cost to ship a car

Car Shipping Cost: Never base shipping a car on price alone

When shipping a car one of the first questions people have is “How much does it cost to ship a car?” or “What’s the car shipping cost?” What many people don’t realize is the price depends on the level of auto transport service you choose. The cheaper price may not always be the best way to ship a car. 

The different levels of service are shipping your car on a flatbed, open car carrier, or an enclosed car carrier. Car shipping costs can also differentiate whether you’re shipping your vehicle directly with a car carrier or with a broker. Be sure you choose an auto transport company based on their service and car shipping reviews not just on the car transport cost alone.

How much does it cost to ship a car?

So how much is it to transport a car? The price to ship a car depends on the type of auto transport service you’re looking for. For a standard-sized car going from New York to California, the average cost to ship a car will be $1,400-$2,500 depending on the level of service and time of the year. 

The auto transport industry has a wide range of prices from hundreds of different companies that ship cars. This price drastically changes depending on the equipment used to transport the vehicle. The amount charged reflects the cost of their equipment, the price of fuel needed to ship your car, and the quality of service you will receive. 

Different levels of Car Transport Services

Shipping your car on a Flat Bed – Cheapest, but short moves only

shipping a car on a flatbed

The cheapest way to ship a car a short distance is on a flatbed. Shipping your car on a flatbed trailer is usually the cheapest, but is the riskiest in regards to your vehicle. Flatbeds force your vehicle to climb a steep ramp during loading, which can be an issue for low clearance vehicles, sensitive transmissions, and nonrunning vehicles. 

Flatbeds also expose your car to the elements and road debris. They typically have less insurance than other types of car shipping companies and service a small geographic area than other services. Shipping a car on a flatbed should be reserved for breakdowns or shipping daily driver cars short distances.

Open Car Carriers – Cheapest nationwide transport, but the riskiest

open car carrier

Shipping a car on an Open trailers is a cheap option to shipping a car nationwide, but it is risky. Open transport like flatbeds put the car you’re shipping at risk because the cars are forced up steep ramps. These steep ramps can be problematic for classic cars, race cars, and exotic cars.

Cars on open trailers are also exposed to the weather, elements, and road debris. Large open car carriers have the added risk that cars can be transported above yours, so if they leak any fluids those fluids may hit your car and damage the paint. 

Open car carriers also tend to have lower insurance coverage for your car than enclosed car carrier companies. If considering shipping your car on an open car carrier be sure to check their insurance coverage before to be sure it’s enough to cover your car’s entire value. Finding out afterward the car carrier didn’t have enough insurance could leave you paying out of pocket for repairs on higher-value vehicles. 

Enclosed auto transport Companies – Safest, but more expensive

shipping a classic car

Shipping your car on an enclosed trailer is usually more costly than flatbeds or open trailers. Enclosed car trailers typically provide a much higher level of security and insurance coverage especially when transporting a car cross country or long distance. Enclosed car carriers keep your car safe and secure from the outside world including weather and road debris whether shipping a car locally or nationwide. Reputable enclosed car carriers like Intercity Lines typically offer added comforts like lift gate loading and covering the car once it’s loaded. Not every enclosed auto transport company uses lift gates and take extra precautions like covering cars, so check with the specific car carrier first.

A new enclosed transport trailer can cost $500,000, which is why enclosed auto transport tends to have higher car shipping rates than open auto transport. Enclosed auto transport companies, like Intercity Lines, take every step possible to protect the car you’re shipping. They have well trained and experienced truck drivers and state-of-the-art equipment, in contrast to the companies that may have lower prices, but use older equipment and less experienced drivers.

Enclosed car carriers also carry the highest levels of auto shipping insurance for your car. Intercity Lines carries $2 million dollars worth of cargo insurance that protects your car from pick up to delivery. Flatbed and open car carriers may carry a fraction of this insurance coverage, helping keep their shipping costs low, but it may leave your car underinsured. Always get a copy of the auto transport company’s insurance certificate before shipping your car.

Auto Transport Brokers – Add a commission to your car shipping cost

Auto transport brokers are companies that book your order and then find a car carrier to ship your car for a lower price than what they charged you. Brokers do not own any equipment nor have car haulers working for them. They make money by taking the difference in shipping cost from what they charged you and what they’re paying the car carrier.

A car carrier has a fleet of car haulers that drives exclusively for them shipping their client’s cars. An auto transport broker’s incentive is to find the cheapest car carrier they can find to ship your car in order to maximize their profits. Unfortunately, the cheapest carrier is not always the best or the most reputable.

If you receive a very low auto transport quote to ship a car with an enclosed car carrier, be very wary because it is likely a broker or a less reputable company. Brokers despite their commission can sometimes provide a below-market rate because they are using less than reputable car carriers.  Brokers sell your car shipment to other companies that they have no affiliation with. 

Car shipping cost depends on the level of auto transport service you choose

best way to ship a car enclosed trailer

When you need to ship a car determine the type of service and protection you’re looking for before you start comparing car transport costs. It’s important to understand that different services have different average costs to transport cars and you want to ensure you’re comparing similar services when making a decision.

Once you determine what type of car carrier you want to ship your car with it’s important to ensure you deal directly with the carrier. Brokers add their commission to your car shipping cost making it more expensive than working with a car carrier directly. 

At Intercity Lines, we never broker any of our shipments out and only ship cars with our experienced car haulers. We have one of the best team of truck drivers and equipment, who solely drive for Intercity Lines, and handle all of our car shipments. Therefore, you always know that you and your car is receiving the highest level of security and service. 

We’ve led the auto transport industry in service and reputation for decades as being the best car carrier for nationwide car transport in the United States! Find out how much is it to ship a car with Intercity Lines today! Get a price to ship a car with Intercity Lines here!

Read more car shipping tips

How to Properly Secure a Luxury Vehicle for Transport
4 Ways to Save Money when Shipping a Car
Shipping a classic car that does not run
guide to enclosed versus open car shipping