Cost of Shipping a Car from California to Washington

Shipping a Car from California to Texas

Brantley Kendall

12 Sep 2023 9 months ago

Are you a thrill-seeker hunting for new experiences, novel adventures, or simply a lover of fresh landscapes? People like us often find ourselves drawn across the vast American landscapes. For some, it might be a permanent cross-country move. For others, it could be a temporary change of location or just about feeding an itch to explore far-flung corners.

 Now, one thing that often comes up when people move from California to Washington is the need to transport our beloved vehicles. It’s indeed a common requirement! But as we kick start our planning process, we must get a grip on what we’re getting into, especially with understanding car shipping costs, as they can add significantly to our budget. 

 Assume you drive a mid-sized sedan that comes in at roughly 3,500 pounds, and you’re considering open transport for shipping it from California to Washington – a journey that spans about 1,000 miles.

 Given these specifics, you’re most likely looking at an average shipping cost of $900 to $1,200. However, remember that everyone’s situation is unique, and the actual price could fluctuate based on individual circumstances and the prevailing market rates.

In this blog post, we will break down all the information you need about the expenses involved in transporting your car from sunny California over to breathtaking Washington. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Costs

What makes up the cost if you plan to ship your car for a move across the states or an exciting road trip? It’s not a random number but a carefully calculated amount based on many factors. Let’s look at the main elements that affect car shipping prices, including distance, vehicle type, shipping method and the time of the year.

 1. Distance: The Further, the Pricier

When it comes to car shipping costs, distance is king. The idea is pretty simple – the longer the journey, the more you pay. Taking a car across several states requires more time, effort, and gas, all adding to the final cost. The cost increases as the miles add up, making it essential for everyone to consider this primary feature when planning their car shipping budget.

2. Car Size & Shipping Cost: From Small Rides to Big Wheels

The size and weight of the vehicle you want to ship directly impact your wallet. In simple terms, more extensive and heavier cars occupy more room on the transport carrier. This reduces the available space and triggers an increase in the shipping charges. So, if you’re working on a budget, it might be better to look at shipping smaller vehicles like compact cars.

 Big honkers like SUVs, trucks, or unique vehicles will cost you more. It all boils down to a game of space and weight – the more room your car takes up, the more you pay for shipping.

3. Choosing Your Car Shipping Method: Open or Enclosed?

Deciding between an open and enclosed vehicle transport can influence how much you’ll pay. Open carriers are budget-friendly, but your car might have to brave the elements and occasional road debris. These carriers may not be ideal if you’re concerned about your car’s exposure to outdoor elements.

Enclosed carriers, meanwhile, can give you peace of mind as they shield your precious ride from external factors. Sure, they might cost more, but they’re worth considering if you have a valuable or delicate car. So remember, the method you choose to transport your car doesn’t just affect its safety during transit – it also plays a significant role in determining your final cost. Make your choice wisely!

4. The Time You Are Shipping Matters

The time of year can have a significant impact on car shipping costs. The pricing tends to go up in warmer months or during school breaks. That’s when most people plan their big moves, and this influx of demand often outpaces the supply of car shipping services. Not surprisingly, this leads to a spike in prices. But don’t let this put you off. If your schedule allows, you can always ship your car during less busy months. Because the demand is lower, you’ll likely find more carriers available and have the opportunity to snag better deals. Ship smart and save money!

5. Extra Features = Higher Cost

Car transport companies usually offer a variety of extra features that can make the shipping experience easier and more secure. Some options they might provide are home-to-home delivery, speedy shipping, and tracking services. Though they come with a cost, it could be worth it for the relief and reduced stress they provide.

6. Specific Needs May Increase the Cost 

The cost of shipping your car can also depend on your needs and circumstances. For instance, if you have definite dates for pickup and delivery, it might need extra planning and resources. This could influence the price. Likewise, shipping a high-end or classic car that requires special care might increase the cost. This is to cover the added attention and precautions necessary.

Understanding Pricing Structures

Car shipping companies consider several factors to provide a fair price to transport your vehicle. One company’s rates may differ from another due to service types, distances travelled, the type of vehicle you want to ship, and any extra services you may need. Here are a few things that determine their pricing structures.

  • Base Fees

Think of base fees as the starting point for the quote. They cover the essentials to get your vehicle from point A to point B. This might include admin costs, costs for using their equipment, and operational costs they need to cover. Even though they’re usually set in stone, they’re a crucial part of the final cost.

