Should I Sell My Car or Ship It?

At a glance

Depending on the size and make of your car, shipping it when you move can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars—especially if you’re moving long distance. So you may be wondering if it would be cheaper to sell your car and buy a replacement once you get to your new home.

While auto shipping rates can be tremendous, they’re nothing compared to the cost of a brand-new car. It’s almost always cheaper to ship your car than it is to sell it and buy a new one from a dealership. However, if you’re looking to buy a less expensive vehicle, or if your beater is nearing the end of its life, it may be more cost-effective to skip the shipping process and sell it instead.

Bottom line: the best option depends on how much your car is worth, how far you’re moving, and how much it’ll cost you to replace your current vehicle with something else.

We broke down all the factors that can affect your decision. Keep reading if you want help navigating this tricky topic.

Auto shipping rates vs. car prices

CarTrade-in value after 50,000 miles1Purchase price2Price to ship 508 mi.Price to ship 1,011 mi.Price to ship 2,560 mi.
2014 Ford Focus$7,689$17,000$562$926$4,708
2008 Dodge Charger$3,947$27,000$562$940$4,708
2012 Chevrolet Silverado$8,941$26,000–$52,000$745$1,195$5,219
2011 Toyota Highlander$12,306$30,000$660$1,074$4,230
Car
2014 Ford Focus
2008 Dodge Charger
2012 Chevrolet Silverado
2011 Toyota Highlander
Trade-in value after 50,000 miles1 Purchase price2 Price to ship 508 mi. Price to ship 1,011 mi. Price to ship 2,560 mi.
$7,689 $17,000 $562 $926 $4,708
$3,947 $27,000 $562 $940 $4,708
$8,941 $26,000–$52,000 $745 $1,195 $5,219
$12,306 $30,000 $660 $1,074 $4,230

Data as of 9/16/2019. Prices vary and are subject to change.

We gathered the rates shown above using uShip, a shipment marketplace that compiles quotes from multiple companies to find you the best price. We looked at shipping costs for the following routes:

  • St. Louis, MO–Birmingham, AL (508 miles)
  • Omaha, NE–Buffalo, NY (1,011 miles)
  • Los Angeles, CA–Honolulu, HI (2,560 miles across an ocean)

Of course, car shipping prices fluctuate based on factors like seasonality and the popularity of a route between two cities. This means that the rates we’ve provided may not perfectly predict what you’ll pay for your shipment.

That being said, it’s clearly much cheaper to ship a car than to buy a brand-new one; though, like we said earlier, you could feasibly break even if you bought a used car for the same price you sold your old one for.

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Other options

Other options

If both shipping and selling sound like more money (and hassle) than you can afford, we recommend renting a vehicle trailer and hauling your car behind your moving truck or another vehicle. This is by far the least convenient option, but it can save you a lot of money.

The fourth method is to hire someone to drive your car from point A to point B.3 This is risky since you have to trust a stranger to get behind the wheel of your car, and it will put extra miles on the vehicle, but it can be cheaper than shipping.

Shipping vs. selling your car

Shipping your car

Benefits

  • No need to shop for a new car or sell your old one

Costs

  • $0.90–$1.46 per mile for most shipments
  • $1.65–$2.03 per mile for overseas shipments
  • Insurance and registration fees in your new state4

Since auto shipping is so pricey, assess the value of your car before deciding to ship it. Does your vehicle still have a couple years of reliable service in it, or are you due for a new one? Would it cost more to ship the car than it’s even worth? To help you decide, look up vehicle trade-in values on Kelly Blue Book.

Of course, a vehicle’s monetary value isn’t the only factor. Maybe the car has some sentimental worth, for example, or you still have a few years left on your lease. Or maybe you’re really looking forward to actually paying off your car loan.

Plus there’s the hassle of looking for a new vehicle, filling out paperwork, and possibly going weeks or months without transportation in the process.

If your old car is still in good condition and you decide that it’s worth keeping, we recommend hiring one of our favorite auto shippers to deliver it to your new home.

And if you’re shipping a classic Ford or an irreplaceable Ferrari, check out our guide to the best classic car shipping companies. These shippers specialize in classic and collectible cars, but their services do cost a lot more.

Get money

Ship your car without breaking the bank

Ship your car without breaking the bank

If your budget is limited but you need to ship your car, don’t lose hope. uShip lets you peruse various quotes from multiple companies, so you can find an option that’ll work for your wallet. To get the service you need at a price you can manage, check out our crash course on cheap car shipping.

Selling your car

Benefits

  • No need to pay for shipping

Costs

  • Cost of a replacement vehicle
  • Insurance and registration fees for your new vehicle

Buying a new car is always more expensive than shipping an old car. But getting a fresh new vehicle—or a great used car—is also much more cost-effective than shipping an old beater thousands of miles.

If your car is on its last leg (or wheel), then the price of shipping it probably isn’t worth the handful of months the car will keep running. Save the money you would pay to ship that junker and put it toward a new set of wheels once you reach your destination.

As an added bonus, you’ll also be able to use the money you get from selling your car as a down payment for the new hotness. To know exactly how much you can expect to get for your old car, check what it’s worth on Kelly Blue Book.

If you don’t want to ship your car but also can’t afford a brand-new one, you could shop for an affordable used car after your move. If you find a suitable replacement that costs exactly the same as what you sold your old car for, you could break even except for the cost of registration and insurance (which you’d have to pay either way).

Car shipping FAQs

Can I finance my auto shipment?

Yes! Car shipping is expensive, and some people may not be able to take out a personal loan or pay for it all up front. Companies like Montway are aware of this and allow customers to finance their shipments.5 However, many companies will give discounts if you pay with cash.

Can the company that’s moving my furniture also ship my car?

Some companies can handle auto shipments in addition to standard moving services. In fact, some of our favorite moving companies are one-stop moving shops:

However, not all moving companies do car shipments, so you should always ask beforehand if you need this service. We also want to mention that some companies offer auto transport as a brokerage service, which means they’ll connect you to a shipping partner they trust instead of handling the shipment themselves.

Can I pack my car up with stuff before shipping it?

Nope. The U.S. Department of Transportation prohibits the storage of personal belongings inside cars on auto carriers. And since items packed in your vehicle can shift and bounce in transit, they’re likely to get damaged or wreak havoc on the inside of your car. So we don’t recommend this anyway.

Recommended resources

Car shipping is a complex topic, so we’ve thrown together some guides about the industry to help you get up to speed:

About Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.