Cheapest Way To Ship A Car

Cheapest Way to Ship A CarWhat is the cheapest way to ship a car? Open transport is the cheapest way to ship a car. This is because open auto transport carriers have 10 cars on one truck with one driver. Also, since there are more open carriers on the road than any other, they can handle almost any vehicle. If the vehicle you need shipped is one you drive daily, open shipping is the way to go and is always the cheapest way to ship a car. The cheapest way to ship your car, however, can also depend on what type of truck you will need for your specific vehicle. Are you looking to ship an exotic or collectible vehicle? If so, the cheapest way to ship it would likely be enclosed transport. While more expensive than open transport, it protects your vehicle from the elements, which is great if your car is rare or valuable. That breaks down the trucks; what about methods?

Cheapest Way to Ship A Car: Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping

No matter which way you look at it, the cheapest way to ship a car is via terminal-to-terminal when compared to other delivery methods. However, we do not particularly recommend this option as it is often slower and significantly less convenient compared to door-to-door shipping. Nevertheless, it remains a handy way to transport your car, especially considering that almost all major cities have at least one (relatively secure) terminal where you can drop off your vehicle at. This, of course, entails that you leave your car there for days or even weeks, which comes with a risk. So, the most recommended option to ship your car across the country is door-to-door shipping on an open transport truck. But we should also point out that all transporters are insured at $750,000, which is the least amount of truck insurance according to federal law.

For more details and information about the best ways to ship your car per your individual budget, you can use our online car shipping calculator and get an instant price quote. We bet you will be excited about the quote you will receive as we have managed to provide the most competitive prices for our top-rated vehicle shipping services. Or you may call us on ( ) any time of the day or night. Rest assured, our friendly operators will do their best to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Cheapest Way to Ship A Car: Door-To-Door

Door-to-door shipping on an open transport truck is the standard method of shipping a vehicle in the industry today. It is the best way to ship a car for cheap. We recommend door-to-door shipping for anyone shipping a standard vehicle they drive daily. All transporters are insured at a federally-mandated minimum of $750,000, with many simply going up to $1 million worth of insurance on their truck. Open transport car shipping is the cheapest way to ship a car safely and securely, and we stand behind that statement.

If you are interested in shipping your vehicle, whether you need terminal shipping or door to door transportation services, fill out our free car shipping cost calculator. It shouldn’t take you more than a minute or two from start to finish and will get you a free no-obligation auto transport quote from American Auto Shipping. We are fully licensed and bonded and only work with top-rated insurance companies. We will be the cheapest car shipping company that moves your vehicle in a reasonable period. This way, you know you’ll be in good hands no matter what. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time at 800-930-7417.

Cheapest Way to Ship a Luxury or Vintage Car

The most cost-effective solution to ship a vintage or luxury car is via the Roll-on/Roll-off service. Most customers also prefer enclosed auto shipping rather than open auto transport (about 60% more expensive than open transport) as a means to provide their asset with the most security and the most protection from the elements. 

Depending on which vehicle shipping company you choose, you may get to choose the enclosed transport type of your preference (i.e., with extra-long ramps, soft side, lift gate, hard side, etc.). Modern enclosed auto shipping trailers also come with luxuries such as air-cushioned suspension and smooth ride suspension for the least disturbance to the luxury or vintage cars they carry. These extras also help protect the vehicle from damage, considering that it is far less likely for a vintage or luxury car to get dents or scratches when using liftgate elevators than ramps. 

Now, if you are after full protection for your luxury vehicle from pick up to drop off, you will probably like door-to-door services that ensure precisely that. They may come at a higher cost than port-to-port or terminal-to-terminal services but save you from some serious headaches. 


Cheapest Way to Ship a Car That Does Not Run

Cars that are nonoperational cannot be driven onto the vehicle carrier, which means that the selected auto shipper is called to use other means to load it. Depending on the type of carrier you have chosen to use to transport your non-running car, these methods will vary. For example:

  • Open auto transport – A winch (hand-cranked or manual) is used to load the car onto an open carrier. Then, the carrier uses the attached chain to pull the car onto it. 
  • Enclosed auto transport – Enclosed vehicle carriers usually use a liftgate to load nonoperational cars onto the carrier. This option comes particularly handy for low clearance cars as they protect them from damage while also limiting movement when loading and unloading the vehicle. 

