How Much Does Auto Transport Cost?

Brantley Kendall

19 Apr 2023 1 year ago

The idea of shipping your car through a third party definitely calls for careful consideration. We understand that confiding in someone else for your prized possession should be done only post proper research and cost analysis. We are here to help you with all the questions that you might have about the cost of shipping your car. This article spans multiple options of auto shipping, delivery, and the factors that impact the final cost of shipping your car through an auto shipping company.

Factors that Affect Auto Transport Cost

The cost of shipping a car is never an absolute value as it depends on many factors which can be controlled to control the final payable cost to transport your car through an auto-shipping service.


Location is one of the most critical aspects that alters the cost of overall car shipping. For instance, if your pickup and delivery location can be easily located and lay on the regular routes of the city/ state/ country then the cost will be less. But, if your locations are offbeat and are located on the outskirts then, it would cost more fuel to the company, hence the cost of shipping will be more.


Once the locations are locked-in, the next factor to consider is the distance between pickup and delivery location. Usually, the cost of car shipping is calculated on per mile basis, so the distance will give you the initial price of shipping your car to a new location.

Size and weight of the vehicle

The size, weight, and build of the vehicle will help in deciding the type of trailer required to ship the car. Since the weight of the car can be a deciding factor, hence it is recommended to remove all kinds of personal belongings from your car to manage the minimum weight while shipping.

Type of transport (Open VS Enclosed auto transport)

You also get to pick the type of trailer that should be used by the auto transport company to ship your car from one place to another. There are 2 types of trailers that you can use for your car shipping.

Open auto transport uses an open trailer to ship your car. It is a cheaper transport option for your car. But if you are looking for a safer auto transport option then enclosed car transport can be a good choice. Under enclosed auto transport, the trailer is covered from all sides to ensure better safety and protection of your car during transit.

Mode of delivery (Door-to-door VS terminal-to-terminal delivery)

Once you have decided on the type of transport, you can opt for the type of pickup and delivery that suits you. If you have a busy schedule, then you can choose door-to-door delivery wherein your car will be picked up from and delivered to your given addresses without having to do anything except prepare your car for shipping.

If you want to save cost, then choose the terminal-to-terminal delivery method. In this option, you are required to drop and pick up your car from the nearest terminal of the company. This will save the company’s time and cost of fuel, making it a decent deal if you are tight on the budget for shipping your car.

Weather/ Season of shipping

Transport is majorly affected globally due to changes in weather conditions. So while you plan to ship your car, keep this factor in mind as well. Extreme winter, rain, or snow conditions can hike the cost of shipping as it gets difficult to navigate during these conditions and the company has to pay more to the carriers.

Summer is often the peak season for shipping, as many people change locations for recreation and book shipping transport for their cars. It is recommended that you must act well in advance for a desirable rate of shipping your car.

Car conditions (Operable VS Inoperable state)

While shipping a car, it is required to be loaded and unloaded from the trailer truck. This loading-unloading process is easier when the car is in an operable state, i.e, it can be driven forward and backward with its own battery and fuel. However, if the car is not in working condition then various tools are used by the carrier to load and unload the car adding to the overall shipping cost.

Delivery time flexibility

If you are looking for delivery of your car at the earliest, then you might need to pay more for the same. But if you plan for shipping the car well in advance then, you might get some discounts from the auto transport service provider.

Types of Auto Transport Services

As discussed above, the type of auto transport services that you choose can impact the final cost of shipping so it is wise to know about the available options for a smart choice that goes well with your car shipping.

Let’s look at all auto transport options and their merits and demerits to help you make the right choice for your car.

Open auto transport

As the name suggests, this type offers open trailer shipping for your car. The trailer is able to haul up to 10 cars at once making it the most cost-effective option for auto shipping.


  • It is the cheapest and most preferred shipping option in the country.
  • This transport is readily available due to its popularity.


  • It exposes the car to external elements such as dust, dirt, debris, etc.
  • Since it’s high in demand, availability can be an issue at times.

Enclosed auto transport

Under enclosed shipping, the trailer is covered from all sides to ensure better protection of your car. This trailer can haul a limited number of cars in one go depending on the weight and size of the cars.


