The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Car Across Country

Learn how to ship your car across country, what it will cost, how to choose the best shipper, and tips to save money and stress when shipping a vehicle.
The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Car Across Country

When it comes to moving to a new area, transporting your car can be a burden on top of all the other items on your moving checklist. Boxing up clothes or hiring a moving company to help you with your furniture are familiar, but shipping a car across the country might be a foreign concept. How do you do that? And how much does it cost? If you are considering shipping your car, here is everything you need to know.

Car Transporter Shipping Cars Across Country

Why Ship a Car Across the Country?

There are many instances in which it makes more sense to ship your car across the country rather than to drive it. You may, for example, have more than one vehicle or you might want to keep miles off of your car. Aside from that, shipping your car is typically far more convenient than driving it yourself—you can fly while your car takes the long way.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

Shipping your car can be very convenient and can greatly simplify your move. However, you might be wondering just how expensive it will be. Unfortunately, there is not a simple average since the cost for owners varies greatly.

The exact price you will pay depends on a number of factors, including:

Your Vehicle’s Size

How big is your car? Is it a two-door coupe or a four-door extended SUV? The difference in price between shipping these two types of vehicles can be significant.

The Distance

How far are you sending your vehicle? Generally, it is more expensive per mile to ship shorter distances. Some shippers charge as little as $0.40 per mile, while others might charge as much as $1 per mile. So, for example, if you live in Phoenix and want to ship your car 1,000 miles to Dallas, an average cost would be around $750. The average cost of shipping your car from Seattle to Miami, on the other hand, would likely cost about $1,300 for over 3,000 miles of hauling.

Pickup Location

The location where you will be picking your car up will impact the overall price. It may be more expensive to have your car delivered to a remote location. Such places can be difficult to find and may not offer convenient food or lodging for delivery drivers. All of these factors can drive up the price. If you need your car delivered to a remote location, there are alternatives. You might, for example, want to consider having your car delivered to a nearby town or convenient destination rather than right to your door to save money.

The Vehicle’s Overall Condition

Some trucking companies that specialize in shipping cars only work with high-end vehicles. Others work with all cars. Your vehicle’s overall condition may impact the price you pay to have it shipped.

Open Carrier vs. Enclosed Truck

There are two basic options when it comes to shipping your vehicle: you can choose an “open carrier” truck or an enclosed truck. Typically, enclosed shipping is more expensive.

In exchange for the additional costs of an enclosed truck, you get peace of mind. You will know that your car is better protected from any type of damage it might receive during the shipping process.

On the other hand, while enclosed shipping offers more protection, it might not be worth it if you do not own a high-end vehicle. In most cases, cars transported in open carrier trucks arrive in great condition and you can potentially save yourself some money.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Across the Country?

If you are deciding between shipping or driving your vehicle, be sure to calculate the true cost of driving your car across the country, including all of the expenses. This estimate should not only include gas, but also food, snacks, hotel stays, toll booth fees, and more. After averaging it all out and comparing, most people discover that shipping their car is not much more expensive than driving it. And, in some cases, it may even be cheaper.

With that said, here are some of the more inexpensive options:

Shipping Your Car Terminal-to-Terminal

Terminal-to-terminal shipping is often the cheapest way to ship your car, which involves dropping your car off at a regional storage terminal and picking up at one near your new home. Terminal-to-terminal options may not, however, be available if you are moving to or from a rural or remote location. While terminal-to-terminal shipping is cheap, do not forget that it is also a bit slower and can force you to leave your car in a terminal for at least a few days. But, if you have the time and do not want to pay the extra money, terminal-to-terminal shipping can be a great option to transport your car without driving.

How Do I Choose the Best Shipper?

There are a lot of shippers out there, so it can be challenging to know which one to choose. One main point to keep in mind when it comes to pricing is binding pricing. Try to avoid working with any shipping companies that give you a wide range shipping quote where, on one end, the price is a steal, and on the other, it is a rip-off. Why? Because odds are, you are going to end up paying the “rip off” price. Instead, ask for a binding price quote. If the shipping company does not do that, insist on a tighter price range for your shipping costs.

While it is always a good idea to secure a fixed quote, there is one exception to this rule: if you are shipping your car to a rural or remote location, a shipping company may be unable to provide you with a precise quote. They may never have traveled to that part of the country before and may not know what costs it will entail.

While you do not want to overpay, it is important to remember that low-quality car shippers may not take the best care of your car, and may allow untrained drives to transport your vehicle. Do your research and select a company with a track record of success.

Can I Pay Someone to Drive My Car Across the Country?

Yes, you can pay someone to drive your car for you. In fact, doing so can be a great way to save money. There are, however, a few things that you will want to consider:

Do You Trust the Person?

The last thing you want to do is hand the keys to your car over to someone you do not trust. While the person driving your car does not necessarily have to be your best friend or family member, you should at least insist on seeing their driver’s license and some proof that they have done this sort of work in the past. If they cannot provide this basic kind of information, it is probably a bad sign.

You might be able to find more information about your potential driver by looking at their social media profiles. If the person you are dealing with has a suspicious-looking Facebook or LinkedIn profile (or none at all), you should reconsider hiring them.

Are Independent Drivers Covered Under Your Insurance?

If you are considering hiring an independent driver to transport your car, it is important to learn whether or not 1) they have insurance, and 2) if they are covered by your insurance.

Some insurance policies allow for independent drivers, while others do not. If you hire someone to drive your car and your policy does not cover them, you may be financially liable for any accidents they get into. Call your insurance provider if you are unsure about this.

Can I Put Items In My Car When I Ship It?

In most cases, you can store some of your belongings in your car while being shipped. This is completely your decision if you are hiring an independent driver, and is usually permitted if you are working with a shipping company.

Keep in mind, though, that you should not use your car as a shipping container, and you need to leave enough room for someone to comfortably get into and out of the driver’s seat. Also, if you are hiring a shipping company, you do not want to store anything perishable or fragile. But a few boxes, clothes, and other items should be fine so long as they do not dramatically increase the weight of your vehicle.

If you are adding more than, say, fifty pounds of luggage to your car, you should call the shipping company to make sure it is okay. Usually, they will not have a problem, but a heavier load may translate into an increase in your shipping prices.


Ultimately, your decision about whether or not to drive or ship your car to your new home should be based on your own specific circumstance.

Using a shipper to move your car can be a convenient option that can simplify your move, but it is not the only option. Do your research, consider your options, pack your bags and, regardless of what you choose, safe travels!

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