How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car? Factors & Cost Breakdown JANUARY 10, 202413 MIN READ
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car? Factors & Cost Breakdown

In the ever-evolving landscape of global business, the logistics of transporting valuable assets like cars play a crucial role. A question that frequently emerges for businesses across various sectors is: "How much does it cost to ship a car?" As we embrace 2024, understanding the intricacies of car shipping costs becomes vital for companies expanding their operations, managing assets across distances, or delivering vehicles to customers.

This blog serves as a comprehensive guide for businesses of all sizes, providing insights into average shipping costs, factors affecting pricing, and strategies for cost-effective vehicle transportation. Whether your business regularly deals with vehicle logistics or you're planning your first foray into this field, this article aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed decisions in the dynamic landscape of global business transportation.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car in 2024?

The prices for shipping a vehicle can vary widely based on several factors, but to give a ballpark figure, in 2024, the cost of shipping a car within the United States typically ranges from $600 to $2,500. For international shipments, the cost can be significantly higher, often ranging from $1,500 to $7,500, depending on the destination country and the specifics of the shipping service.1

As we venture further into 2024, the car shipping industry continues to evolve, adapting to new market dynamics, technological advancements, and shifting consumer preferences. One notable trend is the increasing demand for electric vehicle (EV) transportation, spurred by the global shift towards sustainability. Special considerations for EVs, such as battery handling and charging requirements, have slightly altered the cost structure in comparison to traditional vehicles.

Global economic factors such as fluctuating fuel prices, changes in international trade policies, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact shipping costs. The industry is also adapting to the increased cost of compliance with environmental regulations, which has a knock-on effect on pricing.

While the baseline costs for how much to ship a car in 2024 fall within a certain range, the actual price can vary significantly based on a combination of these evolving industry trends and individual shipment specifics.

Average Car Shipping Cost

The average cost to ship a car in 2024 is influenced by a multitude of factors, making it a variable rather than a fixed amount. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview on the average costs:2

H3: Transportation Method Costs

Transport Type Average Cost Range Average Cost Per Mile
Enclosed $1,000 - $2,450 $0.90 - $1.70
Open Carrier $550 - $1,600 $0.60 - $1.10

Enclosed shipping offers more protection but is more expensive. Open carrier is more budget-friendly but exposes the car to the elements.

Cost by Distance

Total Mileage Average Cost Range Average Cost Per Mile
500 miles $550 - $850 $1.10 - $1.70
1500 miles $1,100 - $1,600 $0.90 - $1.30
2500 miles $1,400 - $1,750 $0.60 - $0.70

The longer the distance, the lower the price per mile.

Cost by Vehicle Size

Vehicle Size Car Shipping Cost Average Cost Range
Sedan $600 - $1,700 $1,150
Compact SUV $750 - $1,950 $1,350
SUV $900 - $2,200 $1,550
Truck $1,050 - $2,450 $1,750

Larger vehicles incur higher costs compared to smaller ones, potentially increasing the shipping cost by $15 to $250 due to the added weight and space requirements.

It is important to note that these figures are indicative and can vary based on specific circumstances, carrier availability, and market conditions. Additional fees may apply for special handling requirements or specific delivery locations.

What Affects the Cost of Car Shipping Services?

Building on the overview of the average costs influenced by various factors, let's delve deeper into the specifics. These factors range from the type of transport you choose to the size and weight of your vehicle. Here, we break down each of these key elements to give you a clearer picture:

Transport Type

The choice of transport plays a crucial role in determining the cost to ship a car across country. As we discussed above, there are two primary types of car shipping: open transport and enclosed transport.

  • Open Transport: This is the most common and cost-effective method. Cars are transported on an open trailer, exposed to the elements. It's a popular choice for standard models and used cars.
  • Enclosed Transport: More expensive than open transport, this method provides additional protection for the vehicle, as it is shipped in a covered trailer. This option is often preferred for luxury, classic, or highly valuable vehicles.
  • Rail Transport: In some cases, cars can be shipped by train. While this option can be more economical, especially for long distances, it's less flexible in terms of locations and schedules. We will explore the intricacies and considerations of car shipment by train in a subsequent section.


