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Nobody wants to spend a lot on auto transport. It’s an added expense, so price will definitely be on the top of your list. When trying to save money, the cheapest way to ship a car will be with open carrier.


cheapest way to ship a car - open carrier


Using Open Transport / Open Carrier


Shipping a vehicle via open transport will save you the most money. It is the most commonly used method and there are more of these around than any other type. The abundance of these carriers and since so many use them helps contribute to the cheap price tag. An auto carrier that is going from your area and traveling through to your destination will take that vehicle and add it to a group of up to 10 others heading in that same direction. Thereby reducing the cost of shipping as it is divided by the all the vehicles onboard.


How About Driving Yourself Vs. Using A Carrier?


You might be surprised to know that driving your car to your new location might not be the cheapest way to get it there. The amount that you end up spending on fuel, motels, and food when driving your car can easily be much more than you would spend on a shipping company.

And 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 shipping company?

Besides, driving your car over so many miles will spike up your car’s mileage. And all the money you think you’re saving on shipping, you’ll have to waste on repairs later when your car starts breaking down much sooner than its depreciation years.

A possible misconception about open transport is that it’s some sort of bargain basement option. This can’t be further from the truth. It can be compared to economy class on a flight. It’s the way most people travel. The same can be said about open transport. Over 4,000 open auto carriers ship cars throughout the country. Even dealerships contract a transport company to send a car the most cost effective way possible. This is because they may have one vehicle that is going to a buyer. Open carrier will be more cost-effective than just moving one by itself using flatbed shipping, for example.

It’s important to note that this is typically the most money conscious and common way to ship a car, however it does not mean that the lowest rate among the estimates you are receiving will be the best option for you. We have seen almost first hand what you get when you pick the lowest rate without looking into that choice further. If your focus is finding the cheapest way to ship a car, it is obviously because your intent is to make it as affordable as possible within your budget. It’s very common that the company coming in with the lowest rate compared to all the others will usually be the company that will have the most customer complaints. Google reviews.


Other Ways To Save Your Money


Ship Your Car at The Right Time Of The Year


Like most others, the shipping industry 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.


Make it Cheaper Use Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping


With terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’ll have to do some driving yourself, dropping the car off at your shipping company’s storage location, and picking it up at another storage location at the destination. It’s much cheaper than it’s door-to-door alternative.

And what most people consider an inconvenience with terminal-to-terminal shipping might actually be a stress-reliever for you. If for example, you’re moving to a new place and you need time to sort out your living situation and to get familiar with the surroundings, you’ll be able to leave your car at the secure storage location for a while. Then later on, when your car’s new parking space is ready, you can go grab your car at your own time and bring it over. Unlike with door-to-door transport, you won’t have to worry about being at a specific place at a specific time to sign off on the delivery of your car.

It’s important to note that not all areas have storage options. Some areas actually require door-to-door because they are far from terminals.


Avoid Flat Beds / Tow Companies


This is the least economical and provides the least value. Think of taking a flight and buying all the seats on the plane just he could be by yourself. Doesn’t make much sense. But for emergency transport, or expedited “rush” it is useful. Tow companies come within hours or even minutes but are extremely expensive because they work just for you. They also only travel short distances. They typically use flatbed trucks and tow trucks. A great post explaining the difference between tow companies and transport companies can be found here.

Another detail you’ll have the option to decide on is whether you go with door-to-door shipping or terminal-to-terminal shipping.

Most people view door-to-door shipping as the more convenient method. You’ll get to have the trucker pick up your car at your home, workplace, or garage, and have them drop it right at your doorstep on the other end. But it’s the more expensive option.


Cheapest Way to Ship High End Vehicles


Enclosed / Covered auto transport is exactly what it sounds like. Go here for more details on what it is and when to use it. Your vehicle will be inside of a trailer with multiple vehicles usually of high value. As opposed to shipping a car by plane.  Though traveling by air is the most secure and elite way, it is most certainly not the cheapest option by far. It’s not uncommon to see several high-end vehicles in this trailer accompanying your vehicle at the time it arrives. Going enclosed protects your vehicle from all the elements such as sun, rain, and road debris. It’s like first class but for your vehicle. This will be the cheapest way to ship a high value car assuming your car is of extremely high value or a classic. For example, if you need more than $100,000 in insurance coverage per vehicle. Most of the enclosed trailers cover up to $2 million of liability. This is also the type of transport usually in the photographs on just about every other company website. When the truth is everyone mostly everyone moves cheaper vehicles like Toyotas, Hondas, and Kias.



  • Open Carrier is the cheapest way to ship a car as it splits the cost.
  • Save more money on Open Carrier by using more favorable locations.
  • Time of year decides the rates.
  • Enclosed Transport is not as inexpensive but the cheapest option for high end cars.
  • Flatbed Service / Tow Truck is the fastest but most definitely the lesser value compared to open and even enclosed.


We can all use a little saving now and then. Follow these tips if you want to have some extra change left after shipping your car.

We hope this helps you differentiate the different ways of shipping a car and help you sort out which is the most cost efficient way to move a car for your budget and type of vehicle. If you have any questions you can always contact us at 800-284-7177.

Updated 01/08/18