Open Carrier Car Shipping

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car in 2023? Car Shipping Cost Explained

How much does it cost to ship a car?

When determining your car shipping cost, there are a few things we consider to provide you with an accurate price quote. The mileage between the origin and destination is one of the biggest factors that contribute to your total rate. Shorter distances (300 miles) will cost around $1.99/mile, medium distances (500 – 1500 miles) will run you about $.97/mile, and longer trips (over 1500 miles) are generally about $.61/mile.

Other factors that contribute to your total rate are the type and condition of the vehicle being shipped, as well as the desired date of transportation. 

Of the shippers we surveyed, 45% said they were charged an additional fee to have their vehicles loaded onto the truck.


The short answer is because some companies provide extremely low quotes just to earn your business, which leads to difficulty finding a transporter and slows down the shipping process.

To understand how car shipping cost is calculated, we need to start with the basics.

What is car shipping?

Car shipping is the process of transporting a vehicle from one location to another.

There are two types of car shipping: open car hauling and enclosed car hauling. Open car hauling is the most popular and the most affordable type of auto transportation. Enclosed car hauling transportation is when the car is loaded onto a truck bed that is fully covered.

Both types of car shipping use trucks owned by a carrier company. However, the price of transportation is usually determined by the brokerage company.

In this article
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    What is the difference between a car carrier and an auto transportation broker? Why is that important?

    The car carrier company is the actual transporter of your vehicle. They will pick up your vehicle and drop it off at the designated location. You can work directly with a carrier by requesting a quote for shipment from the actual transporter. By utilizing a broker, you can maximize your options. First and foremost, you aren’t limited to one carrier; brokers have many carrier connections through their networks of thousands of carriers. They also manage the communication between you and the carrier company so that you can rest assured knowing these important details are being taken care of.

    You can receive an auto shipping quote from a broker, but this won’t always be the final price that you end up paying. In this article, we’ll explain what goes into car shipping costs as well as average prices, tips for finding the lowest rate, and recommendations for auto shipping providers.

    How do I get a car shipping quote?

    First and foremost, NEVER pay for a quote! A professional and customer-oriented company will have a shipping quote calculator. Our car shipping calculator will provide you with an instant quote that is no obligation and free.

    Auto transport quotes can be obtained directly from the company’s website or by simply calling them. Getting an up-to-date estimate for transporting your car is important. To get the most accurate car transportation quote, you should have the following information on hand:

    1. Vehicle pick up and delivery destination (zip codes are preferred for increased quoting accuracy)
    2. Car transport preference (open or enclosed trailer)
    3. Vehicle year, make, and model (ensures availability of required transport trailer size)
    4. Operational status (can be driven forward and in reverse, with basic steering for truck loading and unloading)
    5. Earliest available car pick-up date

    Get A Car Shipping Quote

    If you would prefer to speak to one of our experienced Transport Specialists, feel free to give us a call at (888) 278-9855(Toll Free)

    What factors are used to calculate the cost of a car shipping?

    Quotes and rates that are determined for auto transportation will be based on a variety of factors. This includes, but isn’t limited to trip distance, car size (sedan, SUV, etc.), vehicle condition (running or non-running), transport type (open or enclosed), location, and the time of year you ship. Unlimited Auto Trans calculator lets you enter all the details about your vehicle, allowing us to generate the most accurate price — without hidden fees.


    When transporting a vehicle, not only are we concerned with the distance between destinations but also which roads will be traveled to get there.

    The route chosen will give insight into other factors that could impact how long it takes, and what it costs to transport a car.

    Pick up & Delivery location:

    There are plenty of trucks in metropolitan areas to carry out car transportation orders from auto shippers, which lowers the transportation price. If you live outside of a major highway and want faster services for shipping a car, you can meet the carrier at an established pick-up location for better cost estimates.

    Vehicle Details:

    The vehicle’s make and model can also affect the price of auto transportation.

    1. The curb weight of the vehicle is an important factor in determining what you’ll pay for car shipping. Mostly because truckers have weight limits for every axle on their trailer.
    2. The size of the vehicle is also a factor. Here are some examples of what extra costs would be for various types of the vehicle make and model: 
      • SUV – $75
      • Large SUV – $125
      • Full-Size Truck – $175
      • Dually – $250
    3. The cost of the vehicle is also a factor. Luxury, exotic, and sports cars are more expensive to transport because, most of the time, they require additional adjustments.
    4. Vehicle modifications will increase the car shipping cost.

    Vehicle Condition:

    If your vehicle can brake, steer, and roll on its own, it will cost less to ship. Vehicles that are inoperable and must be forklifted or winched onto the truck cost more to ship. On average, the increase is between $250 to $400.

    Auto Transportation Type:

    By far, the most popular and affordable option is car transport on an open trailer carrier. As the name suggests, open carriers don’t shelter vehicles from the elements or roadway debris. Open trailer carriers work well for commuters and daily drivers.

    Enclosed trailers have walls and a roof, which protect vehicles from road debris, grime, and weather. They can be soft-covered or hardcover. Enclosed trailers are best for vintage, antique, exotic, or race-quality vehicles.

    Shipping Date:

    When you book a car transport service, the shipping date often plays a huge role in the cost. It’s best to begin searching as early as possible.

    However, keep in mind that the prices fluctuate and the best time to get a quote is no more than two weeks before your vehicle is first available for shipping.

