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User Question

How much does it cost to ship a car? How is the price calculated?



Helpful Consumer Guide To Auto Transport Rates That Will Effect The Cost Of Shipping Your Car

It is important to remember that car shipping is not based on fixed rates.

The rates are based on many variables and we have tried to give a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay for any of these variables that affect auto transportation. A professional broker should consider all of these variables and negotiate with their contracted carriers to obtain the best possible rate to ship your vehicle. 

To ship a standard sedan will cost anywhere between $450 and $2000 anywhere in the continental United States of America.

It all depends on the distance from pickup and delivery. International shipments are calculated on an individual basis. There is NO fixed rate for any vehicle shipment because of too many variables in the industry.

Factors that may increase the cost of shipping your car or other vehicle are:

  1. Size of vehicle - It costs more the bigger the car or vehicle as it weighs more and occupies more space. Here are some examples of what the extra cost would be for a

    1. Mid size sedan - $50
    2. Large sedan - $100
  2. Type of vehicle - Shippers for Trucks and SUV's can expect to pay the following rates above the normal shipping rate for an

    1. SUV - $75
    2. Large SUV - $125
    3. Full Size Truck - $150
    4. Dually - $250
  3. Condition of the vehicle - If it is not running you will pay a premium to ship your car. If it 

    1. Steers and brakes - $100
    2. Needs to be forklifted or winched on to a truck - $200 to $500 depending on the size
  4. Enclosed car or other vehicle shipping costs around 80% more than open auto transport carrier.

  5. Expedited auto transport - If you need your car or other vehicle picked up in a short period of time and/or earlier delivery it costs more. The following additional costs can be added for expidited car shipping needs.

    1. Shipping within 5 days of vehicle availability - $ 100
    2. Shipping within 2 days of vehicle availability - $ 300
    3. Shipping Same or Next day of vehcle availability - $ 500
  6. Special requests such as top load for vehicle transport may cost up to $100 more

  7. Auto Transport Gap protection coverage that will protect you up to $ 2000 for out of pocket expenses in case a car carrier's insurance fails to pay. That may cost you around $100 to $130 depending on the coverage. It is important to note that this coverage will protect you not just at the time of delivery, but also if damage is detected up to 48 hours afterwards

  8. Time of year - Holiday seasons or bad weather may increase the shipping rate. High season (Summer) may require higher auto shipping rates due to carrier demand. You should consider paying anything form $100 to $500 extra during high and holiday seasons.

  9. Economic conditions - Gas/Diesel rates, factors causing car carriers to adjust their rates. Expect to pay around $ 100 to $300 during economic downturns.

  10. Pickup and Delivery Locations - Remote locations will require car carriers to make leave the normal well traveled routes and will cost more money. Depending on how far away your location is from large cities or main interstates, you can pay close to twice your initial quoted rate.


How Much It Will Cost to Ship Your Vehicle
How much is it going to cost to ship my vehicle?

Below you will find an overview of the significant factors of how transporters come up with the price that they will quote you to move your vehicle.

To get a price quote right now you can get numerous instant price quotes from auto transporters on Transport Reviews by visiting Quotes.TransportReviews.com

Transport Reviews also provides a special tool that will allow you to view how much past customers have paid and their reviews based on their origin and destination state. You can visit the Reviews by Auto Transport Route Report to view this pricing information.

Key Factors That Determine Your Cost

  • Distance & Milage  Car carriers are lucky to get 10 miles to one gallon of diesel fuel. Diesel fuel varies in price like all fuels but prices are typically between $2.40 and $3.00 a gallon. Add in all the other per-mile costs like insurance, driver salary, taxes and you can begin to calculate the variable per-mile costs.
  • Carrier Type  Open car carriers are the standard form of auto transport. If you choose to use the more premium enclosed carrier your price will typically increase $200 to $500.
  • Location Special Factors  Most companies specialize in door-to-door service, or as close to your door as a large car carrier can get. In some cases getting close to your door may incur significant additional costs due to toll roads and/or the general hassle associated with getting to some locations. Two places in particular are Long Island in New York and San Francisco, California. With Long Island tolls and traffic can add $150 to $250 to your transport cost. In San Francisco some carriers are flat out unable to travel on some of the steep hills leading to costs to transfer the vehicle to a smaller carrier or towing company.
  • Vehicle Condition and Value  For non-running vehicles you will incur an inoperable charge. This is a fee charged to winch or push a vehicle onto a truck. Inoperable vehicles will often cost an addition $150 to $300. You may also be charged additional fees if you have a collectors car or custom car with excessive value or special needs. All of these factors should be mentioned to your transport company.
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7 Factors that Determine Car Shipping Costs

Car transport costs ~$1 per mile for 1-500 miles.  So, a 350 mile trip would cost $350. The longer the distance, the lower the price:   moving a car ~1000 miles drops it to $.75 cents a mile, or $750.  Coast-to-coast auto transport can be as little as $.40 cents per mile.

