How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?

There is an average cost per mile that is calculated in cents-per-mile, generally. However the final price depends on various factors which have a bearing on how much more or less you will end up paying.  Although our car shipping calculator adjusts for these on the fly, for those that want an explanation on these factors and how they come together, this is the guide for you.

cost to ship a car

Generally, the main factors that influence the 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

1. Distance

The first and the biggest factor that affects the transportation cost of a vehicle is the distance it needs to travel. No matter how much distance a vehicle needs to cover, a carrier has to make the same efforts for transporting it. It simply means, the carrier has to cover the pick-up and drop services regardless of how much time it’s spending on the road. This is the reason why the average transportation cost over longer distances is actually cheaper on the per mile basis. That’s about the general rates per mile. But as a rule of thumb, if you want to transport your car at a nearby place then you have to pay a little less than what you’d pay for shipping to long distances.

2. Type Of Carrier – Open trailer or Enclosed carrier?

The next biggest factor that impacts the price of shipping is the selection of carrier – whether you’ve selected the open trailer or an enclosed carrier. Generally, the open carrier or open trailer is the most commonly used method of auto transportation. 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. A standard sized trailer has the capacity to carry 8 to 10 cars on long haul trips. There are also shorter 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 transportation mainly because it is cost-effective. Coming to the enclosed carriers, they are comparatively smaller than open 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. But because it holds fewer vehicles and takes the same time to reach the destination, its cost is 40-60% higher than an open carrier.

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, both types of carriers have their own set of pros and cons. If you’re looking for a cost-effective method and have a simple car or mini SUV then, choose open carrier. And if you’re the owner of a luxury car that needs extra care, then an enclosed carrier will be the best option for you.

3. The Size And The Weight Of Your Vehicle

Size and the weight of a vehicle plays an important role while estimating the shipping cost because the trailers come with a maximum hold capacity. 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 more space in a trailer, hence, it will be charged more. Moreover, there is another concern that confuses many customers as to whether or not they can ship their personal belongings inside the car? It generally depends on the transportation company and its rules. Because it impacts the weight of your vehicle, you’ll be charged more. So, make this thing clear before scheduling your shipping dates. And if you want to save some money, then don’t ship your belongings inside your car.

Car or sedan

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

First of all, here is the good news for you, car shipping is more affordable than most other kinds of shipping when it comes to weight and size. This is mainly because of the smaller footprint of cars as opposed to larger vehicles. They don’t take as much space on the trailer and they also have less weight as compared to something big.

Cars / Sedans

The cost to ship a regular sedan will cost anywhere from $250 to $1600 throughout the continental U.S.  National Express ships cars of all shapes and sizes with rates from our calculator. The larger and heavier the car or sedan will take more space and carry more weight than smaller vehicles.

DistanceCost Per mileSample Rate
500 Miles$1.00$500
1000 Miles$0.75$750
2000 Miles$0.55$1,100
2,500 Miles$0.50$1,125

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 shipping cost for an SUV is a bit higher than that of the cars. 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.

Small / Medium SUV Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a standard SUV will cost anywhere from $250 to $1600 throughout the continental U.S  A small SUV may not seem much larger than a sedan, however they usually carry a little more weight and require more height clearance 

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 bugger and heavier than their smaller counterparts. Hence, their shipping cost is 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 Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a Large SUV will cost anywhere from $320 to $1800 throughout the continental US. A large SUV is naturally taller, wider, and heavier. 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 shipping cost. Moreover, both of these vehicles have extended parts which again adds to the shipping cost.

Truck Cost Breakdown

The cost to ship a regular truck will cost anywhere from $300 to $1800 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.

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, on average, the shipping cost of 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 it running or brand new. 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) for the efforts he has to make in order to winch, push, 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.

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. Similarly, there are more carrier services in urban areas as compared to the less popular and rural area.

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 bills 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. This is because the routes are busy during this time thanks to seasonal shippers such as snowbirds, and drivers also need some holiday time! Moreover, certain conditions like hurricanes and floods also impacts the transportation cost. For example, 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. Speed of Delivery

If you’re looking for a fast pickup, then be ready to pay the additional charges. Depending upon the delivery location, you may have to pay around 30% extra than the standard charges. Further, if you are in a need of urgent delivery then most of the 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, 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 of the companies readily offer such agreements and offer huge discounts if they fail to meet the schedule. So, make sure to check out the agreement.

8. The Current Fuel Prices

Finally, the fuel prices can also affect the overall shipping cost. And the fact is, the fuel prices keep fluctuating all the time 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, you will have to pay accordingly.