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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

Have you got a move planned in the coming months and are pondering over your auto transport choices? With moving costs piling on top of each other, you’ll only be wondering how your vehicle transport costs are going to mount up as well. To pull you out of your misery and make your life a little easier, we’ve covered the different aspects of your vehicle transport costs.

While giving you an idea of the different options available for transporting your vehicle, we’ll also be looking at the factors that come into play for determining your vehicle transport costs. Transporting your vehicle might be a stressful process, but once you are aware of the costs and the options available, it becomes a little easier to make a choice as per your needs.

Factors That Determine Your Vehicle Transport Costs

The reason why we’ve made a separate section talking specifically about factors affecting your costs is that there isn’t one but multiple factors at play when determining your vehicle transport costs. Once you start doing your research, you’ll realize that prices in the auto transport industry fluctuate as quickly as a wink.

Even if you and your neighbor have the same cars, you might still end up paying different amounts for the transportation process when you take these factors into consideration. Here’s a list of all the common ones which you should take note of when estimating your vehicle transport costs.


The number of miles that you cover is obviously a major deciding factor of your vehicle transport costs. In most cases, the longer the distance you need to travel, the cheaper the per mile rate charged by a majority of auto transport companies. Do keep in mind that this is mainly applicable when you’re transporting your vehicle via road. For other modes of transport, you might be paying more when you’re traveling a longer distance.

Type, Size, Make, and Model Of Your Vehicle

Whether you’re transporting a car, motorcycle, truck, or an SUV would also be crucial in estimating your vehicle transport costs. Even if you’re transporting a car, the size, make, and model of your specific car would be deciding your costs. Classic and luxury vehicles will cost more if they need to be transported from one location to the other simply because they need special equipment and expertise to be handled. Similarly, a large vehicle will take up more space on the carrier and a heavy vehicle will exceed the carrier’s weight capacity, leading to higher prices for vehicle transportation.

Condition Of Your Vehicle

If you’re planning to ship an inoperable vehicle or a vehicle that does not run or start on its own, you’ll have to pay higher shipping costs. The reason behind this is that the hauler will have to put in additional time and effort, and might even need some extra equipment to load and unload your vehicle from the carrier. $150 could be the average surcharge you pay for an inoperable vehicle. You’ll be saving on your costs if you’re transporting a vehicle in running condition.

Type Of Carrier

You can choose to transport your vehicle either in an open carrier or an enclosed carrier. An open carrier is probably the most common and also the most cost-effective way of shipping your vehicle. You’ll frequently spot an open trailer carrying 3-8 cars together on the highways. If you’re transporting an expensive, classic, or high-end vehicle, using an enclosed carrier will be a better choice. Not only will your vehicle be safe from extreme weather conditions but also from road debris and other such factors.

Naturally, enclosed trailers cost around 30% – 50% more than open trailers because of the level of protection that it provides. So, the type of transport you choose will be an important factor in determining your vehicle transport costs. In addition to that, the type of service that you choose would also play a major role. For instance, if you need to get your car transported on an urgent basis, the expedited services will be provided by many auto shipping companies but will definitely cost you a lot more.

Time Of The Year

Moving in the peak season, that is, during the summers or the spring break, will definitely cost you more than moving in the off-season. Because demand during the peak season is higher, it might get difficult for you to get your preferred date or slot and this availability will end up influencing your total costs. Moving during major holidays like just before or after Christmas or Thanksgiving will also cost you a good amount. If you’re wanting to save on your vehicle transport costs, we suggest moving in the off-season.

Popularity of The Route

If you’re based at a rural location that’s not easily accessible for the driver, you might have to pay more for transporting your vehicle. Since cosmopolitan cities and urban areas are well-connected and easily accessible, they have more popular routes used by car haulers. So, if you’re transporting your vehicle between urban areas, you might be paying less in comparison to transporting between rural areas.

Additional Insurance Coverage

Apart from your vehicle insurance, if you choose to purchase an additional coverage plan from your auto transport company, that would be an added expense to your total costs. Not all auto transport companies might be offering these additional coverage plans; but if you want, you can also reach out to third parties that provide insurance.

