shipping a car across country

Cost to Ship a Car Guide

The cost to ship a car depends on several factors. Distance and vehicle make and model are just two of the variables that affect auto shipping prices. Learn what is a realistic current market price and who will give you one.
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Transport Type: OpenEnclosed

When you ask ‘How much does it cost to ship a car’ we will start with this – our rates are real time, current market prices, manually checked by our logistics experts. Corsia agents track fluctuations of the market constantly and our prices are the most current, all inclusive, with no hidden fees. Review our guide now to understand all about the cost to ship a car.

Find answers to major car shipping cost questions:

  1. How much does it cost to ship a car?
  2. What do I need to know about car shipping quotes?
  3. How do I know I am getting a fair auto transport price?
  4. 
What is the difference between manual and an automated quote?
  5. How many days in advance should I book in order to save?

What is the real cost to ship a car?

It is in your best interest to understand the real cost to ship a car. A realistic auto transport price is based on several factors. Distance does matter, but it is not the only factor. The real cost is somewhere in the middle of the price scale, between the high and the low rates. Below we have listed the factors that affect any car shipping price and all the important information that will help you understand who will give you a fair market price.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

Whether it is about shipping a vehicle across the country, or across a state, the factors that affect the price are the same. The car shipping cost is calculated based on several factors such as distance, location, vehicle make and model and type of transport. Supply and demand fluctuation is also a major factor that contributes to price hikes or drops. We work with national dispatch boards tracking market conditions constantly.

We will quote you the most current market price with no hidden fees. This will be an adequate, manual price directly reflecting current market conditions. When you call or request a quote online our logistics experts will discuss your options, budget and preferences.

Factors affecting your cost to ship a car

VEHICLE MAKE & MODEL
Smaller cars are always cheaper to ship, while bigger, heavier vehicles are more expensive. Auto transport carriers have a weight limit that they must observe when accepting vehicles. Thus, the make and model of your vehicle, as well as any modifications done to it, and whether there will be any personal items loaded inside, all matter for the total weight of the vehicle and hence of the carrier. This will, of course impact your final shipping price.
TRANSPORT TYPE
The type of carrier you choose will affect your rate as well. Open auto transport is the standard shipping method in the industry. It is used for all vehicle types and it is the less expensive option because the availability of open carriers is much higher. Enclosed auto transport is more expensive and often used for sports, luxury or classic automobiles. Enclosed trucks are less available, specialized and thus often taking longer to reserve and more expensive as a service.
DISTANCE
The distance almost always affects the price to ship a car. The longer the distance the less it costs per mile, but that is never the decisive factor in the cost of shipping a vehicle. Shorter distances still consume gas and require the same amount of work, but in the end it is fewer miles traveled. This means that shorter distances often cost as much as shipping a car across the country.
LOCATION / POPULATION
The pick-up and delivery locations also affect the price. Auto transport to and from rural areas is a more complex and economically challenging process. Fewer auto haulers are willing to go to remote towns and villages to pick-up or deliver a single vehicle only. This often means higher prices and longer wait for pick-up, or delivery. The majority of the truck drivers prefer to travel to major metro areas where they can more easily load their auto carriers.
VEHICLE CONDITION
Whether your car is running or not will affect your final rate. To ship a non-running vehicle we need a truck that can winch it onto the trailer. This requires more work, more time and additional equipment that not every truck has. Moreover, it requires more skills from the truck driver. A special truck, and special skill set means a higher rate. In some cases, we may even need a forklift to load a fully inoperable vehicle, which additionally increases the price.
SUPPLY & DEMAND
Now, this is a major factor when it comes to the costs of shipping a vehicle, and we would like to explain this as fully as possible. The basics principles of supply and demand are known by most people, and they apply in the auto transport industry as well. When supply is higher than demand, prices drop, but when demand is higher prices go up. In auto logistics, when demand is high the truck space is limited and this means the prices increase. That is why a quote is good for one week only because demand changes on almost every route. Supply and demand fluctuations often happen daily, and even hourly. Thus, manually tracking the auto dispatch boards is crucial. A price that you receive today is usually not the same in a week or two, let alone in a month or two. Understanding supply and demand is very important in the auto transport industry we are always upfront and honest with our customers. We want you to understand how it works, so you can ask the right questions and have peace of mind when shipping a vehicle.
Additional factors to consider:
  • Do you need an expedited service? If the answer is yes, keep in mind that expedited auto transport service costs more. If you need your vehicle picked-up or delivered on an exact date, or by an exact date, expect to pay a premium.
  • Do you need door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal? Door-to-door is the standard shipping method of Corsia Logistics. Terminal to terminal auto transport is an option as well, and contrary to popular opinion, it often costs more due to storage fees and travel time to the terminal.
  • Do you need a top load for your vehicle? Top load means loading a vehicle on the top deck of the vehicle transport trailer. This ensures against possible leaks from other vehicles, from flying road debris, and it is generally safer.
  • Getting a grasp of how auto shipping price formation works, in a market economy, will help you understand why manual pricing is better. Just like with the stock market, in logistics supply and demand fluctuations happen daily. This means that a hot out of the oven, current market price is what you need.

