Planning to move but don’t want to drive cross country? Or do you just want to send your car across to another state because you’re not using it anymore? Or are you a student who’s moving out of your dorm and you need your car to be transported? Whatever the reason, transporting your car is an easy and straightforward process, but the costs can mount.

To make things easier, let’s first look at the factors that go into deciding how much vehicle transportation costs.

Vehicle Transport Cost

Prices in the auto transport industry fluctuate at the drop of a hat. And, this isn’t something that happens once in a blue moon, it’s something you’ll notice once you start doing your research on vehicle transportation costs. What your friend might have paid to transport her car will be drastically different from what you’ll be asked to pay, even though you both have the same car, make, and condition.

There are a number of factors that affect these costs, and to put the estimation process into perspective, we’ll state some common ones for you:

  • Time of the year – note that summers are always peak season with schools and colleges closing for summer break and the weather lending its corporation. So naturally, the estimates will go higher. 
  • Size, condition, and make of the car – these will be analyzed by agents.
  • Type of service – open or enclosed transport, door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal.
  • The distance of the transit – note that the rate for long-distance transportation is lower per mile of transit when it comes to transport via road.
  • Route taken – if the route taken is complex or straightforward.
  • Additional Insurance coverage.

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Now that you’re aware of the factors that lead to deciding estimates, let’s look into the ways in which you can transport your vehicle. For your convenience, we’ve also given rough average estimates and the pros of choosing to take a certain mode of transport.

See also: What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship My Car?

Transporting Via Rail

Yes, you can transport your car via rail. Amtrak’s auto train lets you transport your car from Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL while you travel in the train’s passenger coach. While this might seem like a tedious task, what with getting your car to the train station etc., it’s really not. In fact, it’s an extremely straightforward and quick process. Amtrak even lets you choose an option where someone can come help you with getting your car to the train station. 

Pros of transporting your vehicle via Amtrak:

  1. It saves time – since the train does not make any stops during the journey. So, it’s a 17 hours journey in total which is quicker than if you wanted to transport your car via other means.
  2. Your vehicle stays safe – transporting your car via rail means that it’ll be placed in an enclosed compartment which will keep it safe from extreme weather. So no paint chips or muddy exteriors for your car!

How much does Amtrak Cost?

The average amount you will have to pay in total for both your car and you will come to $480 which is extremely cheap if you compare the time taken, the distance and the enclosed transport service. Now, this cost 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.

Are meals included on the Amtrak auto train?

All passengers get complimentary breakfast no matter which passenger ticket you’ve booked. However, meals will only be given if you’ve booked a compartment, which can cost $372 only for a passenger ticket.

Things to keep in mind when you transport via rail:

  1. You can book a ticket on the Amtrak auto train online or in person, but you must do so before boarding the train. Also note that the train runs daily, so there’s a high possibility that you’ll get the date you want.
  2. If you choose to transport via rail using other third-party dealerships, there’s always a risk of vandalism when your car is docked at depots before it’s loaded.
  3. You must book your car transport date in advance since car dealerships ship cars in bulk via rail. So in order to get the date and time of your liking, research and make your booking as soon as time permits.

Transporting via Driveaway

Wondering what a Driveaway is? It’s a term used to refer to a service offered by auto transport companies where a driver from the company drives the car to the desired location for you. While the idea of it might make you skeptical, after all a vehicle is a valuable item, there’s really nothing to worry about. 

These companies that have drivers for hire all have expertise in the field and the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure that the drivers that handle your car are reliable and efficient.

Pros of transporting your vehicle via Driveaway:

  1. You can store personal items – auto shipping companies will not allow you to store more than 100lbs of personal belongings. So, when you get someone to drive the car for you, you can store invaluable items in your car which you otherwise could not have done.
  2. You can travel along – when you’re hiring someone to drive your car for you, the best part is that you can travel with them or even have a pet with you in the car.

How much does hiring a driver cost?

If going the Driveaway route is what you’ve decided to do to transport your vehicle, the average cost could fall anywhere between $200 to $900. The bracket is so wide because of a very simple reason – you’re responsible for paying for the gas and maintenance and sometimes the food apart from what you’ll be paying the driver. So, the biggest item to factor in when you use a driveaway is the distance from pickup to drop off. We suggest you confirm the items that you’re required to provide the driver with the Driveaway company that you get in touch with.

Things to keep in mind when you transport via a Driveaway:

  1. You have to run a maintenance check before you hand your car over to the driver. You don’t want your vehicle to experience problems in the middle of transit. This will only pose challenges for the driver.
  2. Your car will undergo some wear and tear especially if it’s being driven cross country. So if your car is a vintage or classic, you might want to consider other modes of transportation.
  3. Inspect your car before and after the pickup and drop off, and make a list of the damages that the external body of the car has, even if it’s very minor.

Transporting Via A Shipping Company

Transporting your vehicle using an auto shipping company is the most convenient and hassle-free way to get your vehicle transported. It’s also the most common route used by people to transport their vehicles, especially if the distance is longer than 1500 miles.

