How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car from One State to Another

Harish Makam

25 May 2023 9 months ago


Shipping your car from one state to another can be an exciting but also nerve-wracking decision. With various factors such as pickup and delivery location distances, type of vehicle being transported, time of year, and additional fees that may arise, it’s crucial to understand the cost implications before making your final decision.

Familiarizing yourself with these factors can save you time, money, and headaches in the long term. Searching for reputable car shipping providers and taking the time to do proper research can help you feel confident that your vehicle is in good hands and that you’re not overpaying for the service. In this article, we’ll discuss in-depth the various factors that can impact the final price tag of car shipping. We hope that the knowledge you gain from this article will help you make informed decisions when it comes to transporting your vehicle.

What is car shipping, and why ship your car?

Shipping a car involves hiring a transport company to move a vehicle from one location to another. The car is loaded onto a truck or trailer, secured for transportation, and driven or transported to the final destination.

Reasons for Shipping a Car

  • Relocation: When relocating to a new city or state, shipping a car can be more convenient than driving it all the way, especially if it’s a long distance.
  • Car Purchases: If you buy a car from a dealer or private seller across the country, shipping it can be more cost-effective than flying over to pick it up or driving it back.
  • Snowbirds: Individuals who spend the winter months in sunny states and the summer months in their home state may prefer to ship their car instead of driving it twice a year.
  • Military Moves: Military members may ship their car when relocating based on their assigned location.
  • Car Shows: Owners of antique or classic cars may prefer to ship them to shows or events instead of driving those long distances.
  • Safety: Transporting a high-value car by a professional transport company is safer than driving it yourself.

Importance of knowing the cost of shipping a car

Understanding the cost of shipping a car is crucial for budgeting purposes. Shipping costs vary depending on the distance traveled, destination, and the type of transport service you choose. Without knowing the shipping cost, you could spend more than you budgeted, leaving little room for other important expenses. Here are some important points about the cost of transporting a car:

1. Avoiding Hidden Fees: Knowing the cost of car shipping can help you avoid hidden charges. Many car shipping companies advertise low rates but then tack on hidden fees, such as fuel surcharges, insurance, or storage fees. Knowing the upfront cost can help you avoid any unexpected or unwelcome surprises.

 2. Comparison shopping: An idea of the average cost of shipping a car can help you compare prices from different service providers, ensuring you get the best possible price. You can also factor in the cost of shipping when considering purchasing a vehicle from another state or country.

 3. Avoid Scams: Familiarizing yourself with the typical cost of shipping a car can help you avoid scams perpetrated by unscrupulous providers who might overcharge or undercharge unsuspecting customers.

 4. Peace of Mind: Knowing how much it costs to ship a car can give you peace of mind, particularly if you are moving across the country or internationally. By having a general idea of how much it will cost, you can be prepared and avoid the stress of unexpected expenses.

 5. Negotiating Power: With knowledge about shipping costs, you can have more negotiating power when dealing with car dealerships or sellers. You can use this information to negotiate a better price for the car or better shipping terms from the provider.

 Factors Affecting the Cost of Shipping a Car

Shipping a car can be expensive, tied to several factors that impact the total bill. Knowing the factors affecting the cost of shipping a car is essential for any vehicle owner looking to move their car across states or cross-country. Here are some of the key factors that affect the cost of shipping a car:

Distance

The farther the distance, the higher the cost of shipping will be. Transport companies charge per mile when shipping a car and may also charge for additional services such as door-to-door or terminal deliveries.

The average cost per mile for shipping a car from coast to coast is around $0.50 to $0.70, while short distances cost around $0.75 to $1.00 or more per mile. Remember that these are just approximate estimates, and prices may change depending on the market demand, service quality, and other factors involved in shipping a car.

