What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship My Car?

At a glance

If all you need with car shipping is to get your vehicle from your old home to your new one, you may be tempted to go with the least expensive option you can find. But auto transport is more complicated than just picking the cheapest company.

Car shipping prices fluctuate often and are unique to every shipment. Plus, many companies give you an initial quote but charge you much more in the end. This makes it tricky to know how much car shipping actually costs—and to find a company that offers the most bang for your buck.

We’ve done the research to answer those questions for you. Check out our tips below to get the lowest price on your auto transport:

How do you find cheap vehicle shipping rates?

The best way to ship a car is to find an honest company with low prices—but it can be tricky to know where to look. We’ll walk you through our tips for finding a reliable shipping company and tell you how to ship your car cheaply.

First, let’s take a quick look at how much it costs to ship a car and why car shipping prices aren’t as straightforward as you may think.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

The average cost to ship a car is about $710. The shipping cost ranges from about $280 to $2,060 depending on factors like the size of your vehicle, transport type, and distance.

Megaphone

ANXIOUS ABOUT CAR SHIPPING?

ANXIOUS ABOUT CAR SHIPPING?

If you’re nervous about letting a shipping company transport your car, you can do it yourself: rent a car trailer or tow dolly.

What do I need to know about car shipping prices?

Car shipping prices vary from day to day and company to company. When you ask a car shipping company for a quote, the amount you receive isn’t necessarily your final price. The company you work with may not even be the company that ships your car.

It can feel a bit like the Wild West, but we’re here to help you choose a reliable car shipper and get the lowest possible rate.

If you still have questions, check our tutorial about how car shipping prices work.

Definition badge

WHY AM I WORKING WITH TWO COMPANIES?

WHY AM I WORKING WITH TWO COMPANIES?

When you ship a car, a broker connects you with smaller car transport companies called carriers. These are the companies that own the trucks and hire the staff that actually get your vehicle from point A to point B. Learn more about the difference between brokers and carriers.

How do you ship your car cheaply?

Get multiple quotes

One of the best ways to get a low price for auto transport is to get several quotes. We recommend contacting three to five companies and avoiding those with the lowest and highest prices.

Why avoid a company with rock-bottom prices? Because it’s possible those prices are too good to be true.

The carriers that bid on your job sometimes submit unrealistic prices so you’ll choose them and then raise the price after you’ve booked. You may pay a deposit that can’t be refunded and get stuck with an expensive car company you thought had low rates.

Avoid cheats. Don’t go with a company that has the lowest or highest price.

Heads up exclamation

IS CAR SHIPPING SAFE?

IS CAR SHIPPING SAFE?

We know you don’t want to hand over your car to just anyone. Check out our tips for keeping your car safe during auto transport.

Make an early reservation

The more time companies have to bid on your job, the more likely you are to get a low price. One company might submit a bid of $950 the first day, while another could come in at $875 the next day. The longer companies bid against each other, the lower your price goes.

The benefits of making an early reservation max out at about two weeks, so you don’t have to spend months waiting. Just plan ahead.

You could save hundreds of dollars.

Little pin

GET YOUR OWN BIDS WITH USHIP

GET YOUR OWN BIDS WITH USHIP

You can hire a car shipping broker to get bids for you—or you can request your own with uShip (an online marketplace). It’ll likely cost you a little bit more, but you can’t beat the convenience.

Use open transport

Almost all cars are shipped on the big semitrailers you see on the road. The industry term for this kind of shipment is open transport—and it’s a simple way to save hundreds of dollars.

About 10% of vehicles ship inside a fully enclosed container, but this costs a pretty penny and usually isn’t necessary.

Car shipping costs by transport type

Open transportEnclosed transportSavings
150 miles$380$610$230
550 miles$620$980$360
1,050 miles$840$1,220$380
2,750 miles$1,130$1,640$510
150 miles
550 miles
1,050 miles
2,750 miles
Open transport Enclosed transport Savings
$380 $610 $230
$620 $980 $360
$840 $1,220 $380
$1,130 $1,640 $510

Data as of 5/13/2020. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for three car sizes across five distances. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

An enclosed trailer is mainly for customers with specialty cars:

  • Classic cars
  • Custom cars
  • Exotic cars
  • Antique cars

Learn more in Do I Really Need an Enclosed Carrier?