  • It ensures much reliable protection for your car during transit.
  • Enclosed auto transport safeguards your car against any external elements like sunlight, rainfall, dust, etc.


  • It is 30-40% more expensive than open auto transport.
  • Due to the high price, this mode is not readily available.

Door-to-door auto shipping

If you are a beginner at auto shipping experience, then door-to-door auto shipping should be your go-to option. Under this method, the carrier will pick up and drop off at the given the addresses, without you having to do anything for the shipping. All you need to do is keep your vehicle ready for shipping and receive it at the delivery location.


  • It is a convenient option for people who have busy schedules or are trying the auto-shipping service for the first time.
  • It is a very viable option for inoperable cars.


  • It is definitely an expensive choice as more fuel will be required by the company to load and unload your car from the given addresses.
  • Door-to-door shipping may not be a wise choice if you stay in a gated society or high-security area, as it will be difficult to sort the permissions for a large trailer truck to enter the premises.

Terminal-to-terminal auto shipping

Every auto shipping service provider has multiple terminals in all their active areas. It’s a checkpoint from where all the shipping trucks leave after analyzing the condition of the truck. Under terminal-to-terminal auto shipping, you are required to drop off the car at your nearest terminal for loading and then, pick it up from the terminal closer to your destination.


  • It is a cost-effective pickup and delivery option for your car.
  • A convenient option for people who live in a high-security area.


  • If the terminal is far from your location, then driving or transporting the car to it can be a costly affair.
  • If you don’t pick up your car from the destination terminal, a fee will be charged by the shipping company to secure and store your car at the terminal.

Expedited delivery

Though auto shipping services value its customers who do bookings in advance, there is also a provision for people who have a sense of urgency. Expedited delivery is like fast-tracking your car shipping journey on priority by paying extra charges to the auto shipping company for the same.


  • It gives you an opportunity to get delivery on the desired date and time.
  • A perfect option for people who are planning the shipping at short notice and have a budget for it. 


  • Expedited delivery is only possible by paying extra to the company, so if you have a tight budget, it may be a tough choice to make.
  • If the season is also unfavorable then this shipping experience can totally burn a hole in your pocket.

Standard delivery

Under this delivery, you are expected to share a desirable date of pick up and delivery of your vehicle. However, the final dates are subject to the availability of the trailers and carriers for the given location.


  • It is a fair option for people who planned their car shipping well in advance to get a desirable time of delivery without paying any extra charges.
  • Standard auto-delivery is a good option for people with a limited budget.


  • It may be unfavorable for people who are looking for urgent delivery.
  • It is not feasible for people who have a short delivery window for their car’s delivery.

How to Find the Best Auto Transport Services

Once you understand various types of transport services and the factors that impact the cost of shipping your car, it is necessary to know how to find the best auto shipping service provider.

Here are a few pointers that you must check before finalizing a shipping company for transporting your car.

  • Researching Auto Transport Companies

Firstly, do your research, and read more and more about the auto transport services in your city to know what to expect when you reach out to one. It’s better to have an overview of the service providers to clearly understand everything.

  • Years of experience

As you are willing to trust a company with your vehicle, it is recommended to go for experienced auto shipping companies as these have a long list of past work for you to analyze the quality of services offered by them.

  • Registration/ license details

Once you see that the company has been well-established for the past few years, check for the authentication by checking their registration and license details issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – an agency to regulate the country’s trucking industry by the Department of Transport (DOT).

This verification will establish the reputation and help you to rely on the auto shipping company.

  • Online reviews/ past customer testimonials

Once you are assured about the credibility of the shipping company, look up customer reviews and testimonials on the website and other review websites. If possible connect with some past customers to know about the services offered by the particular auto shipping company. Every auto shipping company will share why they are the best in business but you will get the real picture only through real-life testimonials by past customers, so always prioritize this part during your hunt for a good auto shipping company.

  • Available types of shipping

Always look for various shipping options offered by a company so that you know to choose the one that suits you for shipping your car. Even if a company has a lot of options but nothing works for you, there is no point in chasing an auto shipping service provider like that.

