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  • When you use a car shipping broker, the company does the work of finding a carrier for your shipment.
  • Car shipping typically costs between $500 and $2,000 depending on the distance and the services chosen.
  • Shipping costs are affected by factors such as the time of year and the type of vehicle being transported.

Instead of driving your car for hundreds of miles, taking days out of your schedule and paying for expenses along the way, you can have someone else move your car for you. Car shipping companies can pick your car up and move it across the country whether it’s your daily driver or prized 1969 Dodge Charger.

In this article, we’ll show you how to ship a car and how much it typically costs. We’ve reviewed the best car shipping companies in the industry, and we’ll recommend two of our top picks below.

How Does Car Shipping Work?

Car shipping is the process of moving your vehicle from one location to another. You can find car shipping services from many moving companies, which makes a move convenient. You can also use companies that specialize in car shipping and have experience moving many types of vehicles.

Most car shipping companies offer door-to-door transport. That means the carrier meets you close to your pickup and drop-off locations. If you’re moving between major cities, you might be able to get terminal-to-terminal transport, which is a bit cheaper. Your pickup and delivery locations would be at large shipping terminals in this case.

Open vs. Enclosed Auto Transport Services

You can ship a car in many ways, including by air, boat, or train, but the most popular way to ship a car is by truck. In particular, open-carrier shipping is the cheapest way to ship your car because 10 or more vehicles can fit on an open transport carrier.

The other option to ship by truck is to use an enclosed carrier. This secures your vehicle inside a trailer and protects it from the elements. Enclosed shipping costs more but is a good option for classic cars and luxury vehicles.

How the Car Shipping Marketplace Works

There are several concepts about the car shipping industry that are helpful to understand. The company that actually moves your car is called a carrier. Carriers can work directly with customers, but many prefer to work with car shipping brokers to keep their schedules full. Because of this, most of the auto shipping companies you come across online are really car shipping brokers.

When a customer wants to ship a car, they get a quote from a broker like Montway Auto Transport. Then, the broker posts the job and its cost on an industry transport job board. Carriers can then pick the job from that board.

If the broker posts a low price, the job might not get picked up. In this case, a broker might increase the price to find a carrier. The customer may then end up paying a higher price than the original quote. This is a common practice in the auto transport industry because brokers don’t have full control over carrier rates.

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand are big factors in how much vehicle shipping services cost. When there are fewer carriers for a particular time or route, the customer will pay more. On the other hand, the customer will pay less if there are many car carriers available for the shipment.

How Much Does Car Shipping Cost?

Car shipping costs vary widely depending on the distance, your vehicle, and the type of shipping you want. Short in-state moves can cost about $500 and up, while cross-country trips can cost between $1,500 and $2,000.

Below, you can see a few example vehicle transport estimates for different distances. These are averages of quotes our team received from four major car shipping companies: Montway Auto Transport, Easy Auto Ship, AmeriFreight, and uShip.

RouteMileageAverage Open Car Shipping Cost
Orlando, Fla., to Durham, N.C.535$634
San Francisco to Austin, Texas1,500$1,174
New York to Los Angeles2,445$1,542

As we mentioned above, pay slightly more than your initial quote depending on market conditions. When you ship a car, it’s best not to look for the cheapest rates. Instead, look for the right company that can work with your vehicle and schedule.

Enclosed Car Shipping Cost

Enclosed car shipping costs more than open car shipping because an enclosed carrier can only fit a handful of cars. According to our research, enclosed shipping for a distance of about 1,600 miles costs 33% more than open transport for the same mileage.

What Influences Car Transport Costs?

Since the car shipping industry has so many moving parts, what you pay is influenced by many things. These include the following:

  • Transport type: Enclosed car shipping is more expensive than open car transport.
  • Distance: Longer distances cost more overall, but you’ll pay less per mile.
  • Route accessibility: If you live in a rural area, auto shippers may charge more because they’ll make the journey just for your vehicle.
  • Vehicle: Large and heavy vehicles like trucks and full-size SUVs cost more to ship.
  • Operability: Inoperable vehicles require more care to load and unload, so they cost more to ship.
  • Time of year: Car shipping is more expensive in the summer and around the new year when many people move.
  • Market conditions: Increased demand increases car shipping prices and vice versa.

Is It Worth It To Ship a Car?

Considering the cost of shipping a car, you might think it’s not worth it. However, keep in mind that car shipping saves you money on gas and lodging costs you’d pay if you drove your vehicle yourself. Plus, the car doesn’t won’t get additional wear and tear. In general, long-distance shipping over 500 miles is often worth it.

How To Ship a Car

The car shipping process is simple once you familiarize yourself with the steps. Here’s a basic outline of what to expect:

  1. Compare quotes two weeks ahead of time for the best rates.
  2. Choose the best option and book the car shipment.
  3. Remove all personal items from your car and make sure it’s in good working order.
  4. When the carrier is dispatched, you’ll pay a portion of the cost unless you paid in full up front.
  5. Meet the carrier at pickup, document the condition of your car, and sign a bill of lading.
  6. Meet the carrier at drop off, inspect the vehicle, and sign the bill of lading.
  7. Pay the carrier any remaining balance.

