Many of us now have family vehicles that go along with us everywhere. But when you’re moving, driving is not always an option. After all, if the distance is a lot, you might not have the energy or time to drive it for that long.
Whether you’re a student who’s moving out of your dorm and needs your car to be transported or you’re someone who just wants to send your car to someone, the process is quite straightforward. What’s not great are the costs that can mount if you’re not careful!
We’re here to give you an idea of how much it could actually cost to ship your car cross country. But first, there are certain factors that are used to decide these costs, so let’s take a look at them first.
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What Determines Car Transportation Costs?
Just like the stock market, the auto transport industry is known for its ever-fluctuating prices that rise and fall at the drop of a hat. When you start researching car transport costs, you’ll be surprised to find that this is something that happens throughout the year. So you can’t expect to pay the same price that your friend paid to transport her car two months ago, even though the model and condition might be the same!
You might think that this complicates the process, but it’s really nothing to be worried about. The factors that affect these price fluctuations fall under similar categories, which are –
- Time of the year
- Size, model and condition of the car (analyzed by agents)
- The distance of the transit
- Service chosen – open or enclosed transport, door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal
- Route taken
- Additional insurance coverage
- Extra services – for example, a car wash
You can always keep in mind that car transportation costs during the summer are always higher because it’s peak season. Schools and colleges go on a break and the weather also gives its support, so it’s obvious why costs go up. Also, you might not know this, but like buying something in bulk will lower costs, the same applies to transporting a car. In other words, the longer the distance of the transport, the lower the cost, specifically via road. When you call car transport companies, don’t forget to ask about these factors and which of them are contributing to the estimate that you receive.
We’ll now give you an idea of the different modes of transport that you can use to ship your car cross country and the average amount you’ll have to spend on each of them.
Cross Country Transport Via Rail
We’re sure you’ve heard of cross country transport via rail, but you must have thought that it’s only for commercial purposes. What you’ll be surprised to know is that Amtrak actually has its own auto train that allows you to transport your car from Lorton, VA, to Sanford, FL. What’s best about this is that you get to travel along with your car in the passenger coach.
How Much Does Amtrak Cost?
When you buy an Amtrak ticket, you’ve to pay for both the car and yourself. The average cost in this scenario comes to $480 total. If you ask us, it’s a steal considering the advantages. Note that this price can increase or decrease based on which coach you choose to book your passenger ticket in. For example, a standard passenger ticket costs $89 whereas a first-class passenger ticket will cost $280.
Pros Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via Rail:
- You can get your car picked up – Didn’t expect this? Amtrak offers a service for an additional fee where it can pick your car up for you in case you don’t want to do the driving bit of getting it to the train station.
- You’ll save time – Transportation via rail will save you a bunch of time, especially with Amtrak since it does not make any stops during the journey. Amtrak takes 17 hours to ship your car which is a significantly low time span as compared to driving or shipping your car via other modes of transport.
- Your car can be free of damage – The best part about rail transport is that you get both the benefit of shipping it for cheaper and having it shipped in enclosed carriers. If you were to ship your car in an enclosed carrier via road, the costs would be extremely high! So, when you ship your car via ria, you can relax because it’ll be safe from extreme weather or even small damages like paint chips due to rocks.
Cons Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via Rail:
- Limited Connectivity – Shipping your car via Amtrak is not an option if you live in areas that are far from Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL. Amtrak doesn’t offer services to any other places, so you’ll have to look for car dealerships that ship cars via rail.
- Risk of damage – If you choose to transport via rail using other third-party car dealerships, there’s always a risk of your car being vandalized when your car is docked at depots before it’s loaded. Though it is rare, it’s something you must take into account and get insurance for.
Things To Keep In Mind When You Transport Via Amtrak:
- Bookings to transport your ship via rail always have to be done way in advance. If you want to book Amtrak, you can do so both online or in person.
- When it comes to meals, all passengers traveling via Amtrak’s auto transport train get complimentary breakfast no matter which passenger ticket you’ve booked. But meals will only be given if you’ve booked a compartment, which can cost $372 for the passenger ticket itself.
Also Read: Car Shipping Prep Tips |Shipping a Car or Towing it by Moving Truck?
Cross Country Transport Via Driveaway
Driveaways have been gaining a lot of traction in the past decade considering the advantages there are to it. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a service offered by auto transport companies where a driver from the company drives the car to the desired location for you.
The process is secure if you do your research well and find reputed companies that have expertise in the field. Because they will ensure that proper background checks are done on the driver that is chosen and that your car is handled efficiently.
How Much Does Shipping Your Car Via Driveaway Cost?
The average cost, if you want to ship your car via a driveaway, could fall anywhere between $200 to $900. We’re sure you’re wondering why the bracket is so wide and the reason is simple – depending on the driveaway you choose, you might be responsible for paying for the gas, maintenance, and sometimes food. It also depends on the distance being traveled, where a longer distance might cost more in this scenario.
Pros Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via Driveaway:
A way to carry personal items – You won’t be allowed to ship or take personal items in your car if you book an auto shipping company that ships via road or rail. Most auto shipping companies only allow a maximum of 100 lbs of personal belongings to be stored in the car. But this changes when you get someone to drive the car for you since you can store personal items in your car.
You or a pet can travel along – Convenient right? When you’re hiring someone to drive your car for you, you can always be a part of the journey or have a pet along. So, if you’re moving and you don’t mind the long road journey, this option might be the best for you.
