on valuation as much as shifty dealers would have you think. Don’t lease.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Or don’t get a lease that is unrealistic based on the actual miles you drive. I knew a guy that had over 30k on his leased 340i 18 months in. Not sure what his thinking was.

      • 0 avatar
        chrishs2000

        Well he was probably thinking of exactly how much monthly payment he could afford to drive a car that he clearly couldn’t afford…

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I’ve had several people talk to me about this “problem”. They get 1-2 years into their lease and already used up their mileage, often ending up having to buy the car instead of paying the excess lease fee. I get if someone like loses their job and has to get a new one, but don’t most people have a general idea of how much they drive?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      The IRS mileage numbers are a good rough estimate of costs including depreciation, repairs, wear items, gas etc. It’s current $0.544 a mile. The 1,295 drive from NYC to Naples FL would cost you $705.77. This is for an average person. This doesn’t apply to someone who defines their existence based on driving a ’93 Camry with 850,000 miles on it (that they bought 10 years ago from a senile widow for $2,800.)

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Its basic logistics.

      So logistics companies find spots on trucks traveling from place to place. Their goal is to optimize loads to fill empty spots on trucks and smooth out demand.

      Its more expensive to do things at certain times of the year not to gouge people, but because you have more demand. The big thing with trucking logistics is that it is ONE WAY demand. If I can fill my truck driving from Tampa Florida to NYC, and then fill it driving back from NYC to Tampa, then the cost can partially be absorbed by a lot more goods. (in the case of cars, say 16 cars instead of 8). With the snowbirds however, they are all moving ONE direction. That means I fill my truck, go one direction, then have to drive back EMPTY.

      Because I’m driving back EMPTY, it would be really cheap for someone else to get their car on that empty truck (hence the price DECLINES). However, all the trucks are full going the other direction (Hence the price INCREASES). The price increase both covers the fact that the trucks have to cover the price of 2 way transportation AND to spur additional supply with truckers coming in to fill those route (IE someone from GA may go take a route from Tampa to NYC for $1200 a car, but they couldn’t justify the inconvenience and cost for $600 a car)

      Shipping logistics is a really interesting place to watch supply and demand, because its actually a really LOW MARGIN business. They don’t make that much money, so the pricing disparities really show you whats going on behind the scenes- where there’s a lack of demand and where there’s a lack of supply.

      Since these things are predictable, you can use it in your favor- and the trucking companies support it. They WANT you to use them when they are cheap, because that means they have excess supply that is in need of loads to carry.

      There’s a lot of trucks that are stuck going 1 way with an empty trailer going back however, and that drives the price up big time.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’ve only ever shipped a car on Military orders to and from Europe. I don’t know what they paid to ship my POS Chevy Astro back from Naples, but I got lucky. I shipped just as the contract for this service changed. I knew folks that were waiting 6 to 8 months on the receiving end and there were instances where cars were lost. I guess the moral is do your homework when shipping. This was a recurring theme with my furniture as well unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I thought about allowing a military contractor ship one of my cars from San Diego to Bremerton, Wa. back in the ’80s but didn’t go through with it. Glad I didn’t – the dockworkers that put ’em on the transport ship crushed in the doors on several of the vehicles with the cables on the spreader bars being used to hoist ’em on and off ship. Of course nobody would cover the damages done as it was a “free ride” by the government.

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    I’ve shipped collector muscle cars twice. Once from Canada to the US and once state to state. Both enclosed trailer. About $1200-1400. Good experiences both times with different carriers.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    They wanted $900 to ship a car from Phoenix, AZ to Syracuse, NY back in 2003. For some reason it was only $700 if they shipped it to Buffalo instead. It’s only 2 1/2 hours away so I picked it up at a dealer in Buffalo. For $500 I would have picked it up in Columbus, OH, lol.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      When I lived in Syracuse (solvay to be more specific), I bought a new car from Cincinnati Ohio, and a new Motorcycle from Lakeside Florida… Had the bike shipped, but drove down to Cinci to pick up the car because shipping was $$$$$!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      “terminal to terminal” is much cheaper than “door to door”, as the first and last parts of the trip are usually on rollback trucks – the big rigs only go as far as the closest terminal.

