How Much Does It Cost to Ship A Car?

At a glance

Car shipping prices are hard to nail down. There isn’t a firm cost-per-mile rate because costs largely depend on where you’re moving to and from.

Some rules in the auto transport world, though, are hard and fast. For instance, pickup trucks will always cost more to ship than coupes, sedans, or even SUVs. And of course, the further you travel, the more it’ll cost.

Car shipping costs depend on seven factors:

  • Location and route
  • Distance
  • Vehicle size and make
  • Open vs. enclosed
  • Door-to-door vs. terminal-to-terminal
  • Standard vs. expedited shipping
  • Seasonality
  • Vehicle condition

The whole picture

Car shipping doesn’t have an exact formula, so predicting the cost of your move is like predicting whether Punxsutawney Phill will see his shadow come February—you can’t.

Your vehicle’s size definitely plays into the mix. Then there’s the distance your car is traveling, which takes into account fuel charges and labor costs. Add in price spikes during busy season plus how close you live to major cities and interstates, and your overall cost can fluctuate by thousands of dollars.

In general, the cheapest routes are between major cities connected by large interstates. That’s for two reasons:

  1. Lots of car carriers are already driving on main routes.
  2. Your car carrier won’t have to leave the main route to accommodate your move.

For routes between smaller towns or through more rural areas, car carriers have to veer off these larger, more popular highways—and this convenience will cost you. Plus, since less traveled routes tend to have fewer cars, carriers are less full and may charge more per vehicle to make up the difference.

Get money

ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS

ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS

If you’re paying in cash—or if you’re shipping more than one vehicle—most car shipping companies will offer a discount (we’ve seen some as high as 20%).

To get a sense of what shipping your car will actually cost you, we found average prices1 for five common car types (coupes, sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and luxury cars) along five different routes ranging from cross-country to local.

(Because hey, you never know when you might need to fly to your new home instead of drive.)

Here’s how much it costs for each car type to move on these routes.

Coupe

Coupes and compact cars are small: they generally have less than thirty-three cubic feet2 of interior space. These are going to be your standard economy, compact, and hatchback cars—think Toyota Yaris or MINI Cooper.

Car shipping costs for coupes

Route
Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles)
$1,448.40
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles)
$630.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles)
$820.20
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles)
$858.80
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles)
$1,321.20
Route Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles) $1,448.40
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles) $630.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles) $820.20
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles) $858.80
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles) $1,321.20

Sedan

The difference between a sedan and a coupe is size. Sedans typically have bigger interiors, are longer, and almost always have four doors. These are your Toyota Camrys and your Honda Civics.

Car shipping costs for sedans

Route
Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles)
$1,374.90
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles)
$635.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles)
$826.80
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles)
$957.20
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles)
$1,321.20
Route Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles) $1,374.90
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles) $635.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles) $826.80
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles) $957.20
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles) $1,321.20

Luxury convertible

Enclosed transport with top load guarantee (a.k.a. the top seat above other cars on a car carrier) is always the best option for convertibles, luxury cars, classic cars, and sports cars. As a result, these vehicles tend to cost more to ship.

And it makes sense why you’d want to splurge on a little extra TLC for your baby—paying extra can mean the difference between your Mercedes getting hit with highway debris or the car above your Maserati leaking oil all over it.

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PSSST

PSSST

Check out our Best Enclosed Car Shipping Companies list to see which companies offer the best protection.

Car shipping costs for luxury cars

Route
Average quote price*
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles)
$1,567.20
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles)
$708.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles)
$915.60
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles)
$957.20
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles)
$1,385.40
Route Average quote price*
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles) $1,567.20
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles) $708.00
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles) $915.60
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles) $957.20
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles) $1,385.40

*Quotes were collected for open transport. If you decide to go with enclosed transport, it’ll be more expensive.

SUV

The SUV category encompasses everything from minivans and Jeeps to 4Runners and Suburbans. Cars in this category generally weigh more and have larger wheels—and the bigger the tires, the more space the car takes up on a carrier and the more expensive it is to ship.

Car shipping costs for SUVs

Route
Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles)
$1,691.00
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles)
$761.60
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles)
$962.40
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles)
$1,010.40
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles)
$1,187.20
Route Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles) $1,691.00
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles) $761.60
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles) $962.40
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles) $1,010.40
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles) $1,187.20

Pickup truck

Hummers, pickup trucks, and large vans are the heaviest cars out there—and they’re often the largest and widest too. For this reason, they’re the most expensive type of vehicle to ship.

If you get sticker shock, just keep this in mind: if you did opt to drive, fuel costs could get pretty steep (not to mention the stress of being behind the wheel).

Car shipping costs for pickup trucks

Route
Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles)
$1,962.80
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles)
$826.80
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles)
$1,046.60
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles)
$1,094.60
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles)
$1,736.80
Route Average quote price
Los Angeles, CA, to Boston, MA (2,982 miles) $1,962.80
Atlanta, GA, to Houston, TX (792 miles) $826.80
Miami, FL, to New York, NY (1,279 miles) $1,046.60
Brownsville, TX, to El Paso, TX (829 miles) $1,094.60
Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR (1,057 miles) $1,736.80

What we learned

#1: Pickup trucks are pricey to ship

Trucks are the most expensive cars to ship because they’re the heaviest. Take our LA to Boston route, for example: the cost to move a truck was $514 higher than the cost for a coupe.