Pick the right company

Choosing the wrong company can cost you hundreds of dollars. And don’t forget potential headaches like late delivery or a damaged vehicle.

Be sure to pick a company that has a low price and a good reputation.

Megaphone

BEST AUTO TRANSPORT COMPANIES

BEST AUTO TRANSPORT COMPANIES

Price matters—but it’s not everything. Check out our list of the best car shipping companies to see which auto transport company is best for you.

Cross-country shipping: Bargain Auto Transport

If you want to know how to ship a car to another state on the cheap, look no further than Bargain Auto Transport. The company saves you nearly $300 on transporting your vehicle across the country.

Bargain Auto Transport cross-country costs
Bargain Auto TransportIndustry average
2,750 miles$1,100$1,380
2,750 miles
Bargain Auto Transport Industry average
$1,100 $1,380

Data as of 5/13/2020. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for three car sizes across five distances. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

Bargain Auto Transport offers the cheapest way to ship a car cross country.

Short-distance transport: American Auto Shipping

American Auto Shipping is our pick for the cheapest short-distance car shipper. The company is $200 more affordable than the competition for transports of less than 500 miles.

American Auto Shipping costs
American Auto ShippingIndustry average
<500 miles$450$650
<500 miles
American Auto Shipping Industry average
$450 $650

Data as of 5/13/2020. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for three car sizes across five distances. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

What are the most reliable car shipping companies?

Honesty is a big deal in the car shipping business. Many companies try to cheat you by charging more, so it’s worth paying attention when you find one that’s as concerned with integrity as profits.

We’ve spent countless hours researching the best (and worst) car shipping companies in the business. Three companies stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to honesty:

  1. Sherpa Auto Transport: Guaranteed quotes, friendly service, and a clean car? That’s why Sherpa Auto Transport is one of the best.
  2. Easy Auto Ship: Low prices, fast delivery, and excellent customer reviews—what’s not to love?
  3. United Routes: Binding quotes, low rates, and a focus on enclosed shipping sets United Routes apart.

Cheap car shipping FAQ

Is open transport the cheapest way to ship a car?

Yes, the cheapest way to ship a car is on open transport. An open carrier often costs hundreds of dollars less than an enclosed carrier.

Which auto transport companies offer cheap car shipping?

Companies like American Auto Shipping, Bargain Auto Transport, Easy Auto Ship, and Nationwide Auto Transportation offer cheap car shipping. The average cost of auto transport with these companies is $810—or $180 less expensive than the competition.

How much does it cost to ship a car to Hawaii?

The cost to ship a car to Hawaii depends on the auto transport company. Many companies offer service only in the continental US, so we recommend you get quotes from companies like Montway Auto Transport, Diesel Auto Express, and Nationwide United Auto Transport that ship to Hawaii.

What documents do I need for car transport?

Documents needed for car transport include a bill of lading and your insurance terms and conditions. For shipment to or from Hawaii, you also need a lienholder authorization and absent owner authorization. Learn more in our car transport paperwork guide.

About Kurt Manwaring

Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.
  • eFravel Support

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for the informative article. We have a new website called efravel that matches car owners/suppliers interested in transporting their vehicle with other travelers/drivers looking for a rental vehicle for travel. Owners save money on shipping and travelers save money on car rental. Some travelers/drivers even get paid for transporting the car. Some of the owners are getting free car transportation due to this. Just wanted to bring it to your notice as an alternate option for car transportation. Please let me know if you ahve more questions.

    Thanks

  • Taras

    Find out an average cost for shipping your car across country by getting a car transport quote from us by using the car shipping calculator.

  • Aaron Lennon

    Thanks for the article it’s really interesting.Once I got a quote from http://www.tempuslogix.com . They were really good and responsive and they did military discount for me .

  • http://www.dealerschoiceautotransport.com Lauren Smith

    I had a good experience with a local shipper, he helped me with enclosed Auto Shipping Service Fort Lauderdale. I would like to thank you for sharing helpful information with us.