What is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car?

Are you considering moving to a new city, a place, or a town? You may be thinking of what is the cheapest way to ship a car to the place where you are/will be. Well, there are plenty of the cheapest car shipping options available to you when it comes to vehicle transport. Let’s check out a few….

The most common and cheapest way to ship a car cross country is by open transport with the terminal to terminal delivery. Make sure you choose only the best auto transport company to ship your car.

There is, however, a lot more to this answer.

In this article, we will give you enough information to help you save money on your vehicle shipping no matter what your situation and budget may be. Here we will look at 6 different car shipping options and see which one suits you the best.

Option 1. Shipping a Car by Hiring an Auto Transport Company

Cheapest Way to Ship a Car To Hawaii

It is considered to be the most used method of shipping a vehicle. You might have noticed heavy multi-wheeled carriers carrying so many cars moving on the roads in the United States. It’s easy and usually fast depending on the shipping company you hire.

Despite being the most common method, it is not always the most affordable. Shipping your by enclosed car carrier or door-to-door service can make shipping a car by trailer quite expensive. This option will also vary in price depending on the distance you’re sending your car.

Typical car shipping costs for a shorter distance of up to 500 miles are $1.50 per mile or around $450 for 300 miles. The cost of shipping between 500 and 1,200 miles is about $1.25 per mile. More than 1,200 miles will cost about $1.00 per mile.

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    Is open transport the cheapest way to ship a car cross country?

    Yes, open transport is still consistently the cheapest way to ship a car. Open carrier car shipping can transport 10 vehicles at a time, making them more cost-effective and easier to arrange than enclosed trailers.


    • Ease/Convenience: a phone call to the company usually gets the job done
    • Insurance: you can claim damage if there’s any during the shipping process
    • Cost-Effective: Open car carrier service is the most economical type of transport
    • Fast and Efficient Service: Over 90% of truckers use open road trailers, which means more options to end up with your car, so open car transport is faster
    • Multiple car transfer: you can transfer several cars at a time


    Open auto transport poses a small risk of rocks and other debris hitting the vehicle, but the risk is about the same as if the vehicle were driven. Damage can occur (gas leakage/worn brakes, bad road conditions, etc.)

    How much does enclosed auto transport cost?

    It is usually more expensive to ship a car enclosed than to ship it in an open carrier. Typically, owners of luxury, exotic, and sports cars and classic cars opt for enclosed car transport.


    • Extra Protection: Car transport that is enclosed protects your vehicle from the elements, rocks, and other external damage.
    • Stress-Free Experience: The driver will come to you directly. With this service, you won’t need to do any work and can just sit back and wait for your car at the destination.
    • Convenience: Since enclosed auto transport is a less frequent choice, auto transport companies are more flexible in scheduling pickups and drop-offs.


    Expensive: The only disadvantage of enclosed auto transport is that it is more expensive than transport by open carriers. In most cases, enclosed auto transport will cost about 60% more than shipping an open vehicle.

    See Also: How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car by Trailers?

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

    No matter if you need to ship a car from state to state or across the country, we have put together 12 tips to help you find the cheapest way to ship a car by hiring an auto transport company

    1. Ships during the off-season

    Wait for the time when the prices are comparatively lower. May through September is usually a busy time for coast-to-coast car shipping.

    Similarly, the traffic is heavy from north to south and vice versa in autumn and spring. This will get you a significant cost reduction. You are likely to get cheaper quotes in the off-season.

    2. Consider terminal-to-terminal carriers

    Terminal-to-terminal car shipping service is generally cheaper than the door to door delivery. However, we do not recommend this cheap auto transport option unless it is necessary.

    As opposed to door-to-door car transport services, car shippers providing these services are sometimes slower and less convenient. The terminal yards may be far away from you as well, so if you need to drop your car off or pick it up, you may have to travel several miles.

    If you have to leave your vehicle in the terminal for any amount of time, you may have to pay daily storage fees.

    Ready to ship your car with AutoStar Transport Express?

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    3. Choose an Open Transport Carrier

    The most cost-effective way to ship a car is via open car transport services. It is about 50% cheaper than the enclosed vehicle carrier. However, open shipping is not the safest way to ship cars. Enclosed car movers protect vehicles much better than open car movers.

    Having enclosed transport is the best way to ship a car cross country if you have a valuable luxury car or a restored classic car. Other than that, if you want to ship a car cheaply, go with an open transport carrier.

    4. Get Multiple Quotes

    A good rule of thumb is to get at least 3 quotes from auto transport companies. Get started now by getting an instant car shipping quote! Multiple quotes can help you determine the fair market shipping price and find the cheapest car shipping company if your budget is limited.