For example, suppose you want to ship your car from Los Angeles, California, to Miami, Florida. The distance between these two cities is around 2,700 miles. If the average cost per mile is around $0.70 for standard-sized vehicles, it could cost around $1,890 to ship your vehicle from LA to Miami. This cost is for open transport and terminal-to-terminal delivery, which means your car will be picked up and dropped off at the nearest terminal. Door-to-door delivery usually costs more since the driver has to travel through residential areas and may encounter road closures or other restrictions that could make delivery more challenging.

Type of Transport

 When shipping your car, you have two options: open or enclosed car transport. Open transport is the most common method and involves placing your vehicle on an open carrier alongside other cars. Enclosed transport, on the other hand, protects your vehicle from the elements and provides extra security by transporting it in a fully enclosed trailer. While open transport is more affordable, enclosed transport offers greater protection and is often preferred for transporting high-end or classic cars.

Open transport vs. enclosed transport

Open car transport is the most popular and affordable way to ship a vehicle. Open trailers can have up to ten cars, which helps keep the costs down. However, open transport does come with its downsides. Your car is exposed to the elements, so during the journey, your car can get exposed to UV rays, dust, dirt, or debris, and sometimes there’s no way around hailstorms and heavy rainfall.

 Enclosed transport is more costly as it provides more protection and security for the vehicle. An enclosed trailer protects the car from dirt, debris, and weather factors like rain and sun. Drivers also use hydraulic lifts to put the car in the trailer, ensuring no contact with foreign objects. It’s worth noting that enclosed vehicles are often reserved for high-end or luxury cars, classic or vintage vehicles with higher values. Moreover, enclosed transport drivers have more skill and experience to maintain high standards and correctly load luxury cars.

Let’s understand with an example

Suppose you’re shipping a 2015 Honda Civic from San Francisco, California, to Houston, Texas. The distance between these two cities is approximately 2,050 miles. The average cost per mile for open transport is around $0.60, while enclosed transport can cost around $1.25 or more per mile. Using open transport, the total cost for shipping the car would be around $1,230, while enclosed transport would cost approximately $2,560. You could still expect slight variations in this cost based on the season, demand, and pickup or drop-off locations.

Vehicle Type

Cars, trucks, SUVs, and oversized vehicles require different shipping methods, leading to varying price points. Here’s how different types of vehicles impact your shipping costs.

  • Cars: They are lighter, smaller, and more efficient to transport than other types of vehicles, which makes them less expensive. For example, shipping a small sedan from point A to point B costs less than shipping a larger SUV or truck because they take up more space.
  • SUVs and Trucks: Shipping an SUV or truck is generally more expensive than shipping a car due to its larger size and weight. A truck is often taller and wider than a car, which means it requires more space on a transport truck, which leads to higher shipping costs. Similarly, an SUV, especially mid-sized or full-sized, can be heavier than a car, which may require specialized equipment.
  • Oversized Vehicles: Oversized vehicles such as RVs, buses, and large trucks require a specialized trailer for transport. As a result, shipping these vehicles can cost significantly more than shipping a regular car or even a larger SUV.

In a nutshell, the vehicle type you choose to transport can significantly impact the shipping costs, so it’s important to carefully consider the type of vehicle you have before settling on a shipping method. Research and comparison shopping can help you find the best car shipping service for your specific needs at a reasonable price point.

Seasonality

Seasonality can indeed affect the cost of shipping a car, and here’s why: Imagine you run a shipping company that transports cars from one part of the country to another. During the winter months, the demand for shipping cars from the northern part of the country to the southern part might be high as snowbirds move to Florida or Arizona to escape the cold.

On the other hand, during the summer months, college students might use your service to transport their cars from home to school or vice versa. However, during the fall and spring months, the demand might be low, and therefore the cost of shipping a car might be cheaper.

This is because fewer individuals need your service during these months, so you’d have to adjust your pricing to remain competitive. Seasonality affects the demand for car shipping services, which in turn affects the cost of the service. So if you’re planning to ship your car, it’s always a good idea to check the seasonality trends and plan your shipment accordingly to save some dollars.