Pros of transporting your vehicle via an auto shipping company:

  1. It’s convenient – You can trust auto shipping companies to take care of all your transport needs since most of them have been doing it for decades. What makes shipping with them so great is that they know what they’re doing, from the routes to permits to the actual job, they’ve got it all covered. All you have to do is contact them and get a reservation based on your preferred date and time!
  2. Wide variety of services – If you’re someone who wants your vehicle to be picked up from your doorstep, or if you wouldn’t mind depositing it at a terminal, most auto transport companies can do that for you. These companies also have open and enclosed transportation options depending on what you can afford. But, that’s not all; companies like Sherpa Auto Transport also give free car washes, so you can get your money’s worth!
  3. You can ship anything – While rail and Driveaways won’t have the option to ship every single type of vehicle, you can ship anything from cars and RVs to boats and trailers using an auto transport company.

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How much does transport via an auto transport company cost?

Once you’ve considered all the factors that we’ve told you about, an average estimate to transport a car can fall around $700 to $1,300. Remember this – long-distance costs are cheaper. If the distance covered by the carrier falls between 500 to 1,000 miles, it’ll cost you $1 per mile. But, for long-distance transport that’s above 1500 miles, the average estimate could be 60 cents per mile!

Don’t forget that enclosed transport costs more than open transport. For example, on average, open transport can cost $710 whereas enclosed transport for the same thing can cost $1120. At the same time, if you choose the door-to-door service or have a bigger car like an SUVs, it will end up costing more to transport it.

Note: Auto transport companies like AmeriFreight offer a large number of discounts which you can make use of to get your costs down.

See also: Selling vs Shipping a Car | Cost to Ship an Automobile to Hawaii

Things to keep in mind while Shipping your Car via an Auto Transport Company:

  1. Gather all your documents like licenses and your vehicle insurance and keep them in order.
  2. Remove personal items since most shipping companies won’t allow more than 100lbs of personal belongings to be stored in the car. Confirm the same with your auto shipping company.
  3. Wash your car and make a note of the damages to the external body of the vehicle.
  4. Check that essential systems like your engine, steering wheel and the door and window on the driver’s side of the car are functioning.
  5. Check for fluid leaks. If there are any, get it fixed or inform the trucker when he arrives to pick your car up.
  6. Fill a quarter of your tank with gas.

 Is it worth it to ship a car or drive?

The answer is obvious, while driving a car will save you a big chunk of money, if the distance is over 500 miles, then shipping the car might be a better option.

 Do you need insurance to ship a car?

No, you don’t when you’re shipping through an auto transport company. Such companies are required to have liability insurance coverage which will do the job for you. However, remember that this does not apply to auto shipping brokers, where you’ll have to check if the carriers have liability insurance or not.

Who is the best car transport company?

According to us, the following are the top car transport companies in the industry:

1. AmeriFreight – For their range of services and discounts

2. Bargain Auto Transport – For their affordable prices

3. Sherpa Auto Transport – For their guaranteed quotes

4. Ship A Car Direct – For their damage-free guarantee

5. Montway Auto Transport – For their customer service and guaranteed pickups

THE SMART WAY TO BUDGETHow much will it cost to ship my car?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to transport a car?

It costs $1,080 on average to ship a car with an open carrier, and a cross-country shipment will set you back around $1,200, while trips less than 500 miles cost just under 600 dollars.

How much does it cost to put a car on a plane?

Shipping a car by plane can be as expensive as $2,000 to $4,000 but not as costly compared with the average cost for new cars. If you’re wealthy enough and have an exotic vehicle that requires shipping across the country or abroad, then this could be your perfect solution!

What is the cost per mile to ship a car?

To ship a car, the average cost is $950. The highest price is $1,200, and the lowest price is $700. The average per mile for any trip (distance) of 1,000 miles or more is 60 cents per mile.

Can I pay someone to drive my car across the country?

The idea of hiring an independent driver to drive your car across the country might seem like a good way to save money, but there are some additional considerations. You must make sure they are covered under the insurance or purchase short-term coverage if something goes wrong while on the move.

Can you air freight a car?

Shipping a car by air freight is the best way to ship one over any long distance. Airline cargo planes can transport vehicles with ease, and they’ll be at your doorstep in days instead of weeks!

Can you ship a car through FedEx?

If you’re shipping a car through FedEx, then their Custom Critical service is what will deliver your vehicle. This specialized air and surface transportation covers all the usual groundwork that standard couriers won’t dole out—from picking up to dropping off!


Be it hiring a driver to transport your car or choosing to transport it via an auto transport company, you have to make the final decision. Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to check for reliability which you can do by looking at reviews and ratings online. The options we’ve provided vary on multiple levels, and you should go with what suits your needs the best.

See also: Best Car Shipping Companies in the U.S.| Cost To Ship A Car Across The Country