Mode Of Transporting Your Vehicle

Along with all the factors that we just spoke about, the mode of transport that you choose – road, rail, air, or water, would also play a major role in influencing your vehicle transport costs. While the most common mode of transport is by road used by a majority of auto shipping companies, you can also consider the options of transporting your vehicle via rail to save on a few bucks. If you’re planning to move internationally or across the country, air transportation and water transportation are also some available options.

Let us now look at all these options individually, so you get an idea of the approximate vehicle transport costs as well as how the process looks like in every mode.

Transporting Via An Auto Shipping Company

Probably the most popular and convenient way of transporting your vehicle is via an auto shipping company. With most companies offering door-to-door services, you can easily get your vehicle transported between your desired locations. These auto transport companies provide a wide variety of shipping services and can take care of the entire shipping process for you.

You’ll have to take into consideration all the factors that we’ve mentioned before, for estimating your vehicle transport costs if you plan on taking professional assistance from auto shipping companies. On average, the cost of transporting a car with these auto transport companies will be somewhere between $650 to $1,500; while transporting a motorcycle would cost around $300 - $800.

Using an open carrier would cost around $740 while using an enclosed carrier would cost around $1,200 for the same service. The average cost per mile would range between 40 cents to $1.00, depending on the distance you’re covering. As mentioned before, auto transport companies will have a lower per mile rate when covering a larger distance. In addition to that, a few companies like AmeriFreight also offer some exciting deals and discounts to save on your vehicle transport costs.

The best part about shipping your vehicle via an auto transport company is that you can ship almost anything: right from cars and motorcycles, to boats, RVs, and trailers. We also recommend using the services of an auto transport company when you’re moving long distance as they will ensure that your shipping process is as convenient and hassle-free as possible. Montway Auto Transport, Sherpa Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, and Ship A Car Direct are some of the most popular names in the auto transport industry, if you’re planning to reach out to some.

Transporting Via Rail

Transporting your vehicle by rail is one of the alternatives for saving on your vehicle transport costs. But the only catch here is that this option is only available in a few limited areas. You can use the auto train services provided by Amtrak to transport your car between the areas of Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL. Some third-party dealerships might also be able to transport your vehicle via rail on some other routes.

If you’re planning to use the Amtrak auto train services, you’ll have to book a ticket before boarding the train. You can do so in-person at the station, or even book your tickets online. Keep in mind that you yourself will also have to travel on the train if you intend to use the auto train services. The total cost of your passenger ticket, as well as the auto train ticket, would be around $500 on an average. While the cost of a passenger ticket on Amtrak ranges between $89 to $488 depending on the coach that you choose, the cost of shipping a standard vehicle is around $210.

The Amtrak auto train does not make any stops during the journey, which means you can cover the entire distance in approximately 17 hours. This saves you a lot of time and is probably the fastest way of getting your vehicle transported on this route. Another very interesting feature about transporting your vehicle via rail is that it will be placed in an enclosed compartment and will stay protected from all weather conditions and other debris. It’s a total win in this case as you get the fastest as well as the cheapest solution for transporting your vehicle in an enclosed carrier.

If Amtrak’s auto train route isn’t useful for you, you can also consider reaching out to other car dealerships who transport the vehicles in bulk via rail on some other routes.

Driving Your Vehicle

When you’re moving locally or are only traveling a short distance, driving your vehicle will probably be the cheapest way to get it transported from one location to the other. Since you’d be handling the vehicle by yourself, your transport costs would only include the gas costs and other miscellaneous expenses like food or stay, if applicable. This definitely helps you save quite a few bucks in comparison to using the services of an auto shipping company.

In case you find yourself in a situation where driving yourself isn’t really a feasible option for you but at the same time you also don’t want to bear the heavy bills of professional services, check out the driveaway services offered by many auto transport companies. Basically, you can request a driver from the company to drive your car to your preferred location. If you’re wondering whether your vehicle will be safe when handled by a stranger, you can be assured that auto transport companies offering these driveaway services only hire professional and reliable drivers who have the required expertise needed for vehicle transportation.

