If all you only need with car shipping is to transport your vehicle from your former home to your new home, you may be tempted to choose the cheapest option available. But auto shipping is more complicated than only choosing the most affordable company. Auto-shipping prices fluctuate more often.
Also, a lot of companies provide you the first quote but charge you a lot more in the end.
This makes the actual cost of car shipping costly, and to locate a company that offers the best for your money, we’ve performed the research to answer all those questions.
See our tips below to receive the most affordable price for your auto shipping.
What is the Exact Cost to Ship a Car?
The media cost to ship a car is around $710. The shipping cost starts from around $280 to $2060 based on factors, such as the size of your vehicle, distance, and transport type. Shipping a car using a truck or car carrier is the most popular option. Auto carriers are always available and many companies provide the service. When dealers transport cars, they usually ship them with auto shipping companies.
Even though it is the most popular option, it is not the most affordable way to transport a car across the country. The cost of transporting a vehicle using a car shipping trailer can be costly if you need to use an enclosed carrier or door-to-door shipping service.
The cost of transporting a car using this option will vary based on the options you choose. If you need an assured pickup date, the cost will increase than selecting a delivery timeframe.
The cost to transport your car using this option will also be based on the distance you are sending the car. If you are sending it on a shorter distance around 500 miles, prepare to pay around $2 per mile or about $600 for 300 miles. When shipping distance falls between 500 and 1,500 miles, the cost is around $1 per mile. A longer distance of over 1,500 miles will cost a rate of around $0.60 per mile.
Price chart for car shipping cost (rough estimates and not final)
Seattle, WA to Charlotte, NC
New York, NY to Los Angeles, CA
Miami, FL to San Francisco, CA
Jersey City, NJ to Dallas, TX
New York, NY to Dallas, TX
New York, NY to Miami, Fl
Baltimore, MD to Phoenix, AZ
Atlanta, GA to Tucson, AZ
Portland, OR to Washington, DC
Nashville, TN to Albuquerque, NM
Austin, TX to Miami, FL
Memphis, TN to Denver, CO
Orlando, FL to Chicago, IL
Boise, ID to Houston, TX
Philadelphia, PA to Sacramento, CA
Saint Louis, MO to Trenton, NJ
Saint Louis, MO to New York, NY
Boston, MA to Salt Lake City, UT
Las Vegas, NV to Detroit, MI
Milwaukee, WI to New Orleans, LA
Chicago, IL to Phoenix, AZ
Chicago, IL to Houston, TX
Austin, TX to San Jose, CA
San Antonio, TX to San Diego, CA
Boston, MA to Baltimore, MD
Below Are The 9 Key Steps To Transport Your Vehicle Cheaply
1. Obtain Multiple Quotes
One of the best methods to obtain a low price for auto shipping is to obtain many quotes. We recommend that you contact 3-5 companies and avoiding companies with too low and too high prices. Why stay away from a company with too low prices; because it could be that those prices are a trap.
The carriers that bid on your shipping job sometimes submit fake prices so you will pick them and then increase the price after you’ve booked. You may pay a deposit that is non-refundable and gets stuck with a costly car company you thought had the lowest rates.
As a student or an active military member, you can benefit from U-Pack’s discounts to cut out many hundreds of dollars from the company’s already lower prices. Also, know that moving coverage is only required when you are relocating, and thus many people don’t even consider it. We strongly recommend you learn about the different moving coverage available to you if you are planning to move soon.
2. Pick an Open Transport Carrier and Not an Enclosed Option
Most of the carriers working on the road now have open trailers. Open trailers are in most of the companies’ fleet of trucks. Some may not have enclosed trailers, but being a licensed auto shipping broker, they can get an enclosed shipping carrier if you need one. Because there are fewer enclosed transport carriers, you pay a higher fee for them.
The transport rate, on average, for enclosed shipping, is 40 to 50 percent above the open shipping carrier. Enclosed shipping is the best solution if you have much valuable luxury car or restored classic vehicle. Otherwise, if you want a cheap shipping method, always select an open shipping carrier.
To learn more about open and closed car shipping, read How Do Car Shipping Companies Work?
3. Have Flexibility in Your Pickup and Delivery Locations
If your pickup and delivery locations are located in remote areas from major interstates or cities, you will pay a premium to transport your car. The most affordable way to transport a car in this case is to be flexible and be ready to drive the vehicle to an easier location to meet the driver. If you are not far from a major interstate or bigger city, you can always save money by driving the vehicle to the pickup location to meet the driver instead of having them come to you.
4 Transport in The Offseason
June to August is the busiest of the year in the auto shipping industry. December to February is the slowest months. If you want affordable car transport, get it done during the slow months of the year. The transport rate you pay in January will be less expensive than the rate you pay in July.
5. Have Flexibility in Your Pickup and Delivery Times
If you inform a carrier that you want your car picked up or delivered by a certain date, you will almost have to pay a higher cost to convince the driver to meet your deadline. The most affordable way to transport a vehicle is to allow flexibility in your requirements. You can save a lot of money if you give the carrier or broker the flexibility to perform your car shipping at a time that works best for them.
