How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?

Once you find out that anyone can use an auto transport company, the next logical question is : How much does it cost?

A car shipping company will come up with an average cost per mile that is calculated in cents-per-mile, generally. However the final price depends on various important factors which have a bearing on how much more or less you will end up paying for auto transport.  

cost to ship a car

Although our car shipping cost calculator gives you an instant quote that adjusts for these on the fly (for both open transport and enclosed transport) , there are those that want an explanation on these factors come together to create car shipping prices. Here you will find how we generate a quote for you. All these factors will show the overall cost. You will see all that goes in to generating auto shipping quotes and the answer to the number one question everyone wants to know: How much does it cost?

When it comes time to compare quotes, is it the right choice to ship your car? Is it better to drive, 1,000 miles, over 2,000 miles, even it is cross country? Auto shipping is a popular option and many agree it's the best way to relocate a vehicle across the country or to another state. Having your car picked up on a carrier is safe, fast, and efficient. But having your vehicle picked up needs to fit your needs. Most people will weigh the cost to transport versus distance traveled by driving. Is it indeed the cheaper option?

Many factors affect your price and combine together to make the car shipping quote. But since you want to be as educated as possible when shipping a car, here's the breakdown. When getting multiple quotes all should be within a similar range of each other as they go by what we will now discuss. 

Tip: Some of the car shipping quotes from some companies too low? There may be hidden fees which will not get the best result. Conversely, if they are too high they may be price gouging.  Always to research! Our car shipping calculator will always give the lowest price that will successfully ship your vehicle. This is whether is is open or enclosed transport. That's the difference between our best price and those of other shipping companies.


Generally, the main factors that influence the car shipping rates are:

  • Distance
  • The type of carrier
  • Size and weight
  • Condition
  • Location
  • Time of Year
  • Speed (standard or expedited)
  • Fuel prices

Factors that Influence How Much it Costs to Ship a Car

Although our car shipping cost calculator takes all these into account, you may want to know all the factors involved in coming up with the car shipping costs. In auto transport, carriers take into account anything that affects their time and operating costs to ship a car which translates to the average cost you see in an area or route. It has to make sense car haulers. For example pickup trucks will cost more than sedans. Even when shipping multiple vehicles whether coming from one location or not. This includes both open transport and enclosed transport as well as shipping a car to another state or shipping a car across the country.  The total price has to make sense for a car shipping company to haul a certain vehicle type on a certain route.

Car shipping prices are automatically generated with all this taken into account without any extra effort on your part.  Please note, for international car shipping these rates are custom car shipping quotes. 

1. Distance

The first and the biggest factor that an auto transport company looks at to give you a car shipping quote is the distance a vehicle needs to travel on the car carrier.  Auto transport companies calculate this on a cost per mile basis to generate the average car shipping cost. However, for certain routes to ship a car  the rules can change drastically. When demand spikes in an area with little to no carriers, car shipping rates coincide with the rate of demand and literally what people are willing to pay. Calculating open transport car shipping costs per mile here does not make sense. However on a normal, steady route the cost per mile will drop the longer the trip. So for example,  it can be $1 a mile when shipping cars 500 miles but it can be $0.30 cents a mile for 2000 miles for car carriers to ship a car for you. This is the reason why the average transportation cost over longer distances is actually cheaper on the per mile basis. Regardless of distance this is a door to door service and to almost any chosen pick up and delivery locations that the truck can fit into. (Car transporters offer door to door service unless they cannot physically fit or it's not safe to navigate. This is typical for residential car delivery.) Again, our car transport cost calculator does all this for you.

In 2022 and beyond things have permanently changed with how car transport rates for a route are generated. With our car shipping cost calculator, this is all taken into account.  So what has changed? As technology and the sharing of information have progressed, auto transport companies are coming away from "the cost per mile" method to ship a car, but rather compare what other shipping companies in their area have been able to charge for a route. 


2. Type Of Carrier – Open or Enclosed Transport?

The next biggest factor that impacts a car shipping quote will be the type of carrier you chose to for car transport. A car shipping company gives you is the selection of what car shipping company meets your needs best. In other words if you are looking for an open carrier or enclosed car shipping. Generally, in auto transport the open carrier / trailer is the most commonly used transport type with the least cost to ship a car. It is the cheapest way to ship a car. It is the most popular option, regardless of the other factors that affect the price.

