If you’re moving and need to relocate your car to your new home, driving the vehicle yourself may seem cheaper than shipping it. However, once you factor in the costs for gas, food, accommodation – as well as the time, wear and tear, and risks – auto shipping may be a much more convenient and cost-effective choice.

Is it worth shipping a car? Let’s explore your options and compare the pros and cons so you can make an informed choice.

The Case for Shipping Your Car

Just like hiring a moving company, shipping your car is a safe, convenient, and often cost-effective choice to get your car to your new home. Here’s are some benefits:

Convenience and Time Saving

Driving your car yourself is a big time investment, especially if you’re traveling more than a few hundred miles. You may need to take time off of work, plan stops along the way, and add to the stress of an already-stressful moving process.

Shipping removes the stress from the process. Once you handle scheduling the pickup and delivery, prepping your car, and getting it dropped off, you have nothing else to worry about until it’s delivered. You can focus on handling the other aspects of your move, such as packing your belongings and saying goodbye to your friends and family.

Safety and Wear on Vehicle

Long drives can be taxing on you and your family. There’s always the possibility of accidents along the way, especially on unfamiliar roads or in inclement weather. In addition, you’re adding miles and wear and tear to your vehicle that can shorten its lifespan and leave it vulnerable to damage along the way.

Shipping your car is a much safer option. Professional auto shippers have extensive experience traveling with vehicles and navigating cross-country routes, reducing the risk of delays or accidents. Even with an open-air trailer, which leaves your car exposed to the elements, the risk of damage is minimal. Plus, parking and transporting it on a trailer means no excess miles.

Logistical Simplicity

Coordinating a major move is a complex and laborious process. If you have multiple vehicles, a large family, or a tight moving schedule, such as relocating for a job, it’s even more difficult to coordinate dates and schedule services to have everything you need when you need it. Adding a long-distance drive to that can make the whole experience feel impossible.

Professional auto transport takes one thing off your plate. Whether you have multiple vehicles or just one, auto shippers can ensure that your vehicles get to your new home according to your schedule. While delays can occur, an auto shipper has the experience to navigate possible delays and stay as close as possible to your timeline.

The Benefits of Driving Yourself

Naturally, shipping costs are one of the biggest considerations in choosing to drive vs. ship your car, but there are other benefits:

Cost Considerations

Driving yourself is usually the cheaper option at a glance, because you’re taking your own time and effort to drive instead of paying for a professional service. You do need to account for the fuel costs, hotels, and food along the route, as well as your time to make the drive and wear and tear on your car, however, which may end up being more than your shipping fees.

You should also factor in potential delays that can make the drive longer, and by extension, increase your total costs. A delay of only a few days can easily add hundreds of dollars to your cost from another night in a hotel, a few more meals, and some extra gas.

Memorable Road Trip Adventures and Scenery

While there’s time, stress, and planning involved in a road trip, it can be a fun family memory. If you have time to build into your trip, you can take scenic routes and stop at tourist attractions along the way. This may increase your costs and time, but it’s an opportunity to turn the drive you have to make into a mini vacation.

Complete Control

You have more control over the trip and your timeline when you drive yourself. While shipping companies can navigate delays and stay close to a schedule, delays are always possible. Driving yourself gives you more flexibility and control to adjust your schedule as needed to leave and arrive when you want to.

In addition, if you have treasured or private items you don’t want on a moving truck, you can load them into the car for the drive. Auto transport companies generally discourage filling your car with belongings because it increases the weight, and in turn, the costs.

Factors to Consider

Not sure which option is best for you? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Distance and time: The distance of the move and the time you have available to coordinate moving services and relocate play a big role in your decision to ship or drive. Generally, the greater the distance of the move, the more cost-effectiveness and value you will get from auto transport.

  • Vehicle condition and value: If you have a high-value or fragile car, such as an exotic or antique car, you may feel more comfortable driving it yourself. However, driving cross country leaves your vehicle vulnerable to road hazards, weather, and accidents. These vehicles are better suited for shipping, preferably inside of an enclosed trailer with protection from the elements.

  • Environmental impact: Traveling by passenger car has high emissions, which may contribute to climate change. Though an auto transport truck and trailer have higher emissions than a passenger car, they’re more efficient because they’re hauling multiple vehicles together for a lower overall impact.

Cost Analysis

Here are some average costs for comparison for a 1,000-mile trip:

In total, that’s $300 for a 1,000-mile, two-day trip, assuming one person and ideal driving conditions. That’s not factoring in costs for multiple people, your time, or the wear and tear on your vehicle. So the least you’ll pay is about $0.30 per mile.

You may have additional costs as well, such as pre- or post-trip repairs or maintenance to your vehicle and unexpected travel expenses. Costs vary so much that it can be difficult to set an exact budget.

By comparison, auto shipping costs between $0.60 and $1.70 per mile. So, for 1,000 miles, the cost would fall between $600 and $1,700 but the costs can vary by the time of year, routes, gas prices, and more.

Generally, open-air transport with a smaller car in an off-peak season is the most affordable shipping option. Transporting large vehicles, such as heavy-duty trucks or large SUVs, or transporting vehicles in an enclosed trailer, especially during peak moving season, is the most expensive.

When you get shipping quotes, you should have a breakdown of the cost and any additional fees. Shipping companies are required to include basic liability insurance with costs that are included in your quote, but you can add extra insurance for a fee. This can vary based on the company and the insurance you choose.

There may be hidden fees with some shipping companies, so it’s important to look for transparency in your quotes to make an informed decision.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, only you can decide which option makes the most sense for you. There are pros and cons to both that depend on your individual circumstances and priorities.

If you don’t mind driving and have time, budgeting for a road trip and making it a mini adventure can be fun for the whole family. However, this may include some risks, unexpected delays, and a lot of planning that pulls you away from your other moving obligations. Keep in mind that you may find the costs of driving yourself to be equal to – if not more than – paying for professional shipping.

If you’re on a tight schedule and have a lot to juggle in planning your move, hiring an auto shipper to transport your car can alleviate stress and risk out of the experience. This may be an ideal option if you have a high-value car that shouldn’t be driven on the open road as well. Then there’s peace of mind, which is hard to put a price on.

Should You Ship a Car or Drive It? Verdict

There’s no right or wrong answer. But in most cases when you’re moving further than 500 miles, auto transport is the way to go. With how much costs vary, the price differences between driving yourself and paying to ship your car may be negligible. The decision depends on your individual circumstances and needs.

Trying to budget for your move? Consult with auto transport companies to get quotes and compare your costs for travel and professional shipping. Try out our auto transport calculator to get started!