      Back in the day I shipped my ’79 Peugeot 504D from California to MA for about $600 by dropping it at the shipper and picking it up at their terminal in MA. Door to Door would have been nearly double.

      But I usually just fly and drive when I buy a car from far away, most recently my ’91 Volvo 940GLE got driven from Los Angeles to Florida. The thought of breaking down in Montana or something in an ancient Peugeot made me think better of that though.

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    I shipped collector muscle cars twice, two different companies. Once from Canada to the US and the other state to state. About $1200 to 1400. Good experiences both times.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    For some reason I thought the article was going to dissect the costs for destination charges when buying a new car. I didn’t even realize private shipping was possible within the continental United States and for some reason thought you could only do it of you had to get the car across the ocean.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    In 08 it cost 600.00 in open trailer Bossier City LA to KC burbs for my 330i
    In ’11 it cost less than 500.00 to get my g37s sedan form Houston to KC-also open trailer
    Our 12 Sienna from Chicago burbs for some reason cost 750 on solo flatbed.
    All of these were arranged by dealers where I purchased these preowned

    Probably least expensive-and most fun , is to fly one way and drive.Regardless, I always let my insurance agent know what I’m doing to insure the vehicle.
    Luckily I’ve never had an issue with the condition of the vehicles upon arrival.

  • avatar
    whynot

    It cost about $1000 to ship my car from FL to NM. Could probably find cheaper but company was paying for it not me so I just went the easy route and had the movers set it up.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’ve shipped a few cars and the answer is “it varies” for half way accross the country, California to Texas and back, it’s about $800 to $2000. Time of the year matters, open vs enclosed carrier, hot shot, kid glove classic car carriers or generic car haulers. If you care about the car, don’t take the low bid. More importantly establish a relationship with the shipper. I wouldn’t use one of those brokers again, call the shipper shipper directly and better talk with them on the phone instead of email. Like I said you want to establish what you expect.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Timely article as I was just having this conversation today with a friend. He buys almost all his cars out of state. Living in South FL means we are have over 350 miles just to reach GA. He said anywhere between $500 to $1,000 is what to expect. I was asking because I found a car in NJ and the wife wanted it shipped. I think driving it back would be entertaining. I’d hate to get that rush of getting a new car then the immediately let down while waiting nervously for it arrive.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Vehicle shipping often represents arbitrage opportunities for private sellers. About 3-5 years ago, there was a substantial spread between the price of offroad vehicles in Colorado and the rest of the Southwest. I took advantage by driving up vehicles to my relations in Colorado, and having them sell in private party sales. We would split the profits, after my expenses. It was good spending money for not a lot of work, and a good way to turn leisure into profit.

    Unfortunately, for me, the most profitable buy was the Xterra Pro-4x that my brother requested for himself. The price I got on that one was so good that there is probably still $3,000 – $4,000 profit whenever he decides to sell.

    Anyway, those days are long gone. Arbitrage has done its work, and I’m sure shipping companies got a nice chunk of the action.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Many years ago when I was still in the mobile auto repair business I had a customer who was an auto wholesaler. He’d buy VW’s in the Seattle area drive them to an auction in CA to sell and then buy a Subaru to bring back to WA. He would also buy at dealer auctions in UT. For that he would board a plain and his “luggage” was a tow bar wrapped in a heavy blanket and duct tape and a set of magnetic lights. He’d buy pickup with hitches and a smaller car and drive them home.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      The disparity between southern cars and midwestern cars is unreal. I know multiple people who, as their full time career, drive down to Florida or Texas, buy up cars at auction, drive them to the midwest, and resell them.

      I learned from that and now when I buy special cars I often go south. I bought my F350 Diesel from Texas, drive it for 2 years, and sold it for thousands more than I paid. I paid $4800 for an SLK 320 that I resold for 8500 several years later, and bought an exotic from Florida that I still have but could easily sell for more today.