    However, We recommend not going for the cheapest offer before you verify the legitimacy of the company. You can find out if the company is registered, licensed, read reviews, etc. This will give you a good idea of its reputation.

    5. Hire an Auto Transport Broker

    Since auto transport brokers have access to hundreds of carriers throughout the country, they can network with them to get the best rates. It can be cheapest to ship a car through a broker, but you need to be careful if the quote seems too good to be true.

    As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. This is no different from car shipping. Cheaper prices usually mean slower delivery. Keep in mind that cheap car shipping transporters usually don’t offer great customer service as well.

    6. Provide flexible pick-up and delivery locations

    If you happen to live in a faraway place, a place which is hard to reach (mountains and steeps) for the truckers, you’ll end up paying a lot.

    Truckers prefer to travel on big roads which are closer to the big cities. If you can meet up with the carrier near the interstate or a metro area, you can save money.

    7. Be flexible with pick-up and delivery times

    When you tell a broker or carrier that your car must be picked up or delivered by a specific date, you’ll almost always have to pay a higher cost to meet your deadline.

    Being flexible is the cheapest way to ship a car. Moreover, you can save even more money by allowing your broker or carrier to schedule your shipment at a time that works best for them (while still meeting your general shipping deadlines).

    Related Article: How long does it take to ship a car

    8. Ship multiple Cars in one batch

    Auto-Transport companies offer a reasonable discount on multiple-car shipping. Shipping two or more cars, or bulk makes a price difference. Remember that bigger vehicles take more space, hence more cash is spent on their shipment.

    9. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

    Booking an order with the need to have your vehicle transported right NOW is never the best option.  You should give yourself and your transport provider a good lead time of 7-10 days.

    With more time to locate a car carrier at the best possible price, the better.  Expediting your transport by booking at the last minute will cost you more, as your transport provider will have to offer a car carrier more than the average price, to have your vehicle picked up NOW.

    10. Fix your Car

    Make sure your car is in running condition before you dispatch it. Non-functional vehicles cost more money ($150-$200). Some cars have modifications. Remove them before having them transported. It can save you some cash. Learn how to prepare your car for vehicle transport.

    Option 2. Car Shipping by Train Across the Country

    Train Car TransportThere are also train lines running in the United States which can transport your car efficiently. It is cheaper than road transfer. A train is the cheapest way to ship a car cross country compared to a car trailer since several cars need to be shipped and a train uses much less fuel per car than a trailer.

    Apart from being cheaper than shipping a car by truck, auto shipping by rail allows you to load up your car with boxes before it is loaded. As a result, you may be able to save money on shipping for your belongings.

    Also, the services you prefer can affect the cost. You can ship a vehicle by train either open or enclosed. Open transport is cheaper than enclosed transport.

    When using open transport, be aware of how long it may take to get your vehicle fixed if it is damaged by weather, like hail. In the same way as the car shipping trailer, the price will depend on the distance and the features you want.


    • Enclosed carrier/Open-carrier option available
    • They have insurance by the law
    • Ship the whole bulk at a cheaper price
    • Taking the train has a lower carbon footprint, so it’s better for the environment
    • The majority of major routes in the US are served by rail
    • It’s a well-managed system


    • In many cases, it isn’t the cheapest way to ship a car when you consider additional costs, such as getting your car to the station
    • The issue with the train transfer is the location. If you live close to the train terminal, it’s easy to access. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire a local car hauler to take it to the train terminal or receive your vehicle from where it is delivered
    • In most cases, shipping a car by rail takes much longer

    Option 3. Air Car Transport

    Shipping a Car by PlaneAirfreight, or the transport of a car by plane, is the most expensive method of transportation, no matter where the car is going and how far it must go. Prices are typically at least 2-3 times higher than shipping by ocean container.

    Air Car Transport sounds like the quickest method of transporting a car, yet like other procedures mentioned above, it also comes with merits and demerits.


    • Great for expensive and rare cars
    • Quick delivery: It is the most efficient method for shipping a car, and typically takes one or two days
    • Overseas shipping: An individual might choose to ship their car by airplane if they have to ship it overseas.


    • Can be extraordinarily expensive, sometimes more than the vehicle itself
    • It can sometimes take as much time as a land transfer via truck/carrier

    Option 4. Transport Via Shipship transfer

    This is one of the most popular methods for shipping cars to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or any other island. It costs around $1,000 to $5,000 to ship a vehicle by boat. You have two options when it comes to transporting your car. It’s possible to transport your vehicle by Roll On Roll Off (RORO) or by container.

    RoRo Shipping

    Roll-on Roll-off also known as RoRo are vessels built for shipping wheeled cargo, it is a shipping method by which vehicles roll on/roll off the ramp, that is how they are driven on and off the ship.