The cost of car shipping is significantly influenced by both the shipping distance and regional variations. Shipping costs are typically higher for longer distances, as the further a car needs to be transported, the more it costs, although the cost per mile decreases for extended trips. Additionally, the location's accessibility plays a key role. Areas with limited access or those distant from major transport hubs often incur higher costs. Conversely, costs are generally lower in well-connected regions or along popular routes due to higher shipment volumes and competitive pricing. This dynamic pricing reflects the complexities of logistics and regional demand in the car shipping industry.

Vehicle size

The size of the vehicle is a critical factor in calculating shipping costs, due to its direct influence on the transport carrier's capacity and the complexities in transportation logistics. Vehicles with larger dimensions, such as SUVs and trucks, consume more space on a transport carrier compared to smaller, compact cars. This reduced capacity to carry multiple large vehicles simultaneously often results in a higher cost per unit. Moreover, the handling of larger vehicles frequently necessitates specialized equipment or additional attention during loading and unloading procedures, further contributing to an increase in the total shipping expenses.

Carrier Type

The type of carrier used for shipping a car significantly affects the cost, with the main options being multi-car carriers and single-car carriers.

Multi-car carriers: These transport multiple vehicles simultaneously, distributing operational costs across several clients, making it a more economical option. They are commonly available and operate on established routes. However, the delivery time might be longer due to multiple stops for different vehicles.

Single-Car Carriers: These are preferred for fast, urgent, or specialized deliveries, such as for luxury or classic cars. Since the carrier is dedicated to a single vehicle, the cost is higher, covering all transport expenses for that one shipment. They offer more tailored routes and schedules, accommodating specific client needs without the constraints of multiple deliveries.

Vehicle Weight

The weight of a vehicle also significantly influences the cost of shipping, affecting everything from fuel consumption to regulatory compliance.

  • Fuel Consumption: Heavier vehicles add more weight to the transport carrier, leading to increased fuel consumption. This is a significant factor, as fuel costs are a major component of the overall expenses for shipping companies. The heavier the load, the more fuel is required, which can lead to higher charges for transporting heavier vehicles.
  • Maintenance Costs: Heavier vehicles put more strain on the carrier’s engine, brakes, and tires, leading to increased wear and tear. This can result in higher maintenance and repair costs for the shipping company, which may be reflected in the pricing.
  • Route Restrictions: Certain roads or bridges may have weight restrictions, potentially limiting the routes available for heavier loads. Navigating these restrictions might require longer, less direct routes, increasing transit times and fuel costs.

To provide a threshold where additional considerations for vehicle weight may start to substantially influence the cost of shipping, it's helpful to know how much an average car weighs. According to the 2022 EPA Automotive Trends Report, the average vehicle weight in the 2021 model year stands at 4,289 pounds. Furthermore, vehicles that surpass the 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight are classified as light trucks.3

By understanding these specific factors, you are better equipped to estimate the costs associated with shipping your car and can make choices that align with your needs and budget.

Cost to Ship a Car by Train

Vehicle Type Maximum Dimensions Amtrak Car Shipping Cost
Standard Vehicles 16 feet in length $285 per vehicle
85 inches in height
84 inches in width
Extended Vehicles 18 feet in length $325 per vehicle
85 inches in height
84 inches in width

However, it's important to note that rail transport may not offer the same level of flexibility as road transport. Train schedules and routes are fixed, which means there might be limitations in terms of specific pickup and delivery dates or accessing certain remote locations.

Often, rail transport is used in combination with other methods. For instance, a car may be transported by train for the major part of its journey and then switched to a truck for the final leg to reach a specific destination that is not accessible by rail.

How To Ship Your Car Cheaply?

How To Ship Your Car Cheaply?

