Simplified: How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?

Jason Hilderbrand

11 Jan 2022 9 months ago


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Moving from one state to another is a stressful experience. Let alone setting into life after moving, shipping all the stuff itself is daunting enough. One of the biggest headaches in the process is moving your car. Unfortunately, most of the people have no idea about the cost to ship a car, modes of shipping, the time it takes, etc.

If you’re planning to move soon, the cost to ship a car must be one of the first questions in your mind. While there’s not a single digital answer to this question, we will help you learn everything you need to know so that you can derive the answer by yourself. Let’s get started!                 

What is the Average Cost to Ship a Car?

As per an analysis of around 700 car transport quotes, the average shipping cost is approximately $1,290. However, this is not a figure that you should go by as it can go as low as $400 and as high as $1700. That’s because the final cost of car shipping depends on a lot of factors.

Here’s the average car shipping cost based on various distances:

DistanceAverage costOpen transportEnclosed transport
150 miles$470$350$590
550 miles$750$550$950
1,000 miles$1,150$900$1,400
1,050 miles$985$720$1,250
2,750 miles$1,300$1,050$1,550  

Note: Above costs are not absolute as the final figure depends on various factors. They’re shown here to give you an approximate idea.

If you are in a hurry and don’t have much time, you can get an instant quote from us. You will have your car shipping cost mailed to you within 5 minutes!

Which Factors Play a Part in Car Shipping Costs?

Although car shipping isn’t rocket science, you need to learn about a few things to understand how car shipping costs are calculated. Let’s have a look at the various factors you must consider.

Type of Shipping

Many first-timers aren’t aware that they can get their car transported in two ways: enclosed shipping and open shipping.

  • Open car shipping, as implied in the name itself, is a type of shipping in which cars are loaded on an open shipping truck that has multiple rows of vehicles. It is a cheaper way of shipping your car as it occupies less space and thus allows more cars on a single truck. The downside is that it exposes your car to outside elements such as rain and snow.
  • Enclosed car shipping, on the other hand, is a safer shipping method as your car is shipped in a closed truck. Therefore, it protects your car from extreme weather conditions. It goes without saying that enclosed shipping is more expensive compared to open shipping. Enclosed shipping is a preferred way of shipping for expensive cars.

Shipping Distance

As we saw in the table of average costs, distance is a major differentiator when it comes to car transport costs. The reason behind it is obvious as the fuel of shipping trucks and wages of drivers are major costs involved in the shipping process. Therefore, the cost is high for longer distances and vice versa.

It’s worth noting here that the distance is considered between the pickup and delivery point. That’s why shipping companies ask you for the zip codes of both end-points. Also, it will cost you extra if you are opting for door-to-door service.

Delivery Time

Time taken to ship a car takes longer than people usually expect as car shipping companies ship your car within 3-7 days of pickup. Plus, you need to add the days spent in transit to have an idea of the shipping time. Many people cannot wait this long and that’s why shipping companies have provisions for expedited shipping.

If you want your car to be shipped on an immediate basis, you can opt for faster delivery. This will add extra cost but will get your car shipped within a shorter timeframe.

Type & Size of Your Vehicle

As per American Federal Law, shipping trucks have certain limitations as far as the amount of weight they can carry. Therefore, your vehicle type also plays an important role in determining the cost to ship a car. As it goes without saying, the cost to ship cars having higher weight and size will be higher.

Thus, if you have an SUV, don’t be surprised if the shipping company costs more than someone who shipped their hatchback car.

Shipping Truck Size

Often not revealed by shipping companies, the size of the shipping truck is a crucial factor. If your car is loaded on a truck having higher capacity, it is bound to cost you less as the shipping expenses are divided across more vehicles. You must ask your shipping company about the availability of larger vehicles to bring down your car shipping cost.

Car Shipping Company

The car shipping business has cut-throat competition with many new and small companies entering the fray. Thus, you might find a big difference in the quotes given by two companies.

Big companies usually charge less as they have higher demand and resources. They also offer reliability as they have been in the business for a long time and know the intricacies involved. We at SAKAEM offer you an unparalleled combination of safety and competitive pricing. It is much more peaceful knowing that your car is in the hands of a reliable company that has done it hundreds of thousands of times.

Weather Conditions

As we saw previously, weather conditions impact your car in open shipping and that’s why many people don’t prefer to ship their cars in the Winters and rainy seasons. As a result, the shipping companies have less demand and tend to charge higher to compensate for their loss.

