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The cheapest way to ship a car is to use open carrier shipping as it is most common. Shipping from large developed cities or towns is also cheap since carriers can pick up and drop off in a small radius. It’s also cheap to ship a vehicle that runs and drives which avoids extra labor and cost.

#1 Cheapest Method – Use an Open Transport Carrier

By far the cheapest way to ship a car either state to state, across the country or even locally is with an open car carrier. It is fast, safe, and will be how you can save you the most money. There are more open carriers on the road than any other type. Since there are so many use them it helps contribute to the low price tag. They can handle virtually any type of vehicle. Open transport is perfect for daily drivers, family vehicles, and most sports cars.

Open Carrier Vehicle Haulers

If you have decided to move your vehicle to another destination and you are looking for the cheapest way to ship a car, you should consider Open Carrier Haulers. These are the most popular mediums of vehicle transportation in the country. They are always on the road in good numbers all over the country. They account for nearly 80% of the auto shipment business. You have a greater chance to find an Open carrier Vehicle Hauler immediately and the lowest possible price.

Open Carrier vehicle haulers are trailers and trucks converted into double-decker trolleys to carry the vehicles. If the number of vehicles is one or two, a small-sized trailer can be used for hauling the vehicles to their destinations. A truck can haul up to 10 vehicles at a time. If you have any preference, you can let your transport company know.

There are many advantages of using Open Carrier Vehicle Haulers. Here are some of them:

  • Easily available
  • Competitively priced
  • Best for regular cars

If it is your daily driven vehicle that you use regularly, Open Carrier is the best and cheapest shipment method for it.

The only drawback with an open carrier is that your vehicle is outside . Your vehicle is exposed to the elements such as the sun, rain, snow, and dust. By the time your vehicle reaches your doorstep, it would perhaps be ready for a car wash. Nothing more! But it certainly is the cheapest way to ship a car.

Apart from being exposed to sun and dust, rain and storm debris, nothing else is going to touch your vehicle during its journey to its new destination. You should have no misgiving that your vehicle may be treated badly. On the contrary, even in an open carrier, your car will get the best treatment – from picking up to loading and securing in its place, and to the final delivery. Your car is our responsibility and we take our responsibilities seriously. That’s our business philosophy.

Why is Open Carrier the cheapest option? It’s primarily because it carries a large number of vehicles at a time. Typically, it carries 8-10 vehicles at a time but the exact number depends on the kind of the vehicles and their specifications. Since one vehicle and one driver is transporting 10 vehicles, the transportation cost per vehicle drops to a minimum.

#2 Use the Cheapest Route – Use Larger and More Densely Populated Cities or Towns

The next way to assure you are shipping a car in the cheapest way is to check your route. It might seem counter intuitive at first, but prices aren’t always directly proportional to the distance you need covered. When we take a closer look, you’ll see that location has a lot more to do with it. If you are shipping to a far off rural town, or a big metropolis, the larger and more population location will be favorable. They remain close to highways so they can move on. They also can pick up and drop off in a small radius for each location. This saves time and fuel. So the price per mile actually decreases when you metro to metro.

Shipping companies will take this into consideration and carefully analyze the route to decide how accessible it is, how many highways they’ll be able to use, and how much extra time it will take because of poor or inaccessible roads.

#3 Cheapest Condition to Ship a Car is if It’s Running!

Having a running vehicles is also the cheapest way to ship. Make sure your vehicle runs and drives. If you have an inoperable car that can’t run on its own, it means the car shipping company will need to make more of an effort to complete the transport. More effort also means more equipment and more man power, so usually you’ll see an extra $150-200 charge on your bill. If they ask for more it’s not usually worth it.

#4 Cheapest Way to Ship a Car: Picking the Best Time of Year

The time of the year when you want to make use of this service will also be crucial for effective cheap car shipping. If it’s a time of year with very high demand, then high demand will also mean higher prices. It’s only natural that shipping a car around Christmas will be tougher and more costly than shipping it in August. If you can of course wait a few days to get over a holiday, the shipping costs will be much more affordable. Something to take into consideration if you want to save money.

Not Being Aware of Seasonal Shippers Can Cost You!


Keep it cheap by taking advantage of your flexibility with dates. Seasonal shipping and Snowbirds affect prices. You may not have guessed, but like many other industries, auto shipping has a high season and a low season. If you’re a little more flexible with your schedule, and you don’t mind waiting a while to see your car on the other side, you might want to wait until the low season to ship your car at a lower cost.

Shipping prices are usually highest during the summer and early fall. This is the high season for the shipping industry. Most people will be looking to ship their cars at this time, and the higher demand will drive up the price. So if you want to be thrifty, wait until the winter or spring to ship your car so you can take advantage of the lower costs.

Another Cheap Way to Ship a Car – Ship a Small One

Okay, that can be hard. It’s not as if you are going to buy a small vehicle to make the one time you need it transported to cost less. However, if you are driving one car and shipping the other, (which is very common) drive the bigger vehicle. Unless the vehicle is extremely fuel efficient, you’ll make it cost less if you ship the smaller car and drive the heavier one.