The most accurate price is calculated manually by logistics experts tracking national dispatch boards. Corsia Logistics provides manual pricing. A car shipping quote calculator often delivers misleading prices. Only an accurately determined price, verified with the national dispatch boards, will ship your vehicle in a timely and professional manner.

What do I need to know about car shipping quotes?

As you understand now, in the auto transport industry prices are driven by various factors. However, all quotes are not created equal, neither are all auto transport companies. When you search online you will come across three major entities involved in the auto transport business:

  1. broker/carrier auto shipping companies
  2. lead generation websites
  3. auction websites
The engine of the vehicle shipping industry is the small and mid size broker and carrier companies that work together on daily basis to deliver efficient and affordable shipping.

Very often prices will vary between all three entities. Some companies will give you very high prices, while others will quote you unrealistically low rate. You may wonder how such differences are possible. They are possible because who gives you the quote matters. The prices given by lead generator websites and auction websites are quite different. Broker and carrier companies can give you the most realistic market price.

Broker / carrier company

The most realistic rate comes from a reputable auto transport broker or a carrier company. This is the engine of the industry – the people who work daily with national dispatch boards and see how prices change. This is what keeps the prices competitive and the industry in balance. Small and medium size broker companies do not allow monopolization of the market by large companies or auctions such as uShip or other lead generator websites.

The majority of the orders in the auto transport industry are booked with brokers. Why is that you ask? Because the chances of you finding a car carrier who is in the same area as your car, has a spot open, and it is going in your desired direction are usually pretty slim. As we mentioned, most car carriers are small owner operated companies who work with dispatch boards and you can not find them online. But you can find brokers who work to find customers to fill carriers’ trailers. A broker makes sure the carrier is licensed and insured, and checks their safety ratings on the dispatch boards, ratings that customers have no way of seeing.

A trustworthy broker company will work for you, the customer, to find the right carrier that travels your route and matches your requirements for a type of trailer, insurance liability and delivery time. They will provide a fair, current market price that will ship your vehicle in a timely and professional manner.

A good broker basically cuts out all of the hard work and uncertainty you would deal with when going through this process.

Most carriers do not manage the shipping process. A carrier is responsible to load, deliver and unload your vehicle. About 90 percent of the car carriers in the US are small, owner operated companies. They work with brokers (management companies) to fill their cargo space. This is why the prices you receive online are from auto transport broker companies. A broker is a registered, licensed and bonded entity that can lawfully manage your vehicle shipments. It is the company that makes sure the small carrier companies’ cargo space is filled. Small broker companies are those that leverage this industry and help keep it in balance, together with the small and mid-size carrier companies.

Many broker companies have carrier license as well. This means they have two separate licenses that help them serve customers better. One single company can not serve the whole country and that is why some loads need to be brokered to other carriers. It is a very efficient system of brokers and carriers that work together and make things run smoothly.

Lead generator website

This entity is not an auto transport company of any type – it does not have any licenses. This is an online business created to collect private information for other businesses. These lead generator websites are often found online and customers frequently think that are auto transport companies. But de facto, they are neither a carrier nor a broker. After receiving the customer’s request they sell their information to several transport companies.

Then what happens is that you will receive several calls from companies competing for your business. It is often very unpleasant to receive 5 to 10 calls in a matter of hours. Moreover, these companies know that they compete against each other and they need to quote really low rates. This means that you will not receive a realistic price that will ship your car in a timely and professional manner.

