As with any service, we tend to be price-oriented when looking for affordable companies that ship cars. For that reason, usually the first question is, “How much does it cost to ship a car?”
People often compare the overall expense of car shipping versus that of going to get the vehicle themselves and driving it to the intended destination. If you want to compare those options “apples to apples,” be sure to consider all costs.
You can quickly pool and assess some information to answer the question, “How much does it cost to ship a car?” Form two columns on a piece of paper, labelling the left side “Shipping” and the right side “Driving.” Shipping is a flat rate, especially if you use a door-to-door service such as ours. Driving involves tallying the costs of a trip.
The elements you need to include in driving cost will vary a bit depending on your situation, but let’s look at an example: buying a car from a seller in another state. Some costs you will want to consider (versus the simple, flat rate when you ask for the cost to ship a car):
- plane ticket to fly to the pickup city
- cab fare to get to the seller’s address
- gas for the drive
- wear and tear on the car (immediately decreasing its value)
- oil change
- meals< /li>
- time off work.
Now look back at the Shipping side of your paper again. Although shipping a car is easier and doesn’t involve a laundry list of costs, you still want to look at the variables so that you understand the answer when you ask, “How much does it cost to ship a car?” The variables include:
- Total distance of shipment
- Vehicle size, weight, and operability
- Origin, destination, and “hotness” of route
- Season and timeframe.
Let’s look at each of those variables in detail.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?
First, let’s state the obvious. When you look at shipping a car, cost evaluation must account for the total distance of shipment. As the number of miles between origin and destination grows, so do fuel and labor expenses, in turn raising the price to ship it.
How much does it cost to ship a car across the country? The answer to that question can also be expressed via example:
- Florida to Michigan – lower total distance and lower cost
- Florida to California – higher total distance and higher cost.
Other Car Shipping Costs
Total distance of shipment is the variable that has the most impact on the cost of shipping a car. However, other variables can have a major influence on the price you get as well. Those other major variables of car shipping cost fall loosely under the categories of size, location, and season.
Size Impacts the Cost of Shipping a Car
The size of the car and its weight help to determine the cost of shipping a car. A larger vehicle takes up more room on the truck and requires more fuel for shipment, both factors that increase the price.
For example, the car shipping cost for a Chevrolet Sonic will be lower than that of a Lexus ES350 simply because the Chevy is smaller and lighter. Professional shippers, the ones you can rely on, look at vehicles in terms of certain categories, such as:
Those categories are further divided based on height/length/width dimensions (particularly length) and weight:
You will sometimes even see a car brand that has models fitting into each of those three size groups. BMW is a perfect example, with its small, medium, and large sedans: the 3-Series, 5-Series, and 7-Series. The models get progressively longer, wider, and taller.
As stated above, the cost of shipping a car rises as it gets bigger: so a BMW 7-Series (large sedan) is more expensive to ship than a BMW 3-Series (small sedan).
Another element of the physical car itself is operability. If a car is inoperable (in other words, if you can’t drive it), the cost to ship your car will be greater: the broker must find a hauler that has the special equipment to pull the car onto the truck. Since shipping a nonfunctional car is more complicated, it is in turn more expensive.
Location of Pick-Up & Delivery
We discussed the issue of distance between your pickup and drop-off locations above. The cost of shipping a car will also fluctuate based on proximity to metropolitan areas and interstate highways. Origins and destinations that are near cities and the interstate system are granted more affordable rates, while remote locations are more expensive.
This aspect of location impacts the ease with which your car can be picked up and delivered, thus influencing car shipping cost, as seen in two examples:
- Tyler, Texas – Tyler is close to an interstate highway and less than 100 miles from Dallas, so loading and unloading are quick and simple. It’s more affordable.
- Florence, Alabama – Florence is more than 100 miles from any major metropolitan area or interstate, so car shipping is challenging. It’s more expensive.
If you live in a rural area, one option is to take your car to the nearest interstate and meet the shipper there. For example, if you live in Lubbock, Texas, you could meet the driver in Amarillo to lower your car shipping costs.
One final location-related consideration, beyond distance and city/interstate proximity, is the popularity of the route. A “hot route” will cost you less: there are more carriers shipping on these major routes. The robust competition lowers the cost of shipping a car.
Although greater distance is associated with greater cost, long-distance routes are often hot routes with strong competition. You will pay less per mile for these routes.
For example, consider the following routes:
- Miami to Orlando – Because these two cities are just over 200 miles away within Florida, the cost per mile will be high.
- Miami to Los Angeles – Because Miami and Los Angeles are more than 2700 miles away, the car shipping cost per mile will be low.
Seasonal Car Shipping Cost
High demand for a hot route lowers its price by drawing more competition to the marketplace, but the demand of “peak season” can – conversely – raise the cost of shipping a car. That’s especially the case for shipping north and south: more ship south during fall, and more ship north during spring. For example, look at rough pricing to ship a midsize sedan from New York to Florida throughout the year:
- Spring – about $525
- Winter – about $650
- Summer – about $695
- Fall – $900 or more.
In other words, when the snowbirds travel down to Florida, the car shipping cost gets higher because there is high consumer demand and limited carrier space.
Another route that fluctuates extremely based on the season is Los Angeles, California: the cost of shipping a car is lower during the winter, when fewer people are shipping cars to the area.
Quotes for shipping a car usually expire within two weeks to 30 days to account for seasonal fluctuations.
Another element related to time is probably self-evident: the timeframe you require. If you want a trustworthy broker to find a carrier within one or two days, it is more difficult to find a spot on a carrier, so the average cost to ship a car is elevated.
Find Out Exactly How Much It’ll Cost to Ship Your Car
How much does it cost to ship a car? If you look back at your paper that compared shipping to driving, you should see that shipping is much simpler and has a lower or comparable cost.
Although car shipping is accomplished through an easy flat rate, an exact answer to the question of cost requires assessment of the above variables – as achieved through one of our specialized brokers here at Car Shipping Carriers.