What type of car can go open? Almost any make and model can. Think of your daily driver, etc. By far it is the most requested car transport quote as it is the cheapest way to ship a car whether it's one car or multiple car shipping. Enclosed transport is a 40-60% increase on the cost to ship over the open car transport cost. This is a great option for a classic car, exotic car, or other vehicle that needs to be kept out away from the outside elements. The best auto transport companies offer this enclosed car shipping service. Our car shipping calculator does do all the hard work needed to find out what these car shipping rates as well.

If you’ve ever come across a double-decker kind of vehicle carrying 8 to 10 cars or other vehicles, it is likely to be an open carrier hired by car shipping companies. A standard sized auto transport trailer has the capacity to carry 8 to 10 cars on long haul trips. In car transport there are also shorter car shipping trailers with carrying capacity of 3 to 4 cars and they generally ship on shorter routes. A majority of the customers prefer this method of auto transport mainly because it has the lowest cost to ship a vehicle. Hands down, it is the cheapest option. After all who doesn't want to save money on their car shipment?

When it comes to enclosed shipping carriers, they are comparatively smaller than open car transport trailers and have the capacity to hold just 2 to 6 vehicles at a time. It is mostly recommended for covering the longer distances as it is more safe and secure form of car transport. But because it holds fewer vehicles, give superior protection, cost more to maintain, and take the same time to reach the destination, there will be around a 40-60% increase over the standard open car shipping costs. So definitely the safest way but not the cheapest way.

Here, the most common question asked by the customers is which carrier to choose. Which is a better, open or enclosed? The simple answer is it depends if you will benefit from enclosed transport. If you are just worried about car shipping costs only, then open will be less every time and there's your answer. However, if you are considering better protection, the go ahead and read on.

Both types of car carrier have their own set of characteristics to consider when  deciding to ship a car. With auto transporters, if you’re looking for the lowest possible car shipping cost and have a simple car or SUV then most will ship a car with open carrier. Or if you’re the owner of a luxury car or classic car that needs extra care, then an enclosed carrier will be the best option when getting a car transport quote although it comes with a higher cost to ship. 

The next question would be if you should ship your car direct with enclosed transport.    Meaning, the company you call has their own truck to move the vehicle. The answer to that will have to do with your expected timeline. Unlike open transport where there are far fewer willing to work outside of the broker eco system, some enclosed transporters do indeed work direct. But there is a problem with this most of the time. If you are calling a single direct carrier they may not be passing by your area for days or even weeks. They may not even come by your location and you may have called many already. Their  car shipping quotes may also be very expensive. Overall all-in-one enclosed transporters have a much higher average car shipping cost. In those cases, you have to go with someone that has a carrier network and also works with competing carriers. 

3. The Size And The Weight Of Your Vehicle

The vehicle size and the weight plays an important role in auto transport while estimating the price with our car shipping cost calculator automatically. But why does this get taken to account?  This is because the trailers come with a maximum hold capacity. A car carrier can legally hold a certain weight. That's why the heavier the vehicle is , the more it takes to have the car shipped and travel to its destination on the car carrier.  This is the reason why you’re asked about the type of your vehicle at the time of getting quotes. Generally, heavy vehicles such as a cargo van or a truck and large /small SUVs take up the maximum loading capacity of the trailer which results in higher cost. Similarly, if the vehicle is longer, it will take a bigger spot in a trailer, hence, it will be charged more to ship a car. Moreover, there is another concern that confuses many customers as to whether or not they can ship their personal belongings inside the car? Does it really change car transport costs? It generally depends on the transportation company and its rules.

Because size and weight impacts how much it is to ship your car, these car transport rates will be higher. An auto transport company also takes in to account add-ons like bike racks, luggage holders etc.  These will all influence the cost to ship.  So, be aware of this. And if you want to save some money, then don’t ship your belongings when planning to ship a car. Many auto transport companies may not remember to mention this, causing the driver to assess an overweight vehicle fee. Most companies that are reputable and know what they are doing will absolutely make sure they take into account additional fees for extra weight and add ons that increase the vehicle dimensions. 

