How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

At a glance

A Netflix subscription costs the same every month. You can work a basic dollar amount into your budget, and you’re unlikely to be surprised by your bill.

Car shipping prices are much less stable—even if you’re using one of the best car shipping companies. Carriers bid on your shipment based on how much they’re willing to accept for the job, but your price is also affected by things like the size of your car, how far you’re going, and what kind of transport you want.

Car Shipping Average Price

We found the average cost to ship a car is about $710, with transport costs ranging from $280 (a short trip on an open carrier) to $2,060 (a cross-country shipment on enclosed transport). We got these figures by collecting 300 quotes from 10 different car shipping companies.

We’ll walk you through our findings below and shed some light on the mystery behind car shipping prices.

Auto transport bidding process

Methodology

We collected 300 quotes from 10 different car shipping companies to calculate industry averages.

Auto transport companies provided open and enclosed transport prices for the following:

  • 3 vehicle sizes (car, truck, SUV)
  • 5 distances (from 150 to 2,750 miles)

The findings allow us to tell you how much it costs to ship a car—and help you find the best car shipping companies for your budget.

Auto transport pricing 101

Open transport is your cheapest option

The cheapest way to ship your car is always on an open carrier. Our research found that enclosed shipping is about $400 more expensive per trip for the same car type and distance traveled.

Average car shipping price by transport type

Average cost
Open transport$710
Enclosed transport$1,120
Price difference$410
Open transport
Enclosed transport
Price difference
Average cost
$710
$1,120
$410

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.

Most people don’t even need enclosed transport. This premium shipping option is primarily for customers with custom vehicles:

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

Longer trips are more expensive

Nobody likes rising gas prices—including truck drivers. In general, the farther a carrier ships your car (and the more fuel it takes), the more it costs.

Average car shipping cost by distance

Average costOpen transportEnclosed transport
150 miles$470$360$580
550 miles$740$570$920
1,000 miles$1,150$910$1,390
1,050 miles$960$730$1,200
2,750 miles$1,270$1,010$1,530
150 miles
550 miles
1,000 miles
1,050 miles
2,750 miles
Average cost Open transport Enclosed transport
$470 $360 $580
$740 $570 $920
$1,150 $910 $1,390
$960 $730 $1,200
$1,270 $1,010 $1,530

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.

Bigger vehicles cost more to ship

You learn a hard truth when you go engagement ring shopping: bigger diamonds cost more. It’s the same with car shipping.

Each time you jump up a car size (from a car to an SUV to a truck), it adds about $80 to the price tag.

Average car shipping cost by distance

Average costOpen transportEnclosed transport
Car$840$640$1,030
SUV$910$710$1,120
Truck$1,000$790$1,210
Car
SUV
Truck
Average cost Open transport Enclosed transport
$840 $640 $1,030
$910 $710 $1,120
$1,000 $790 $1,210

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.

Why car shipping pricing is different

Have you ever tried to find your boarding gate on the departure board at a busy airport? The times on the board sometimes seem to change as often as you blink, making it difficult to know where to go.

Car shipping prices don’t change quite that fast, but it’s common for them to change daily and create that same confusion.

Why?

Two reasons:

  • Bookings go through a bidding process. Auto transport brokers connect you with car shipping carriers that bid on your booking request. Brokers then come back to you with the carrier that offered to do the job for the lowest price (usually). Because car shipping is a supply and demand business, you’ll get a better deal some days than others.
  • There are tons of cost factors. Your price can change based on your car’s size, how far it’s traveling, and even the time of the year. Carriers use these factors to figure out how much to charge.

How auto transport bidding works

Your booking starts when you call an auto transport broker. You ask how much it costs, and the broker gives you a quote. Then it asks carriers to bid on your shipment.

But how does it give you an instant quote if the carriers haven’t started bidding?

That’s the rub. Except in rare instances where a company offers a guaranteed price, your quote is a starting point for the bidders—not your final price.

Bullhorn

A GUARANTEED PRICE

A GUARANTEED PRICE

Sherpa Auto Transport’s Price Lock Promise means your quote is guaranteed. If the price rises above your quoted amount, the company will use its own money to pay the difference. Learn more in our Sherpa Auto Transport Review.

If an auto transport company puts a price of $1 into the computer for a cross-country transport, it technically has a lower price than the competition. But no truck driver in the world is going to accept that job.

However, a carrier might bid on the job for $2,000. Another company might see that and say it can ship your car for $100 less. And so on.

The bidding continues until the auto transport broker picks a car carrier —usually about a week before you have to ship your vehicle.

Auto transport bidding process

Experienced companies know what the market is likely to pay for auto transport, so they can usually give you a quote that’s pretty close to what you’ll end up paying.

Less reputable companies just want your business. They’ll give you prices that seem too good to be true. By the time you realize it will cost more, they’ve taken a nonrefundable deposit (sometimes hundreds of dollars).

