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The cost of shipping a car can fluctuate based on many factors, from the type of vehicle to the time of year. In this article, we'll go over industry averages, how carriers may calculate your car shipping cost, tips to save money on auto transport, and more.
Our review team researched and ranked the best car shipping companies on the market, many of which offer low-cost services. To find the most affordable company for you, you'll want to reach out to multiple companies and compare free, non-committal quotes.
How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?
We've reached out for car shipping quotes from a number of the industry's top auto transport service providers. According to this data, the average car shipping cost is about $1,200. However, car shipping costs vary depending on several key factors, so your own prices may be different.
The quotes we requested were for an operable 2018 Honda CR-V and an operable 2018 Lexus ES 350 traveling between 520 and 2,445 miles in January. To give you a better idea of how much it costs to ship a car, cost ranges for a variety of shipping services are detailed below.
Open auto transport: Between $689 and $2,064
Enclosed auto transport: Between $1,220 and $2,775
Cross-country shipping (2,445 miles): Between $1,389 and $2,775
Interstate car shipping (520 miles): Between $689 and $924
Quoted car shipping rates may not be the final price you'll pay for car shipping. Auto transporters sometimes include a service fee with your bill, and depending on the company, you may also need to pay for additional insurance. If you pay for expedited shipping, this will also increase your car shipping cost.
While it's not a conventional car shipping cost, cancellation fees are something to consider, as they should be expected from most car shipping companies. For example, Montway Auto Transport, a popular auto broker, charges $199 for any cancellation after an order has been accepted by a carrier.
What Factors Affect Car Shipping Costs?
As mentioned, there are many factors that go into determining your final car shipping cost. An obvious one is the car shipping company you choose. In our 2021 review of the best car shipping companies, Montway Auto Transport, Bargain Auto Transport, and AmeriFreight stood out for their cost-effective auto transport services.
Below, we outline other factors that will likely impact your vehicle transport cost.
Distance traveled: According to uShip, average car shipping costs in the U.S. are “$2.92 per mile to ship a car less than 200 miles” and “$0.78 per mile to ship a car 1,000 miles or more.” Long-distance car shipments will have better rates per mile than shipments traveling a few hundred miles. However, our research shows that cross-country shipments can still cost between $1,389 and $2,775.
Enclosed trailers vs. open trailers: Enclosed auto transport costs significantly more than open car transport, but it may be worth it for luxury and classic cars. Enclosed transports protect vehicles from environmental factors like dirt, debris, and rain.
Door-to-door vs. terminal-to-terminal: Door-to-door car transport services are more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping since the service is personalized. Rather than drop off and pick up your vehicle at a predetermined terminal (which can be hundreds of miles away from your home), the auto carrier delivers your vehicle to your home directly.
Time of year: Demand is higher in the summer months, making auto transport more expensive.
Carrier competition: If more car carriers are available for a particular shipment, it drives down customers' prices.
Price of fuel: If gas prices are high, car shipping companies may charge more to compensate for carriers’ extra fuel costs.
Vehicle operability: It takes more effort and resources to move non-working cars, as they can’t be driven onto the shipping platform. This makes them more expensive to ship than operable cars.
Vehicle size: Larger vehicles like SUVs, trucks, and recreational vehicles, as well as all-terrain vehicles will cost more to ship than compact cars.
Area of the U.S.: Shipping to and from rural areas will likely increase your car shipping cost.
The cheapest way to ship your vehicle is through an open transport option that travels from terminal to terminal. You could further lower your car shipping cost by traveling during the off-season and choosing a company that offers customer discounts. Flexibility also leads to low-cost options. By working around a shipper's delivery schedule and location, you can often find cheap car shipping prices. Otherwise, you'll front the cost for convenience.
How to Reduce Your Car Shipping Cost
Car shipping can be an expensive endeavor, especially if you opt for specialty services like expedited shipping or enclosed auto transport. However, there are a few ways to lower the cost of shipping. The main way to save is to find a car shipping company that offers discounts.
Our top four recommended auto transporters offer the following discounts:
Montway Auto Transport: Military, returning customer, multiple vehicles, and pay-in-cash
AmeriFreight: Military, first responder, medical personnel, student, senior citizen, early bird, returning customer, and multiple vehicles
Sherpa Auto Transport: Military and medical personnel
Comparing free auto transport quotes is a tried-and-true way to ensure you get the best car shipping cost. Depending on the company, you can easily receive instant online car shipping quotes for your shipment. You'll need to have the following information handy:
Pickup location and destination
Vehicle make, model, age, and operability
Transport preference (open or enclosed)
Preferred shipping dates
Specialty services, if applicable
To start comparing free quotes from our top recommended auto shipping companies, click below.
Our Recommendations for Auto Shipping
To kick off your search for the best auto shipping cost, we recommend reaching out to Montway Auto Transport and AmeriFreight. Both auto transport brokers are backed by excellent industry ratings and offer some of the best car shipping quotes in the industry.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Availability
Our highest-rated provider, Montway Auto Transport not only lets customers choose from standard shipping options—open, enclosed, door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal—but also specialty services like expedited shipping and Hawaii auto transport. The broker vets every auto transport carrier it works with, ensuring your vehicle is in the best hands possible.
Montway Auto Transport holds an accredited A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a 4.3 out of 5.0-star score from customer reviews on Trustpilot. The broker ships to all 50 states, as well as internationally.
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AmeriFreight: Best Discounts
AmeriFreight offers a wide range of discounts to its customers, especially ones not available from any other car shipping company. The broker holds exceptional customer service ratings—a 4.88 out of 5-star BBB customer rating and a 4.7 Trustpilot score—and offers competitive pricing for its services.
AmeriFreight offers open, enclosed, door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, and alternative vehicle shipping (for ATVs and RVs), all of which are available in all 50 states.
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