Too Much or Just Right? Understanding Car Transporters Cost

Is your lease about to expire? Or, perhaps you’ve closed on a dream house? No matter your circumstance, preparing for a big move comes with sleepless nights spent worrying about things like the final price tag for your move. 

How much does the average household relocation cost? It varies widely depending on various factors, such as the weight of the belongings transported, how far they must go, and how many movers you employ.

When it’s all said and done, a full-service move comes with a cost range of between $550 and $12,000. And that’s only talking household items. Where do other services, such as car transporters cost, fit into the mix?

Keep reading for a full breakdown of how car transporter fees work so that you can find the best price and service for your needs.

How Much Does It Cost to Transport a Car?

Many Americans feel reluctant to hire an automobile shipping company to transport their car during a move.

Why? Because they assume the fees will prove cost-prohibitive. But we’re here to tell you car shipping prices are far more affordable than you may realize.

The best car transport companies boast competitive pricing that’ll make other alternatives, like driving cross-country or using a tow dolly, highly unattractive. Especially when you factor in costs like lodging, food, etc., on a road trip.

That said, to get the best price, there are a few basics you need to understand about the car transport market or you can use a car shipping rates calculator.

Car Transporters Cost

For starters, automobile shipping prices remain in a constant state of flux. Why? Because many variables impact these companies’ bottom lines, from current gas prices to weather conditions and seasonal demand.

Other factors influencing the shipping quote you get include:

  • The type of transport you choose
  • The size of your car
  • The pickup location
  • The dropoff location

Let’s take a closer look at average car shipping prices and how the variables above impact them. With this knowledge, you’ll feel better positioned to secure an automobile shipping quote that fits your budget and needs.

Cost to Transport Car Across Country

The average cost for shipping a vehicle is approximately $700. How did we calculate this figure? By collecting hundreds of quotes from different car shipping companies.

That said, the price range for car shipping stretches from just under $300 for a short open carrier move to more than $2,000 for a coast-to-coast enclosed carrier trip. 

Factors Impacting the Price You Pay:

#1 The Type of Transport

How does the type of transport factor into the final price you pay? Let’s take a closer look at open versus enclosed car shipping.

Open Carrier Car Transport

Selecting an open carrier for your car moving needs remains the most affordable way to get it from one location to another.

This option works great for daily drivers and commuters. Why? Because these vehicles get exposed to road grime, wear and tear, and the hazards associated with freeway driving regularly. 

Reputable companies go to great lengths to ensure their open carrier drivers are expertly trained and take every precaution with the vehicles they transport. Nonetheless, an open carrier provides little protection from the elements.

Enclosed Car Transport

That said, there are some vehicles you should never leave to an open carrier. These include:

  • Antique automobiles
  • Collectible cars
  • Classic vehicles
  • Exotic automobiles
  • Luxury cars

If you own an investment-quality set of wheels, don’t risk moving it on an open carrier. Instead, ship it in an enclosed hauler.

Why? Because as the name suggests, the trailer will either be soft-sided or hard-sided. It’ll provide shielding from the elements and potential road hazards. And you’ll have a clean, pristine car on arrival. 

Shipping By Train 

Have you thought of shipping several vehicles by train? Shipping a car by train can be your best option to save money when transporting multiple vehicles. These are some of the reasons you should also consider transporting your car by train:

  • Cost-Savings: Since a train utilizes less fuel, train companies often pass the cost savings to car owners. Just bear in mind that some train transport companies would require you to transport two or more vehicles. 
  • Flexible Vehicle Transport Options: Trains provide both open and enclosed transport options. Open transport is light in the pocket but leaves your vehicle exposed to the elements. So, if there’s a severe storm along the trip, your car might get damaged. On the other hand, enclosed transport provides greater vehicle protection but is more expensive. 
  • Environmentally Friendly: Train auto transport services can carry multiple cars in one trip, which results in a lower carbon footprint as compared to other vehicle shipping options. 
  • Prevent Early Wear and Tear: Because you don’t need to drive your car, you don’t add a lot of miles on the odometer. By keeping your car’s mileage low, you preserve the value of your vehicle, so you can get more profits from selling it in the future. Hence, shipping by train will help you improve the value of your vehicle.

Factors Impacting the Price You Pay:

#2 The Size of Your Car

Bear in mind that larger vehicles cost more to ship. If you’ve got more than one family ride, save money by transporting the smallest one and driving the other. You’ll also enjoy extra legroom on your trip!

How much does size impact cost? Every time you jump a car size (two-door, four-door sedan, SUV, truck), add a minimum of +$80 to the final bill. 

What’s the cost to transport a car from New York to California? For a small car, open transport runs about $620, and enclosed transport costs about $1,000. For SUVs, expect a bill of $700 to $1,100 for open versus enclosed transport. 

Finally, it’ll cost about $800 for open trailer transport of a truck and $1,200 for enclosed transport. As you can see, prices scale up with vehicle sizes.

More About Per Mile Pricing

Based on the figures above, what’s the average cost per mile to transport a car? Approximately $1 per mile for the first 1-500 miles. The longer the distance, the more reasonably priced the per-mile rate.

Just like shopping at Costco, buying miles “in bulk” saves money. Thousand-mile trips cost about $0.75 per mile. Rates for more than 1,000 miles come in at $0.60.

By the time you reach 2,000 to 2,500-mile trips, it costs just $0.40-$0.50 per mile. Of course, these are generic figures that will change based on car size, destination, etc. Get an accurate, customized car transporters cost now.

Factors Impacting the Price You Pay:

#3  Dropoff and Pickup Locations 

The further a driver must divert from the standard network of transportation routes, the more time and expense they’ll incur delivering your car. As a result, increased time and gasoline expenses get factored into the final price you pay.

If you’re going from one metropolitan area to another, these charges may not impact you. However, rural areas generally rack up out-of-the-way expenses. Other situations may also lead to increased rates.

For example, if your driver must take a route notorious for traffic jams and road closures, this will be reflected in your shipping quote. Conversely, if your driver can take advantage of a direct route, you’ll benefit there.

Seasonal changes can also impact the amount you pay. For example, a winter move occurs off-season and is generally cheaper. However, if the driver must brave treacherous road conditions and weather, it’ll impact the bottom line.

Make Your Next Move a Cinch

Car transporters cost may vary widely. But, as you can see from the average prices listed above, car shipping is an affordable option for those involved in an interstate move. Car shipping also means one less thing to worry about. 

What’s more, when you go with a reputable, reliable company, your car will be insured. Ready for more life hacks to make relocation a breeze? Check out our blog now.

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1 Response

  1. Great guide, Thank you!

    Some advice regarding car shipping quotes, do NOT get quotes from “online quote calculators”. These quotes are generated with the purpose of luring customers into booking and then changing their quotes after they booked. Contact auto transport companies directly and speak to an agent to discuss all the details of your move.

    Hope this helps 🙂

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