  • Distance Charges

Next, how far is your vehicle travelling? The longer the journey, the higher the cost. This makes sense when you think about it – more fuel, time, and labour. So, if you’re moving across the state, the cost will be considerably less than sending your car on a cross-country adventure!

  • Door-to-door vs Terminal-to-Terminal

 Door-to-door car shipping is handy as the carrier picks up and delivers your vehicle straight to your preferred locations. Though it’s more convenient, remember it could be pricier than terminal-to-terminal service. The latter involves you dropping off and fetching your vehicle at specified terminals.

Some other reasons affecting the pricing structure

  • Insurance: While the auto transport service includes basic insurance coverage, you could consider extra coverage for high-value vehicles. Do remember, though, that this might raise the overall price.
  • Expedited Shipping: In a hurry? Expedited shipping allows faster transport but is generally more expensive than standard shipping.
  • Tracking Services: Some carriers give you the peace of mind of tracking your vehicle’s whereabouts in real-time as it’s being moved. Remember, this could add a few extra dollars to the cost.
  • Special Handling: If your vehicle is inoperable or modified and needs extra TLC, prepare for probable additional charges.
  • Seasonal Demand: Last but not least, the rate you will be charged could change based on the season. Shipping during peak times might make a dent in your wallet.

Comparing Transport Methods and Costs

Deciding between open and enclosed transport is a crucial decision. Open transport is a budget-friendly option, whereas enclosed transport ensures higher security for your vehicle. Let’s explore each choice in detail so you can make a wise call for your beloved car.

Open carrier transport

Open vehicle transport is a popular and cost-saving method for shipping vehicles. Usually, it entails loading vehicles onto an open trailer, similar to the ones you often see transporting multiple cars along the highway. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of open transport:


  • Budget-friendly: Given that open transport systems can accommodate a more significant number of vehicles, it goes a long way in helping share transport costs among different customers, making it a cheaper option than enclosed transport.
  • Ease of Availability: Open transport systems are the standard and are thus easier to come by. You can find many carriers and options, particularly on busier routes.
  • Quick Loading/Unloading: The design of open trailers makes it easier and quicker to load and unload vehicles, promising to cut down on transit time.
  • Regular Checks: The open design of the trailer allows drivers to quickly inspect their cars at the pickup and delivery points, providing an added sense of comfort.


  • Exposure to Elements

As the vehicles are exposed, there’s a chance they may experience weather-related damage or soiling due to flying debris on the move. Despite this, open transport is a reliable and economical option for many regarding vehicle transportation.

  • Availability and Flexibility

The transport company will likely handle several vehicles simultaneously when you choose to transport your vehicle using open trailers. This means they must line up multiple pickups and drop-offs throughout the journey. Unfortunately, the downside is that transit times might be a bit longer, and there could be less flexibility in scheduling.  

Enclosed carrier transport

Just as a VIP enjoys exclusive privileges, so does your vehicle when you opt for enclosed car transport. Offering a top-of-the-line journey from one point to another, this service is not without its positives and negatives. So, let’s explore why it’s widely preferred and some factors to consider.


  • The high degree of protection

Your vehicle remains safe from harsh road conditions, such as airborne debris, rain, or potentially damaging hail. Therefore, you can rest knowing your beloved car, whether a vintage gem or a luxury ride, will reach its final destination unscathed. Say goodbye to fears of scratches, dents, or weather-induced damage with enclosed carrier transport!

  • Enjoy Extra Security!

Keep smiling, as these carriers often use high-tech security features, like locked containers and GPS tracking systems. They ensure that your car stays secure and safe through every mile of its voyage. So, you can relax, knowing your car is under vigilant monitoring while being shielded from any possible thefts or unauthorized breaches.

  • Love Some Privacy!

Another cherry on top of enclosed carrier transport is the privacy it provides. In contrast to open carriers – where your vehicle is visible for all to see – enclosed carriers keep your car away from curious looks. If you are transporting something expensive or confidential, this will be just perfect, keeping your vehicle concealed and maintaining discretion.


  • Cost

Since it brings an extra layer of protection and added security and requires special handling, it tends to be pricier than the more common open carrier transport. So, if your wallet feels thin, you should balance these benefits against the cost.

  • Availability

 Because these enclosed carriers are less plentiful than open ones, there may be times of the year or particular locations where they’re hard to find. So, if you’ve got a specific timeline or place in mind, it’s a good idea to reserve a spot ahead of time.

  • Capacity

Enclosed carriers typically can only hold so many vehicles or fit larger ones. Thus, if you’ve got more than one car to move or your vehicle is on the larger side, looking into different options might be a good idea.