    Time Of Year:

    Car shipping costs vary greatly based on the time of the year. Summer tends to be the busiest time of the year for car transporters.

    However, you may not get the best rates as it’s the season when most people decide to move.

    Knowing this, you would naturally conclude that Winter represents the cheapest time for car shipping. However, it’s not. During the coldest months, ice and snow make driving a large truck a nightmare. Therefore, the car shipping cost goes up in some areas.

    Economic Conditions:

    The basic cost for shipping a car typically includes the price of gas/diesel to power and operate the truck.

    When economic times are bad, you can expect prices to rise.

    The recent COVID-19 Pandemic led to an increase in prices due to mandatory lockdowns and because of the precautions drivers had to take. However, this is starting to turn back and prices have become more stabilized now.

    Special Requests:

    Top loading a vehicle during transport may cost up to $100 more as it requires extra work to rearrange all vehicles and ensure the entire composition doesn’t exceed the weight limit on each axle. 

    Having personal items is never a good idea. However, 65% of shippers are asking about it. Keep in mind carrier insurance doesn’t cover damage from personal items. Moreover, truckers do not like that and always ask for additional funds.

    The Average Cost To Ship A Car

    Distance Base Price Per mile Example Distance Example Price
    1 - 500 miles $1.48 400 miles $592
    500 - 1000 miles $0.78 900 miles $702
    1000 - 2000 miles $0.65 1200 miles $780
    2000 - 2500 miles $0.57 2400 miles $1368
    2500+ miles $0.48 3600 miles $1728

    The numbers above might help give you a rough estimate of car shipping costs, but the only way to know how much it will cost to ship your car is to request personalized estimate.

    Use Unlimited Auto Trans car shipping cost calculator

    You can also calculate the cost of having your car shipped directly from the Unlimited Auto Trans website.

    On the home page, you’ll see the words “Get An Instant Quote”.  The first step is to type your pick-up and drop-off location. Make sure to select your preferred type of transportation (open or enclosed), then click “Next”.

    In step two, enter your vehicle’s make and model, and select if your vehicle is in running or non-running condition.

    The final step is to select your First Available Shipping Date and provide your email or phone number.

    You will then be provided with two estimates: Regular Price and Cash Discounted Rate.  You can then select an option and book your shipment.

    how much does it cost to ship a car

    How to save money on car shipping?

    Car shipping can be an expensive and stressful process. You can make car shipping cheaper by following these simple suggestions:

    • Make sure your vehicle is in running condition. A running vehicle is considered when it starts, brakes and steers.  Average savings: $200
    • Choose open trailer transport. 97% of all vehicles shipped in the US are transported via open trailer carriers. Enclosed trailers are a preferred option for luxury, exotic, and sports cars. Average savings: $250
    • Do not leave or try to transport personal items in your vehicle. It is not safe as they can damage the interior of your vehicle which the carrier’s insurance will not cover. Average savings: $150
    • Be flexible with pick-up and delivery dates. Being strict with your pickup date will increase the cost of shipping your car. Most companies ask for 1 to 5 business days, starting from the First Available Shipping Dateto assign a trucker and arrange the transportation. Average savings: $100
    • Book 2 weeks before your vehicle is available to be picked up. It is a myth that you need to book your car shipment as early as possible as the rates on many routes depend on weather and road conditions. Therefore, booking three months in advance will not guarantee you the rate. Average savings: $25 – $200
    • Choose Discounted Cash Rate. “Cash is king” is 100% true in this industry. At the time of booking, companies will present you with two options. Usually, the first option is to pay the full amount with a credit/debit card. The second option is Cash On Delivery or Cash Discounted Rate. You can make a partial payment with a credit/debit card and the rest on delivery with cash, cashier’s check, or money order. Average savings: $50
    • Military members. Most companies offer a military discount.  Average savings: 10% discount
    • Multiple vehicle shipping will save you money because all vehicles will go on the same truck. If you have multiple vehicles to ship, let us know so we can make it the most cost-effective. Average savings: $199

    Is it worth it to ship a car?

    Some skeptics question the worth of hiring a car transport service. They assume that driving the vehicle themselves is more cost-effective, but what they don’t take into consideration are the hidden costs behind that option. 

    An unnecessary road trip will put excess mileage and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. The value of it decreases as more miles are added, and it is prone to getting nicks and scratches when driving over various surfaces.

    Your well-being and safety are also to be considered.

    After all, more than 38,000 people get killed each year on American roadways. That’s 12.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Besides fatalities, another 4.4 million get seriously injured in car accidents.

    Car accidents remain the leading cause of death in the United States for those aged 1 to 54. By heading out on an extended road trip to save money, you put your life and those of your passengers at greater risk.

    That’s why a growing number of consumers continue to turn to professionals for their auto transportation.

    Our take

    Whether you’re shipping a car 500 miles or 2500 miles, auto transportation services can help make the process easier. Auto transport companies offer different service levels for car shipping, and pricing will depend on many factors such as size and vehicle condition, vehicle make and model, pick-up date preferences, payment method, and more. 

    Shipping a car is not cheap, but it isn’t that expensive if you know how to get the best deal. Our team at Unlimited Auto Trans has been providing auto transport services since 2010. We have helped thousands of customers ship their cars safely with no damage from one location to another – all while saving money!

    Give us a call if you need assistance determining which option is right for you or want advice on what type of transportation would be best suited for your vehicle.

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