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How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?

This detailed guide aims to demystify car shipping costs, providing insight into the factors that influence pricing and offering examples to help you budget for this service.
Written by
Lily Bennett, Jan 06, 2024

Shipping a car can be a necessity for a variety of reasons, whether you're moving across the country, purchasing a vehicle from a distant location, or sending a car to a loved one.

However, the process comes with its own set of questions, the most pressing of which is often: How much does it cost to ship a car?

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This detailed guide aims to demystify car shipping costs, providing insight into the factors that influence pricing and offering examples to help you budget for this service.

Understanding Car Shipping Costs

The cost of shipping a car varies widely based on several key factors, including the distance of the shipment, the type of transport chosen, the make and model of the vehicle, and the time of year. Here's a breakdown of these factors to give you a clearer picture of potential costs:

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1. Distance:

  • Short Distance (Under 500 miles): Shipping costs for shorter distances can range from $1 to $2 per mile. For example, shipping a car 300 miles might cost between $300 and $600.
  • Long Distance (Over 1,000 miles): For longer distances, the cost per mile decreases, typically ranging from $0.60 to $1 per mile. Shipping a car 2,000 miles could cost between $1,200 and $2,000.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car? | Panda Hub

2. Type of Transport:

  • Open Transport: The most common and cost-effective option, where vehicles are shipped on an open trailer. Prices for open transport are generally 30% to 40% lower than enclosed transport.
  • Enclosed Transport: Offers protection from the elements and is recommended for luxury or classic cars. This option can significantly increase the cost due to the added protection and limited space.

3. Vehicle Type and Condition:

  • Size: Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, cost more to ship than sedans due to their weight and space requirements. Expect to pay $100 to $300 more for larger vehicles.
  • Condition: Non-operational vehicles require additional equipment to load and unload, increasing the cost by $100 to $200.

4. Time of Year:

  • Peak Season: During the summer months and January, car shipping costs can increase due to higher demand. Prices can rise by 10% to 25% during these times.
  • Off-Peak Season: Shipping during the fall or early spring can result in lower costs.

Additional Costs to Consider

  • Insurance: While shipping companies provide basic insurance, additional coverage may be purchased for peace of mind, especially for high-value vehicles.
  • Expedited Shipping: If you need your vehicle shipped quickly, expedited services are available at a premium, often increasing the cost by several hundred dollars.

Cost-Saving Tips

  • Book in Advance: Planning your car shipment well in advance can secure better rates.
  • Compare Quotes: Use online platforms to get quotes from multiple shipping companies and choose the best offer.
  • Flexible Pickup and Delivery: Being flexible with your pickup and delivery dates can lower costs, as carriers might fill empty spots at a discount.

Example Pricing

To give you a better idea of potential costs, here are a few examples based on the factors mentioned above:

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car? | Panda Hub
  • Shipping a sedan from New York to Florida (approximately 1,200 miles) using open transport might cost between $720 and $1,200.
  • Shipping an SUV from California to New York (about 2,800 miles) using enclosed transport could range from $3,360 to $5,600, considering the added cost for vehicle size and transport type.


The cost to ship a car is influenced by a myriad of factors, making it essential to consider your specific needs and circumstances when budgeting for this service.

By understanding the key factors that impact pricing and exploring cost-saving strategies, you can make informed decisions and find a car shipping solution that fits your budget and ensures your vehicle arrives safely at its destination.

FAQs on Car Shipping Costs

1. What's the average cost to ship a car across the country?

The average cost to ship a car across the country (e.g., coast to coast) can range from $1,000 to $1,500 for open transport, depending on the specifics of the shipment, such as vehicle size and exact distance.

2. How much more does it cost to use enclosed transport instead of open transport?

Enclosed transport can cost 30% to 40% more than open transport. For example, if shipping a car with open transport costs $1,000, the same shipment might cost between $1,300 and $1,400 with enclosed transport.

3. Can I ship personal items in my car?

Some shipping companies allow a limited amount of personal items to be shipped inside the vehicle, typically up to 100 pounds. However, these items may not be covered by insurance, and additional fees might apply.

4. How far in advance should I book car shipping services?

It's recommended to book car shipping services at least two weeks in advance. Booking earlier can provide more flexibility and potentially better rates, especially during peak seasons.

5. Does it cost more to ship a non-operational vehicle?

Yes, shipping a non-operational vehicle typically costs $100 to $200 more because of the additional equipment and labor required to load and unload the vehicle.


6. How does the size of the vehicle affect shipping costs?

Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, cost more to ship than smaller cars due to their greater weight and space requirements. Expect an increase of $100 to $300 for shipping larger vehicles.

7. What factors can lead to additional costs in car shipping?

Additional costs can arise from expedited shipping services, insurance upgrades, shipping personal items in the vehicle, and non-standard pickup or delivery locations (e.g., remote areas).

8. Is car shipping insurance necessary?

While basic insurance is provided by car shipping companies, considering additional insurance coverage is wise, especially for luxury or classic cars, to ensure full protection against potential damage.

9. How can I find a reliable car shipping company?

Research and compare different car shipping companies by checking customer reviews, verifying insurance and licensing information, and obtaining multiple quotes to ensure competitive pricing and reliable service.

10. What is the cheapest time of year to ship a car?

The cheapest time of year to ship a car is typically during the off-peak seasons, such as fall and early spring, when demand is lower, and prices tend to decrease.

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