Influencing Factors for California-Washington Route

Moving a car from California to Washington comes with a particular set of things to consider. These things can affect how easy it is, how much it costs, and how the vehicle moves. Let’s break down the key things you need to consider if you want to move vehicles between these two states.

1. Route Popularity 

Many people move and trade between California and Washington, which means many vehicles are being shipped between these two states all the time. The good news is that vehicle shipping services are always in demand. But the bad news? Sometimes, there may need to be more vehicle carriers available, especially in busy times. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to plan. Book a reliable vehicle carrier early to ensure your car arrives on time.

2. Balancing Demand & Supply in Vehicle Transportation

 How well supply meets demand in the vehicle transportation sector significantly affects costs and schedules. For instance, during the summer, people tend to move more, creating a boom in demand for transportation services. In this period, carriers are often fully booked, resulting in a price surge. However, on the flip side, planning your vehicle’s shipment during less busy seasons might save you a pretty penny. This is because there are usually more carriers available and fewer bookings happen.

3. Weather and Seasons Impact on Vehicle Transportation

Unfavourable weather, like heavy rainfall or snowstorms, can make roads dodgy, elongating transportation timelines. In the winter, particularly in areas with lots of hills or mountains, safety worries and delays can occur due to adverse weather conditions. For this reason, strategic planning and a backup plan can be vital to minimize the disruptions that the weather might cause.

4. Distance and Route Complexity

The most common transportation route between these two states involves traversing Interstate 5, a major north-south highway that connects them. However, it’s important to note that the specific starting and ending points within each state can introduce variations in distance and routing.

Moreover, urban areas along the route may present challenges in terms of traffic and accessibility. It’s crucial to consider factors such as rush hour congestion or road construction, as they can influence the efficiency of the transportation process.

5. Vehicle Type and Special Requirements

Different carriers or handling procedures may be necessary for larger vehicles, such as trucks or SUVs, compared to standard sedans. Choosing a carrier specializing in transporting larger vehicles is essential to ensure safe and efficient transportation. If the vehicle being transported has special modifications, such as lowered suspension or oversized tires, it is essential to communicate these factors to the carrier. This information allows them to make necessary adjustments to ensure proper handling and secure transport.

Shipping Cost From California to Washington: An In-Depth Analysis

Here are sample cost estimates based on different vehicle types and factors when shipping your car from California to Washington:

Sedan or Compact Car:

  • Standard Shipping: $800 – $1,200
  • Enclosed Shipping (for added protection): $1,200 – $1,800

SUV or Crossover:

  • Standard Shipping: $1,000 – $1,500
  • Enclosed Shipping: $1,500 – $2,000

Truck or Large Vehicle:

  • Standard Shipping: $1,200 – $1,800
  • Enclosed Shipping: $1,800 – $2,500

Distance: A Significant Factor Affecting Shipping Costs

If you’re shipping a car from San Francisco, California, to Seattle, Washington – a distance of approximately 808 miles – the cost could range between $700 to $1,000. Conversely, if you’re transporting the vehicle from Los Angeles, California, to Spokane, Washington, a distance of about 1,155 miles, the price might shoot up to $800 – $1,300.

How Time Influences Shipping Costs

Simple – it all boils down to supply and demand. When there’s a high demand for shipping services, the prices tend to rise. On the flip side, when the demand is low, the prices dip.

 For example, you might have to pay around $1,200 to ship your car during peak seasons like summer or spring, but during the less busy seasons like autumn or winter, the cost could drop to around $800.

Seasonality and Its Impact

It’s common to see shipping costs fluctuating across the seasons. Let us give you an actual scenario. Summer, the busiest and most expensive season, could range from $1,000 to $1,500. Meanwhile, the prices could plummet to as low as $600 – $900 during the more relaxed seasons like fall or winter.

From California to Washington and Vice Versa

Car transport from California to Washington tends to be pricier than the inverse route due to the higher demand. For instance, the shipping costs from California to Washington range between $800 – $1,200, while transporting the car from Washington to California costs $600 – $900.

Budgeting Tips for Car Shipping

Car shipping can be costly if one does not comprehend the inherent expenses beforehand. Below is a guide offering practical advice on budgeting for car shipping expenses, considering additional costs that may crop up.

How to Budget for Car Shipping Expenses

Budgeting for car shipping expenses is significant to avoid financial surprises. But how can you effectively budget for these costs?