Of the two methods, open auto transport services are significantly cheaper than enclosed auto transport


How to Save Money When Shipping a Car

First and foremost, timing is everything. If you are not in a hurry to have your vehicle shipped and can wait for the busy season to pass, you can save some serious cash from car shipping services. Remember that transportation carriers that ship vehicles from one coast to another are busiest between May and September. On the other hand, fall and spring are when vehicle carriers that operate from south to north (or vice versa) have the most workload. 

Other ways to make your car transportation as cost-effective as possible include:

  • Select terminal-to-terminal shipping services – Nearly all carriers will come and get your car from its current location (this costs more than if you had driven your car yourself to them) and deliver it to the end destination. Compared to door-to-door service, terminal-to-terminal transport is the least expensive. Just beware not to leave your vehicle at the terminal for too long to avoid daily charges that may apply.  Terminal shipping is getting harder to find, however, so make sure to speak to a representative to learn more.
  • Be flexible with drop-off and pick-up dates – Most vehicle carriers will let you select the dates that work best for you (both regarding the pickup and drop-off of the car). Do not hesitate to ask for less costly options, especially if you are not eager to get the car picked up and delivered at particular dates. You may also qualify for a discount. Many carriers offer price discounts for allowing them to schedule the pickup and drop-off in a way that makes more sense to them logistically. 
  • Go with open transport – As already discussed, open transport is cheaper than enclosed shipping by around 50%-60%. 
  • Compare price with reputation – While it may be tempting to go with the lowest price, that transport company will not always be your best shot. It is best to do as detailed research as possible. So, read online reviews and look up the companies you have selected online. What are people saying about them? If you feel that it all sounds too good to be true, then your gut feeling is probably right. We recommend choosing a carrier with a long-standing reputation first and then discuss any discounts or offers you could benefit from. 

Use our free online auto shipping price calculator or call us at (800) 930-7417 to go through your options and see how you can gain significant savings! 


Factors that Determine Car Shipping Costs

Some of the factors that affect the total cost of your car transportation are:

  • The location – The distance that has to be covered can determine the price of moving your vehicle. The place the car is being transferred to also plays a vital role. Shipping your vehicle to popular auto transport routes like major cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles is more cost-effective. Transporting a car to rural areas and smaller towns requires the truck driver to turn aside the main route and drive additional miles (so spend more time and gas to deliver your car), which adds to the cost.
  • The car hauling season – Shipping your vehicle during the summer is less expensive than during the winter season. You see, winter is when retirees return to Arizona, Texas, and other Southern states to escape low temps. This means more traffic, which makes driving more dangerous. 
  • Type of shipping – Typically, enclosed shipping (cars are fully protected against weather elements and covered) is more expensive than open transport shipping (cars are uncovered and exposed to the road conditions and the elements). 
  • The delivery time frame – The more urgent the car shipping service you ask for, the most costly it will be, just like all other express shipping services, as it requires proper route planning. This leaves the vehicle shipping company with little time to organize the delivery using the transportation practices that would have been the most efficient (i.e., having a fully loaded trailer).  
  • Vehicle modifications – Modified cars need special shipping and handling, which requires extra attention and work to the specific vehicle. This, of course, affects the shipping cost. 
  • Vehicle specs – The larger and heavier the car that is to be shipped, the costlier the shipping service will be. 

Loading the car with personal items – This increases the weight of the car. And you should know that car shipping companies are not allowed to transport household items inside the vehicle even if the customer has insurance on them.  However, you may place some items (100 lbs. or less) in your trunk or storage area.  Read more about that in our FAQ section below.


How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car to Another State? 