Our car shipping calculator gives you a rate based on what is a normal amount of items (100 lbs or less) inside and vehicles that are of stock configuration.  Meaning the price you get for car transport is not for overly modified vehicles which will pack a premium. In those cases you can use our calculator for an average car shipping cost only. 

Tip: packing a few personal items? Let the auto transport carrier know you  made sure there's less fuel in the gas tank, each gallon of fuel weighs 6.3 pounds. Note: Enclosed transport may be a little more lenient with items. Ask our staff.

Car or sedan

The Cost To Ship A Car, Sports Car, or Sedan

First of all, here is the good news. Sedan and small car shipping is more affordable than most other kinds of shipping when it comes to weight and size. If you are moving multiple vehicles, even more so to have a car shipped. This is mainly because of the smaller footprint of cars as opposed to larger vehicles creates a lower average price. They don’t take as much space on the trailer and they also have less weight as compared to something big. Remember to add 40-60% for enclosed auto transport. For the most accurate information, get a car shipping quote instantly. 

Updated 04/2022

Cars / Sedans

The cost to ship a regular sedan will cost anywhere from $400 to $2100 throughout the continental U.S.  National Express provides a car shipping service that suits vehicles of all shapes and sizes with an instant quote from our calculator. The larger and heavier the car or sedan will take a larger spot in the truck and carry more weight than smaller vehicles.

DistanceCost Per mileSample Rate
300 Miles$1.50$450
1000 Miles$0.90$900
2000 Miles$0.80$1,600
2,500 Miles$0.70$1,750

Size / Weight Sample Rate Adjustments for Sedans

Type of CarExamplesIncrease
CompactFocus, Cvic, Fiat+$0
Mid Size SedanAltima, Accord, E-Class+$50-60
Large SedanS500, Crown Victoria, 7-Series$100
Extra Large SedanClassic Impala, El Dorado, Rolls Royce$150

The Costs to Ship An SUV

Small SUV example

Shipping Small to Midsized SUVs

These vehicles are generally bigger and slightly heavier than most of the cars, hence the car shipping cost for an SUV is a bit higher than that of a sedan or sports car. So naturally, the bigger the SUV, the more it costs to ship your car. The common SUVs that fall under this category include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, or Kia Niro. A medium SUV would be a Chevy Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4runner, or Honda Pilot.  The increase isn't a lot as they don't take too much room to fill up the car transporter. Enclosed is 40-60% more should you want that option.  For the most accurate information, get a car shipping quote instantly. 

Small / Medium SUV Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a standard SUV will cost anywhere from $450 to $2250 throughout the continental U.S  A small SUV may not seem much larger than a sedan, however when it comes to vehicle transport they usually carry a little more weight and require more height clearance. It increases the rate to ship a car for both enclosed car transport and open transport.

Size / Weight Sample Rate Adjustments for Small and Medium SUVs

Type of SUVExamplesIncrease
Small SUVCRV, Compass, Sidekick+$75-80
Mid Size SUV4Runner, Pilot, Cherokee+$125-150
Large SUV or truck example

The Costs to Ship a Large SUV

Obviously, large SUVs are bigger and heavier than their smaller counterparts. Hence, their shipping quotes are higher. Moreover, SUV's that are modified with oversized tires and other accessories take more space on the carrier leaving no room for other vehicles, hence they cost even more. Large SUV's can also take advantage of the safest way to ship a car. So they can ride enclosed but will have a 40-60% more average cost to ship. Use are calculator to get a car shipping quote instantly.

Large SUV Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a Large SUV will cost anywhere from $450 to $2300 throughout the continental US. A large SUV is naturally taller, wider, and heavier. Therefore vehicle shipping rates will be higher. An extra large SUV is significantly bigger and longer which could result in taking up two spots a small car normally would. 

Size / Weight Sample Rate Adjustments for Large and Extra Large SUVs

Type of SUVExamplesIncrease
Large SUVTahoe, Yukon, Expedition+$150-175
Extra Large SUVSuburban, Expedition L, Escalade ESV, Modified+$175-200
extra large truck

The Cost to Ship A Truck /Extra Large Truck

Trucks are bigger in general and extra large trucks like dually trucks are the biggest and the heaviest type of vehicles, hence they naturally incurs the highest costs to ship. Moreover, both of these vehicles have extended parts which again adds to the shipping cost. Large Dually's and Hummers may not fit in an enclosed car transport because of vehicle size therefore in some cases be only suited for open transport. We do see that fewer customers request enclosed auto transport quotes for this transport type and as they are usually meant to go off road etc.  Either way, these samples help you determine the average car shipping cost. Please note if the vehicle is modified, lifted, has a camper top - All will affect the average cost to ship. 

