How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

We often see questions in the Car Talk Community about how much it costs to ship a car. The distance, time of year, starting and ending location, and type of vehicle you need to ship all figure into the cost. How quickly you need your vehicle shipped and how much detail a shipper provides about who is driving the transport can also impact pricing. We investigated car shipping prices and here is what we found.

Car Shipping Online Price Quotes

The good news for those that wish to find out how much it costs to ship a car is that now there are portals or broker sites, that will provide you with a list of quotations from various companies, quickly and for free. We dove into the uShip website to get the matrix of prices shown for our Car Talk readers. uShip was a handy reference because it pulled together instant quotes from a half-dozen different shipping companies. That is a lot easier than contacting six companies and asking them each for a quote.

Car Shipping Prices

So what does it cost to ship a typical car, uncovered, if you’re not in an extreme rush? The answer will depend on the distance the vehicle needs to go, obviously. But you deserve a straight answer. So here it is! It will cost you about $1,400 to $1,600 to ship a typical car across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, on an uncovered trailer. That estimated price range includes service fees and insurance and is for a 2015 Toyota RAV4. Our prices were provided by uShip and they included six auto transport bids. Five of the six had a 4-Star review rating and one had a rating of 3.7-stars. Just for grins and giggles, we ran the same query but reversed the pickup and delivery locations. The prices were about 5% lower. Maybe the tailwinds help reduce the cost of shipping east.

To ship a 2015 RAV4 from Boston, MA to Miami, FL the best price we could find was about $1,100 and the highest price estimate was about $1,200. To see how much the actual city might change the equation, we also ran a query with Providence, Rhode Island as the start point and Naples, Florida as the destination. The results were almost identical for this very similar drive. Clearly, the price is linked closely to the overall miles being traveled.

Car Shipping Rates by City Combination

To get a budget price to ship a car for our readers, we used a 2015 Toyota RAV4 crossover as the example vehicle. Crossovers are now America’s top choice as personal-use and family vehicles, and the RAV4 is a long-time top seller. If your vehicle is much larger, say a GMC Yukon XL, you are going to pay about 25% more. Also, it is important that your vehicle be “operable.” If your car is not a runner, you should re-check our estimates with the shipper you choose directly and expect to pay more.

Here are the typical prices we found to ship the RAV4:

New York, NYLos Angeles, CAMiami, Fl

Get a Shipping Quote: (833) 953-2543

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Car Shipping Cost Factors

There are several factors that can impact the cost to ship your car. Some of these include:

  • Shipping A Vehicle Uncovered vs Covered - Our estimates are also for open carriers. That means your car is going to be uncovered and exposed to the elements and road grime while it is transported. Don’t expect it to come off the truck nice and shiny. In fact, Car Talk suggests that those who plan to ship a vehicle should budget for a complete exterior wash and wax by a detailer following a vehicle shipment. Budget $200 for this, or an afternoon of your time and elbow grease.

  • Shipping a Convertible - Convertibles are going to cost you more money to ship. This just makes sense. The insurance is going to be more. We Car Talk lackeys love convertibles and we would have reservations about shipping one uncovered. You should be sure to check the prices and listen to the shipper’s options if you ship your drop-top.

  • Auto Transport Drop-off and Pickup Locations - Another factor is the pickup and drop-off point for the shipment. If you want to get the best price possible, you would be wise to make things easier on the trucker behind the wheel of the 18-wheeler who is going to transport your car. Time is money. If you can drop your car at the shipper’s hub and then pick it up at a place that is near you, but not your driveway, you are going to get the best price possible. Flexibility is key.

  • Car Shipment Timing - The time of year can also make a difference. We are basing our budgets on shipments done in July of 2021. Be sure to check our budget prices against your timetable. If you can be flexible, tell your shipper. While you are at it, ask them if they have any other suggestions about how to get the best price possible for your situation.

  • Shipping Classic Cars or Special Cars - Finally, a RAV4 is not a vintage 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider with a valuation of $20 million. If your ride is customized, a classic, rare, or in some other way cherished and expensive to replace, expect to pay more. That will start with shipping your vehicle in an enclosed cargo truck. It will also mean a much more costly insurance rider for the transport. We are offering a budget price here for everyday cars.

  • Shipping A Car To/From Hawaii - Speaking of driven miles, we also tried to break the internet by asking the uShip portal how much it would cost to ship a vehicle from Honolulu, Hawaii to New York, New York. The answer was about $4,500 and there were two 4-Star carrier options. That means your vehicle will be on a ship for a while, so plan for a bit of time away from your car. Read more about shipping a car to Hawaii here.

Tips for Lowering the Cost of Car Shipping

  • Be Flexible Changing the timing of when you ship your car can help reduce the cost. Same goes for changing the pickup and dropoff locations. Ask the shipper how making those changes might reduce your rates.

  • Plan Ahead Avoid shipping a car at the last minute. This cuts down on your options and it could incur extra fees. It’s much easier for the shipper - and you - to schedule things out rather than find a way to fit your car on a carrier at the last minute.

  • Shop Around We used uShip to get instant quotes, but don’t limit yourself to one company. Get lots of quotes, find out exactly what’s included and pick a shipper with a good reputation that fits your budget.

To Ship or Not to Ship, Is It Worth It To Ship a Car?

It’s expensive to ship a car, so consider whether it even makes sense for you to ship it in the first place. If you’re relocating, is driving the car possible? If it’s a temporary relocation, do you need to have your car or can you get by with public transport? Buying a new car at your new location and selling the old one is also an option. Really think about whether you need your current car in your new location before you make the decision to ship.

If you’re relocating from one coast to the other, check out our full guide on How to Ship a Car Across the Country.

Also Important...

Getting auto transport quotes online is quick and easy. Be prepared to check the references of your shipper and to ask some questions to help ensure the cheapest transportation costs. We have compiled this quick checklist for you to have ready when you call.

  • Which exact drop-off and pickup locations will result in the best price for me?
  • Which exact date will result in the best price for shipping my car?
  • How long will the shipment take?
  • Is this price inclusive of insurance?
  • Are all the taxes and fees included in this price?
  • Will I save money if the vehicle has less gas in the tank?
  • May I put any items in the trunk or backseat?
  • Can I track the progress of my car as it is traveling?
  • What condition should I expect the car to be in when it arrives?

Finally, we have compiled our listing of the Best Car Shipping Companies in 2021. We hope this is helpful. And good luck!

FAQ

What’s the cheapest way to ship my car?

Use an open transport instead of a closed transport. The difference could save you hundreds of dollars.

Is it worth it to ship a car?

This all depends on how much you need your car at the new destination. Don’t ship it if you have other alternatives that are cheaper.

Can I ship my car with stuff in it?

Don’t count on it. Some shippers allow a small amount of personal belongings, but not all. And if they do, they will likely not be covered by insurance, if offered by the shipper. Ask when you’re getting quotes.

Should I ship my car or drive?

If it’s a short distance, you have the time, and you’re up for a road trip, driving could save you money. Just be sure you factor in the cost of gas, hotels, and food. If you're shipping your car across the country, check out our full guide on the subject here.

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