The Cheapest Way to Ship a Car: Cost-Effective Methods and Tips

The cheapest way to ship a car

Are you planning to transport your car to a different location? Shipping a car can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding affordable options. However, with careful planning and research, you can discover the cheapest way to ship your car without compromising on quality or reliability.

In this article, we will explore various cost-effective methods to transport your vehicle and provide you with valuable insights to make the process smoother and more budget-friendly. Whether you’re moving to a new city or purchasing a car from a different state, we have you covered.

By examining different transportation options, considering seasonal factors, and understanding the role of car shipping brokers, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions. Our goal is to help you find practical solutions that fit your budget while ensuring the safe and efficient shipment of your vehicle.

Say goodbye to expensive car shipping fees and discover the affordable alternatives available to you

1. Shipping a Car by Hiring an Auto Transport Company

Shipping a car by hiring an auto transport company is a common method used to transport vehicles. These companies utilize heavy multi-wheeled carriers you often see on the roads, capable of transporting multiple cars. While it offers convenience and relative speed, it may not always be the most affordable choice.

Factors like the type of service and distance influence the cost. For shorter distances up to 500 miles, the average cost is around $1.50 per mile. Between 500 and 1,200 miles, it’s approximately $1.25 per mile, while over 1,200 miles costs around $1.00 per mile. Comparing quotes is essential to find the most cost-effective option.

Is Open Transport the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Cross Country?

Open transport is often considered the most cost-effective method for shipping a car cross country. Let’s explore the pros and cons of open transport:


  • Cost-effective.

  • More availability.

  • Potentially faster delivery.

  • Increased visibility.


    • x
      Less protection.
    • x
      Exposure to elements.
    • x
      Limited securit.


How Much Does Enclosed Auto Transport Cost?

Enclosed auto transport is known for providing enhanced protection for your vehicle during transportation.Enclosed auto transport costs can vary depending on factors such as distance, location, vehicle size, and specific requirements.

On average, enclosed transport costs can range from $1.50 to $3.50 per mile. It’s recommended to obtain quotes from different carriers to get a precise estimate based on your specific needs.


  • Superior protection.

  • Enhanced security.

  • Customized options.

  • Peace of mind.


    • x
      Higher cost.
    • x
      Limited availability.


Tips to Save Money When Shipping a Car by an Auto Transport Company

Shipping a car by hiring an auto transport company can be a cost-effective option. To help you save money during the process, consider the following tips:

Plan Ahead

Booking in advance allows you to compare quotes and secure more affordable rates. Last-minute bookings may result in higher costs due to limited availability.

Choose Open Transport

Opting for open transport instead of enclosed transport can significantly reduce costs. Open carriers are more common, making them a more affordable choice.

Be Flexible with Dates

Some auto transport companies offer discounted rates for flexible pick-up and delivery dates. By being flexible with your timeline, you may be able to find better-priced options.

Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

Selecting terminal-to-terminal shipping instead of door-to-door can help lower costs. Dropping off and picking up your car at designated terminals is often more economical.

Compare Multiple Quotes

Obtain quotes from different auto transport companies and compare their prices and services. This allows you to choose the most competitive and budget-friendly option.

Avoid Peak Seasons

Shipping during peak seasons or holidays may result in higher prices. If possible, schedule your car shipment during off-peak times to save money.

Remove Non-Essential Items

Before shipping your car, remove any personal belongings or non-essential items. Extra weight can increase shipping costs, so keep the vehicle as light as possible.

Check for Discounts or Promotions

Some auto transport companies offer discounts for specific circumstances such as military personnel, students, or multiple vehicle shipments. Inquire about any available discounts to potentially reduce costs.

Properly Maintain Your Car

Ensure that your car is in good condition before shipping. A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to experience delays or incur additional charges.

Review Insurance Coverage

Confirm the insurance coverage provided by the auto transport company. Understanding the coverage and any additional insurance options can help avoid unnecessary expenses in case of any unforeseen incidents.

2. Car Shipping by Train Across the Country

Car shipping by train across the country offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. It reduces wear and tear on your vehicle and provides reliable transportation with predictable delivery timelines. However, it is subject to limited accessibility and longer transit times compared to other methods.

You may need to arrange transportation to and from train terminals. Before choosing train shipping, compare costs, transit times, and available routes with other options.

Consider factors such as distance, convenience, and accessibility to determine if car shipping by train is the right choice for transporting your vehicle across the country.


  • Cost-effective option.

  • less wear and tear.

  • Eco-friendly.

  • Reliable.


    • x
      Limited accessibility.
    • x
      Longer transit times.
    • x
      Need additional transit


3.Transport Via Ship

Shipping goods via ship is a cost-effective and reliable method of transportation. Ships have a large cargo capacity, connecting global markets and allowing businesses to reach customers worldwide.

Shipping is versatile, accommodating various types of cargo. It also has a reduced carbon footprint compared to other modes of transport.

While shipping schedules may be influenced by factors like weather conditions, the industry offers well-established routes and reliable estimated arrival times.

