Cross Country Car Shipping: The Cost to Ship a Car Across the US

April 6, 2020 Cars carrier truck on asphalt highway in Poland

If you’ve got a big move coming up and need to get to your destination quickly, you might not have the option to drive your car there. Or maybe you’re spending winter vacation in the South and want to fly there but don’t want to have to drive a rental.

No matter the reason or how long your stay is, hiring an auto transport company to ship your car for you may be the most sensible option you can find. Especially when you consider how cheap it is to fly these days.

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to deciding if you’re going to go through with it is the cost to ship a car. These costs can sometimes be difficult to figure out and if you don’t know what you’re doing or what to expect, you can easily end up getting ripped off.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

You can generally expect it to cost you between $600 and $1,000 to ship a four-door sedan across the country. If you’re transporting an SUV, truck, or van from California to New York, it will likely cost you between $800 and $1,070.

Shipping an SUV from New York to Florida could cost you between $800 to $1,100 while a sedan will be around $650 to $850. Because classic and exotic cars need to be placed in special containers, you might have to pay an additional $800 to $3,000.

Of course, these prices are only estimates. There are many factors that are going to affect the cost of the shipment.

A great way to get a more accurate idea of how much it will cost you to ship your car is to use an online calculator. A calculator can help give you a price to ship your vehicle based on your budget, schedule, and route.

How Seasons Affect the Cost of Shipment

The season that you choose to ship your car can affect the cost of transportation due to how many people are on the road as well as weather conditions. Let’s go deeper into this below.

Shipping Your Car in the Winter

If you’re shipping your car in the winter, you can expect the shipment time to take longer than in other seasons. This is because there is less daylight and ice and snow can cause delays.

In December, many transport drivers are taking time off for the holidays. So you want to book around one month in advance to make sure that your car gets a spot.

January is a very popular time for car shipments because everyone is going south for this winter. Rates can increase and a backlog might occur. February is a fairly slow month for car shipment bookings, however, and rates here may be at their cheapest.

Shipping Your Car in the Spring

Spring might be the best season to ship your car. Rates in March are still low until it gets to the end of the month. As the months get warmer, people start going back up north and prices start to increase.

In April and May, the bookings can pile up and rates will get even higher.

Shipping Your Car in the Summer

Summer is the peak season for car shipments. Demand is very high at this time as people are going on vacations, employees are moving to new offices, and schools are letting out. Although you might expect rates to be very high during this time, the demand, as well as the competition, is so strong that prices may actually go down.

Throughout the summer months, the price to ship a car is more or less stable.

Shipping Your Car in the Fall

During the fall, the weather is pleasant and the number of people trying to ship their cars starts to go down. This causes some lowering of costs. Rates might increase in September as college students are shipping their cars to school.

However, things slow down in October and November and rates tend to go back down.

Other Factors that Affect the Cost of Shipment

When you’re looking to ship your car across the country, there are certain decisions that you can make that will affect how much your total cost ends up coming to. Let’s look at those factors below.

Distance and Delivery Time

It might seem obvious, but the longer it takes to move your car from one location to another, the more it will end up costing you. Generally, it takes between 5-14 days to ship from the West Coast to the East Coast. It also takes 3-8 days to ship from the Midwest to either the West Coast or the East Coast.

And it takes about 3-8 days to ship from the North to the South.

If you need your car by a certain date, you will probably have to pay more. You’d end up paying more if you need faster shipping or if you need the shipping company to hold your car for you until you can come to pick it up. The more flexible you are, the more you’ll be able to find a better deal.

Type of Car Transport Truck

An open car transport truck is usually cheaper and also more popular. Of course, this method exposes your car to possible damage from weather and debris but these risks are fairly low.

An enclosed transport truck is recommended for cars that are highly valuable. Because these trucks can’t hold as many cars, they make up for the lost revenue by charging more for their services.

The Cheapest Way to Ship Your Car

Open auto transport that includes terminal-to-terminal delivery will be the cheapest way to transport your car. Typically, an open auto transporter can hold up to ten cars. This lets operators save on transportation, oil, and fuel costs.

If you want to save even more money, try to ship your car during the cheaper seasons which we listed above. Terminal-to-terminal service is usually more affordable than door-to-door service because less time is demanded of the driver and it’s less inconvenient for them too.

However, if there are storage fees, then door-to-door service might actually be the cheaper choice.

Look Out for Discounts

It’s fairly common for auto transport companies to offer a variety of discounts. Some common discounts that they may offer include:

  • Student discounts: Many auto transport companies will give discounts in the summer and fall if you’re a student who is taking their car to college.
  • First-time shippers: Some auto transport companies will give you a discount if this is your first time shipping a car with them.
  • Military discounts: To recognize your service and help you with frequent moves, a lot of auto transport companies will give discounts to members of the military.
  • Senior discounts: Many seniors live on a fixed income and need to stick to a strict budget, so auto transport companies will sometimes give big discounts to seniors.
  • Return customers: As opposed to the discount for first-time shippers, some auto transport companies will give you a discount if you’re shipping your vehicle with them for the second or third time.
  • First responders: Similar to the military discount, first responders may also be eligible for special discounts.
  • Vehicle fleets: If you run a cab company or other business that wants to ship a fleet of cars, then you may be able to receive a discount from your auto shipping company for transporting in bulk.
  • Early bird: Some auto transport companies will reward you with a discount if you book their service within 48 hours of getting your quote.

Even if you don’t qualify for any of the above, it’s still a good idea to ask the auto transport companies that you’re considering if you’d be eligible for any types of discounts or special rates.

Check for Payment Method Fees

While most transport companies will accept all forms of payment including credit and debit cards, check, and cash, some companies will charge you a fee if you pay with a card. Make sure that you find out what payment methods the company accepts and if they’ll charge you extra for the way that you choose to pay.

Many auto transport companies will charge you a deposit fee before they pick up your car. That fee will be applied to your total when the car is delivered. Most carriers offer a 100% refundable deposit.

The Importance of Knowing How Much It Costs to Ship a Car

While shipping a car may seem costly at first, it’s many times preferable to either driving the car yourself or paying for a rental. And by knowing how much it would generally cost to ship a car across the country, you can make more informed and confident purchasing decisions.

Are you looking to ship your car anywhere in the United States? Contact us today and see how we can help you!