DistanceBase Price Per mileSample DistanceSample Price
1-500 Miles$1.00350 miles$350
More than 500 miles$0.751000 miles$750
More than 1,000 miles$0.601,500 miles$900
More than 2,000 miles$0.502,100 miles$1,050
More than 2,500 miles$0.403,000 miles$1,200

The 7 Factors that Determine Car Shipping Costs

Many people who ask “How much does it cost to ship a car” obtain 3 or 4 auto transport quotes from various car shipping companies. It’s common to see a couple of quotes clustered in the middle, and one or two that vary by several hundred dollars. Knowing how car transport costs are determined enables you to spot any deal that might be too-good-to-be-true, avoiding potential surprises. So, what elements drive car transport costs?

1. Distance

Miles are the starting point, of course – though they are not as proportional as you might imagine. That’s because shorter distances require the same effort in pick-up & drop-off by the driver, even though the Carrier spends less time actually “on the road”. This is why long-distance car shipping can actually be cheaper per mile, just as an airline ticket may cost more per mile going half way across the country versus going coast to coast.

2. Open trailer or Enclosed carrier?

An open trailer is typically the double-decker type seen every few miles on America’s highways, loaded with 7-10 cars on long-haul trips. On shorter routes, 3-4 car trailers do a great job too. 75% of customers find open trailer transport with 3 – 10 cars the most cost-effective method, which is why it’s the most popular way to go. Think of it like flying “coach class” versus “first class”.

Enclosed transport trailers are smaller, with a capacity of just 2-6 vehicles. Since it takes the same number of days and miles (labor cost and gasoline) for a Carrier to drive from point A to point B while getting paid for fewer vehicles, enclosed car shipping typically costs 40% - 60% more than transporting the same vehicle on an open trailer.

♦ Insider Tip: While enclosed transport typically offers a higher level of service, unless your car is a luxury vehicle, exotic car, or a classic valued at more than $70,000 you are likely to be just as satisfied with the more budget-conscious option of open transport.

3. Your Vehicle Type, Size & Modifications

Trailers have maximum loads for safety. A heavier car, truck or SUV uses up more of that maximum-allowable weight load – which means the trailer may be limited on the number of other vehicles it could carry. Similarly, a longer-than-average vehicle takes up more than 1 space on a transport trailer. So, a Carrier transporting a 7000 pound Ford F-350 Crew Cab Long Bed would need to offset that with a shorter, light-weight VW Beetle or such, to optimize space on the trailer . . . if a smaller vehicle is readily available on that route at that exact time. Otherwise, the Carrier might need to depart on time with less than a full load: a factor that goes into the price of transporting a vehicle with above-average weight, height, length or other post-factory modifications.

4. Condition of Vehicle:  Running, or Not?

A car that doesn’t run or start on its own is called “inoperable”, and requires extra time, effort and equipment from the Carrier. The transport driver needs additional incentive to accept a vehicle that he will need to push, pull, winch, jump-start or otherwise skillfully maneuver on and off the truck. He may even need to do so more than once during the course of a shipment, depending on the position of other vehicles already on the trailer ahead of it, which may need to be off-loaded in reverse order.

♦ Insider Tip: The average industry surcharge for an inoperable vehicle is $150. If it seems you’re being charged more, which you can check against the auto-quote of any top-tier car transport company by changing the selection from “inoperable” to “runs”, don’t hesitate to question pricing.

5. Popularity of the Route

Pick-up and/or Drop-offs in rural locations cost more than to and from major metro areas. Larger cities simply have more Carriers that regularly service the area, and there are more major highways for easier access by drivers. Just as there are more flights each day than from NY to Los Angeles than there are from Atlanta to Reno, there are similarly more trucks available in urban areas. This is why it’s easier, and often faster, to get the best rates on widely-travelled routes.

♦ Insider Tip: If you live in an area that’s more challenging for trucks to access – let’s say the mountains of Taos, New Mexico or the coast of Big Sur, CA – consider whether you have the flexibility to meet the Carrier at a rest stop along a major highway. While you’ll need to be comfortable with leaving the timing a little looser until the driver is approaching your vicinity, some customers who live in hard-to-access locations find the cost savings to be worth the trade-off.

