Shipping a Car Cross-Country: Costs and Tips (2023)
- The average cost of cross-country car shipping is around $0.84 per mile.
- You can expect a cross-country car shipment to take around five to seven days.
- RoadRunner Auto Transport offers the cheapest cross-country shipping estimate at $0.62 per mile.
Affiliate disclosure: Automoblog and its partners may be compensated when you purchase the products in this article.
Shipping a car cross-country is almost certainly the easiest way to get your vehicle from one coast to another, even if it isn’t always the cheapest. To help you plan your cross-country car shipment, our experts put together this guide.
You’ll find sample rates along with some key information about car shipping and tips to get the best possible price. We’ve also included recommendations for two of the best car shipping companies from our latest auto transport study.
How Much to Ship a Car Cross-Country?
The average cost to ship a car cross-country is $2,061 in total or around $.081 cents per mile, based on our research. We based this estimate on the average of quotes we received to ship a 2018 Nissan Rogue SUV 2,445 miles from New York City, New York to Los Angeles, California in an open container. These quotes ranged from $1,529 to $2,995.
Cross-Country Car Shipping Quotes
In the table below, you’ll find the auto transport quotes from the top providers in our study in order of cheapest to most expensive:
|Car Shipping Company||Cross-Country Car Shipping Rate (2,445 Miles)||Cross-Country Car Shipping Rate Per Mile (2,445 Miles)|
|RoadRunner Auto Transport||$1,525||$0.62|
|SGT Auto Transport||$1,565||$0.64|
|A-1 Auto Transport||$1,593||$0.65|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||$1,650||$0.67|
|Ship a Car Direct||$1,650||$0.67|
|Montway Auto Transport||$1,679||$0.69|
|Door to Door Transport||$1,745||$0.71|
|Golden Key Express||$1,750||$0.72|
|American Auto Shipping||$1,789||$0.73|
|Nexus Auto Transport||$1,845||$0.75|
|Easy Auto Ship||$1,951||$0.80|
|Guardian Auto Transport||$2,105||$0.86|
|Mercury Auto Transport||$2,995||$1.22|
|Ship a Car Inc||$2,995||$1.22|
Cost to Ship a Car Cross-Country
The cost to ship a car between two states from one side of the country to the other depends on several variables. Some of the most important factors in your shipping costs include:
- Shipping distance: Auto transport companies charge by the mile, meaning longer shipments typically cost more. However, per-mile rates tend to go down as the shipping distance increases, so shipping a car cross-country is usually cheaper by the mile than shorter distances.
- Time of year: Car shipping rates are seasonal, with peak rates coming in the summer months and the beginning of the year.
- Fuel costs: Fuel is one of the single biggest expenses for car carriers. When the price of fuel goes up, you can expect shipping costs to rise, too.
- Type of vehicle: Larger, heavier vehicles tend to cost more to ship than smaller ones. Some auto movers may charge more to ship rare, exotic, or classic cars.
- Transport options: Some car shipping services are cheaper than others. For example, open trailer shipping is less expensive than enclosed transport, and terminal-to-terminal shipping is usually cheaper than door-to-door service.
- Vehicle condition: Most shippers charge more to transport a vehicle that’s in inoperable condition.
Car Shipping Cost Calculator
Below, you’ll find a car shipping calculator that can help you estimate the cost of your next shipment. To use it, just enter the make, model, and year of your car. Then, select any options that apply to your vehicle. Finally, enter the name or ZIP code of your pickup and dropoff destinations.
You’ll get an instant estimate once the form is complete and, if you like, you can request an actual quote by clicking the green button at the bottom of the calculator.
How to Ship a Car cross-country
The cross-country car shipping process is relatively straightforward. However, if you aren’t sure you know how to do it, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure a smooth and simple shipping experience. You’ll find those steps listed below.
