How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

by | Apr 22, 2020 | Transport Tips

“How much does it cost to ship a car?” is often the first question asked when it comes to auto transport. When you get an instant quote on our website to determine the cost to ship a car, you’ll notice we categorize vehicles into four categories:

  1. Car
  2. Crossover / Mini-Van / Small SUV
  3. Large SUV / Truck
  4. Cargo Van / XL Truck

As you can see, we group vehicles based on their general size and weight as these are important factors in determining how much it costs to ship a car. We’ll discuss these factors and many more in this article. Once you understand what factors affect your shipping quote, you may be able to find ways to save money on shipping a vehicle.

Costs to Transport a Car

Shipping a car is the cheapest type of vehicle to transport because they take up less room on a trailer and weigh less than other types of vehicles.

There are two factors that impact a carrier’s load and the price they have to charge to ship a vehicle: size and weight. A carrier’s trailer can fit only so many vehicles. For example, they may have a 10-car trailer but if they are hauling mostly trucks on a given route, they will never be able to fit 10 trucks because they are so much bigger than cars. Because hauling trucks reduces their overall hauling capacity, they have to charge more for them.

A carrier is also restricted by weight limitations. The total weight of the carrier’s truck, trailer, and all the vehicles he’s hauling can’t exceed 80,000 lbs. Again, if he’s hauling mostly trucks, which are heavier than cars, he’s restricted in the number of vehicles he can haul. Once again, he has to charge more for a truck because the truck’s weight limits their overall hauling capacity.

Speaking of weight limitations, let’s discuss electric cars for a minute because they are the exception to the rule of cars being the cheapest type of vehicle to ship. The large batteries that power electric cars make them extremely heavy vehicles, often heavier than standard size SUVs. For example, a 2020 Honda Pilot weighs around 4,200 lbs. By contrast, a 2020 Tesla Model S car is a hefty 4,900 lbs.! Because electric cars weigh so much, you’ll pay more to ship them than traditional gas-powered cars.

Example Transportation Costs to Ship a Car in the U.S.
On average, it costs between $1,200 – $1,500 to ship a car coast-to-coast. Shipping a car from North to South, say from Minnesota to Texas, will cost between $1,000 – $1,300. Add around $200 more if you’re shipping an electric car.

Here are example quotes to ship a Honda Accord:

Boston, MA to Seattle, WA: $1,498
Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ: $1,279
Sacramento, CA to Philadelphia, PA: $1,200
Syracuse, NY to Orlando, FL: $1,040
Denver, CO to Columbus, OH: $869
Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX: $512

*Quotes current as of April 2020. Rates fluctuate weekly so for current shipping rates for cars, request a FREE instant quote below!

How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Car?

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Costs to Transport a Crossover / Mini-Van / Small SUV

Vehicles in this category are a little bigger and heavier than cars so they cost more to ship. Popular crossovers and small SUV’s include the Honda CR-V, Lexus RX, Audi Q5, Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Kona, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and the Kia Niro.

Example Transportation Costs to Ship a Small SUV in the U.S.
On average, it costs between $1,300 – $1,600 to ship a small SUV and other vehicles in this class coast-to-coast. Shipping from North to South, say from Minnesota to Arizona, will cost between $1,200 – $1,500.

Here are example quotes to ship a Toyota RAV4:

Boston, MA to Seattle, WA: $1,612
Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ: $1,407
Sacramento, CA to Philadelphia, PA: $1,351
Syracuse, NY to Orlando, FL: $1,165
Denver, CO to Columbus, OH: $973
Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX: $595

*Quotes current as of April 2020. Rates fluctuate weekly so for current shipping rates for vehicles in this class, request a FREE instant quote below!

How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Crossover, Mini Van or Small SUV?

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Costs to Transport a Large SUV / Truck

Large SUV’s and trucks are bigger and heavier than the other types of vehicles we’ve discussed so far so they cost even more to ship. Trucks can also be modified with lifted suspensions and oversized tires, or have accessories such as toppers and push bars that increase the overall dimensions of the truck. The more space a vehicle takes up, the more a carrier has to charge (see explanation earlier in this article).

Example Transportation Costs to Ship a Large SUV / Truck in the U.S.
On average, it costs between $1,700 – $2,000 to ship a large SUV or truck coast-to-coast. Shipping from North to South, say from Minnesota to Arizona, will cost between $1,500 – $1,700. You’ll pay additional fees on top of those rates if you have modifications or accessories on a truck or SUV that affect the dimensions of the vehicle.