  • Insurance coverage

When you are looking for an auto transport company, always check for the insurance coverages offered by them. If the information is not clearly available, get in touch with their support team to get insurance coverage details.

  • Hidden Fees and Charges for Auto Transport

Some companies often give a very reasonable quote at the beginning but till the time of delivery, they add multiple charges and fees that can affect your initial budget. So be aware and keep your eye out for any surprise charges. Ensure that the final quote has the entire cost breakdown to avoid any scope of additions later.

  • Comparing Quotes for Auto Transport

Once you have done enough research, read about the leading auto shipping services in your area. Analyze them as per your needs and shortlist up to 3 shipping service providers to request quotes from them. Multiple quotes will help you in gauging the competitive prices in the market.

After grilling the available auto shipping services through the above parameters, you are sure to make a smart choice of the shipping company for transporting your car within the desired budget and expected timeline.

How much does auto transport cost?

The car transportation cost is a completely subjective cost depending on the choices you make along the way. Here are some average costs to give you a rough estimate of what can you expect as per the details of your car and other factors.

The initial average cost for shipping is around $2 per mile for distances under 200 miles, but if the distance is more than 1500 miles then the cost per mile dips up to $0.56 per mile.

If you choose all the high-end services from a reputable shipping company then, the cost can go over $2000. Whereas if you choose open carrier transport and a large delivery window then it can cost you an estimated cost of $1200 for your delivery.

How to Save Money on Auto Transport

There are some simple hacks that you can try to save some money while shipping your car away.

  • Opt for open carrier transport
  • Pick a large shipping window for your vehicle
  • Check for offers given by auto shipping companies
  • Ask for a clear cost breakdown to avoid any last-minute hidden charges
  • Find out an off-season to ship your car

When it comes to hidden fees and charges, always ensure that you enquire everything before the actual shipping takes place. It is better to keep a buffer amount handy in case of any unforeseen expenses such as repairing parts of the car before shipping. To insure the final cost, insist on getting a detailed cost breakdown on the company’s official letterhead so that you have evidence at your end, in case the shipping company poses new charges towards the end.

Most Common Questions People Also Ask (PAA):

What is the average cost to transport a car?

The average cost can be between $500 to $1500 or more, subject to many factors in consideration.

How much does it cost to ship a car across the country?

The average cost of shipping a car across the country should be $1650 which depends on various choices made till the delivery.


How do I find a reliable auto transport company?

You can find a reliable auto transport company by checking the registration details, online testimonials, available shipping options, and insurance coverage offerings, and comparing quotes from multiple companies.

What factors affect the cost of a car shipping?

Some factors that affect car shipping are distance, type of shipping, weather, size, the weight of the vehicle, car conditions, and mode of car delivery.

Is open or enclosed auto transport better?

Enclosed auto transport offers better protection as compared to open auto transport.

But if the budget is to be considered, open transport is cheaper than enclosed transport.

How long does it take to transport a car?

It can up to 3 to ship a car within the city and can take over 5-7 days for shipping the car across the state or cross country depending upon the distance between the source and the destination.

Are there any hidden fees when shipping a car?

Some shipping companies levy surprise charges in the name of insurance or better protection, however, a reputable company is transparent about all the money one needs to pay till the end of the process.

Can I ship personal belongings with my car?

Adding personal belongings in the car increases the weight of the car hiking the cost of shipping. It is recommended to not ship personal belongings in the car to avoid any price hike or risk of theft during the transit.

How do I prepare my car for transport?

Get your car washed, remove all personal belongings, deactivate all the alarms, and get a mechanical checkup done before shipping your car.

Can I track the shipment of my car during transport?

Yes, the auto shipping company shares a link or a code that you can use to track the carrier anytime during transit.


Bearing the cost of shipping your car is an important consideration for you. We hope that this article gave you an understanding of what factors and prices to expect while shipping your car. If you still have any queries that you want us to address, then get in touch with one of our representatives who will guide you throughout the process to offer you the best deal for shipping your car.

Brantley Kendall