After understanding these factors and variability, you might be wondering how to align this knowledge with your budget. There are several strategies you can employ to reduce costs without compromising on service quality:

  • Compare Quotes: Start by getting quotes from multiple car shipping companies. This will give you a clear picture of the price range and help you identify the most cost-effective option. Don't just look at the price; consider the reputation and reliability of the company as well.
  • Be Flexible with Timing: If your schedule allows, be flexible with your shipping dates. Prices can vary depending on the time of year, as we discussed earlier, with peak seasons like summer and holidays typically being more expensive. Shipping during off-peak times can lead to lower rates.
  • Select Terminal-to-Terminal Delivery: Instead of door-to-door delivery, consider terminal-to-terminal services. This option requires you to drop off and pick up your car at specific locations, but it can be significantly cheaper than having the car delivered directly to your doorstep.
  • Book in Advance: Plan and book your car shipment well in advance. Last-minute bookings can be more expensive due to the urgency and limited availability of carriers.

By following these tips, you can find a balance between affordability and quality service when shipping your car.

Shipping Tips

Successfully shipping your car involves more than just finding a cost-effective option; it's about ensuring the process is smooth, secure, and hassle-free. Here are some essential tips to guide you through the shipping process:

  • Understand the Shipping Contract: Before agreeing to any service, thoroughly read and understand the shipping contract. Look for any hidden fees, terms about delays, and the company's policies on handling disputes or damage claims. Don't hesitate to ask questions if something is unclear.
  • Check for Insurance Coverage: Confirm the type and extent of insurance coverage provided by the shipping company. Understand what is covered and consider purchasing additional insurance if necessary.
  • Document the Vehicle's Condition: Before shipping, ensure your car is in good condition. Take detailed photos and notes of your car's current condition for reference in case of any disputes or if you need to file an insurance claim for any damage during transit.
  • Plan for Pickup and Delivery: Decide on the most convenient pickup and delivery locations. If you choose door-to-door delivery, ensure the locations are accessible to large transport carriers.
  • Keep Communication Lines Open: Maintain regular communication with the shipping company. Ensure you have the contact details of the person in charge of your shipment and stay updated on the progress.
  • Inspect Upon Arrival: Once your car is delivered, inspect it thoroughly for any damages that might have occurred during transportation. Compare the vehicle's condition to the pre-shipping photos and documentation.

By following these tips, you can ensure a smoother and more secure car shipping experience. It's about being proactive, staying informed, and actively participating in the shipping process to safeguard your vehicle.


For businesses operating in the international marketplace, comprehending "how much does it cost to ship a car in 2024" is crucial for strategic planning and operational efficiency. This blog has endeavored to demystify various cost-influencing factors such as transport types, distance, vehicle specifications, and carrier options. Additionally, we provided actionable advice for achieving economical shipping, aligning with the financial prudence and operational goals of modern businesses.

The essence of efficient vehicle transportation lies not just in minimizing costs but in balancing affordability with reliability and timeliness, tailored to suit your business's unique needs. Equipped with the insights from this guide, business leaders and logistics professionals are now better positioned to make informed decisions, ensuring that car shipping acts as a lever for growth and efficiency in their global business operations.

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Is vehicle transportation expensive in summer?

Yes, vehicle transportation can be more expensive during the summer months. This is primarily due to increased demand as many people choose to relocate or ship their vehicles during this time. Additionally, factors like increased fuel prices during this peak travel season and the need for more careful handling of vehicles in hot weather can also contribute to higher costs.

How to save money on a car shipping quote?

Saving money on a car shipping quote is achievable with a few strategic steps:

  • Obtain quotes from several shipping companies to find the best rates.
  • Opt for open transport over enclosed transport, as it's usually cheaper.
  • Flexibility in shipping dates can lead to lower costs, especially if you avoid peak seasons.
  • Instead of door-to-door service, choose terminal-to-terminal shipping, which tends to be less expensive.
  • Booking your car shipment well in advance can often secure you a lower rate.

How does the auto shipping company determine my price?

The price for auto shipping is calculated based on several factors: the distance of the transport, the size and type of the vehicle, the choice between open or enclosed transport, the pickup and delivery locations, seasonal demand, current fuel prices, and the urgency of the shipping service. Distance and vehicle size are typically the most significant factors, with longer routes and larger vehicles incurring higher costs.