  1. Carry out Comparative Shopping: Gather quotes from various companies to understand the average cost.
  2. Consider the Type of Carrier: Two types of carriers exist, open and enclosed, the latter being more expensive. Deciding on the type of carrier in line with your budget and needs will streamline your budget.
  3. Seasonality Impacts: The shipping season impacts the cost—budget for higher costs during peak seasons.

Unexpected Additional Costs

In the realm of car shipping, additional costs may be unavoidable. By anticipating these costs, you can budget accordingly.

  • Insurance Costs: Check whether your vendor’s insurance cover is sufficient for your car’s value, or you might need to purchase a supplementary cover.
  • Extra Services: Perks such as door-to-door delivery come with additional charges. If you require such services, make provisions in your budget.
  • Car Preparation: Your car should be in perfect driving condition before shipping. The costs of a mechanic’s inspection and necessary repairs should be budgeted for.

Planning for the Unexpected Costs

Budgeting for unexpected costs is all about accustoming yourself to unforeseen circumstances.

  • Buffer Budget: Always include a buffer budget to cater to unforeseen expenses.
  • Pour over the Agreement: Thoroughly peruse the agreement to identify potential hidden charges.
  • Consult the Experts: Speaking to someone with experience can give you a perspective about the costs you might have yet to consider.

Cheapest Car Shipping Options

Finding a budget-friendly way to ship your car that doesn’t compromise the quality of service is significant. But don’t worry – plenty of innovative strategies can help you balance affordability and reliability. Here are many practical ways to help you find the car shipping option that fits your pocket and still ensures your vehicle travels safely and efficiently.  

Step 1: Compile a List of Potential Car Shipping Companies

Begin your search by reaching out to trusted friends, family, or colleagues and see if they have any car shipping companies they can recommend from past experiences. Use search engines and online directories to find credible car shipping companies in your locale. Remember, a company is only as good as its reputation. Read through the reviews and ratings from previous customers to gain insights into the experiences others had with these companies.

Step 2: Get Quotes from Your Shortlisted Shipping Companies

Contact each of your chosen companies and ask for a detailed quotation. This should include the services they offer, their pricing structure, and any hidden charges or fees they might not explicitly mention upfront. You’ll also want to know about their insurance coverage and any guarantees they provide for the safe delivery of your sweet ride.

Step 3: Time to Compare These Quotes and Services

Delve into each quote and analyze them side by side. Look at the overall cost and the insurance coverage and check if they offer unique perks that make them stand out. Look for companies that provide value-added services such as vehicle tracking, door-to-door transportation, or expedited shipping options.

Step 4: Explore Various Car Transport Options

  • Open-Air Transport

This method is your best bet for cost-efficient car shipping. It’s also the most popular choice. Here, your vehicle gets loaded onto an open trailer. This means it’s at the mercy of the weather and could encounter road debris. Although it doesn’t offer the same protection as its enclosed counterpart, it’s perfectly suitable for most standard cars.

  • Enclosed Transport

This method is ideal if your car needs more protection. Enclosed trailers create a safe space, shielding your car from bad weather, dust, and debris on its journey. Keep in mind that this method is usually more expensive. But then, it ensures added safety for your high-value or sensitive vehicles.

Delivery Options: Terminal-to-Terminal vs. Door-to-Door

  • Terminal-to-Terminal: This is usually cheaper and involves picking up and dropping off your car at specified shipping terminals. It does require some logistical planning, and you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from these terminals.

Door-to-Door: With this option, your vehicle is picked up from your home and delivered to your door. It’s a more convenient choice that saves you the trouble of travelling to a terminal, but it does come with a higher price tag.

 Client Testimonials:

Real Cost Experiences

Shipping your car across states can often feel like stepping into the unknown. However, by choosing SAKAEM Logistics, you opt for a reliable, affordable, and customer-oriented service that has garnered praise from our satisfied clients. But don’t just take our word for it—let’s hear from some of our satisfied clients who have experienced our services firsthand.

Affordable and Hassle-free Shipping

“I had to relocate from California to Washington due to a job opportunity, and I was apprehensive about the logistics of moving my car. Luckily, a friend recommended SAKAEM Logistics, and I couldn’t be happier with their service!

Not only was their pricing competitive, but they also made the entire process hassle-free. Their team was responsive and professional when I contacted them and guided me through each step. My car arrived in perfect condition, and I couldn’t believe the whole experience was stress-free. I highly recommend SAKAEM Logistics for their affordability and efficiency.” – Emily D.

Exceptional Value for Money

“Shipping my car from California to Washington was challenging, especially considering the distance involved. However, SAKAEM Logistics made the process seamless and provided exceptional value for money.