6. Season of Year

High demand during key seasons can cause prices to spike on some routes, since even Carrier drivers need holidays. For example, shipping a car before Thanksgiving or Christmas can be challenging to book, and costlier to arrange. Actually, this applies to all major holidays: New Year’s, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and even Valentine’s Day. In certain parts of the country, hurricane season or occasional floods in Florida, Texas, the Carolinas can affect availability and cost as well.

♦ Insider Tip: Did you know the “direction” of car shipments can impact quotes? Just as it’s a lot cheaper to ship goods TO China on a relatively empty container-ship returning home after dropping goods off at a U.S. port, sometimes trailers are fully loaded in one direction, but less on their return route. For example, today there are many more families shipping a vehicle out of California, to Texas or Arizona, than into CA. Or consider that demand during “snowbird season” for car shipments FROM New York and other northern states, down to Florida and other southern states, peaks in October-December. Similarly, booking car transport back home on specific dates during the months of March-May can be a challenge. During such peak times, Carriers are accustomed to getting incentive-pay to prioritize certain pickups, and prices are higher due to sheer demand – just as air travel costs more during peak travel seasons. So if you can be flexible on your pick-up or drop-off week, beyond the typical lead-time to ship a car, you will experience greater satisfaction levels as well as more affordable pricing.

7. Dates / Speed of Delivery

Express car shipping costs about 30% more than standard car delivery door-to-door. A company that offers expedited or express car transport typically guarantees your choice of (1) a precise Pick-up Date, (2) an exact Drop-off Date, or (3) a guaranteed interval of “x days” from Pick-up to Drop-off.

♦ Insider Tip: When you pay a premium for Express car transport, request a written guarantee on what reimbursement you can expect if by any chance your Carrier doesn’t meet that date. At a minimum, you should expect a refund on the difference between what you paid, vs. the “base price” for standard car shipping which a Transport Broker should also inform you about at the time of booking. As an extra measure of good will, a top-tier company also stands behind its express car shipping guarantee with a credit against your base price. A discount of 10% of the base car shipping cost, or up to about $100, is a reasonable expectation.

Why do car shipping quotes seem to vary widely?

Car transport quotes from different shippers are most likely to vary, even on the same route, based on the quality of the transport trailer and the driver – that is, the cost paid to the Carrier for your specific load. Assuming you’re definitely comparing apples-to-apples, especially in terms of "Open vs. Enclosed trailer", the biggest reason for cost differences is what your Transport Broker truly expects will happen behind the scenes about meeting your timeline – and the quality of the Carriers (the actual drivers and trucks) the company plans to dispatch for your pickup. Many companies offer a low quote without mentioning that you will actually be on a "standby" basis. And if you’ve ever flown standby, you know what that’s like.

In other words, to lock in your business, some Transport Brokers provide you with a car shipping quote that are quite low – in fact, too low to actually succeed in getting your vehicle picked up in the time-frame you requested by a fully-insured and well-qualified, highly-rated Transport Carrier. Some companies hold out to pay the lowest price possible to the Carrier, and as a result get lower-quality trucks and drivers willing to go to your pickup location. Alternatively, they may come back to you after a week of not being able to lock in a Carrier, and tell you they were unable to secure a spot at the price previously quoted. You might then hear, "So if you still want a pickup on the date you selected, it will cost $xxx more".

♦ Insider Tip: Choose a Transport Broker that offers an all-inclusive quote that’s guaranteed in writing for at least 10-14 days. They should also specify that insurance is included, and that there are no taxes, fuel-surcharges or other hidden costs. The mark of a solid Transport Broker is a willingness to stand behind the car shipping quote you receive even if gas or labor prices increase in the meantime. If they tell you costs have gone up since the 1st quote, find someone else.

The idea that "you get what you pay for" applies in the vehicle transport industry, as elsewhere. So it’s wise to ask a few questions about a quote that seems too good to be true. If you obtain several, one idea is to toss out the lowest – and sometimes the highest. Check out FMCSA recommendations and confirm that the company’s license is prominently displayed on their website – along with car shipping reviews. And feel free to ask about their accident claims rate, which should be well under 1.0% of annual car transports.

Then, relax. Don’t sweat the details.

There are tens of thousands of vehicles in transport every single day, and virtually all of them arrive without a single incident or major surprise. So if you’ve chosen a reliable car shipping company, you can expect both full coverage and great service.

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Prices for shipping a vehicle.

Prices for shipping a vehicle depend on the following. Distance, size of vehicle, season and popularity of route. The more popular the route is, the cheaper it will cost. Routes that aren't popular ie; Iowa to South Dakota are going to be more expensive because not as many carriers work that route. 