Average Cost of Shipping a Car

Shipping a car within the same state is like taking a road trip. The cost is typically lower, as the distance is shorter and the logistics are simpler. It’s like grabbing some snacks and hitting the open road, taking time to soak in the scenery. On the other hand, shipping a car between different states is like taking a cross-country flight. The distance is much longer, and more logistics are involved in getting your car from point A to point B.

It may require coordination with multiple carriers to ensure the car is promptly picked up and dropped off on time. Consequently, the cost of shipping a car between different states is typically higher than shipping within the same state, just like the cost of a cross-country flight is typically more than a short road trip. However, just like with air travel, sometimes it’s necessary to invest to get your car safely and securely to its destination.

Shipping from the West Coast to the East Coast and vice versa

Shipping a car from the West Coast to the East Coast can be expensive, with rates ranging from $900 to $1200, depending on the specific route and carrier selected. One reason for the high cost is the longer distance involved, which translates into more fuel usage and additional road tolls or charges. The high demand for transport services in this direction also boosts the price, especially during popular moving seasons, like summer. For example, if you’re shipping a car from Los Angeles to Boston, the total distance is about 3,000 miles, which is costlier due to the greater distance and time taken to transport the vehicle.

Shipping East Coast to West Coast

On the other hand, shipping a car from the East Coast to the West Coast can be slightly cheaper, typically ranging from $800 to $1100 on average. Since there is less demand for this direction for the same or similar reasons, the carriers can accommodate more load from fewer people and make the trip more efficient. For example, if you’re shipping a car from Boston to Los Angeles, the total distance is about 2,800 miles, which is comparatively less time-consuming and, thankfully, reflected in the cost.

North to South and vice versa

 Shipping a car from the northern part of the US to the southern part is usually less expensive as the distance is typically shorter than the distance between the coasts. For example, shipping a car from Chicago to Houston (about 1,100 miles) is typically cheaper than shipping a vehicle from Los Angeles to New York (about 2,800 miles).

 South to North Coast

Shipping a car from the southern part of the US to the northern part can be slightly more expensive than shipping from north to South as the distance is longer. In some cases, however, the cost may be lower during winter when fewer people are moving, and the demand for transport services is lower. For example, shipping a car from Miami to New York (about 1,200 miles) is typically more expensive than shipping a vehicle from Houston to Chicago (about 930 miles).

 Cost of Shipping a Car Internationally

Transporting a vehicle from the United States to Canada can cost anywhere from $800 to $2400, depending on the starting point, destination, and method of shipment. For example, if you ship a car from New York City, NY, to Toronto, Ontario, the distance would be approximately 500 miles, and it can cost around $750 to $1000 for mid-size car transport.

From the United States to Canada

Shipping a car from the United States to Europe typically costs $1500 to $3000, depending on a few factors like the shipping method, the destination port, and the distance covered. The relevance of these factors for the cost and the custom clearance procedures add to the total package cost. For instance, shipping a car from New York, United States, to London, United Kingdom, would cover over 3,000 nautical miles, which cost roughly $2000 to $3500.

From the United States to Europe

Let’s say you want to ship a standard sedan or SUV from New York to Rotterdam in The Netherlands. The cost of transporting a car of this type by container is typically between $1,500 and $3,500 depending on several factors, such as the container size, the level of service provided, and the distance covered. If you opt for a RoRo service, the costs can be slightly lower – between $1,500 and $3,000. Again, the final price will depend on the same factors. Other factors affecting the cost of shipping a vehicle to Europe from the US include customs duties, taxes, import regulations, and insurance costs. For instance, you may have to pay a VAT (Value Added Tax) or customs duty when importing your vehicle.    

From the United States to Asia

Transporting a vehicle from the United States to Asia (like Japan, for instance) can cost between $2000 to $4000, depending on the port and transport option. For instance, shipping a car from Los Angeles, CA, to Tokyo, Japan, requires your car to travel non-stop for over 5,000 nautical miles, which would be reflected in the transport costs.