What To Look for in a Car Shipping Company

As with any business, some car shipping companies can be better to work with than others. Car shipping brokers schedule your transport service and work with you to resolve any issues with the carrier. So it’s important that they have good communication and can report on your car’s status any time.

It may be important for you to find a car transport company that has experience hauling valuable antique vehicles. Or you might want a company that has extended business hours if you work during the day. Below are a few more things to consider.

  • Industry and customer ratings: Look for companies that have good ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and customer review sites like Trustpilot.
  • Services: Whether you need a special kind of shipping or you’re sending your car to Alaska or Hawaii, find a company with the right service offerings.
  • Communication: It should be easy to reach your car shipping company and get updates on your vehicle at any point during the shipment.
  • Perks and guarantees: Some companies offer guaranteed pricing or guaranteed pickup dates. Others reimburse you for a car wash if your vehicle isn’t clean when it arrives or even for a rental car if your shipment takes too long.
  • Affordability: It’s important to find a car shipping company within your budget. However, be prepared for the final quote to increase slightly depending on market conditions.
  • Insurance: Reputable auto shipping companies include cargo insurance, and some also offer extra insurance policy add-ons. Choosing a company that does can give you more peace of mind.

Best Car Shipping Companies

If you’re considering shipping your car, we recommend comparing free quotes from a few companies. We found Montway Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, and SGT Auto Transport to be three of the best car shipping companies on the market.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Service

Montway Auto Transport has been in business since 2006 and is one of the most popular car shipping companies. It offers door-to-door car transport service with both open and enclosed options anywhere in the country, plus it can arrange international transport. Montway also has a convenient car shipping calculator for you to estimate the cost of the move with instant quotes. Montway has an A+ rating and accreditation from the BBB.

Keep reading: Montway Auto Transport review

Sherpa Auto Transport: Best for Locked-In Pricing

With its Price Lock Promise, Sherpa Auto Transport will contribute up to $300 of its own funds to get your car shipped if the original quote isn’t high enough to get auto carriers to take the job. Sherpa also reimburses you for a car wash if your vehicle arrives dirty, which is a nice benefit. The company has a 4.9-star rating out of 5.0 from customers on the BBB.

Keep reading: Sherpa Auto Transport review

SGT Auto Transport

SGT Auto Transport has been in business since 2014 and has shipped more than 30,000 vehicles in that time. The auto transport company serves all 50 states through a network of over 25,000 vetted carriers. You can choose from open or enclosed shipping options and arrange expedited transport if you need to move your car quickly. SGT Auto Transport has an A rating and accreditation from the BBB.

Auto Shipping: Conclusion

If you have to send your car across the state or across the country, let someone else handle it. Car shipping makes moving your car from point A to point B hassle-free. Comparing car shipping quotes online is the best way to find the right service and price for your vehicle shipment.

Vehicle Shipping: FAQ

Is it worth it to ship my car?

It may be worth it to ship your car if you need to move it more than a few hundred miles. In addition to the hassle of driving yourself, consider whether expenses like gas and lodging would outweigh the costs of shipping your car.

What do you do before you ship a car?

Before you ship your car, remove any personal belongings from it. In many cases, a carrier’s insurance won’t cover anything stored in a vehicle. When the driver arrives to pick your vehicle up, you’ll both inspect it for existing damage.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

Shipping a car generally costs between $500 and $1,500 or more depending on the distance. For about 1,600 miles, the average cost is around $1,200, according to our research.

What is the best company to ship a car?

After comparing all major car shipping companies on the market, we think Montway Auto Transport is the best company to ship a car. Our review team rates Montway 4.6 out of 5.0 for its affordable rates, wide availability, and solid customer service ratings.

What is the cheapest company to ship your car?

Averaging quotes between multiple transport providers, our review team found AmeriFreight to be the cheapest car shipping company for different distances. However, you may pay more if you need your car picked up in a hurry.

Our Methodology

Our expert review team takes satisfaction in providing accurate and unbiased information. We identified the following rating categories based on consumer survey data and conducted extensive research to formulate rankings of the best car shipping companies.

  • Prices: A variety of factors influence cost, so it can be difficult to compare quotes between providers. Our team performs ongoing secret shopper analyses for different vehicles, services, and shipping routes to give this rating.
  • Services: Because each consumer has unique needs, it’s essential that an auto transport company offers an array of services. We take into account the availability of services, ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates, and insurance coverage options.
  • Reputation: Our team considers Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, a company’s history of service, and years in business when giving this score.
  • Customer Service: Reputable car shippers operate with a certain degree of care for consumers. We take into account customer reviews, BBB complaints, and the responsiveness of the customer service team.