You’re trapped.

Car shipping can feel a bit like the Wild West, but it’s possible to get a reputable company and a low price. You just have to know where to look.

That’s what Move.org is for.

Want us to do the work for you?

Learn more about the best car shipping companies.

Get money

WHAT ABOUT PRICE MATCHING?

WHAT ABOUT PRICE MATCHING?

Price matching means one company will submit another company’s quote for carriers to bid on. It makes customers feel good but has almost nothing to do with your final price.

Auto transport cost factors

Your cell phone bill is pretty predictable. Unless you go over on your monthly data plan, your costs don’t really change from month to month.

It’s different with car shipping. Prices can change from one day to the next depending on several factors:

  • Carrier bidding process. Carriers bid on how much your shipment costs. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Mostly, it’s unpredictable.
  • Distance. More miles means more money.
  • Extra services. Extra insurance or expedited shipping costs more.
  • Number of vehicles. Two cars cost more than one.
  • Region. Shipping to and from rural areas tends to cost more than big cities.
  • Route. Road closures, traffic jams, and direct routes all influence your price.
  • Seasonality. Pricing heats up in the summer (which is peak car shipping season).
  • Transport type. Open transport is cheaper than enclosed transport.
  • Vehicle type and condition. Costs go up as your vehicle gets bigger. It’s also more expensive if your car isn’t in working condition.

The result is that the price you see now may not be the same price you can get next week—or even later today. But if you know what goes into your price, you can also take steps to get a better deal.

Average car shipping cost by transport type

Most people use open transport carriers because it’s the cheapest way to ship a car. The average open transport cost is $710—$400 more affordable than enclosed shipping.

Average car shipping price by transport type

Average cost
Open transport$710
Enclosed transport$1,120
Price difference$410
Open transport
Enclosed transport
Price difference
Average cost
$710
$1,120
$410

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.

Average car shipping cost by distance

The farther your car travels, the more shipping usually costs. The average cost to ship a car 150 miles is $470, while a cross-country trip will set you back $1,270 on average.

Average car shipping cost by distance

Average costOpen transportEnclosed transport
150 miles$470$360$580
550 miles$740$570$920
1,000 miles$1,150$910$1,390
1,050 miles$960$730$1,200
2,750 miles$1,270$1,010$1,530
150 miles
550 miles
1,000 miles
1,050 miles
2,750 miles
Average cost Open transport Enclosed transport
$470 $360 $580
$740 $570 $920
$1,150 $910 $1,390
$960 $730 $1,200
$1,270 $1,010 $1,530

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.

Average car shipping cost by vehicle size

The size of your vehicle affects car shipping prices. Bigger vehicles take up more space on the transport truck, and heavier vehicles are harder on the carrier’s gas mileage. Both impact your final cost.

As a result, smaller cars like a Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, or Ford Escape cost much less to ship than heavy-duty trucks like a Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, or Ram 1500.

Average cost to ship a vehicle on open transport

CarSUVTruck
150 miles$330$360$390
550 miles$510$560$620
1,000 miles$820$890$1,020
1,050 miles$650$720$800
2,750 miles$910$1,010$1,120
150 miles
550 miles
1,000 miles
1,050 miles
2,750 miles
Car SUV Truck
$330 $360 $390
$510 $560 $620
$820 $890 $1,020
$650 $720 $800
$910 $1,010 $1,120

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.

Average cost to ship a car FAQ

How much does it cost to ship a car?

The average cost to ship a car on an open carrier is about $710 (an enclosed carrier is about $400 extra). Costs vary depending on vehicle size, transport type, and distance. The cheapest way to ship a car is on an open auto carrier.

What is the average cost to ship a car per mile?

The average cost to ship a car per mile is approximately $1.38—or $138 per 100 miles. Learn more about companies with the lowest car transport prices in Move.org’s Best Car Shipping Companies list.

Do car transport costs depend on the shipping company?

Yes, car transport costs depend on the company. Car shippers look at factors such as transport type, vehicle condition, distance, and seasonality when calculating costs.

How much is it to ship a car from Los Angeles to Miami?

The average cost to ship a car from Los Angeles to Miami is approximately $1,270. Distance affects the shipping cost, so a cross-country trip costs more than a trip of 150 miles.

How much does it cost to transport a car from Memphis to Chicago?

The average cost to ship a car from Memphis to Chicago is approximately $740. The trip takes an average of three days, but many car shipping companies offer expedited shipping for an additional fee.

What is the average price to ship a car on an open carrier?

The average price to ship a car on an open carrier is approximately $710. A cross-country shipment costs just over $1,000, while a trip of only 150 miles costs about $360.

Does car shipping cost a lot?

Your total car shipping cost varies from company to company. The most affordable car shipping companies can ship your car for an average cost of $790, while the more expensive transporters charge over $1,050.

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.
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