How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on October 26, 2021
8 min read

At a glance

It costs about $1,290 to ship a car—but that’s a ballpark figure. Car shipping companies let truck drivers (called carriers) bid on your transport. Prices can go up or down depending on factors like the size of your vehicle, the distance of the transport, and how busy they are. That means the quote you get from a car shipping company is its best guess of what the final price will be.

Move.org looked at nearly 700 car shipping quotes to find an industry average, but we recommend you collect several quotes of your own before choosing one of the best car shipping companies.

Average car shipping cost

The average cost to ship a car is approximately $1,290. Move.org analyzed nearly 700 car shipping quotes to calculate industry averages. We found that costs range from about $630 to transport your vehicle a few hundred miles on an open carrier to around $1,810 to send your car across the country in an enclosed truck.


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Auto transport bidding process

Methodology

Move.org calculates industry averages and identifies pricing trends by following a fourfold research approach:

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    Compare quotes. We collected nearly 700 quotes from 10 different companies. The car shipping quotes included prices for a motorcycle, car, SUV, and truck across 11 distances on both open and enclosed transport.
  • Icon Yes  Light
    Mystery shopping. We contacted auto transport companies posing as customers to gather pricing data and learn how the brokers formulate their prices.
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    Site visits. We invited several industry leaders to visit our headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT and explain what goes into their pricing. We then compared their answers to information we independently obtained to verify accuracy.
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    Annual calendar. We repeat this process every year and save our data so that we can compare trends over time.
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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 auto transport is about $420 more expensive per trip for the same car type and distance traveled.

Average car shipping price by transport type

Average cost
Open transport$1,080
Enclosed transport $1,500

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location 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

Distance
Open transport cost
Enclosed transport cost
Average cost
<500 miles$630 $930 $780
500-1,000 miles $790 $1,120$960
1,000-1,500 miles$1,070 $1,510 $1,290
1,500-2,000 miles $1,320$1,730$1,530
2,000-2,500 miles $1,360$1,850$1,600
>2,500 miles$1,350$1,830$1,590

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location 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 $150 to the price tag.

Average car shipping cost by vehicle size

Average cost
Open transport
Enclosed transport
Car $1,150$970$1,340
SUV $1,280$1,080$1,480
Truck $1,450$1,210$1,680

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location 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

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.

Money
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 approximately $1,080—or about $420 more affordable than enclosed shipping.

Average car shipping price by transport type

Transport type
Average cost
Open transport$1,080
Enclosed transport $1,500

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location 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 less than 500 miles is approximately $780, while a cross-country trip will set you back about $1,590 on average.

Average car shipping cost by distance

Distance
Open transport cost
Enclosed transport cost
Average cost
<500 miles$630 $930 $780
500-1,000 miles $790 $1,120$960
1,000-1,500 miles$1,070 $1,510 $1,290
1,500-2,000 miles $1,320$1,730$1,530
2,000-2,500 miles $1,360$1,850$1,600
>2,500 miles$1,350$1,830$1,590

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location 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

Car
SUV
Truck
<500 miles $550$630$700
500-1,000 miles $710$800$880
1,000-1,500 miles $970$1,070$1,180
1,500-2,000 miles $1,170$1,310$1,490
2,000-2,500 miles $1,200$1,330$1,550
>2,500 miles$1,200$1,340$1,510

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for 3 vehicle sizes across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


Average cost to ship a car FAQ

How much does it cost to ship a car?

It costs about $1,080 to ship a car. Costs range from around $600 to transport your car a few hundred miles on an open carrier to more than $1,800 to ship a vehicle in an enclosed carrier.

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

The average cost to ship a car per mile is approximately 85 cents per mile. However, car shipping prices vary widely depending on factors such as vehicle size, distance, route, and seasonality. Move.org recommends getting several car shipping quotes before picking an auto transport company.

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.

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 $1,080. A cross-country shipment costs about $1,200, while a trip of less than 500 miles costs around $630.

How much does it cost to ship a vehicle?

It costs about $1,350 to ship a vehicle—although costs vary widely. You can often ship a small car like a Toyota Corolla for around $1,200, while a heavier truck like a Ford F-150 might set you back about $1,510.

What companies have the best car shipping rates?

Ship a Car Direct, All America Auto Transport, and Easy Auto Ship have the best car shipping rates. The cost of shipping a car with these companies is about $980—or around $150 cheaper than other companies.

Where can I find a car shipping cost calculator?

You can find a car shipping cost calculator on Move.org’s uShip Review. The car shipping calculator will give a car shipping quote after you provide the year, make, and model of your vehicle, and enter your pickup and delivery locations.

How does a car shipping company determine my price?

A car shipping company determines your price by submitting your transport for truck drivers (called carriers) to bid on. Factors such as vehicle size, total mileage, and time of year affect your car transport cost.

What is the best car transport company?

The best car transport company is Montway, according to Move.org. The car shipping service has guaranteed pickup dates and gets excellent customer reviews.

Do car shipping costs go up if I have a larger vehicle?

Yes, car shipping costs go up if you have a larger vehicle. For example, Move.org’s analysis of hundreds of quotes suggests that the car shipping rate is approximately $970 for a sedan, $1,080 for an SUV, and $1,210 for a truck.

What does a car hauler need to give me a car shipping quote?

A car hauler needs basic details about your vehicle and route to give you a car shipping quote. Be prepared to provide the transport company with your origin and destination zip codes, as well as the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

Is vehicle transport more expensive in the summer?

Yes, vehicle transport is more expensive in the summer. You can also expect to pay a higher shipping rate in late spring and early fall when car shipment demand is at its peak.

How can I save money on my car shipping quote?

There are several ways to save money on your car shipping quote. For example, you can save approximately $400 by choosing open auto transport (it’s the cheapest way to ship your car). You can also trim your car transport costs by getting quotes from more than one auto car transport company.


Kurt Manwaring
Written by
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, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.