Auction websites

The third entity you will find online is auction websites or marketplaces. We advise our customers to avoid such platforms because this is where underbidding wars develop. A major such website is uShip and there you can receive more than ten auto transport quotes. They start too high and go down to a unrealistically low rate that means longer wait and / or unprofessional service. Such low rates are sometimes given by unregistered and unlicensed companies, scammers who do not have insurance. Most companies are not able to give a realistic rate because they need to compete live with large companies who simply can afford to quote low and even lose money only so they can push out the small, honest hard working guys.

Also, often due to fees imposed from the auction website, auto transport companies are forced to quote higher prices so they can make at least some profit. It is not only the companies’ fault, or the platform itself. The demand for low prices has always been a factor. And when people search for cheap they get cheap. On auction websites you get what you pay for.

A low price often equals low quality service. So, think about all that when searching online about your cost to ship a car.


How do I know I am getting a fair auto transport price?

Unfortunately, many prices you will receive online will not be fair, neither to you nor to the truck driver. Many quotes are not current market prices that will guarantee professional and timely shipping. This is the case when you get quotes from lead generator websites or auctions. With some brokers, or carriers, this can also happen.

Some companies quote you a really low rate so you can book with them. They usually ask you to pay a deposit upfront and this means you cannot cancel when they fail to pick up your car in the specified time frame. This is how some of the bad apples in the industry function.

On the other hand, some big companies exploit the market by quoting very high prices. It is exploitation because the rate is way above current market value and the extra goes towards the company itself, whether that is a broker or a large carrier company. The money do not go to the car carrier driver and it is in fact a rip off for the customer.

Usually the most competitive prices come from small and mid-size companies. An established, small company is in business to stay in business and they understand the importance of quoting realistic market prices and taking care of their customers. A correctly quoted rate guarantees timely and professionally delivery.


What is the difference between manual and automated quotes?

Auto transport prices depend on supply and demand fluctuations. Daily fluctuations in supply and demand affect auto transport prices. When a vehicle is priced correctly, according to current market conditions a carrier will take it right away. If not the car sits on the board and waits.

A logistics expert can quote a very accurate price based on current supply and demand situation, and that is why a manual quote is always better.

A car shipping calculator has preset parameters that determine the price. It never takes into consideration supply and demand fluctuations and this is what ultimately renders the price inaccurate.


How many days in advance should I book in order to save?

We recommend to our customers to book their service about two weeks in advance. Any time earlier than that does not guarantee a lower rate or a faster service. The auto transport industry is heavily influenced by supply and demand fluctuations, and prices often change daily. Sometimes, even same day bookings can get a lower price than orders made a week or a month in advance due to a sudden cancellation, for instance.

Rates of recently shipped vehicles from across the country:

Rate: Pick-Up: Delivery:
$1,489 Los Angeles, CA New York, NY
$1,549 Naples, FL Portland, OR
$1,349 Sunnyvale, CA Orlando, FL
$1,149 Chicago, IL Los Angeles, CA
$1,189 Miami, FL Oceanside, CA
$1,389 San Jose, CA Washington, DC
$989 Baltimore, MD Houston, TX
$1,289 Cleveland, OH Sacramento, CA
$1,349 Boston, MA South Pasadena, CA
$949 Boulder, CO Austin, TX

NOTE: Prices listed here are for a small sedan, shipped via an open carrier. These prices are estimates subject to change on daily basis. For a current market price please, call or request a quote online.

How does auto transport work?

Corsia Logistics team works hard and we make shipping easy. We explain all details and guide you step by steps – from booking your order to delivery at your door. This is how vehicle transport works, take a quick look at one of our videos.

Before choosing the best transport method for your vehicle, research all options. Make sure you understand how auto transport works, compare and then decide what best fits your budget and preferences.

Online you will discover hundreds of automobile transport companies. Not one of them can claim it is the best. It is unrealistic to say that one company is the best in an entire industry. When you search make sure you check main aspects such as licensing with the USDOT and FMCSA, and insurance.

For all auto transport related questions call us or contact us online. Our dedicated team of professional logistics experts will answer all of your  questions and help you choose the best solution. We look forward to serving your auto shipping needs. Thank you.