How to Estimate Vehicle Shipping Costs

open carrier car shipping

If you need to have your vehicle shipped between cities, across states or even overseas, you’ll likely have many questions. The most common first question that car owners ask during the shipping process is: “How much will it cost me to ship my vehicle?” Estimating the actual price that you can expect to pay for auto shipping services can be difficult to do on your own.

It’s always recommended to get in touch with a vehicle transport company and obtain an estimated quote for the particular services that you need. You can do this by simply submitting an online quote request form, filling out a car shipping calculator or phoning the auto transport company directly. Regardless, we’ll outline general estimates for shipping a vehicle and provide you with some of the factors that may increase the overall price.


How much will it cost me to ship my car?

While there are many variables that go into a car shipping estimate, on average, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 to ship a vehicle. In general, a vehicle that is transported a shorter distance will fall around the $500 range and one that is shipped cross-country will land closer to $1,500.

As an additional estimate, the cost of shipping an average four-door vehicle over 1,000 miles can cost you between $600 and $1,000. The lowest amount represents shipment during winter or other off seasons for the auto shipping industry. Whereas, the more expensive rate reflects pricing during summer months.

However, depending on the particular auto shipping company you hire, they’ll either charge a flat rate or per mile. Examine the below for a rough estimate of what you may pay with a company that charges per mile for vehicle transport. The mileage refers to the overall distance that your vehicle will have to cover to be transported from its starting location to the desired final destination.

  • 1 – 500 miles – $1.00 per mile
  • Over 500 miles – $0.75 per mile
  • Over 1,000 miles – $0.60 per mile
  • Over 2,000 miles – $0.50 per mile
  • Over 2,500 miles – $0.40 per mile

Since these are just general estimates, they do not include differences based on method of transportation. For instance, choosing enclosed vs. open transportation will have a huge impact on shipping costs.

What variables can increase my auto shipping costs?

As previously mentioned, the above are just rough estimates and the actual price you will pay for vehicle shipping will depend on a variety of factors. The following are some of the variables that could potentially increase your overall auto shipping costs.

  • Vehicle Size: In general, the larger the vehicle, the higher the price you’ll end up paying for shipping. Many companies use weight as a basis for their shipping quotes and a bigger vehicle will weigh much more than a small sedan. Also, SUVs, pickup trucks and vans will take up more space on the transport and most companies will charge you more to compensate for this.
  • Vehicle Condition: If your vehicle is in proper functioning condition and can be easily loaded on and off the transport truck, you’ll pay the standard fees. However, if the car does not run, you can expect to pay an additional charge.
  • Enclosed Auto Transport: Without a doubt, transporting your vehicle on an open-air trailer is the cheapest and most affordable shipping method. However, if you’ve opted for the added safety of enclosed transport, the costs will be 50 to 70% more.
  • Time of the Year: Inclement weather conditions and holiday seasons can increase the price you’ll pay for auto shipping. Also, you can expect to pay more during the summer as carriers are in high demand. Depending on the auto shipping company, you may pay $100 to $400 more to ship your vehicle during busy seasons.
  • Economic Conditions: The price of gas and diesel directly impact possible adjustments to your shipping rate. If the prices for fuel are considerably high, you may pay an extra $100 to $300 for vehicle shipping.
  • Pickup and Delivery Locations: Shipping a vehicle to a remote location causes the carrier to deviate from normal travel routes and will likely increase shipping costs. The price for ship to rural areas could be as much as double of your initial quote. Overall, you’ll get the best deal when shipping to and from major metropolitan areas.

For the most detailed cost estimate, obtain a free auto transport quote by filling out our online quote request form or calling our office at (888) 231-0113.

What’s the cost estimate of shipping a vehicle overseas?

Just like shipping a car domestically, transporting a vehicle overseas depends on several factors. These include the method that you choose to ship it and the total distance that it travels.

Regardless, the average cost for shipping a vehicle internationally by boat is $1,000 to $5,000. The final price for shipping a car overseas can range anywhere from $750 for a small compact vehicle by ship to $40,000 and more to transport an SUV by plane. The chart below will give you more detailed estimates based on the country you’re shipping to.


Destination Country Average Cost
United States $1,000 – $5,000
Europe $850 – $5,000
Australia $3,000 – $5,000
Germany $900 – $3,900
West Africa $1,500 – $2,500


The following additional variables will impact international shipping costs.

  • The type of vehicle. Similar to domestic shipping, the bigger and heavier the vehicle, the more you’re going to pay.
  • Distance to the port. If you live close to a major port city such as New York, Miami or San Francisco, the cost of shipping to the port will not be a major factor. This cost will range around $100 to $300. However, if you live far from a port city, in the center of the country, costs could reach up to $1,000.
  • Establish pickup location. Your cheapest option will be to pick up your car directly from the port. However, you can choose the more expensive option of having it delivered right to your door.
  • Import taxes. Understanding import taxes is an important step in international vehicle shipping. Do plenty of research and ask tons of questions to your shipping company. These can range from small, minor fees to more than the overall cost of auto transport.
  • Travel route. Frequently traveled routes will cost less than more remote routes. Also, in general, the longer the journey, the higher the cost will be.
  • Shipping method. Your price for international car shipping will vary depending on if you choose roll on roll off (RORO), or a shipping container. RORO is the cheapest option and the most expensive method is to have your car shipped in its own container. However, you can also choose to have it transported in a shared container to cut some costs.
  • Expedited shipping. On average, it takes anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks to ship a vehicle internationally. You can purchase expedited shipping to reduce this to only a few weeks but expect to pay quite a bit more for this service.

Brokers vs. Carriers

When searching for a vehicle shipping company, you’ll have the option of choosing between carriers and brokers. In general, brokers tend to be the best choice as they handle the entire shipment from start to finish. They will manage all of the necessary paperwork and help to keep transport prices as low as possible. You can expect to receive the best auto shipping cost estimate through a brokerage.

At Ship Vehicles, we understand what it takes to get your vehicle shipped at a competitive rate. With over 30 years of experience we have undoubtedly perfected the process of shipping vehicles and would be thrilled to provide our services to you. Fill out our online quote request form or call us today at (888) 231-0113 to receive your FREE, no-obligation Ship Vehicle estimate.