The average cost of using these driveaway services would fall in the brackets of $200 - $800. Apart from paying the driver, you would also have to account for gas and maintenance costs as well as food and accommodation costs, if needed. The distance you’re traveling would be a major determinant of your total costs. One of the best features of these services is that you get to travel in your vehicle along with the driver. This means you can carry your luggage with you in your vehicle’s trunk and you need not spend separately for your travel as well.

If you’re leaning toward using these services, we suggest that you conduct a thorough research on the auto company you choose, the requirements they have for these services, as well as get all the necessary details about the driver before making any decision further.

Shipping Your Vehicle Internationally

If you’re moving out of the country and need international shipping services for your vehicle, you can also consider using air or water transportation. A number of auto shipping companies like Montway Auto Transport and AmeriFreight also have tie-ups with motor carriers who provide international shipping services. These companies will provide assistance at every step of the process, right from the documents needed or customs requirements to the delivery of your vehicle at the dock or port. Do keep in mind that these international shipping services will be available at a higher cost.

Shipping your vehicle by plane is an alternative for international shipping or for situations when you need to get your vehicle transported on an urgent basis. Be prepared to shell out between $2,000 to $4,000 on average, if you’re planning to ship a car by plane. Without a doubt this option can end up burning a hole in your pockets and in some cases can even cost more than the average price of a new car.

If you’re based in the Big Islands in the state of Hawaii, you could also be using the port services for transporting your vehicle. These again, are offered by a couple of auto shipping companies who take care of the entire port-to-port process for you. These costs could vary between $1,700 to $2,500, depending on your location and the company that you choose.


When figuring out the budget for your move you’ll have to dedicate a big chunk towards the transportation of your vehicle, especially if you’re planning to hire a professional auto shipping company for its services. We suggest getting multiple quotes and going through online ratings and reviews before pinning down on the choice of company.

And now that you have a fair idea about the different factors that play a role in determining your vehicle transport costs, you can also make an informed choice about how to get your vehicle transported from one location to the other.

FAQs about Vehicle Shipping Costs

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car Across 2,000 Miles?

On average, the base price per mile to ship a car across 2,000 miles is around $0.50. So, it would cost between $1,000 to $1,200 to ship a car across that distance. Do keep in mind that the final costs you pay are not only dependent on distance alone but also a number of important factors like the make and model of your car and the type of transport you choose.

How Much Does It Cost To Freight A Car?

The cost to freight a car varies with every company in the auto shipping industry. To give you an estimate, it would cost between $300 to $1,500 to ship a car in the US. The total costs you pay are accounted for by a number of factors like the distance traveled or the miles covered, the seasonality, the type, make, and model of your car, as well as the type of transport you choose between open and enclosed auto transport options. The available deals and discounts offered by the auto shipping company that you choose would also affect the costs you pay.

How Much Do Car Haulers Charge Per Mile?

$0.40 to $1.00 is the average rate per mile charged by most car haulers. The cost per mile charged by car shipping companies mainly varies with the distance that you travel. For instance, you will be charged $1.00 per mile if you’re shipping your car within 500 miles, and $0.50 if the distance is greater than 2,000 miles. Basically, the longer the distance that you travel, the lower will be the cost per mile offered by most car haulers.

What do I need to know before shipping a car?

A car shipping company will charge you based on the distance you need to ship and the weight of your car. You'll want to make sure you have enough insurance for your car as well, and if you don't, that should also be taken into account with the cost.

What is the cheapest way to ship a car across the country?

Shipping a car across the country can be an expensive process. Luckily, there are some affordable options available to you! One of the cheapest ways is by train; it may only cost around $200 for your vehicle if they're going 750 miles or less from their destination.

What kind of insurance do I need to haul cars?

You can choose between liability only, comprehensive, or collision coverage. Liability-only coverage does just that - it protects you from the liability of any third party. Collision coverage will cover any accident or damage done to your vehicle due to an accident, no matter who caused it. Comprehensive coverage will cover everything not related to collisions: vandalism, theft, natural disasters, and so on.

See also: Selling vs Shipping a Car