Truck Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a regular truck will cost anywhere from $475 to $2400 throughout the continental U.S. Transporting Trucks can also vary in size and configuration when using the calculator to get a price. You could have a small first generation Ranger, or an F-350 Dually. Both are totally different and will pull a totally different shipping quote. A very large truck will have the steepest increase for size and weight, as they are very heavy and long. How much it will cost you will vary greatly from small to big. Save money by disclosing extra hardware like racks, tall light bars, and extended bumpers.

Size / Weight Sample Rate Adjustments for Trucks
Type of TruckExamplesIncrease
Small TruckRanger, B2000, Syclone+$100-150
Mid Size TruckRidgeline, Frontier, Tacoma+$150-200
Large TruckSilverado, Ram, Sierra+$200-250
Extra Large Truck / ModifiedF350, Sierra 3500, RAM 3500+$250-300


Trucks can be tricky because they come in all shapes and sizes.  However, the average cost to ship trucks and large SUVs ranges between $1,700 – $2,000 from coast to coast. Further, transporting from North to South (say Minnesota to Arizona) will cost around $1500 to $1700. If your truck has additional accessories such as heavy tires, lifts, suspensions etc., then add $200 to $300 extra. On an average, the cost of shipping an XL truck or a cargo van ranges around $2500 to $3000. This is an approximate cost, so take at least 2-3 quotes to get the best price.

4. The Condition of Your Vehicle: Whether it is running or Not

The next factor is the condition of your vehicle. Is the vehicle operable?  (Does it run and drive?)  Usually, an inoperable car requires extra care, time, and effort from the carrier. The driver will ask you for an extra fee (usually about $150.00-200 added to the final cost) for the efforts the driver has to make in order to winch, push, or pull the car on and off the truck. Depending on the position of the vehicle and the course of shipment, your car will be moved frequently and hence, it will incur additional cost. However, if your car is in running condition, it will not require any additional efforts of the truck driver can drive the car to load it on or off the trailer. Hence, it will not require any additional cost. Moreover, the additional charges for an inoperable vehicle varies from company to company, so make sure to question your company well and check out their terms and conditions to save yourself from paying extra unnecessarily.

5. The Pickup And Drop Locations (Route)

As a matter of fact, pick-up and delivery in the rural areas will be more costly than the same in urban areas or in the popular routes. If it's going to a destination port, that can incur an additional cost for the extra time. National Express does not hide any additional fees.

cost scale of auto transport

This is because the major cities have more carrier centers and easy routes that can be easily accessed by the drivers. For example, there are more flights from Los Angeles to Dallas than from Iowa to Pensacola and changes what it would cost. Similarly, there are more carrier services in urban areas as compared to the less popular and rural area. Our car shipping calculator takes these into account.

Hence, if you’re shipping your car to a popular city, the transition will be fast and comparatively cheaper. Here is a useful tip, if you happen to live in a rural or less popular area with no major routes for access, then prefer visiting the carrier centre by yourself rather than opting for the doorstep pick service. Same goes for the delivery services as well. All you need to do is hand over your vehicle to the truck driver at his premises and at the decided time for a convenient and easy transition. You’ll be able to save a good amount of money on your general cost by following this simple tip.

6. Time of The Year

The same cost scale of auto transport above can be used to see how the time of year pushes the costs. If you’re shipping your vehicle during the holidays or festive season, then the shipping charges will be definitely high. In the summer months you will see prices move up as well due to demand. This includes cross country car shipping. This is because the routes are busy during this time thanks to seasonal shippers such as snowbirds, and drivers also need some holiday time! Open air carriers are used the most.

The east coast has some of the craziest shifts in pricing. Snowbird routes like New York to Florida double in price during at their peak. These increases begin in early fall.  With some careful planning, being given time, you can make the best of the time of year you will be ready to ship. It's important to understand, the total mileage isn't the most prevalent in pricing. 