6. Find Terminal-to-terminal Carriers
Some carriers have terminal yards all over the country where vehicles can be transported to or from. These are known as terminal-to-terminal carriers. These terminal yards are often not on major interstates or closer to bigger cities. Since these carriers don’t have to transport the car to you directly and they can just transport them to their easy terminal yards, their rates are often below door-to-door shipping carriers.
There is just fewer terminal to terminal carriers, however, so finding one can take much time. Their terminal yards may be located far from your location so you may have to embark on many miles travel to them to pick up or drop off your vehicle. Daily storage fees may also apply if you have to leave your car in the terminal for a longer time. You will want to consider these things when trying to find out if terminal shipping is the least expensive way to transport a car.
7. Hire an Auto Shipping Broker
Auto-shipping brokers have access to several carriers all over the country, so, they can connect with them to get the best prices for you. Working with a broker can be the most affordable way to transport a car but you must be careful if the shipping quote is too good to be true.
Some brokers will quote you a nice deal to get your business but may then look for the carrier to transport your car for the transport price they quoted you. In that case, they will generally come back to ask for money from you, or they may just hold your order for weeks before they get a carrier that can transport your car at their price.
And even if a carrier exists that takes such a low price, you may end up with a not-so-reputable carrier. Similar to everything in life, you get your money’s worth. The vehicle transport company is the same. A cheap price often means slower delivery. Also, remember that you often don’t get excellent customer service as well if you are working with a cheap vehicle shipping carrier.
8. Work as Your Broker and Rent a Car Carrier
This is not the easiest option, but it can save you a lot if you have the time and strength to pull it off. Working as your broker implies that you dispose of the middleman, the auto shipping broker, and you speak directly with each carrier yourself to obtain multiple quotes. You can perform this by searching for car carriers on Google or just use online marketplaces like uShip.com.
You will have more tasks to perform than getting quotes, though. You will also have to research them to ensure they are reputable, have the right licensing, and have enough auto insurance coverage by checking their insurance policy documents. Usually, the lowest cost savings of cutting out a traditional broker is not worth the time and stress of screening carriers yourself but it will save you money if you can do it.
When you are calling shipping companies directly, you will want to find out if you are working with a carrier and not a broker. The number one question to ask is if they are a broker or carrier? You will be amazed at the number of shipping companies that are brokers. There is nothing bad in working with a broker but just understand that if you do, then you are not removing the middleman.
9. Hire A Tow Transport Company
This option will generally not work if you are transporting a car within a just hundred miles as the majority of towing companies won’t travel beyond that. We had a client who traded in his vehicle for another car at a dealership that was around 300 miles away from his residence. He didn’t have much time and wanted his car transported to the dealership and then he wanted the new car he was buying shipped right back to him.
Considering his tight schedule and specific shipping requirements, he was going to pay a higher cost working with an auto shipping company. He made several calls and he was able to find a tow trucking company that was ready to ship the cars for him at a cheaper cost than a typical transporter could do it.
DIY Tips for Affordable Car Shipping
This option is not for the weak and will truly save you a lot of money but for some people, it can be an affordable car transport option. This method will involve renting a car dolly or trailer and having a moving truck that can tow a car like a moving truck or a heavy-duty pickup truck. You will have to consider the costs of renting the car dolly or trailer and maybe the truck too if you don’t own one. You will be paying for gas and possibly hotel lodging and food also, based on the distance of your shipping destination.
Drive the car yourself:
You just got a nice deal on a car just a few states away but now need the most affordable way to transport the car to you. Shipping services will not be the best option. However, if things work right, getting a 1-way plane ticket to the vehicle location and driving the car home can be the cheapest option.
I say ‘if things work right’ because many of the things need to work quite well to save money over hiring auto transport services. The cost of flight, the time you may have to excuse yourself from work, to complete the trip, food, gas, lodging, and so on may go against any cost savings. And remember to consider the wear and tear on your vehicle too. But if ‘things work out, joyously, you will be able to save some money by cutting out shipping out of the way by just driving the car yourself.
Have a friend or family member drive the car:
Similar to the option discussed just now, if you have a family member or friend that can drive the car, you may save a lot of money. Sure, you may have to cover the cost for their return flight home and also for gas expenses, and there is also wear and tear on the vehicle, but this could be an affordable way to transport a car.
If you, a friend, or a family member is arriving at the car at its destination, there is another way. You can check some marketplaces that connect car owners with professional drivers for hire to drive their cars to their destination.
Honesty is a serious deal in the car transport business. A lot of companies try to cut corners by charging you more, so it is important to pay attention when you find a company that treasures integrity as profits. We’ve spent unlimited hours looking into the best (and worst) car transport services in the industry and concluded these 9 Best Car Shipping Companies are the best in the US.