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many variables

There are many variable when quoting a vehicle transport within the the USA. It depends on of course mileage, but also the pick up and delivery locations (if they are heavily traveled). It also depends on the size and condition of your vehcile. At particular times of year there are more vehicles beign transported in certian areas so the price will be adjusted. We put a $100 range on our rates to try to help our clients save money due to all of these.


Supply and demand

Rural ares are hard to calculate. Trucks get lousy fuel economy and some companies will not go very far out of route.

Major Metropolitan areas have more business opportunities so more carriers are available.Which creates higher demands for freight.

Some areas are full of cars at some times of the year due to seasonal migration and the freight coming or going the opposing direction may be scarse. This will also drive the prices higher for the seasonal migration and tremendously drop the price for the opposing direction.


Shipping Cost

The cost to ship a car has many variables and can fluctate monthly. The unit size, year, modifications and condition are all factored in when getting a quote.  Both shipping locations,season of shipment, fuel price, open or enclosed carrier, and urgency of shipment are all other variables. Car shipping cost is not an easy thing to come up with, be sure you selct the right car shipping company. 


Price is calculated based on the distance and supply/demand factor of your route.


Prices Vary

There are many factors that go into quoting your shipment. Below we have listed a few factors that go will reflect in your quote.

1) Vehicle Type: Depending on the vehicle you are shipping will reflect on the price. Vehicles that are larger and way more will obviously be a little higher in price.

2) Vehicle Modifications: Modifications such as lift kits and raised suspensions will reflect in your price.

3) Time of Year: The season will absolutely play a role in determining your price. The spring & summer tend to be the busy and you are competing with other customers for truck space. This will drive up costs. During the winter, less people are shipping vehicles & carriers are looking to fill up "deadhead". You are more likely able to ship your vehicle for less during the winter season. Please note, that areas that are heavilly impacted by snow & icy conditions may be a factor in determining your price when you are shipping a vehicle in the winter.

4) Vehicle Status: If your vehicle is inoperable or severely damaged will bring up the cost of your shipment due to special equipment being needed. Vehicles are usually driven right onto the carrier and taken off the same way. If special equipment such as a winch cable or flatbed is needed to load and unload your car, expect to see an increase in your price.

5) Equipment Type:  The most common method of shipping a vehicle is on an open carrier trailer. There are some instances where you might decide to use an enclosed trailer. Enclosed trailers protect your vehicle from natures elements as well as any rocks or dirt that might kick up during transport. Expect to pay anywhere between 60-100% more when you ship via enclosed trailer. Enclosed trailers also hold less vehicles than a standard open carrier and will absolutely reflect in your price.

6) Route:  While you are able to ship your car anywhere door-to-door, it is usually more expensive shipping to less populated areas rather than a major city or metropolitan. When a driver has to go out of his usualy direction or line, it will reflect in the price. Shipping to a major metropolitan is more "mainstream" so to speak and much easier on the driver and equipment and typically ends up being less. This is not to say that you cannot have your car picked up from a rural area. It just may reflect on price.

When you are shipping a vehicle, it is important to know that there are many factors that go into quoting your shipment. A good rule of thumb is to know you will be spending anywhere between $0.60-$2.10/mile. 


How The Price of Shipping Your Vehicle is Calculated

We review the National Loading Board used by vehicle carriers all around the country.  We determine how much has been charged for recent transfers along your requested route for similar vehicles.  This is used as a basis for the initial quote. 

Once you decide to work with us - we will post it as a new transfer with the lowest price possible to see which carriers are interested.

We work for you and want to keep the price as low as possible and will negotiate with the carriers to this effect.

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The cost of shipping depends on a number of variables...The type of vehicle, the location for pickup and delivery, the time of the year , the response time for pickup and delivery, and whether you are requesting open or enclosed transport all play a part in determining the final cost for shipping.


Key Factors That Determine Your Cost

Many different factors go into moving a vehicle which include; location, fuel pricing, vehicle type, transport type (open vs. enclosed), transport date (today vs. two weeks from now) and seasons (snow on the ground) to name a few big ones. We are reviewing your quote request and will be emailing you an accurate and precise quote to move your vehicle after we price it by hand.   Most brokers use machines to instantly calculate and those qotes are often unrealistic.

*** You might have noticed that you have become quite "popular" and you are recieving many quotes, emails, calls & texts from many brokers.  It is known among us brokers that you are looking for carrier who owns trucks, not a broker.  Who likes a middle-man?  For that reason many brokers will mislead you and make it sound like they own trucks, which is not true.  Never give anyone in my industry your credit card until your vehicle is on the rig/truck and on its way to the destination.  