Their transparent pricing structure allowed me to compare quotes easily, and the final cost was much lower than anticipated. Moreover, the service quality was outstanding—they kept me updated throughout the journey and delivered my car within the promised timeframe. SAKAEM Logistics exceeded my expectations, and I am grateful for their reliable and cost-effective car shipping services.” – Michael S.

Reliable and Trustworthy

“As a car enthusiast, the thought of entrusting my beloved vehicle to a shipping company made me quite anxious. But SAKAEM Logistics quickly put my fears at ease.

From the initial inquiry to the safe delivery of my car in Washington, their team demonstrated professionalism and reliability. They took exceptional care of my vehicle, precisely handling it and ensuring it reached its destination without a scratch. SAKAEM Logistics’ commitment to customer satisfaction is commendable, and I would happily recommend them to anyone needing car shipping services.” – Jessica P.

Whether you’re moving homes, relocating for work, or simply needing to transport your vehicle for other reasons, SAKAEM Logistics is the trusted partner you can rely on. Contact us today and experience the peace of mind of entrusting your car to the experts.


Getting to know the different things that can change the price of moving a car from California to Washington is your secret weapon for a smooth, budget-friendly trip. When you think about aspects such as how far you’re going, the kind of car you have, which shipping option you choose when you’re moving, and any savings you might get, you’ll be in the driver’s seat. Keeping a clever balance between getting a good deal and top-notch service while ensuring your car stays safe means you’ll be on the road to a breezy, no-nonsense car-moving experience.

FAQs – Common Questions People Also Ask (PAA):

How are Car Shipping Rates Calculated?

Car shipping rates are calculated based on several factors, including the distance between the pickup and delivery locations, the type and size of the vehicle, the chosen shipping method (open or enclosed transport), the current fuel prices, seasonal demand fluctuations, and any additional services requested, such as door-to-door delivery or expedited shipping. Reputable auto transport companies provide customized quotes considering these variables.

Is it More Expensive to Ship Larger Vehicles?

Yes, it’s generally more expensive to ship larger vehicles. Larger vehicles take up more space on the carrier, and their weight may impact fuel efficiency. As a result, the shipping rates for trucks, SUVs, and other oversized vehicles tend to be higher than shipping smaller sedans or compact cars.

Can I Save Money by Choosing a Specific Time for Shipping?

Yes, choosing a flexible shipping timeframe might save you money. Shipping during off-peak seasons or opting for flexible pickup and delivery dates can result in lower rates, as there is less demand for services.

What is the Difference Between Open and Enclosed Transport Costs?

Open transport is generally more cost-effective and commonly used, involving vehicles being transported on an open carrier exposed to the elements. Enclosed transport provides excellent protection and is often chosen for luxury or classic vehicles. Enclosed transport costs more due to the added security and protection it offers.

Are There Any Hidden Fees in Car Shipping?

Reputable car shipping companies are transparent about their pricing. However, it’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions to ensure you understand all potential costs. Some companies may charge extra for services like door-to-door delivery, insurance coverage, or expedited shipping. Clear communication with the shipping company can help you avoid hidden fees.

Do Car Shipping Rates Change Based on the Seasons?

Yes, car shipping rates can vary based on the seasons. Peak moving seasons, typically during the summer, can lead to higher demand for shipping services, potentially resulting in higher rates. Weather conditions can also affect rates, as transporting vehicles in adverse weather can impact safety and scheduling.

Can I Get a Discount for Shipping Multiple Vehicles?

Yes, many car shipping companies offer discounts for shipping multiple vehicles. If transporting more than one vehicle at a time, inquire about bulk or multi-vehicle discounts when requesting quotes.

What Should I Look for in a Cost-Effective Car Shipping Service?

When seeking a cost-effective car shipping service, consider the company’s reputation, experience, insurance coverage, customer reviews, and ability to provide a detailed and transparent quote. Balancing cost with reliability and quality is essential to ensure a smooth and secure transport process.

Are There Any Insurance Costs Included in the Shipping Price?

Reputable car shipping companies typically provide primary insurance coverage as part of the shipping price. However, it’s advisable to clarify the extent of coverage and inquire about additional insurance options if needed.

How Do I Know if the Cost Estimate is Accurate?

A reliable car shipping company will provide a comprehensive and itemized cost estimate based on the specific details of your transport request. It’s good practice to obtain quotes from multiple reputable companies to compare and verify the accuracy of the estimates. Additionally, reading reviews and testimonials from previous customers can give insights into the company’s credibility and service quality.

Brantley Kendall