Years ago, Jim purchased his first car on eBay from a seller in Florida. And this would’ve been perfect if Jim didn’t live in Maryland. Fortunately, as he quickly learned, it’s actually quite easy to ship a car across the country. In this case, he only had to ship it up I-95.
Fortunately for him, since it was a smaller car (Acura Integra), he actually got a pretty good rate because it took up a spot on the car carrier that typically goes unused.
If this is something you’ve been looking at, you’re in luck.
This article will cover what you need to know about shipping a vehicle, including what affects shipping costs, what companies ship cars, and more.
Have you ever wondered how much it costs to ship a car? The answer is tricky as it depends on several factors.
The car shipping process doesn’t work like other shipping processes. The price you pay, the quote you receive, and the information you’ll need to get that quote is far different than shipping a much smaller item through a classic delivery service such as UPS.
Table of Contents
- Average Cost to Ship a Car
- What Affects Car Shipping Costs?
- How to Calculate Car Shipping Costs
- Best Car Shipping Companies
- Ways to Ship a Car
- Tips for Shipping a Car
- Final Thoughts on Shipping a Car
Average Cost to Ship a Car
Move.org is an organization that helps people prepare for moving. Their research found that the average cost to ship a car between 1000 and 1500 miles is $1290. The chart below shows average car shipping costs based on three standard vehicle types across eleven distances.
Jim got lucky in that he paid just $300 for an enclosed transport! (this was 20+ years ago but still)
As you can see, distance and transport type make a difference in the price you pay to ship a car. What other factors affect car shipping costs?
What Affects Car Shipping Costs?
To get your car’s shipping price, you’ll have to provide potential shipping companies with several pieces of information, such as the type of car you plan to ship, the distance to your shipping destination, and the kind of transport you want.
For instance, you’ll pay more to transport an SUV or truck than a sedan. If you’re transporting a luxury or antique car, it will cost more. The more miles the car carrier will drive to get your vehicle to its destination, the more it’ll cost you. The terrain on your car’s shipping route makes a difference too.
For example, you’ll pay more to ship your car through the mountain-laden western U.S. than you will during the sleepy drive through farm fields of Iowa or Wisconsin. There’s also open vs. closed carrier shipping. Shipping in closed-car carriers will cost an average of $400 more than shipping in an open-car carrier.
Of course, each carrier will quote you a different price. Let’s take a closer look at how to calculate shipping costs.
How to Calculate Car Shipping Costs
To calculate car shipping costs, you must contact car shipping companies for a quote. However, the quoted price won’t necessarily be the amount you pay to have the car shipped.
When you contact a car shipping company about shipping your car, you’ll have to give them detailed information about the vehicle, how far it’s going, etc. The car shipping company will provide you with an estimate for the shipping fees. From there, car shipping companies bid the job out to car carriers (drivers or companies who own and drive car carrier trucks).
After that, a bidding war begins, and the final price is anybody’s guess. You should receive it within a week, and that price may be higher or lower than the amount you were originally quoted.
The bottom line is that while you will get quotes when contacting car shipping companies, those quotes often aren’t the exact price you will pay after bidding. For that reason, choose your car shipping company carefully, and keep in mind that some companies guarantee their quoted prices.
Best Car Shipping Companies
Because the car shipping business is so murky when it comes to quotes, it’s important to choose a reputable car shipping company. Unfortunately, there are car shipping companies that will give you a lowball bid to get your business.
When the final quote comes in, it may be significantly higher than what you may have paid with other companies. If you had to put a (frequently non-refundable) deposit down to start the bidding process, you might be stuck going with the higher bid whether or not you found a better price elsewhere.
We chose the car shipping companies we’re highlighting here based on other independent reviews and Trustpilot or BBB scores.
Montway Auto Transport
Trustpilot score: 4.6 out of 5
BBB Rating: A+
Montway Auto Transport (also called Montway, LLC) was founded in 2006 and prides itself on superior service and accurate pricing.
The company works with over 40,000 vetted and insured truckers. They also have a discounted cash payment option to help you save money on shipping.
To obtain a quote from Montway, you will need to share your email and phone number along with details about the car and how and where you want it shipped. Most shipping companies require this information. Montway will ship cars to any U.S. state or port, including Hawaii, but does not ship internationally.