Avoid Enclosed Shipping if you Want to be Frugal

About 90% of auto shipping is open because it’s safe and cheap. Shipping with an enclosed truck is the usually for high end, luxury, or classic vehicles. Think of Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati. It would not the cheapest way for a vehicle you use daily. However, if this is the type of vehicle you are moving, then there is a premium. It is usually 40%-60% more.

Let’s Compare Enclosed to Open

MileageOpen TransportEnclosed Transport PremiumDifference
200 miles$400$640$240
700 miles$700$980$280
1,050 miles$850$1,220$370
2,000 miles$1,120$1,624$504
2,750 miles$1,450$2,030$580

Picking the Right Company is as Important as Picking the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car

Ever hear that “you get what you pay for” ? Well that can hold especially true with auto transport.

We go over picking the right auto transport company in detail. But in summary, before you even get into picking from the prices you received, know that, reviews and reputation is key. Make sure they have insurance, are licensed, and are at least BBB Accredited. Sometimes a cheap price can cost you more at the end. Not only will you lose time, you can lose money if you have to go with an expedited service.

Be careful with that amazing deal. Their agreement may leave room for hidden fees and their service could be lackluster to say the least.

That’s also why you never go with the lowest price quoted. It’s important that you find the company, not that they found you. If they called you from some marketing list. You may have noticed that this industry can have intrusive marketing that uses unwanted calls and texts.

Get Multiple Quotes In Advance to See the Cheapest Price

Having various prices seems obvious but many times you can get distracted by a shiny website and lots of fluff. Compare prices, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Mention what other competitors gave you and ask them to match the price. Start at least two weeks ahead so you can evaluate each company carefully.

Being Flexible Makes it Even Cheaper!

If you are looking at a short and specific timeframe, it can be costly. The cheapest way to ship a car is also to have a more open schedule. If you are willing to give a longer range of dates for pickup and drop-off you will save a bundle. We know many don’t have this luxury. And since many customers come to us from working with companies that left them stranded, flexibility can be hard to come by.

Warning! Cheapest Price Doesn’t Mean Best Results

Everyone wants a bargain, and our pricing is very competitive. However, be careful with the lowest prices out there. Many times the lowest price will cost more in the end. Bad reputations can cause big headaches! In this industry, it follows many brokers.

Is Open Carrier Cost Effective AND Safe?

It is very safe. Over 14,000 open auto carriers ship cars throughout the country. Open carrier will always be most cost-effective and safe option because it’s multiple cars going in the same direction protected by a large commercial carrier.


Is My Vehicle Fully Insured During Transit?

Insurance coverage is mandatory for all auto carriers in the country. The Motor Carrier Division of the Department of Transportation regulates the auto shipment sector in the country. It makes it necessary for auto carrier companies to buy insurance coverage of a minimum $250,000 for the vehicles they transport and $750,000 for liability insurance coverage.

A bill of lading (BOL) is prepared on which the condition and all other details are clearly and elaborately mentioned. All dings, dents, scratches, and other abnormalities are clearly noted in the BOL. The BOL is signed by the driver and the pickup person and you and the driver keep a copy of it. At the time of the vehicle’s delivery, the driver presents the copy of the insurance form. If there is any damage or new dents, a damage claim form has to be filled in at the time of delivery. The BOL should be signed by the driver and the person who receives the vehicle.

National Express offers a damage free guarantee. Though there is the least likelihood of any damage to your vehicle, it’s not completely ruled out. If any such things happen we are committed to help you in making the insurance claim.

In case of delayed delivery, we provide our customers with a free car from a rental car pool.

Can Shipping it Yourself Be Even Cheaper?

No, Renting a trailer and doing it yourself will not. Nor is just filling up the tank and getting on the road. It can be the opposite and cost you more than just money. 

The amount that you end up spending on fuel, motels, and food when driving all that way in a truck or your car can easily be much more than you would spend on a shipping company.

That’s not factoring in the amount that you would lose in lost productivity by spending all those hours on the road. Take the number of hours you would spend driving your car to the destination and multiply it by your hourly rate. Is it really less expensive than what you would spend on a car shipping company?

Besides, driving your car over so many miles will spike up your car’s mileage and can lower its value if you add thousands of miles relocating.


Tip: Avoid Tow Companies / Wreckers


This method is the least economical and provides the least value. Sure they will be there likely same day and delivery right away, but it is a very expensive option.  Think of taking a flight and buying all the seats on the plane just he could be by yourself. Doesn’t make much sense.

A great post explaining the difference between tow companies and transport companies can be found here.

Shipping Your Car With The Mover May Not Be Cheaper

You May think a bundled discount will come your way. But typically not. It will not be cheaper in most cases. Typically moving companies do not touch auto transport. It is always outsourced. This gives you little control as to who they select.

Sometimes the relationship between the moving company and auto transporter is more monetary than for your benefit. It is always best to go with an auto transport company directly so you have the best options to work with and lowest prices that can save you more money.