However, shipping requires proper port infrastructure and compliance with documentation and regulations. Despite inherent risks, such as piracy and accidents, shipping integrates with other modes of transport, enhancing connectivity and efficiency.


  • Cost-effective

  • Global connectivity

  • Versatile cargo options

  • Reliable arrival times


    • x
      Longer transit times.
    • x
      Inherent risks.
    • x
      Documentation & compliance


4.Air Car Transport

Air transport for cars is a fast and efficient method of transportation. It allows for rapid delivery of vehicles to different locations, both domestically and internationally. Air car transport provides quick transit times, minimizing delays in supply chains.

It is particularly beneficial for high-value or time-sensitive vehicles, such as luxury cars or prototypes. However, air transport can be expensive compared to other modes of transport, and the capacity for car transportation is limited due to the size and weight of vehicles.


  • Fast and efficient.

  • Quick delivery

  • Ideal for high-value vehicles


    • x
    • x
      Limited capacity for cars.


5.Transport your own vehicle using a dolly or trailer

Transporting your own vehicle using a dolly or trailer offers flexibility and control over the transportation process. By using a dolly or trailer, you can easily tow your vehicle behind another vehicle, such as a truck or an RV.

This method allows you to transport your vehicle without relying on professional transportation services. It can be cost-effective compared to hiring a transport company, especially for short distances.

However, it requires proper equipment, including a suitable trailer or dolly and knowledge of safe towing practices. Additionally, it may require additional time and effort to properly secure and load your vehicle onto the trailer or dolly.


  • Flexibility, control

  • Cost-effective.

  • No profesional transport Need


    • x
    • x
      Limited capacity for cars.


6.Have a friend or family member drive it for you

Having a friend or family member drive your vehicle for you can be a convenient option for transportation. It allows you to avoid the hassle and expenses associated with hiring a professional transport service. By entrusting your vehicle to someone you trust, you have the assurance that it will be handled with care.

This method can be particularly beneficial for shorter distances or when you are unable to drive the vehicle yourself. However, it is essential to consider factors such as their availability, driving skills, and insurance coverage.

Additionally, coordinating schedules and ensuring proper communication is vital to ensure a smooth and reliable transport process.


  • Convenient.

  • Cost-effective.

  • No professional transport


    • x
      Dependence on availability
    • x
      Consideration of driving skills


7.Drive it yourself

Driving the vehicle yourself provides flexibility, cost-saving, and convenience. You have control over the route, schedule, and stops, customizing the journey to your preferences.

It eliminates the need for hiring transport services, especially for shorter distances. You can easily transport personal belongings and have immediate access to your vehicle at the destination. However, consider factors such as time, fatigue, and distance feasibility. Ensure your vehicle is suitable and in good condition.

Familiarize yourself with traffic regulations and road conditions for a safe journey. Evaluate the practicality based on your specific needs and circumstances.


  • Flexibility and control.

  • Cost-saving

  • Immediate access at destination


    • x
      Time, fatigue for long drives
    • x
      Traffic regulations


What’s the Best Way To Ship A Car Across The Country?

Open transport involves transporting vehicles on an open trailer, exposing them to the elements and potential road debris. While it is generally safe and suitable for most cars, there is a possibility of weather-related damage or minor scratches from debris.

On the other hand, enclosed transport offers enhanced protection as vehicles are transported in an enclosed trailer. This method is recommended for high-value or classic cars or if you prefer maximum protection for your vehicle during transit. However, it is typically more expensive than open transport due to the added level of security and protection.

When deciding on the best method to ship a car, it is important to consider factors such as your budget, the value of your vehicle, and your desired level of protection. Open transport is indeed a popular and cost-effective choice for many, but it may not be the ideal option for everyone depending on their specific needs and preferences.


How long does it take to ship a car using the cheapest method?

The duration of car shipping depends on several factors, including the distance, route, and chosen shipping method. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for your vehicle to reach its destination.

Can I ship personal belongings in my car to save on moving costs?

It is generally recommended not to ship personal belongings in your car during the transportation process. Car shipping companies focus on transporting vehicles safely and efficiently, and adding extra weight with personal items can potentially lead to damage or loss. It’s best to consult with the shipping company regarding their policies on shipping personal belongings.

Are there any hidden fees associated with the cheapest car shipping method?

While reputable car shipping companies strive to provide transparent pricing, it’s always advisable to carefully review the terms and conditions of the shipping agreement. Some companies may charge additional fees for services like door-to-door delivery, insurance coverage, or expedited shipping. Ensure that you understand the full cost breakdown before making a decision.

Is it possible to track my car during the shipping process?

Yes, many car shipping companies offer tracking services that allow you to monitor the progress of your vehicle during transit. Tracking systems provide real-time updates on the location and status of your car, giving you peace of mind throughout the shipping process.

Can I choose a specific pickup and delivery date?

Car shipping companies usually provide estimated pickup and delivery windows rather than specific dates. The availability of specific dates may depend on factors such as the shipping route, carrier availability, and other logistical considerations. It’s advisable to discuss your scheduling preferences with the shipping company to see if they can accommodate your needs.

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