Some customers can save a little by sending multiple cars on open air transport, with discounts being around $100 or so.  Moreover, certain conditions like hurricanes and floods also impacts the transportation cost. Especially if you are shipping a car across the country there's a lot more of a chance something can get in the way. 

When it comes to holidays, if you request transportation during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day, New Year, Memorial Day etc., you will have pay additional costs. If you are transporting during either snowbird season like September to February, or April to June, expect to pay more. So, if you can be a little flexible and don’t have any urgency, then plan your shipping in the off seasons and away from holidays. This will help you in lowering the overall shipping cost.

7. How Fast You Need Pickup

If you’re looking for expedited or fast pickup, then be ready to pay a bit more. Most pickups take 1-3 days on average. It's also possible your vehicle takes more time to get loaded not because its crossing state lines but if the vehicle is in a rural area. By paying a premium you could get a carrier there faster. Depending upon the delivery location, auto transport companies charge up to 30% more. Further, if you are in a need of having your car delivered urgently then most of the car shipping companies will allow you to select your pick up and delivery dates according to your needs.

Here is a bit of advice on choosing the express shipping with a car transport company: Always request a written contract or agreement from the company for the delivery dates just in case they fail to meet the decided delivery schedule. In such cases, you can ask for the compensation or even the entire refund. These days most car shipping companies readily offer such agreements and offer huge discounts if they fail to meet the schedule. So, make sure to check out the agreement.

With expedited / express shipping always keep in mind that you can get faster pickup dates, but the time it takes to arrive to the final destination is usually the about the same as carriers can only travel 300-500 miles a day. Just like in other forms of trucking such as that of aa moving company, there are also strict laws regarding hours on the road to limit excess fatigue.

Your vehicle condition also has much to do with how fast pick up will be.  Inoperable vehicles also will require equipment like a winch or lift. Fewer carriers will have this equipment which can limit availability. 

Heavier vehicles such as oversized trucks can take longer as less carriers will have room for them as they take more space. This (expedited pick up or not) can add the time it takes to ship your car.

8. The Current Fuel Prices

Finally, the cost of fuel can also affect the overall shipping cost. And the fact is, the cost of fuel is fluctuating all the time in auto shipping and there is nothing that can be done to save on this aspect. So, depending on the place where you live and the current prices of the fuel in your region, that will be one of the strongest factors to determine the final cost. This one reason why car shipping quotes will vary for similar distances. This is also why you will hear a lot about the "average cost to ship". Because without at least having a few other factors considered, car hauling rates are estimated based on general info. Speaking of fuel, it's good courtesy to ship your vehicle with less than a quarter tank.

Getting a Car Shipping Quote

Regardless of the factors involved, in all cases open air transport will be cheaper and most convenient option. Be careful of extremely wary of low or bargain prices from a car transport company. Everyone wants to save money, however the carriers set the prices based on what they are looking to earn for a various pickup and delivery locations. That price is set based all the factors above which all influence how much time and money they need to operate their carrier. What they make above that depends on what customers are willingly paying on that route.  That is what is at the heart of car transport costs nationwide. Although the cheapest way to ship a car is open transport, not all auto transporters are created equal. 

Remember all auto transport quotes include an insurance policy that is required for the carrier to operate. Unless shipping overseas, additional insurance is not required and included in the overall costs.

Tip: Is an online form requesting a phone number? Please note they may be a lead farming site. These will bombard you with phone calls. Avoid sites asking for a phone number.

The data an auto transporter has now is far more accurate than it was just a few years ago and pricing is realtime. Car shipping quotes must reflect that. If various customers are paying a certain amount for a transport type , route, and vehicle (like a car or pickup truck) , the carrier will ignore lower rates if many customers are consistently paying more than the lower prices being offered to you. Out dispatch team knows this so we price accordingly. 

Many auto transport companies provide low quotes as a starting point, secure a fee to secure the car hauler, and end up providing a higher price.   This is not how it should be. A well run and reputable car hauling service will give you the price correctly from the beginning.

We know you have choices when looking for vehicle shipping rates and choosing the right outfit for your car shipment.  Remember to always look at company reviews before making your final decision.

Ready to get started? Get a car shipping quote with National Express today.