#2. Shipping between smaller cities adds up

Moves within and between less populated areas also cost a lot more than moves on main routes—even if your car is traveling a shorter distance.

For instance, a 916-mile move for a coupe from Cheyenne, WY, to Little Rock, AR, will set you back $1,321.20. That’s $500 more than a move from Miami, FL, to New York, NY, even though it’s a shorter distance.

#3. Local shipping can be just as expensive as long distance

Like less busy routes, intrastate moves can get pricey. Moving the same car from Miami to New York was $46 cheaper than moving from El Paso to Brownsville—even though it’s almost 900 miles farther.

Local shipping likely isn’t as common since people may opt to drive their cars over shorter distances themselves—but if you’re moving solo and need to drive a moving truck or fly to reach your destination more quickly, car shipping may be your best bet.

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PRO TIP

PRO TIP

Wash your car before your move (and after, of course) so you can take pictures and pre-inspect it before it hits the road.

Cost factors

There are lots of factors that go into car shipping prices—some of which are included in every move, some of which are extra services you opt into. Here are the main elements that influence your final bill.

Location and route

Like we’ve said, moving to or from a major city is a lot cheaper than moving to (or even through) a more rural area. The further away you are from a main highway or freeway route, the more expensive it’ll be.

Distance

The number of miles your car travels determines fuel charges and labor fees. That said, the route your car carrier takes has a greater impact on price. A local move can cost just as much as an out-of-state move even if the distance is much shorter.

Vehicle size and make

It costs more to ship a large car than a small one. The bigger and heavier the car, the fewer cars the carrier can take per load.

Open vs. enclosed transport

With enclosed transport, your car is fully covered within a hard- or soft-sided carrier. Open transport, on the other hand, exposes your vehicle to the elements.

Enclosed transport can get up to 60% more expensive than open transport, and it’s recommended mainly for luxury cars, antique cars, convertibles, and other valuable vehicles.

Door-to-door vs. terminal shipping

Terminal shipping to a central location, while cheaper overall, does have some added costs—for example, you have to pay a facility fee each time the car carrier checks into a terminal.

But ultimately, door-to-door is more expensive because it offers the convenience of having your vehicle dropped off at, well, your front door.

Standard or expedited shipping

Depending on how much of a hurry you’re in, you can pay extra to expedite your shipment. This can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, though it’ll vary based on your vehicle type, the time of year, and of course, the route.

Seasonality

Early Spring through late Summer is peak moving season, so rates will be higher during this time. But although Fall and Winter are off seasons, shipping a car in winter can still be pricey.

Rates increase in the winter when snowbirds fly south in search of warmer weather—and because winter road conditions are more dangerous.

Vehicle condition

Your car must be able to roll, steer, and brake to be loaded onto a car carrier. If your car is inoperable, shipping will cost more since it’ll require manual labor to load and unload it. Some companies won’t ship inoperable cars, period.

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PSSST

PSSST

We recommend getting at least three quotes before choosing an auto transport company. If you’re not sure where to start, give our how to get a car shipping quote guide a read.

Extra fees

As with any type of moving service, additional features and modifications cost extra. Here are a few common add-ons that will increase your price:

  • Top-load guarantee: This ensures that your car will sit on the top row of the carrier. It offers more protection, minimizes dings from road debris, and prevents oil leaks from cars above.
  • Personal items loaded in car: Some companies allow you to pack one piece of luggage in your vehicle at no charge—others won’t even move your car if it has stuff inside.
  • Insurance: Some auto insurance policies cover your vehicle during transport—if not, you can purchase coverage directly from your car shipping company.
  • Modifications: You’ll pay extra for large tires, lifts, and extra heavy cars requiring special treatment (while loading, unloading, and strapping in, for example).

What’s the cheapest way to ship a car?

The answer is: It depends. You could end up paying through the nose if you are shipping a heavy car on little-traveled routes and opt into add-on services. But there are a few ways to mitigate high shipping costs.

For starters, we recommend shopping around for quotes to compare prices and see where you could save. Keep in mind, though, the cheapest option isn’t always the best option.

There are a few other strategies to cut costs on car shipping:

  • Opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping over door-to-door transport.
  • Choose open transport instead of enclosed transport (unless you have a very expensive car).
  • Meet your carrier driver close to a major highway if you live outside a major terminal city.
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WANT MORE POINTERS?

WANT MORE POINTERS?

If you have a big move ahead of you, check out our best tips on how to ship your car across the country.

People also asked

Want to know how to get started on an auto transport quote? Or what a cross-country car move entails? Check out our resources below for the best tricks of the trade.

Sources

  1. uShip, “Shipping Calculator
  2. World Wide Motors, Inc., “Coupe vs. Sedan: How are they Different?

About Julia Campbell

Julia Campbell
Julia Campbell is a full-time writer who knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to planning a hassle-free move. Having moved seven times in the past five years, she draws from her own experience and industry expertise to help you avoid her biggest mistakes (like that time she thought she could get away with packing her dishes without wrapping them first).
  • Taras

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