How to Ship a Car

Now that you know how much it costs to ship a car, the next thing you need to know is the process of shipping. It involves three simple steps, let’s go through them one-by-one.

Step 1: Shortlist Trustworthy Car Shipping Companies

Finding a reliable car shipping company is one of the first things you need to do. One way is to check their online presence and go through reviews given by past customers. Our suggestion to you would be to go with an experienced car shipping company as they are aware of the know-how in case problems arise along with way.

You should shortlist three to five such companies and understand what each of them offers.

Step 2: Get Car Shipping Quotes & Compare

Most of the companies offer online quotations to give you an instant idea of how much it is going to cost you. Thus, go to the website of each shortlisted company and get quotations. Once done, do a comparative study of their offerings vis-à-vis the cost and choose the one that fits the bill.

Step 3: Confirm the Specifications and Order Shipping

After you’ve finalized the company, give them a call to reconfirm everything they’re offering along with the costs. If needed, ask them to send an email so that you have it in writing. Next, it’s time to order the shipping and say goodbye to your car (not forever!).

Additional Tip: If you’re not in a hurry, keep a few days of gap between the day you order shipping and the pickup date. This is to prepare your car for shipping, which we will see in the next part of this post.

How to Prepare a Car for Shipping

Sadly, the car shipping process doesn’t end at ordering the shipping. You need to get your car shipping-ready. Here’s what it involves:

Gather Vehicle Documents:

The car shipping services will ask you for documents to verify ownership of th vehicle. You need to be prepared with the below documents to avoid any last-minute hassle:

  • Vehicle registration information
  • Insurance documents
  • Bill of sale
  • Original vehicle title
  • Your unexpired identification (i.e. driver’s license or passport)

Remove Personal Items, Documents & Accessories from Car

Many movers think of shipping their stuff by putting it in a car. This is a bad idea as the shipping insurance doesn’t cover loss and damage to the items in your car. Thus, you must remove all your personal items, documents, and accessories from your car. You should also remove your battery if your shipping company asks you to.

In case you want to keep certain things in your car, you should keep them in the trunk. Also, you don’t need to remove your spare tire, emergency kit, jack, and license plate.

Wash Your Car and Document Existing Damages

Although the shipping is usually safe, you shouldn’t leave a single stone unturned to ensure your car’s safety. We suggest washing your car and taking its pictures inside-out. This will help you document the existing condition of the car and you can check for damages when you receive your car.

Empty Your Gas Tank

As your car is getting shipped by a truck, it doesn’t need to have much gas. Unless you have opted for door-to-door shipping and if your pickup or delivery location is too far off, you can leave your gas tank just a quarter full. Extra gas will add additional weight and add to your shipping cost.

Additional Tip: You will need to give your car key so that the driver can pick up and deliver your car. However, give the spare key to them and get it made if you don’t have it. Don’t give one and only key to them.

Additional Tips to Save Money

  • Move Multiple Cars Together: If you and your colleague or relatives are moving at the same time, you can ship your cars together as the shipping providers usually offer discounts for multiple cars.
  • Negotiate: The simple and most effective thing to do is to call shipping services and ask them for discounts. You might get a good deal if you have good negotiation.
  • Special Discounts: Many shipping services provide special discounts for military personnel, students, senior citizens, etc. You can ask and avail such discount if applicable to you.
  • Payment Method & Deposit: If you are using a credit card to make the payment,you might have to pay an additional surcharge of 2-3%. Some shipping companies also ask you for refundable deposit. Thus, you must talk to the service provider and choose the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How much does it Cost to Ship a Car?

The cost of shipping a car varies due to a lot of factors such as shipping mode, distance, shipping service, etc. Here’s a table to give you an approximate idea:

DistanceAverage costOpen transportEnclosed transport
150 miles$470$350$590
550 miles$750$550$950
1,000 miles$1,150$900$1,400
1,050 miles$985$720$1,250
2,750 miles$1,300$1,050$1,550  

How does a Shipping Company Determine Cost to Ship a Car?

A car shipping company decides the cost based on your car, shipping demand, mode of transport, and requested shipping time.

Can I put my stuff in the car to get it shipped?

Shipping companies don’t provide insurance against your personal belongings and it also adds to the weight, which costs you more. Thus, it is wise not to put any stuff in your car. Having said that, you can ask your shipping company if you really want to.

What is Bill of Lading?

Car shipping companies require you to fill the bill of landing (BoL) before you order shipping. It has all relevant details regarding the shipment including the model, make, existing damages on the car, terms, and conditions, etc., and acts as a transparent way of working for both parties.


Jason Hilderbrand