- Gather your information: Collect the relevant information about your vehicle, such as the make, model, and year. Also prepare a list of your shipping needs, such as your pickup and dropoff locations, shipping time frame, and which transport type you want.
- Get quotes: Most auto transport services offer free quotes online. Prices for cross-country car shipping can range wildly, so getting multiple instant quotes helps you find the best price.
- Book your shipment: Once you’ve chosen the quote you want to accept, contact the shipping company. They’ll begin the process of assigning a driver and will soon provide you with the details you need.
- Prepare your car: You’ll need to remove all personal belongings from your vehicle before the carrier arrives. Some companies do allow you to pack personal items in your vehicle, but they usually have restrictions and instructions on how you must pack them.
- Meet your driver at pickup: On your pickup date, you’ll need to meet the driver to go over a few things and inspect your vehicle for pre-existing damage. This is a good time to take some photos for your reference. After you’ve checked things over, sign the bill of lading and wave goodbye to your driver.
- Wait: There’s nothing else to do while your car is in transit. Some companies offer live GPS tracking and others will provide a location for you over the phone or email. Remember that delays due to traffic, weather conditions, and other factors are common in the car shipping industry – especially with long-distance cross-country moves.
- Meet your driver at delivery: Either your driver or shipping provider will contact you when they have an exact ETA. You’ll need to meet the carrier to once again inspect your vehicle for damage and sign the bill of lading. If you notice any new damage, take notes and photos and contact your vehicle transport company.
- Pay the driver: Before you can take your car back, you’ll need to pay the driver. Most companies charge some of the fee up front, so this will likely be the remainder of the total cost. Some companies and drivers offer a discount for paying in cash.
Cross-Country Car Shipping Options
Auto shipping companies offer different options for how you transport your vehicle. The most common options include:
- Open car transport: The cheapest way to ship your car is in an open-air container. But this option leaves your car exposed to damage from weather, road debris, and more.
- Enclosed carrier transport: For additional protection, you can ship your car in an enclosed trailer. This is more expensive than open auto transport.
- Terminal-to-terminal shipping: You can save money by shipping your car between a central pickup location and delivery location if a company offers it.
- Door-to-door shipping: Your car transport service can pick your car up at your old location and drop it off at your new location for a more convenient shipment.
- Alternative vehicle shipping: Some companies can ship vehicles other than cars, such as motorcycles, ATVs, RVs, golf carts, and more.
- Single car shipping: You can sometimes ship your car by itself if you have an exotic, classic, or luxury vehicle and want additional peace of mind.
How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car Cross-Country?
According to our research, the average cross-country auto transport takes five to seven days. On average, car carriers can travel between 400 and 700 miles per day.
However, auto transport times can vary greatly. Inclement weather, traffic jams, accidents, and more can all delay a car shipment. The more miles a shipment covers, the more opportunities there are for delays. When it comes to cross-country car transport, consider any delivery date a company gives you to be an estimate rather than a precise commitment.
Some car transport companies do offer guaranteed delivery dates. This service typically comes at an additional cost, however.
How To Find The Best Car Shipping Company
We recommend looking for three things in particular when researching car shipping companies.
The Internet is awash with customer reviews of every business under the sun. We always recommend transport providers with sterling reviews (look for comments about on-time delivery). You can also find reviews on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
Care & Concern
Your vehicle is one of your most expensive purchases besides your home. The best auto shipping companies will care for your vehicle like it’s their own and arrive on time with minimal delay. The reviews often tell how a given car shipping company will treat your vehicle.
We prefer car shipping companies that offer an online tracking service. Reliable and reputable carriers will often provide necessary updates by phone, email, or text to notify you of any changes to the itinerary. Choose a shipping provider that closely monitors your vehicle, especially if you’re shipping an expensive car.
How To Prepare Your Car For Shipping
Lastly, you will need to prepare the vehicle for shipping. We added a printable checklist for you to use when cleaning and preparing your car.
