Car shipping costs vary by vehicle model, transport type, shipping distance, chosen provider and a multitude of other factors. While some aspects of pricing are out of your control, there are plenty of ways to lower your auto transport costs – and we’ll explore them below.
We’ve reviewed the best car shipping companies on the market to find out which providers offer the lowest overall car shipping cost. By getting free, custom car shipping quotes, you can compare prices from multiple vehicle transport carriers at once to determine the best and cheapest shipping options.
Average Car Shipping Costs in 2021
According to our research, open transport deliveries of 500 or so miles often have car shipping costs of around $600. Vehicle shipments of 1,000 miles tend to be around $900, while long-distance and cross-country shipments such as those from New York to Los Angeles or Seattle cost more than $1,150. However, the price per mile decreases as the overall mileage between delivery locations increases.
For example, if you ship with Montway Auto Transport, the company’s car shipping calculator estimates prices using the following guidelines:
- Shipments under 500 miles cost around $1.96 per mile.
- Shipments between 500 and 1,500 miles cost around 93 cents per mile.
- Shipments over 1,500 miles cost around 58 cents per mile.
We’ve received car shipping quotes from some of the industry’s most popular auto transport companies, and below are a few examples you can use as rough estimates for car shipping costs. All of these estimates apply to a standard and operable car. You’ll likely pay more if you’re shipping an SUV, pickup truck or inoperable vehicle.
|Shipping Company||Route||Distance||Open Transport Car |
|Enclosed Transport Car |
|Montway Auto Transport||New York City to Washington, D.C.||231 miles||$529||$679|
|AmeriFreight||New York City to Washington, D.C.||231 miles||$561||$1,009|
|uShip||New York City to Washington, D.C.||231 miles||$617||N/A|
|Montway Auto Transport||Atlanta to Richmond, Virginia||533 miles||$609||$779|
|AmeriFreight||Atlanta to Richmond, Virginia||533 miles||$799||$1,257|
|uShip||Atlanta to Richmond, Virginia||533 miles||$468||N/A|
|Montway Auto Transport||San Diego to Portland, Oregon||1,083 miles||$909||$1,249|
|AmeriFreight||San Diego to Portland, Oregon||1,083 miles||$699||$1,257|
|uShip||San Diego to Portland, Oregon||1,083 miles||$1,020||N/A|
|Montway Auto Transport||Austin, Texas, to San Francisco||1,757 miles||$909||$1,249|
|AmeriFreight||Austin, Texas, to San Francisco||1,757 miles||$791||$1,423|
|uShip||Austin, Texas, to San Francisco||1,757 miles||$1,529||N/A|
What Affects Car Shipping Costs?
A wide range of factors can impact car shipping cost estimates. After all, moving a car is a big task that requires specific technology and coordination among multiple parties. Here are a few of the main variables that will affect your overall cost of shipping:
- Distance: The total price increases as mileage increases, but the price per mile decreases at the same time. You’ll generally pay about $2 per mile for short distances or 50 cents per mile for long-distance shipping.
- Type of service: As seen in the table above, open car transport costs less than enclosed trailer transport. You may want an enclosed auto carrier to protect a luxury or classic car, though.
- Time of year: Transport pricing is most expensive during the summer months and in January because these times are popular for moving.
- Vehicle size: An average-size open transport trailer can fit between five and nine vehicles. The larger your vehicle, the more it may cost to transport.
- Vehicle operability: If your car works, the trucker can drive the vehicle onto the trailer. If not, the truck driver will have to winch the vehicle, and you’ll pay extra.
- Vehicle clearance: Cars with low ground clearance may not fit on an open carrier. In this case, the car will require an enclosed trailer, which is more expensive and more of a hassle.
- Price of fuel: When gas is relatively expensive, auto transport companies charge more.
- Carrier competition: When you work with a broker or through a marketplace, multiple car carriers offer bids to win your business, which can drive down your car shipping cost.
How to Lower Your Car Shipping Cost
While you might not be able to change the type of vehicle you have, doing the following can help you find the best price for car shipping services.
- Avoid moving during the peak car shipping seasons, which occur during the summer and in January.
- Book your shipment at least two weeks in advance, if possible.
- Be flexible on your time frame for dropoff and pickup dates.
- Choose an open transport truck instead of an enclosed carrier, if possible.
- Search for companies that offer discounts for military members, students and older adults.
- Avoid expedited auto transport services, if you can help it.
The standard car transport service is door-to-door delivery, but you might be able to pick up or drop off your car at a vehicle shipping terminal instead to lower your car shipping costs. Also, auto transport in rural areas usually costs considerably more than in metro regions. You might consider getting an auto transport quote for a nearby city if you’re looking for cheap car shipping.
Our Recommendations for Auto Shipping
Montway Auto Transport and AmeriFreight are excellent options for drivers searching for ways to lower their car shipping costs. Both providers are fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and offer cost-effective rates for auto transport.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Provider
In our Montway Auto Transport review, we gave the provider 9.0 out of 10.0 stars and chose it as the best of all car shipping companies. Montway works with over 15,000 vetted and fully insured shippers, helping earn the company an A+ rating from the BBB and 4.49 out of 5.0 stars from customers on the BBB website.
Among the multiple car transporters we reviewed, Montway offered some of the lowest car shipping prices.
AmeriFreight: Best for Discounts
AmeriFreight is another reputable car transport company that is known to investigate its partner carriers to ensure customers receive top-notch service. AmeriFreight has an A+ rating from the BBB and a 4.86-star rating from customer reviews on the BBB website. Based on industry reputation, shipping costs, services and customer experience, we give AmeriFreight 9.0 out of 10.0 stars just like Montway.
AmeriFreight provides affordable car shipping costs through its discounts for military members, first responders, students, senior citizens, returning customers and others.
FAQ: Car Shipping Cost
What’s the cheapest way to ship my car?
The best way to get secure transport at a low car shipping cost is by using an open transport truck. You can also ship by train, but it’s risky and only available between Washington, D.C., and Florida. Open-truck transport is the preferred choice of most people because it’s both affordable and reasonably safe.
How much should it cost to ship a car?
Your car shipment costs will depend on factors such as your car model, intended journey and the shipping services you choose. If you ship a sedan for around 1,000 miles, expect to pay between $700 and $1,000. If you need to use enclosed transport for a large or inoperable vehicle, you’ll pay about $400 more, depending on the carrier.
Does AAA offer car shipping?
AAA Transporters is a company that provides car shipping, but it is completely separate from the roadside assistance company AAA that most people recognize.
How much does it cost to ship a car 2,500 miles?
According to Montway Auto Transport, it costs about 58 cents per mile to ship a car beginning at the 1,500-mile mark. So a 2,500-mile car shipment would likely cost around $1,450. If you need auto shipping from California to Hawaii or auto shipping to/from Alaska, you’ll pay more.
The Detroit Bureau collects data from every major car shipping provider to formulate rankings of the best auto transport companies. Our in-depth rating system takes into account pricing, services, customer satisfaction and ratings from industry experts. Each provider is given a weighted score in four categories, as well as an overall score out of 10.0.
We recommend car shipping companies based on these rankings, but we also encourage you to perform your own research and compare quotes to find the best service.