SGT Auto Transport
Trustpilot score: 4.6 out of 5
BBB Rating: A
SGT Auto Transport calls itself a 5-star rated transport company. The company launched in 2014. In their time in business, they’ve delivered over 27,000 vehicles and partnered with over 25,000 carriers.
You can fill out the information about your vehicle and its shipping destination on the company’s easy-to-use website or call their customer service number to get shipping quotes.
SGT Auto Transport provides both domestic and international vehicle shipping services.
Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5
BBB Rating: A+
uShip helps you ship various items from cars to heirloom furniture to pets. The company is a marketplace for shipping carriers and has been in business since 2003.
uShip will list the item you want to ship. uShip gets bids from carriers, and you choose the shipping carrier you want to use.
uShip is a hands-on company that will walk you through the process of shipping your vehicle from point A to point B. uShip shows you all your shipping options so that you can choose the carrier that best fits your needs and your budget.
American Auto Shipping
Trustpilot score: 3.8 out of 5
BBB Rating: A+
American Auto Shipping has been in business since 1999. They aim to move your car for the lowest price possible within a reasonable time frame.
What sets American Auto Shipping apart from many other car shipping companies is that its quotes are binding and don’t require a deposit.
Also, they have a damage-free guarantee and offer free rental cars if your car’s delivery is excessively delayed.
As with most car shipping companies, you will have to give out your email address, phone number, vehicle, and shipping details, to get a price quote.
American Auto Shipping will ship vehicles anywhere in the U.S. and to and from Hawaii.
Ways to Ship a Car
You may be wondering what options you have for shipping a car. The most popular (and usually most cost-effective) way to ship a vehicle is by auto transport truck (car carrier). However, there are other options. For instance, you can send a car by airplane.
While this method may be faster than shipping a car by car carrier, it’s costly. According to research, you can expect to pay up to $4,000 or more to ship your vehicle by plane.
If you’re shipping internationally, that price can jump to $40,000, $75,000, or more, depending on your destination and the type of vehicle you’re sending. Shipping your car by boat can cost $5,000 or more.
Auto shipping by train is available, but this service typically isn’t open to the public and is mainly reserved for car manufacturers.
Amtrak did at one-time offer train shipments of automobiles to select destinations. However, when we checked the Amtrak website for details, we found a notice that said Amtrak has suspended shipping until further notice.
Tips for Shipping a Car
If you ever need to ship a car, the following tips will help make for a smoother experience:
Know What Information the Shipper Needs
When you begin gathering quotes to ship a car, there are certain pieces of information the shipping companies will need to know. That information may include:
- Pick up and drop off destinations
- The type of vehicle you want to ship
- Whether or not the vehicle is in running condition
- Whether you want open or closed transportation
- Your desired arrival timeline
Be prepared to answer these questions and more when you call the different shipping companies to get price quotes. Also, keep the gas tank at a quarter of a tank or so and no higher. This is required when shipping via boat.
You do not have to have car insurance to have it shipped. Car carriers do (and are required to) carry liability insurance for the cars they ship. If your vehicle has arrived at its destination and you need to get insurance to drive it, check out this article on the best auto insurance companies.
Know How to Prepare for Your Car to be Shipped
Here are some suggestions for getting your car ready to be shipped, regardless of the shipping method:
- Thoroughly clean and empty the inside of the car. Shippers may deny shipment of a vehicle that contains personal belongings.
- Wash and wax the outside of the car. Doing so prepares you for step three and helps you avoid getting dirt and dust on other cars in the shipment.
- Inspect the car thoroughly and document any damage or imperfections. Doing this helps you know if any damage occurred during the transport process. Take clear photos of the car to back up your documentation.
- Confirm pick up, drop off, route, and other fees before the delivery day arrives.
While some shipping carriers will transport a car containing personal belongings, you will likely be charged extra for having personal items transported along with the vehicle.
Final Thoughts on Shipping a Car
Financing a new car is expensive, but shipping your ride can also be costly. Knowing how much it costs to ship your vehicle can be crucial in case you need the service. Choose the shipping method that makes the most sense, then use the tips above to get the best deal you can while shipping your vehicle and keeping it safe.