The average car shipping costs range between $500-$1,100 for a 4-door sedan and from around $750 to $1,100 for small SUVs, pickups, and vans (based on a California to New York move). Take note that moving the car in the off-season months will enable you to hit the lower end of the range. Also, transporting a vehicle to the west coast and Hawaii usually runs between $800-$1,350 while shipping between Alaska (Juneau), Washington, and Seattle costs around $1,000. You will also pay extra if you do not live near a terminal or the car is not operational. 

Now, if you are shipping an exotic or vintage car, it can cost from as little as $800 and go all the way up to over $3,000, depending on the selected type of trailer and the loading/unloading requirements. 

Generally speaking, it costs $0.60 per mile (on average) to ship a car long distance. This applies to trips over 1,000 miles. For shorter routes, the cost per mile is higher. For instance, it costs about $1 per mile for trips 500 miles or less. 

To get a more accurate cost to ship your particular vehicle, use our free Auto Shipping Rates Calculator.


How to make sure you get the cheapest price and the best value for your auto transport and car shipping dollars.

1) The first thing is making sure you are getting a binding price quote.

Only about 1 in 5 car shipping companies will give you a binding price quote that does not go up. The other 4 of 5 car shipping companies will provide a non-binding quote or estimate that can and usually does goes up later. At American Auto Shipping, we give a binding price estimate!

The problem is that the companies that give you a low non-binding quote do not tell you till later. The only way to find out for sure is to Google the company’s name with Google reviews after their name. Next, look for reviews that complain about getting one price, and then end up having to pay more for the service. For example, the company gives a total price of $800. But then they call and say that they found a carrier, but they want $280 more! Many customers will admit in reviews that they were out of time and had no choice but to pay the extra money to get their vehicles picked up. The customers retaliate by writing negative reviews to warn others like you!

You may be wondering why you are getting prices that vary quite a bit. We just explained why many quotes are lower than ours. There are many quotes higher than ours too! Those are the companies that give binding price quotes, too; however, they do not have the experience or the employees to maintain the absolute cheapest binding prices. As a result, they quote high to be safe. At American Auto Shipping, we have two full-time employees who do nothing but study prices. They stay up-to-date on current shipments as well as supply and demand on various routes. From there, they can then program our auto transport quote calculator to give you the cheapest auto transport price quote that is binding!

2) Make sure you are visiting a website owned by a Federally licensed Car Shipping Company located in the United States.

The United States Department of Transportation regulates our industry, and they require a valid Federal license and $75,000 bond. They also require that all a Federally licensed Car Shipping Companies display their Motor Carrier (MC) number on their website. You will find ours at the top of our website. If you do not see an MC number on the website, they are lead generating websites. Lead generation sites farm your shipping data. They then send this data to off-brand car shipping companies, some of which are not even in the United States.

3) Make sure the auto transport company provides you with a free car rental for any excessive delays.

If the carrier transporting your vehicle is not accountable for prompt delivery, they have no financial incentive to deliver your vehicle on a timely basis. American Auto Shipping provides a free car rental for any excessive delays!

4) Make sure the car transport company provides you with a damage-free guarantee, or they help pay if you must use your insurance for a claim.

American Auto Shipping has a damage free guarantee, or we help pay! Damage during transit is rare, but it happens. If the following happens, we can help:

  • If your vehicle sustained damage in transit, and;
  • You are forced to make an insurance claim on the carriers’ insurance, and;
  • They turn it down for any reason, and;
  • You have to file a claim on your auto insurance policy, and;
  • That claim is approved;

You may have to pay a deductible! If you do, we will pay up to $500 for you.

5) Make sure the auto shipping company you select is open seven days a week.

The auto transportation business runs seven days a week as vehicles are picked up and delivered on Saturday and Sunday just as much as Monday and Tuesday or any other day.

If there are issues with the driver transporting your vehicle, it’s important to be able to reach someone. Being unable to reach your auto shipping company could cost you time and money. If they do not advertise on their website or Google listings that they are open seven days a week, do not hire them.

Car Shipping Cost FAQ

How much will it cost to ship my car?