      Easy way to save some serious cash when you buy and make a profit when you sell.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    One possible option not mentioned: ship by rail. Years ago, I drove a friend from NY to Florida for college. We drove down in my car together and I was planning to drive home alone. Then I noticed billboards for Amtrak’s Auto Train. Leaves Central Florida and arrives in Virginia. From there, it was just a quick 5 hour drive back to NY. And there were TONS of old, retired snowbirds on that train, so I’m quite sure this was a very popular option to transport their cars without driving long hours.

    • 0 avatar
      Funky

      I have done the Autotrain thing. I’d recommend trying it at least once if one makes a habit of this north to south, south to north trip. Compartments with a table, bed, and private bath are available. The meals which go along with the compartment ticket are fine and a fun experience. Just take note that the compartment walls are very thin so you’ll likely hear your neighbors (especially late at night when there are no other distractions) and they will hear you, so behave accordingly. I mention this advice because I could’ve used a heads-up on this. Live and learn, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I looked into it for my FL-ME jaunts the past couple years. But for me the economics don’t work. It only saves a long day of driving time, it’s pretty spendy, and I stay in hotels for free.

      But I think if I ever move my Land Rover Disco down to FL I’ll suck it up an pay it – worth saving the 10-12hrs of driving in that rig. Gas and wear and tear on the psyche. Then again, if the price of gas is up when the time comes it might be worth just shipping it at 15mpg since I could do it in the off-season.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    Maybe they don’t do this anymore but back in the 80’s my sister moved from Pittsburgh to LA and they drove their Chevette right into the moving van, it was one of the last things loaded.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      My last move they didn’t want any chemicals so I doubt it. The one time I had a car shipped by the moving company, 20 years ago, they contracted out the car move. Both of those were with United.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Works with a Chevette (or in our case mom’s car was an Omni) however with the SUVs people drive these days it ain’t happening.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      They still do it. A buddy of mine has done this several times for work – both internationally and domestically. His Porsche went right into the moving van for the domestic move and into the container for the international. Both times with a platform over it for the rest of his stuff.

      Though on the return from international most recently things got interesting – it was a shared container, and some other party put a box of some kind of smoked meat in with their stuff. Customs picked the container for a full inspection, and when they found the meat rejected the whole shipment! Back across the ocean it went. The shipper did make it right, but it took like 8 months for him to get his car. That Porsche has gone back and forth across the Atlantic like 4 times since it was built! Sold in the US, wrecked in Texas, he bought it from Copart and shipped the wreck home to Hungary and had his mechanic brother rebuild it on the cheap.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I’ve done several cross-country corporate moves. And several times, they pulled my cars into the moving van & transported them along with the rest of my things.

    Most recently (3 years ago), I purchased my late grandfather’s 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis from the estate. Car was immaculate, & only had 26k miles on it. I had it transported (open carrier) from southwest Florida to Southern California. It cost me $800. They picked it up on Friday morning at my parents’ home & delivered it to my house in SoCal late Sunday night… and it was not the first one off! Obviously, they drove straight-through… which was fine with me. Was super-pleased with the speedy delivery… no damage incurred either.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I had two friends that shipped from NYC to Los Angeles. I don’t know if they used a broker or dealt directly with the shipper. Both times were nightmares, in that the cars arrived two weeks and three weeks later than quoted delivery times. Those stop gap car rentals really upped the total cost of the move. Would have been better off selling the car and buying another at the destination, since both moves were permanent.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      They didn’t go through a broker. They paid the shipper directly (with no protection), only to get excuses while the shipper patiently waited for a “deadhead” opportunity, NYC to Los Angeles “empty”, or an empty spot on a 10-car carrier.

      The broker has a network of online “boards” to find shippers actively searching for a NYC/LA move, in the coming days or hours.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      There’s no shops in my area to service one of my cars so I have to ship it to a major city.

      I put in the order in January and it didn’t get shipped until April! they kept having to reschedule, no showing, overfilled, too few customers to run the route, etc.

