If you’re planning a cross-country move, getting your budget right is key. When deciding which transport options are best for your needs, it helps to know the cost to ship a car across the country. Your cost depends on many factors, including which car shipping company you choose.

Whether you’re a snowbird heading to a warmer climate during the winter or you’re moving from the East Coast to the West, our guide will help you figure out what it may cost to get your car there.

What Is Car Shipping?

Car shipping, sometimes called auto or vehicle transport, is a service offered by auto shipping brokers and car haulers to move your vehicle from one place to another. Car transport services are especially useful in situations where driving your car is impossible or inconvenient. It can be a lot cheaper than driving in some cases, especially if you’re traveling across the country.

Auto Transport Process

Here are the six steps you’ll take when planning your long-distance car transport:

  1. Request car shipping quotes. Most car transport companies have tools on their websites to provide free quotes. Some offer car shipping calculators, while others have instant quote widgets.
  2. Choose an auto transport company. Decide which auto shipping company has the best price for your shipping needs.
  3. Select your pickup and delivery times. Choose a window of dates for your auto transport service. We recommend booking your shipment at least two weeks before your move date.
  4. Prepare your car for shipping. Remove all personal items from your car, wash the exterior, and make an extra set of keys. When the truck driver arrives at your pickup location, you’ll both examine the vehicle for existing damage before your car is loaded up.
  5. Track your shipment. You can get frequent updates on the status of your shipment from a Sherpa Auto Transport representative.
  6. Settle with the carrier. Once the trucker delivers your vehicle, you’ll both examine the car for damage again. Next, you’ll sign a bill of lading to complete the shipment and pay the carrier the remaining balance.

Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country

The cost for cross-country car shipping essentially hinges on what type of transport you decide to use. The two main shipping options you’ll choose between are open and enclosed auto transport.

Open Auto Transport

This is the cheapest option, cutting down the cost of shipping by allowing car carriers to transport several vehicles at the same time. This allows the car hauler to deliver and add cargo throughout the shipping route.

Keep in mind, however, that open-air carriers leave your car exposed to the elements. Adverse weather conditions and road debris could damage your vehicle during transit.

Enclosed Auto Transport

If you want extra protection for your car, consider shipping it in an enclosed carrier. This option is especially useful for shipping a classic car or antique vehicle. However, shipping via enclosed transport carrier is much more expensive, sometimes costing over 50% more than open car transport.

Also consider which delivery option works best for you. There are two options: door-to-door delivery and terminal-to-terminal delivery.

Door-to-Door Delivery

With door-to-door service, your car is picked up from and delivered to specific addresses. Sherpa offers door-to-door transport, as customers appreciate the convenience.

Terminal-to-Terminal Delivery

If you choose terminal-to-terminal service, a car carrier will pick your car up from a terminal and deliver it to another one. Most often, these terminals are in central locations or major cities. Traveling between terminals cuts down on gas and mileage for the carrier, so this service tends to be cheaper than door-to-door shipping. However, it’s more of a time commitment for the customer. Additionally, you may have to pay storage fees for use of the terminal.

Average Auto Transport Costs

Though shipping rates will vary based on the specifics of your shipment and market conditions, you can get an idea of what transport might cost. The price ranges below are based on open carrier transport of an operable vehicle. To estimate your car shipping cost, multiply the mileage between your pickup and delivery locations by a price within the corresponding range.

Shipment MileagePrice per Mile
0 to 500 miles$1.32 to $2.75
501 to 1,000 miles$0.88 to $1.55
1,001 to 1,500 miles$0.70 to $1.23
1,501 to 2,000 miles$0.60 to $1
2,001 to 2,500 miles$0.53 to $0.84
2,500+ miles$0.48 to $0.74

Popular Auto Transport Routes

If you want more specific estimates for popular shipping routes, see the rates per mile in the table below. Again, prices vary based on shipment details and market conditions, but these ranges give an idea of what you might pay.

RoutesPrice per Mile
New York City to Los Angeles$0.56 to $0.72
New York City to Miami$0.98 to $1.20
Los Angeles to Miami$0.48 to $0.66
Los Angeles to New York City$0.48 to $0.71
Miami to New York City$0.65 to $1.20
Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles$0.49 to $0.69
Chicago to Los Angeles$0.61 to $0.88
New York City to Houston$0.80 to $1
Los Angeles to Atlanta$0.48 to $0.74
Chicago to Phoenix$0.68 to $0.92

While these price ranges can give you a good idea of what you may pay for your shipment, the best way to get an accurate price is to get car shipping quotes online. That way, market conditions and your shipment details will be taken into account.

Factors That Affect Car Shipping Costs

Besides the distance of your car transport, the cost to ship a car across the country fluctuates based on a number of factors. Those include:

  • Gas prices: If the cost of fuel is high, your transport will be more expensive.
  • Time frame: Having a flexible timeline for your car shipment can help save you money, as the sooner you book your transport, the cheaper it will be. Some car shipping companies offer expedited delivery, but it costs more.
  • Vehicle condition: If your car is inoperable, it will require more time, labor, and equipment to load onto the car carrier truck.
  • Vehicle size: Larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and SUVs, cost more to transport.
  • Type of transport: Open carrier shipping is generally the cheapest way to transport your vehicle, but enclosed transport offers more protection and is ideal for luxury and classic cars.
  • Pickup and drop-off locations: Rural pickup and delivery locations take more fuel and travel time to reach, so they cost more than shipments to and from urban areas.
  • Time of year: Demand for car shipping services rises significantly in January and the summer, so expect vehicle shipping to be more expensive during those times of year.

Why You Should Choose Sherpa Auto Transport

Since 2017, we’ve built a great reputation in the auto transport industry by shipping vehicles all over the Lower 48 states as well as Hawaii. We specialize in open auto transport and door-to-door delivery, making each car shipment as convenient as possible for our clients.

We hold accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), as well as an A+ rating from the organization. Customers who review us on the BBB’s website also consider us highly reputable, giving us an average star rating of 4.9 out of 5.0.

Price Lock Promise

Our Price Lock Promise means you won’t pay more than the price of your car shipping quote. If the price we quoted you isn’t enough to secure a carrier, we’ll cover up to $300 of the difference to ensure your transport happens.

Clean Car Guarantee

If your car arrives dirty, we’ll help get it cleaned up. Take your car to a car wash and send us a copy of your receipt and the bill of lading from your service and we’ll reimburse you up to $20 for the wash.

Frequently Asked Questions