Here are example quotes to ship a standard Ford F-150 truck:

Boston, MA to Seattle, WA: $1,986
Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ: $1,733
Sacramento, CA to Philadelphia, PA: $1,664
Syracuse, NY to Orlando, FL: $1,435
Denver, CO to Columbus, OH: $1,199
Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX: $708

*Quotes current as of April 2020. Rates fluctuate weekly so for current shipping rates for large SUV’s and trucks, request a FREE instant quote below!

How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Large SUV or Truck?

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Costs to Transport a Cargo Van / XL Truck

Cargo vans and extra-large trucks are the biggest and heaviest types of vehicles, so they are the most expensive to ship. In addition, cargo vans may have extended roofs and trucks in this category commonly have dual rear wheels (aka “dually’s) or diesel engines which adds to the cost to ship them.

There are so many variables with these types of vehicles that can impact the shipping cost that it’s impossible for our instant quote tool on our website to provide an accurate instant quote. If it’s a Cargo Van does it have an extended roof? Does it have a diesel engine? If it’s a truck does it have dual rear wheels? Does it have a lifted suspension or over-sized tires? When working with these types of vehicles our dispatchers have to get more details from our customers to provide them a custom quote.

Example Transportation Costs to Ship a Cargo Van or XL Truck in the U.S.
You can expect an approximate cost to ship a cargo van or extra-large truck to cost $500 – $1,000 more than it costs to ship a large SUV or truck (see the previous section). If you have to ship one of these types of vehicles you’ll request an instant quote and then you’ll be prompted to send our dispatch team additional details about your vehicle so we can get you a custom quote.

How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Cargo Van or XL Truck?

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Common Factors That Affect the Cost to Ship a Car

As you’ve already learned, the size and weight of the vehicle are very important factors that affect how much it costs to ship a car but there are more factors to consider as well.

How quickly do you need to ship your car?
If you have a tight time frame to have our car shipped, you’ll typically pay more as you’ll have to incentivize a carrier to make your delivery a priority. If you have some flexibility, however, you’ll pay less as you can wait to find a carrier that can ship and deliver your car on their already planned route schedule. Once your order is placed and confirmed, J&S Transportation delivery averages 6-14 days depending on the distance of the transport.

Is the auto transport door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal?
Door-to-door costs a little more than terminal-to-terminal but it’s far more convenient. With J&S Transportation, our shipments are always door-to-door. If you go with a terminal-to-terminal carrier be aware that a terminal may be several hundred miles away from you, which can add travel costs for you to get to the closest terminal yard. There may also be terminal storage fees that accumulate each day the vehicle is kept in the terminal yard.

Do you need open or enclosed transport?
Open trailers are the most common types of trailers on the road today. An open trailer is a trailer without any walls. The vehicle is hauled “out in the open” and is exposed to the elements. Enclosed trailers are trailers with weather-proof walls on all four sides of the trailer.

There are only a small percentage of carriers that have enclosed trailers, so they are harder to find and a lot more expensive. An enclosed trailer can cost twice as much as an open trailer. Our fleet of trucks are all open trailers and most of the carriers we work with as a licensed auto transport broker have open trailers. If you have a vehicle that requires an enclosed trailer, however, we can certainly accommodate that!

How far is the vehicle being shipped?
As you probably guessed, distance plays a major role in the cost to ship a car. The farther the distance the car is to be transported on an auto hauler, the more it will cost to ship your car.

Where is the vehicle being shipped from and to?
It can impact the vehicle transport cost if the pickup area or destination points are not on heavily traveled routes or in hard to reach areas off the main highways.

What type of vehicle is being shipped?
As discussed throughout this article, bigger and heavier vehicles like trucks, SUVs and vans are more expensive to transport than sedans or compact cars.

What is the price of fuel?
Fuel prices fluctuate all the time and vary from region to region. Fuel costs are possibly the biggest variable expense associated with auto transport and they do affect what you’ll pay to ship a vehicle.

Is the vehicle operable?
If the vehicle is inoperable, it will increase the cost to ship a car if the transport company needs special equipment or a tow truck to get the vehicle on and off the auto hauling trailer.

How to Save Money When Shipping a Vehicle

There are some factors that impact the cost to ship a vehicle that you can’t control. If you have a truck, you obviously can’t save money by shipping a car instead! And if you have to ship your car 2,000 miles to its destination, you can’t save money shipping it only halfway. Your situation is what it is.

There are many things you can do, however, to find the cheapest way to ship a car. Choosing an open transport carrier, shipping in the off season, and getting multiple quotes are just a few things you can do to save money!

How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Car?

[jst-quote-button btn_only=1] Calculate your shipping cost