How Much Does It Cost to Transport a Vehicle?

The gist

When it comes to auto shipping, there are a couple of approaches you can take. You may want to pinch a penny or two with the DIY method, or you might prefer to kick up your feet and have an auto transport company pick up, transport, and drop off your vehicle on your terms.

Here’s a quick comparison of costs for the DIY and professional auto transport options.

Vehicle transport costs

MethodCost
Drive yourselfPrice of gas and lodging
DIY auto transport trailer$25–55 dollars/day, plus truck rental, gas, lodging
Open auto transport$900–$2,000
Enclosed auto transport$1,200-$3,600
Cost
Price of gas and lodging
$25–55 dollars/day, plus truck rental, gas, lodging
$900–$2,000
$1,200-$3,600

Bottom line: Even if you pinch pennies the way Aunt Ethel pinches cheeks, a car transport company may still be the best way to go if you’re on a tight timetable, want to protect a valuable vehicle, or have other special concerns.

The details

The cost to transport a vehicle depends on several factors. The biggest is whether you want to tow it yourself with a trailer or hire a professional. While both approaches have merit, it might surprise you that the cheaper DIY method comes with some risks and a few costs to consider.

How much does it cost to transport my car myself?

DIY auto transport can go a couple of ways depending on your situation.

Option #1: Rent an auto transport trailer

The first DIY method is renting an auto transport trailer. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you can rent a trailer for $25–$55 dollars a day (plus the cost of a truck if you need one).

An auto transport trailer secures your vehicle with chains and tire straps so you can tow it behind a truck. If you’re comfortable securing the vehicle to the trailer yourself, this can be a great option—especially if you’re already renting a moving truck.

Option #2: Have someone tail you

The cheapest option, though more complicated if you don’t have another trusted driver or if you’re moving a special vehicle, is to have someone drive your vehicle for you.

Costs are minimal: You just need to account for any necessary fuel, mileage, lodging, and food or drinks to get the driver and your car safely to the final destination.

How much does it cost to professionally ship a car?

The cost of a professional auto transport depends on a few factors:

  1. How far you’re moving
  2. How big your vehicle is
  3. Which company you hire
  4. Whether you choose open or closed transport

Option #1: Open transport

Open transport will serve you best if you want your vehicle professionally transported but don’t want to pay for the additional protection of closed transport.

For our transport, we told companies we were moving a 2015 Ford Focus sedan from Utah to California. Quotes for our specific move came in between $900 and $1,300, but prices may fluctuate up to $2,000.

We found that the extras companies included made the difference between estimates. As you obtain quotes, ask what’s included. Some extras that we’re big fans of include door-to-door delivery (instead of having to drop off and pick up at a moving company’s facility), insurance up to $100,000 on damage to our vehicle, and a rental car if the moving company misses their quoted delivery window.

Option #2: Enclosed transport

Enclosed transport can cost nearly double what you’d pay for open transport. It’s worth keeping in mind that you’re paying for a premium service with this option.

Enclosed transport is the safest way to transport the most cherished of vehicles. Your car will remain cocooned away from road hazards, the elements, and prying eyes for the entirety of its trip. Think of it like a limo for your auto.

Our request to give the 2015 Ford Focus this treatment earned us a couple of raised eyebrows and quotes between $1,200 and $1,800 to get from Utah to California. However, the price for enclosed transport could rise as high as $3,600.

Let us know which route you take

How are you transporting your vehicle? Let us know in the comments if you decide to DIY your automotive move or if you take advantage of one our picks for the best car transport companies.

About Dalan Siler

Dalan Siler
Before Move.org, Dalan was a technical writer whose clients included one of the nation’s largest health systems. He’s passionate about helping people and hopes to make your next move a little easier.