Ship a Car
Buying and Selling Cars

How Much Does It Normally Cost to Ship a Car?

Moving across the country, or out of the country, is one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. Not only will you need to move your home’s belongings, but you’ll also need to find a way to move your vehicle.

When driving your vehicle isn’t an option, how you ship a car and what is the cost?

Shipping a car, whether to move or to sell, is easier than ever before. There are many different ways you can ship a car at many different price points. Finding the exact amount will depend on several factors, including distance and the size of your vehicle.

Do you need to move a vehicle? Here’s everything you need to know about the costs of shipping a car.

Average Cost to Ship a Car

The average cost for shipping a car across the country, about 1,000 miles, is around $950. The higher end of this average is closer to $1,200 and the lower average is about $700.

The distance you’re shipping a car plays a major role in the cost. Most car transportation companies base prices on distance and cost per mile. Longer distance car shipping of at least 1,000 miles or more is about $0.60 per mile.

Smaller compact vehicle owners may enjoy a cheaper cost while larger vehicles may experience a greater cost. Of course, these prices may vary more depending on several factors such as the type of vehicle, added shipping insurance, and express transportation.

Factors Influencing Car Shipping Cost

As with nearly any service today, customers have options when choosing how to transport their vehicle. The most common method within the United States is by truck but other options such as trains, planes, and ships are other potential options. From there, you can choose open transport or enclosed car transportation depending on your needs.

Here’s a closer look at the different factors and shipping options that influence the cost to ship a car.

Type of Transportation

Opting for open car transportation via truck will be your cheapest and most practical option. If you have a vintage, luxury, or specialty vehicle, you may want to invest in a more secure shipping method such as enclosed transportation. This will lessen the risk of your vehicle becoming damaged during shipping.

The next most affordable option is to ship a car by train. With rising fuel costs, train transportation can be more affordable and secure. The drawback is most railroads give priority to commercial customers first meaning availability and cost aren’t always consistent.

Shipping a car via airplane easily overcomes geographical constraints and is the fastest way to ship a vehicle. The main downside is shipping a car on an airplane is expensive, costing thousands of dollars more than land-based transportation. This option is best for those moving across the sea or who have the budget to afford this luxury mode of transportation.

While it’s not as fast, shipping a car by ship is an easy and affordable way to transport a car across waters. This is an efficient shipping method for those transporting their car to Alaska or Hawaii.

The Vehicle Size

The size and weight of your vehicle will influence how much it will cost per mile to ship your vehicle. Larger heavier vehicles will cost more compared to smaller lightweight vehicles.

A compact car weighing around 3,000 pounds will cost around $0.57 per mile for a 1,000 mile trip by truck. A mid-sized truck or SUV weighing 4,300 pounds will cost $0.87 per mile to ship 1,000 miles. These averages will vary depending upon the shipping company and any additional features they add.


Shipping companies will often offer a lower rate per mile for vehicles shipping long distances. Shipping a car 500 miles or less may cost closer $1 per mile.

This doesn’t mean shipping your vehicle across the country will be more cost-effective. Some companies may have additional charges for long-distance trips such as:

  • Overnight shipping
  • Gas
  • Toll roads
  • Leaving the state
  • Geographical locations far from main highways

When looking for a car transportation company, make sure to ask about additional fees associated with distance and location.

Time of Year

Moving in the summer months costs more than moving in winter. During the summer, trucks tend to book up fast, causing more competition and costs to rise. If you plan to ship a car during the summer, you plan to pay an additional $200 to $400.

Shipping a car during the winter months is cheaper but slower due to the unpredictable weather. You’ll also want to avoid shipping your vehicle during the holiday months, like December, as the entire shipping industry experiences backup.

Specialty Vehicles

Owning a rare or valuable vehicle may require you to invest in a secure form of transportation. Enclosed car transportation is a popular option as it keeps your vehicle safe from the elements, salt, theft, and vandalism.

Other services include lift gate elevators and door-to-door service. Both offer additional safety and protection for your vehicle. These services will cost significantly more but will ensure your valuable vehicle arrives in perfect condition.

Additional Fees

Your car shipping cost may incur additional fees depending on the company you choose and the type of transportation. A few common fees you may see include:

  • Fuel surcharges that fluctuate with market fuel prices
  • Extra space for oversized vehicles
  • Shipping insurance for valuable vehicles
  • Express shipping
  • Failed delivery

These additional fees may only add $100 on top of your car transportation cost. Some, such as extra space and express shipping can cost a few hundred dollars more to over double the cost of standard car shipping.

Hiring a Car Transportation Service

Your vehicle is often an expensive investment and you want a company with the experience and integrity to ship it safely. Look for the car transportation services that:

  • Have years of experience
  • Insurance
  • High reviews

Avoid companies with no reviews and those offering unusually low rates. These companies will cut corners which can damage your vehicle.

Ship a Car with Confidence

Don’t let the stress of moving get the best of you. With the many affordable ways to ship a car, you can rest easy knowing your car can safely get to its destination without going over your budget.

Want to learn more great car tips to keep your car looking and running great? Check out our latest Automobile Maintenance articles to discover more!