      No fun at all. I learned why it makes sense to work with one of the bigger logistics companies even if they are pricier. The small players are awful at leveling demand and really let me down big time.

  • avatar
    markf

    In 2016 I paid $2600 to ship a 2011 Sienna Door to Door from Stuttgart, Germany to Phoenix,AZ. That included all customs and port fees. The transatlantic portions was relatively inexpensive, maybe $1200 or so. The rest was port/customs fees and transport from Texas to Phoenix……

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    And here I thought this article was going to be about why the delivery fee was so high a NEW cars.

    Less links and mentions of one specific business would make it seem more like an article and less like an advertorial.

    • 0 avatar

      In 1966, my parents bought a new Volvo 122S while visiting Sweden. The car cost $1995, and shipping was $25. ($15,300 and $192 in today’s dollars.) No, l did not leave off any zeroes! They picked up the car in New Jersey and drove it home to Maryland. My mother did not like it, so I inherited it and drove it all through college and medical school.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      It is an advertorial… it even states that on the image?

  • avatar
    incautious

    coast to coast is usually cheapest as there are always trucks looking to fill up for return trips. Also major city to city IE Boston to Chicago. once you start talking cornfields, well $$$

  • avatar
    arach

    I’ve only shipped 5 vehicles, and its always been pretty pricey. $1200 for an enclosed exotic, $650-750 for open motorcycles, and only about $400 for a crated ATV and a crated bike.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      haha- After posting this I realized how wrong I actually was. every time Is service one of my cars I have to ship the stupid thing, but I didn’t think of it as shipping because the dealer coordinates it.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Are we commenting on an ad?

    After the Great Deer Strike of ’14, it cost $550 to ship the Trooper from upstate NY to mid- coast CT. Had to be flatbedded; of course it was off the beaten path so there wasn’t a ton of truck traffic in the area dropping loads off. And the clock was ticking as the car sat in a storage facility after the accident.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Saw a Chevy Sonic on the Maine Turnpike a couple of weeks ago with Hawaii plates. Had never seen such a thing before in Maine. I looked it up and found that it costs about $1000 to ship a car from Hawaii to California. So whoever owned that Sonic spent some cash on their trip.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I’ve had cars shipped twice.

    In 2001 I purchased a 1996 Buick Regal GS from a dealer in Salt Lake City, they arranged shipping to a drop-off point at the closest auto auction to me in Rockford, IL — about 1400 miles. That was $600.

    When I left home my parents had the space and were generous enough to store my Wildcat until they finished downsizing in 2016, at which point I needed to ship it from outside Rockford to the edge of Wilmington, DE (850 miles).

    Going through the quoting services I found there were a couple of quotes that were very low (~$550) and some that were very high (~$1500) but most fell in the $700-$1000 range. I didn’t need white glove treatment and the cheap outfits had an overwhelming preponderance of negative reviews (vehicle lost, vehicle severely damaged, etc.) so those were easy to eliminate.

    After that I found there were many small but significant differences between shippers. Some advertised daily status updates with vehicle location and ETA. Many required both the interior and trunk of the vehicle to be empty. At least one quote required the vehicle to have valid registration and insurance. Some wanted all cash, some wanted a mix of cash and credit.
    Delivery windows varied, too — most were 3, 5, or 7 days.

    Being able to ship stuff in the trunk was important for me — I have some irregularly-sized theater cardboard stand-ups that wouldn’t fit with the kids and luggage on a regular trip so putting them in the trunk saved having to ship them separately.

    I was surprised to find the second time that it would have only saved me $50 to drop off at a terminal in Chicago and pick up at a terminal in Philly. Given the time and effort to get a ride there and back at the times of day they wanted it wasn’t worth it at all. I guess with the pick up being close to I-90 and the drop off being close to I-95 it was along a regular route.

    Shipping was delayed a day because the first vehicle underestimated the size of the car and didn’t have room for it. I was annoyed by that but I appreciated that the driver didn’t try to shoehorn the car and damage it. In any case, the company sent a different driver the next day and it arrived two blocks from my house (where the driver was able to park the truck) just under 3 days later for $780.

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