Getting the cheapest price to transport your car depends on several key factors. Thes include, where you’re shipping from and to, what kind of vehicle you’re shipping, and when you need it shipped. The further the distance between origin and destination, the less the price per mile will be. Vehicle size also plays a role, the larger the vehicle, the more expensive it is to ship. Any modifications to stock vehicles can add to the price. Lastly, seasons play a factor, as winter tends to be cheaper than summer due to lower demand.

When will my car get picked up for transport?

This depends heavily on the level of service that you choose. We offer three different levels of service that you can choose from:

  • Standard: Recommended for people not in a hurry.
  • Priority: Priority adds $200 to the standard price, but is designed for people who need to get their vehicles picked up more quickly than the standard level of shipping. (Recommended for people with tight pickup timeframes).
  • Expedited: Expedited shipments add $500 to the standard price (or $300 to the priority price) for pick up within 1 weekday. (Recommended for people that need their vehicle moved ASAP or on a specific day).

Which method you choose will depend on your budget and your time frame, but typically, customers that need their vehicles moved quickly should opt for priority or expedited shipping services to ensure they get on the next truck.

How do I pay for my auto transport?

You pay a small down payment to lock in a price. When we schedule and dispatch you to a carrier, we will provide you with the truck driver’s name, phone number, pickup, and delivery dates. The remaining balance is paid to the truck driver on delivery via certified funds.

Can I put stuff in my car when shipping it?

You can put up to 100 pounds of personal belongings in the trunk or storage area of your car, truck, or SUV, and your vehicle must be empty otherwise. The reason for this is that those auto transport carriers have don’t have a license or insurance to transport household goods across state lines.

How does auto transport insurance work?

The Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Division regulates our industry, and they require insurance coverage for carriers transporting vehicles. They need a minimum of $250,000 cargo and $750,000 in liability insurance coverage. There will be an inspection at pickup where the driver will have a form with a picture of a car, and he will note every ding, dent, and scratch on the vehicle. Both your pickup person and the driver will sign it, and then you and your driver will get a copy of the form. Upon delivery, the same form will be presented to the person receiving the auto transport. Any new dents, dings or scratches must be placed on a damage claim and must be notated on that form at delivery, and signed by both parties.

Recent Auto Transport Reviews

Read what some of our customers have to say about getting the cheapest price to ship their car

We had a recommendation from one of our relatives saying how happy they were with the quality of your service. We now are in agreement! Our driver Damion did a fantastic job!!!!!
David Cowan

Google Review

Rachel Middleton

Google Review

We had a great experience! We moved two cars from the Pacific NE to GA. Andrew was helpful, available for questions, had good communication and follow-up, and the process was pretty straightforward.
The price was in-line with other quotes, but we felt good bout the upfront pricing. The driver they contracted was nice and prompt, and got our cars safely to their destination! No extra charges! I would totally recommend them and use them again.

This was my first time using an auto transportation company. I'm a Deputy Sheriff in LA. I purchased a car online from a dealership in NC and needed the car shipped to my home in CA. The price was fair. There was no hidden fees, no games, no bait-and-switch. Rachel at AA shipping was helpful, courteous on the phone, good communication, and notified me with updates throughout the process. My car was delivered 3 days earlier than promised.!!! with no issues and no damage anywhere. The driver (Alex U.) was also pleasant to deal with. He texted and called me throughout the shipping process. Car arrived in perfect condition, 3 days ahead of promised date!!! I would definitely use this company again! I would recommend this company to anyone and I give American Auto Shipping a 10 out of 10 and an.... A+

NC -> CA

Transport Reviews

Dave Armstrong

Auto Transport Content Guru at American Auto Shipping


Dave has been a part of the auto transport industry since 2007. He has worked in every part of the industry except driving a transport truck itself. Withover a decade of experience shipping cars, Dave knows all the ins and outs of the industry.

Since 2007 Dave has written all the content and blogs for American Auto Shipping and during this time added the duties of customer support and transport logistics.

He currently resides in Washington with his three kids and their mom and cat. A fan of Marvel movies and good stories, when not shipping cars Dave can be found working on his novel, enjoying a good book or playing some tournament HALO.


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