You’ll want to wash your vehicle to remove excess dirt and grime. A clean exterior makes it easier for the inspector to see any dings, scratches, or dents. It will also make it easier to see any damage that may have occurred during shipping once your car is delivered. Other than that, here are a few more tips for shipping your vehicle across the country:
- Disable the vehicle alarm if possible.
- Check the tire pressures and battery condition.
- Deactivate the vehicle’s electronic toll pass (if applicable).
- Remove exterior attachments and accessories like antennas and bike racks.
- Ensure no valuables (money, jewelry, electronics, etc.) left inside.
- Check and refill vital fluids like the engine oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
- Fill the gas tank at least a quarter full. If you can help it, it’s better to ship a vehicle with less gas in the tank. More gas means more weight and higher costs.
- Make sure the parking/emergency brake is working. Car shipping companies can refuse service for a defective or non-working parking brake.
Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Cross-Country
Cross-country vehicle shipping can be expensive simply due to the transport distance. But there are a few things you can do to try and keep your rates down. These include:
- Shop around: Rates vary by company. Get shipping quotes from multiple companies to see which one offers you the lowest price.
- Choose cheaper options: Shipping options like open container transport and terminal-to-terminal shipping may come with more risk and hassle, but they’ll also save you money.
- Avoid high season: If it’s possible to avoid shipping your car during peak season, arrange to transport it when rates are lower.
- Book in advance: You may get a better deal if you book your car shipment far ahead of time and doing so gives you more time to compare quotes. It also helps you avoid expedited shipping, which costs more.
- Pay in cash: Some shippers give you a discount for paying in cash, rather than with a credit card.
- Be flexible: Being willing to ship your car a few days earlier or later than your ideal date may help you get a better rate.
- Look for discounts: Discounts aren’t as common in the car shipping industry as they are in car insurance, for example, but some companies do offer them. Some of the more common discounts include savings opportunities for military members, students, senior citizens, and early bookers.
Shipping a Car Cross-Country: Conclusion
It costs an average of $0.84 per mile to ship a car cross-country, according to our most recent data. However, car shipping costs vary between providers and based on several factors about your vehicle and your shipping needs.
RoadRunner Auto Transport, SGT Auto Transport, and A-1 Auto Transport gave us the cheapest cross-country car shipping quotes. However, AmeriFreight, Sherpa Auto Transport and Montway Auto Transport gave us quotes that were only slightly higher and each company placed in the top five of our most recent car shipping study.
Ship a Car cross-country: Recommended Providers
Most car shipping companies can ship a car cross-country, but not all of them offer the same value. We recommend getting quotes from multiple auto transport companies and comparing to see which ones offer the best rates. The quality of your shipping provider is also important, so we recommend starting your search with a few companies that scored highly in our study.
Montway Auto Transport: Best Service
Montway Auto Transport earned the highest score in our shipping study and the title of Best Service. The company offers competitive rates and a healthy selection of shipping services. But what sets Montway apart is its near-flawless reputation among industry professionals and customers alike. When it comes to reliability and service quality, Montway is hard to beat.
Keep reading: Montway Auto Transport review
Sherpa Auto Transport: Best for Locked-In Pricing
Sherpa Auto Transport finished second overall in our car shipping study. The company offers everything you’d want in a provider: affordable prices, an easy quotes experience, and helpful customer support. However, there are two things that really stand out about Sherpa: benefits like a free car wash after delivery, and the company’s Price Lock Promise. With Sherpa, the price you get on your quote is the price you will pay in the end. That’s highly uncommon in this industry and a huge selling point for the provider.
Keep reading: Sherpa Auto Transport review
Ship A Car Across the Country: FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions about shipping your car across the country.
How much would it cost to ship a car across the U.S.?
The average rate to ship a car across the U.S. is $1,971 or $0.81 per mile, based on our research. Costs vary, however, based on a variety of factors.
Is it cheaper to ship a car than drive?
