Estimating Car Shipping Costs: How to Calculate the Price of Transporting Your Car

Estimating car shipping costs

Shipping a car to a new location can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to driving it yourself. If you’re considering car shipping, it’s important to understand the factors that influence the cost and how to calculate shipping expenses. This guide will provide you with valuable information to help you make informed decisions and save money on car transportation.

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Prices

Several factors contribute to the total cost of shipping a car. Understanding these factors can help you estimate and negotiate shipping prices effectively.

Distance: The distance between the pickup and delivery locations is a significant factor. Longer distances generally result in higher shipping costs, although the price per mile may decrease for longer journeys.

Delivery Location: Opting for door-to-door delivery, where the car is picked up and dropped off at your specified locations, is convenient but can be more expensive. Choosing terminal-to-terminal shipping, where you use shipping terminals for drop-off and pickup, can help reduce costs.

Vehicle Size: The size of your car affects the number of cars the carrier can transport, which can impact the price. Larger vehicles and SUVs generally cost more to ship compared to average-sized sedans.

Transport Carrier Type: Auto transport carriers can be open or closed. Open carriers are exposed to the elements, while closed carriers offer added protection. Shipping in an enclosed carrier is more expensive but may be worth considering for luxury or specialty cars.

Vehicle Condition and Clearance: If your car is in poor condition or has low ground clearance, additional accommodations may be required, leading to adjusted prices.

Time of Year: Shipping costs may vary depending on the time of year. High-demand seasons, such as summer or the holiday season, tend to have higher prices. Consider scheduling your shipment during off-peak times to save money.

Fuel Prices: Fluctuating fuel prices can impact shipping costs. Auto transport companies may adjust their prices to accommodate changes in operating expenses.

How to Calculate Car Shipping Costs

Estimating car shipping costs involves providing specific details about your shipment. Although quotes and estimates are not final until after the vehicle is shipped, you can use car shipping calculators or consult with an experienced auto broker to get a rough cost estimation. Consider the following factors when calculating shipping costs:

Pickup and Delivery Locations: Provide the exact locations for pickup and delivery.

Distance: Specify the distance between the pickup and delivery locations.

Vehicle Details: Include the make, model, and condition of your vehicle, as well as your preferred shipping method (open or enclosed transport).

By considering these details, you can obtain a more accurate estimate of the shipping costs and negotiate with car shipping companies for the best rates.


On average, shipping a car across the country costs around $1,650. However, the total price varies based on factors such as distance, vehicle size, delivery location, and transport carrier type.

Terminal-to-terminal shipping is a budget-friendly alternative to door-to-door delivery. By dropping off and picking up your car at shipping terminals, you can reduce costs.

Some car shipping companies offer special discounts for military personnel, first responders, students, seniors, return customers, or those shipping multiple vehicles. Inquire with the companies directly to explore potential discounts.

To save money, consider choosing an open auto transporter, scheduling your shipment during off-peak seasons, andobtaining quotes from multiple car shipping companies to compare prices and negotiate the best deal.

Enclosed transport is recommended for luxury or specialty cars that could be affected by exposure to the elements. If your vehicle’s value could decrease due to exposure, it may be worth the additional cost of using a closed carrier.


  • Joseph Ferriolo

    Joseph Ferriolo is a seasoned entrepreneur and business consultant, who currently serves as the Director of Wise Business Plans. With his wealth of experience and expertise, Joseph is well-versed in a variety of business topics and frequently shares his insights and opinions with others. His written work has been featured in respected publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Bplans, among others.

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