Cons Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via Driveaway:
Expect wear and tear for a long-distance drive – Since your car will be driven by someone across the country, it will undergo some wear and tear which you’ve to be ready for. So, if your car is a vintage or classic, we suggest you consider other modes of transportation to ship your car cross country.
Costs may add up – Most times you’ll be the one paying for your driver’s food and accommodation which will only increase costs. So, don’t forget to confirm the same with the driveaway company and factor it into your budget.
Things To Keep In Mind When You Transport Via A Driveaway:
- Since your car will be driven for a long time, it’s your responsibility to run a maintenance check before you hand your car over to the driver. You don’t want the person driving your car to deal with challenges in the middle of transit, so it’s best to make sure that everything with your car is in order.
- Like you would do when you ship your car with a moving company, even here it’s best if you inspect your car before and after the pickup and drop off. When you inspect it before pickup, make a list of the damages that the external body of the car has, even if it’s a small paint chip somewhere.
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Cross Country Transport Via A Shipping Company
We’ve finally come to the option that most of us consider and finally go with – transporting your car using an auto shipping company. We all know how convenient and hassle-free; it’s after all, the most common route used by people to transport their vehicles, especially if the distance is longer than 1,500 miles.
How Much Does Transport Via An Auto Shipping Company Cost?
When it comes to shipping your car via an auto shipping company, you can expect the average estimate to fall around $700 to $1,350. What we said about costs going down before applies here – if the distance covered by the carrier falls between 500 to 1,000 miles, it’ll usually cost you $1 per mile. But if the distance to be covered is over 1,500 miles, which is usually the case for cross country travel, the average estimate could be 60 cents per mile!
Let’s also look at the difference between open and enclosed transport – shipping your car through open transport can cost an average of $710 whereas enclosed car transport for the same car can cost $1,120.
Pros Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via An Auto Shipping Company:
- The most convenient way to ship your car – Auto shipping companies take care of all your transport needs from picking your car up to dropping it safely to whichever place you wish. They’re also well-versed with everything from the right routes to take to the permits that’ll be needed; after all, they’ve been doing this for a long time.
- Services for your needs – Auto shipping companies also offer a wide variety of services depending on what you’re looking for. From open and enclosed transportation to car washes, additional insurance and many other services, you can go with whatever you think is best. We believe that it’s better to have options to choose from than to have nothing at all!
Cons Of Transporting Your Vehicle Via An Auto Shipping Company:
It’s quite expensive – The high expense is something that deters most people from shipping their cars via auto transport companies. Not all of us can afford to pay that kind of an amount just to ship our car, especially if you’re a student.
Things To Keep In Mind While Shipping Your Car Via An Auto Shipping Company:
- If you’re thinking of shipping your car, no matter which service you choose, we suggest you gather all your documents and your car insurance and keep them in order.
- It’s important that you check that essential systems in your car are functioning like your engine, steering wheel and the door and window on the driver’s side of the car.
- Don’t forget to check for fluid leaks and inform the driver when he arrives to pick your car up.
- Another rule of thumb is to fill a quarter of your tank with gas if you’re not going to be using a driveaway service.
See also: How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car to Hawaii?
You’ve to make the final decision on how you want to ship your car cross country based on which service you think will choose you and your needs best. We suggest you also thoroughly check reviews and ratings of the companies you’re looking at online. Whatever you choose, if at the end you decide to drive your car yourself, you can make a road trip of the same and have some fun with family!
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Is it worth it to ship a car or drive?
We’ve been asked this question a lot, and all we can say is that it depends on where your priorities lie. Driving your car will save you a big chunk of money, but for cross country transport where the distance is over 500 miles, then shipping the car might be a better option.
Related: Safety while Auto Transporting your Car
Do shipped cars get searched?
The Department of Transport does not encourage carrying any personal belongings in cars that are being shipped. For this reason, checks might take place at certain points on some routes.
Do you need insurance to ship a car?
No, you don’t when you’re shipping through an auto transport company because they’re required to have liability insurance coverage which will do the job for you. But if you’re using driveaway, shipping via rail, or driving it yourself, you might want to look into getting insurance.
Who is the best car transport company?
Based on our research, the following are the top car transport companies in the industry:
- AmeriFreight – For their range of services and discounts
- Bargain Auto Transport – For their affordable prices
- Sherpa Auto Transport – For their guaranteed quotes
- Ship A Car Direct – For their damage-free guarantee
- Montway Auto Transport – For their customer service and guaranteed pickups
How expensive is it to ship a car?
It’s not free to ship a car! The industry average cost for transportation is upwards of $2 per mile, and you’ll be looking at an additional fee if it travels over 200 miles. Take this into consideration when hiring your auto transport company.
Can I ship my car with stuff in it?
No, you cannot place items into your vehicle because there aren’t any brokers or carriers licensed to transport a vehicle packed.
Can you ship a car on a plane?
If there were ever a way to transport your car without having it get bashed and scratched, this would be the answer. Yes! Shipping one of these bad boys across the country by plane is super expensive, but if you’re looking for safety with minimal damage done, then enclosed trucking could do just fine too, though they may take longer than flying into an airport (about four days).
What is the cheapest way to ship a car across the country?
It’s not just about how you get there, but what route will be cheapest. The most inexpensive option for car shipping across the country would be by train–followed closely by open truck and enclosed transport! Expedited delivery service is fourth on our list, followed by plane as the most expensive form of transportation in this instance.
Related: 5 Best Car Shipping Companies | How Much Does it Cost to Move Across the Country?