Keep in mind

The costs presented here may not be adequate for some countries, and there are uncertainties with custom requirements. These costs are rough estimates that factors like the type of car, the time of year, the route, and the shipping method, among others, can influence. It’s wise to compare quotes from different transport companies and interview them thoroughly before agreeing to ship your vehicle.

How to Save Money When Shipping a Car

Plan Ahead: Planning gives you ample time to research and find the best auto transport company that meets your requirements. It can also help you get a better deal as some companies offer discounts for early bookings. With planning, you can also avoid last-minute rushes that often come with heightened prices. When you have adequate time to prepare, you can compare prices, negotiate better rates and choose the most affordable option.

Compare Quotes: To get the best deal when shipping your car, you need to compare the quotes of different auto transport companies. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Research: The first step in comparing quotes is researching the best auto transport companies. Look for reputable and reliable companies with positive reviews and ratings from previous clients.
  • Request for quotes: After identifying potential companies, request quotes from each of them. Ensure you provide accurate details about your car and the shipping requirements for an accurate quote. You can request quotes through their websites, phone calls, or emails.
  • Compare and analyze the quotes: Compare and analyze the cost for what is included and what is not. Look at the type of service, insurance coverage, pickup and drop-off options, and transit times. Ensure you compare apples to apples and choose the company that offers the best value for your money.  

Negotiate

Negotiating with auto transport companies can be tricky, but you can do it if you understand the right approach. Here’s how you can negotiate with auto transport companies to get the best deal:

  • Compare: Compare multiple auto transport companies before contacting any of them. Look for detailed information about their services, terms, and reviews. Additionally, compare the prices of each of them.
  • Be clear about your needs: Ensure you have a clear idea of your shipping requirements. For example, tell the company about your preferred mode of transportation, pickup, and drop-off dates and locations.
  • Ask for discounts and promotions: Most auto transport companies offer discounts for students, military personnel, and referrals. You can ask if any discounts or promotions are available for your specific shipment.
  • Consider the payment method: Payment flexibility and options matter greatly when negotiating with auto transport companies. Be sure to ask about the payment options provided by each company and see which one aligns with your budget plans.
  • Stay firm, but be polite: Stay cordial and professional when negotiating. If a company’s offer does not meet your expectations, politely refuse and consider contacting other companies.  

Timing

The best time to ship your vehicle in the USA can depend on various factors, including the season, demand, and supply chain considerations. Shipping your vehicle during the offseason or shoulder season can help you save money on transportation costs. For instance, during the winter months, such as December to February, demand for car transportation services is generally lower due to harsh weather conditions, and fewer people travel. As a result, prices for auto transport services may be lower, saving you some money.

However, it would help if you were aware of the possibility of increased transit times during the winter months due to weather complications, which may affect your vehicle’s supply chain and delivery. In contrast, during peak seasons, such as summer starting in June, demand is usually high, making it challenging to find an affordable, available auto transport service. Such periods may also be marked with higher gas prices due to increased travel.

Besides, Many factors can affect auto transport rates, including fuel prices, routes, equipment, and other market changes. Let’s consider an example to understand how much one can save during the offseason.

If you consider transporting your car from the east coast to the west coast in peak season, i.e., in June, a standard sedan shipment can cost between $1,000 to $1,500. But, if you plan to transport the same vehicle in Nov-Dec (off-season), you can expect to pay $900 or even less.  

Conclusion

Shipping a vehicle from one state to another in the USA can be an affordable and efficient way to transport your car while saving time and eliminating the chance of wear and tear. Do some homework before choosing an auto transport company to ensure they are reputable, and reliable and provide services that meet your needs. Consider factors such as mode of transportation, insurance coverage, distance, and season to determine the best cost-effective options for shipping your vehicle. By following these tips, you can have a stress-free experience while transporting your vehicle across the states.


Harish Makam