It can be cheaper to ship a car than to drive it, but it depends on a few things. In addition to hard costs such as gas, lodging, and food, you’ll also need to consider the cost of your time, especially if you need to take unpaid vacation to make the journey. After adding all of these costs, it’s often cheaper to use an auto transport company.
How much does it cost to ship a car from another country to the U.S.?
It can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars to ship a car from another country to the U.S. The cost depends on shipping distance, port fees, taxes, and more.
What is the best way to ship a car across the U.S.?
The best way to ship a car across the U.S. for most people is usually to use a car shipping company. Unless you live near major rail stations or have the time and energy to drive it yourself, an auto transport company is much easier and can even be more cost effective.
What is the cheapest company to ship your car?
RoadRunner Auto Transport is the cheapest company to ship your car based on the quotes we received. However, shipping prices are individualized and involve a number of factors and another company may offer you cheaper rates.
Do I Need Any Special Insurance?
Auto shipping companies, by law, are required to have liability and cargo insurance. It covers any damages to your vehicle incurred during the transit period. However, this type of insurance will not cover the loss of personal possessions left inside the car and is the reason why you should never leave your valuables when shipping a vehicle.
But there’s a catch. The amount of coverage varies depending on the shipping company. In some cases, the coverage may not be enough to cover the value of your vehicle. Here are things to consider when reviewing the insurance policy of your shipping provider:
– Request proof of insurance from the transport company.
– Determine the deductible.
– Review the type of damages that are covered by the policy.
– Know the limitations of the insurance policy.
Should You Book In Advance?
Yes! You’ll get better chances of scoring the best deals if you book at least two weeks in advance or roughly 15 days before the first available shipping date.
Head over to uShip’s vehicle shipping page to compare shipping quotes and book in advance.
Should I Purchase Additional Coverage?
Yes and no. You should get additional coverage if the policy is not enough to cover the value of your vehicle. Consider this if you’re shipping an expensive, rare, or vintage car. On the other hand, the standard liability insurance by the transport provider may be enough for an average sedan, SUV, or pickup truck.
Always read the fine print. Know the limitations and the type of damages covered by the policy before signing the dotted line.
Can I Ship a Damaged Car?
It’s possible, but the shipping rates will change depending on factors like location, size of the vehicle, and carrier type. Broken or damaged vehicles need a winch carrier, and most auto shipping companies can arrange for this type of service, albeit for a fee.
Should I Ship My Car or Just Drive?
If the destination is less than 500 miles and driving the vehicle is a valid option, you can do so and pocket the savings.
However, there are some exceptions. Suppose your vehicle is a lease, for example. In that case, hiring a car shipping company is more reasonable than paying more money for incurring excess mileage penalties (which amounts to about 15 or 20 cents per mile). The same rule applies to vintage cars, concept cars, supercars, or limited-edition vehicles – shipping the car might just make more financial sense. In some cases, the car might not be legal on public roads (like racing cars or highly-tuned off-road vehicles).
Mind you, driving a vehicle over long distances is not devoid of added costs like food, lodging, tolls, and gas expenses – not to mention engine wear, tire wear, and depreciation. The general rule of thumb is to consider driving the vehicle if the destination is less than 500 miles away.
Our expert review team takes satisfaction in providing accurate and unbiased information. We identified the following rating categories based on consumer survey data and conducted extensive research to formulate rankings of the best car shipping companies.
- Prices: A variety of factors influence cost, so it can be difficult to compare quotes between providers. Our team performs ongoing secret shopper analyses for different vehicles, services, and shipping routes to give this rating.
- Services: Because each consumer has unique needs, it’s essential that an auto transport company offers an array of services. We take into account the availability of services, ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates, and insurance coverage options.
- Reputation: Our team considers Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, a company’s history of service, and years in business when giving this score.
- Customer Service: Reputable car shippers operate with a certain degree of care for consumers. We take into account customer reviews, BBB complaints, and the responsiveness of the customer service team.