Know that anyone asking you for a credit card is certainly a broker.  No broker needs the full addresses to price your quote.  Do not give the addresses of origin and destination to any shipper until you are ready to contract with them.

Carriers that do own trucks do not accept credit cards and do not get "deposits" and are NOT paid up-front.  Carriers that do own trucks are paid COD or Cash on Delivery when they deliver your vehicle to the destination.

The best way to screen the multitude of brokers contacting you is to look each one up on TransportReviews.com - First off: you can see if they are a licensed broker or carrier

Most importantly click on the purple button on the right for each broker "Customer Complaints".  You certainly want to know if this broker has pages of horror stories with previous unhappy customers who are trying to warn you off from doing business with that broker. 

Transport Reviews can be misleading, remember  most of the so-called "5-Star Rated" brokers have many pages of zero-star customer complaints.   


Calculating the Cost of Your Shipment

Because we are a Transport Broker you benefit by getting the best available price for your transport shipment.

When you list your vehicle with us, we provide an online listing about your vehicle transport, and carriers then start contacing us to get your business.  

We are able to secure the best price for you, meaning you can save around $200 to $300 on an open carrier, or upto $600 on an enclosed carrier.  If you were to contact the carriers directly you would have to pay substanially more.

When we quote you a price on vehicle shipment we have access to data of thousands of similiar shipments so can review the latest prices customers paid for a similar shipment.  This ensures you pay the minimum possible.


Shipping Costs - Pricing Variables

There are several factors that play a role with shipment costs for Transporting your Automobile. Some factors inclue but are not limited to the following:-

Location: A delivery between two major cities may be cheaper than shipping between smaller cities or towns. Due to the fact that is a standard route, and in high demand.

Vehicle Size: Bigger cars take up more space in the carrier and heavier cars add more cargo weight, making them more expensive to ship.

Vehicle Condition: Non-running vehicles can be more expensive due to the fact that the Vehicle does not readily drive onto the car carrier, and requires special handling such as a winch to hoist the Vehicle onto the trailer.

Season: Fewer people transport cars in the winder months, so rates may be lower during these times.

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Each Price is Calculated using the specifics of the move

When you submit a quote we using the following information to calculate a price:

  • Date of the move - some seasons have higher demand and prices
  • Vehicle and vehicle type (size)
  • Origin and Destination - how easy are they to access?
  • Route distance
  • Route popularity - supply and demand. Popular routes fill more trucks, creating capacity and lowering prices.
  • How quick you need it - We can complete a move faster at a higher rate and slower at lower rates. - But our pricing is to create a balance of service and speed.

All of these are considered and used to calculate a price for your move. -

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Shipping Costs Nationwide

https://www.tciships.com/calculator Determening the right price for your vehicle shipment could be tricky, and a lot of times it varies on the season, route, driver availability and many more factors.

It is very important for you to find a shipping company that researches market on daily basis and are well aware of the current prices so that they could give you the best price on the market that is available without diminishing the quality of service.

Weather you are going with open or enclosed transport will change the costs. Going via enclosed transport is often about $500 more expensive than open transport.

Depending on the route that your vehicle is taking or going will lower or increase the shipping cost. 

For example, if you are shipping your vehicle going to Seattle, WA during the winter, the price is a lot more expensive due to the the rought road conditions during the winter season going to Seattle.

The rule of thumb is that the longer the distance, the lower the rate you get charged.

0-150 miles$1 /mi
151-500 miles$.75 /mi
501-1499 miles$.60 /mi
1500- more milesunder $.50/ mi



The cost os the trip may vary depending on a couple of variants. The size of vehicle, distance, and location. Depending on the route, the price is uaully calculated on a cent per mile.


Prices change daily!! Fuel cost is a big factor, as well as seasons. Usually it is based upon price per mile per size and weight of vehicle.


The cost varies based on your specific transport needs.

Learn more about what goes into calculating the cost of vehicle transport here. For tips on choosing the right bid for your shipment, click here

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Expedited Shipping Services auto shipping price quote calculator

There ar equite a few things that go into calculating the price to ship a car. Cents per mile and GVW (gross vehicle weight) is what we go by intertwined with the sense of urgency factor teh shipper has. Someone who needs the vehicle to be shipped ASAP will probably pay a little more then someone who provides us with the window of flexibility for pick up of 3-5 business days. Also some states are black out states where drivers are saying they are less travelled. SO based on carrier feedback these states are more costly then others like MT for example ND or SD Call us for a no obligation auto transport rate at 917-382-3441