    Once vehicles are loaded on the RoRo vessel, every vehicle will get tied down securely in its assigned spot and the vehicles will have all the protection against external elements.

    This is the most well-known, secure, effective, and cheapest way to ship a car When compared to container shipping.

    RoRo is the best choice if you meet the following criteria:

    • You want your vehicle to be shipped faster
    • your vehicle is in running condition
    • Car Owner Doesn’t have to ship their personal belongings with the car

    Container Shipping

    If you want a more secure way to ship your luxury car, container shipping is the ideal choice for you. you have two options to consider exclusive container and shared container shipping.

    Shared Container Shipping

    In shared container shipping, more than one vehicle is loaded into a container. To leave the warehouse for shipping, the container should be loaded up with vehicles. However, This method doesn’t provide fixed departure dates as the RoRo method does.

    However, shared container shipping has its benefits as far as cost viability. The shipping costs will be split among the vehicles loaded into the container. 

    Also, customers can ship extra items in the backseat of their vehicle, which is generally thought to be the only genuine benefit container shipping has compared to RoRo.

    • You are not in hurry to ship your vehicle 
    • Your vehicle is not in running condition
    • You have the desire to ship personal belonging with the vehicles

    Exclusive Container Shipping

    Instead of the shared container, an exclusive container means that a vehicle doesn’t share the container with any other vehicle. This is also a decent alternative if owners need to dispatch their items along with the vehicle. However, exclusive container shipping is the most expensive auto-shipping method, compared to shared container and RoRo shipping.

    Container Shipping is a perfect option for shipping a luxury or exotic car because shipping the vehicle through a container ensures that it will arrive at its desired destination without damage.


    • Multiple cars can go on one ship
    • It’s safe


    • It is slower than the other modes
    • Routes and terminals are fixed
    • There are port duties/taxes involved
    • Tracking is hard during transportation

    Option 5. Using a Drive Away Auto Transport Service

    hiring someone to drive your car across the country.A drive-away service is when you hire someone to drive your car and they arrange a trained driver to physically drive your car. That individual will drive your car to the destination. Drive away is not a common practice that people adopt for certain reasons, and is usually reserved for RVs, travel trailers large trucks, etc.

    With that being said, a driveaway service offers many advantages compared to more traditional carrier service, but it comes with a few disadvantages as well.


    • It’s faster
    • Door-to-door car shipping service
    • Transport your personal stuff
    • Personalized Service


    • Can be more expensive than a truck
    • Wear and tear happens
    • Multiple car transfer costs more as more drivers are involved.

    Ready to ship your car with AutoStar Transport Express?

    Our car shipping professionals are available 24/7 call us at 888-802-8250 to answer all your questions.
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    Option 6. Should I Drive a Car Myself?

    Driving your car is almost always cheaper than shipping it, especially for shorter moves, but car shipping is a lot more convenient and worth the price if you’re moving over 500 miles

    It might seem like a good idea to make the drive yourself so you can save some money, but it could end up causing you more trouble (and more money) than it’s worth if you’re moving for a long distance.

    Your car’s parts, from its tires to its engine, will only last so long before they become unreliable and need to be replaced. It is also not worth as much when you try to sell or trade in a car that has many miles logged on the odometer. As a result, you reduce the resale value of your car and shorten its life by one month.


    • It’s exciting for short distances
    • Independence of stopping over for food, snacks, etc.
    • Beautiful scenery comes along the way


    • You might not find great food along the way
    • Roadkill – seeing dead animal scenes on the road can be disturbing for some people.
    • Weather/ natural occurrences are unpredictable
    • Accidents can happen due to heavy traffic and large vehicles like high-speed carriers
    • Unlit roads (some roads are deserted and not safe for driving)

    Cheapest Way to Ship a Car (At a Glance)

    Car Shipping Carrier
    • Convenient/ Affordable by most people
    • Open auto transport is the cheapest way to ship a car but exposed to natural elements, like the weather
    • Enclosed auto transport is a 40% more expensive car shipping method than open carrier but more secure
    Air Transport
    • Faster and high-class service
    • Great to transport expensive cars
    • Extremely Expensive
    Sea Transport
    • Almost as expensive as the truck service
    • Carries in bulk
    • Good for long distances/ overseas transport
    Drive Away Service
    • Personalized Service makes it more expensive than sipping by the auto transport company
    • It’s faster, Door to door service
    • Wear and tear involved
    Drive it yourself
    • Exciting and affordable
    • Weather/ natural occurrences are unpredictable
    • Due to the wear and tear involved, the resale value of your car is reduced

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

    Open transport is far safer, hassle-free, and the cheapest way to ship a car. Open car carriers can accommodate 10 cards at once, which makes it the much easier and cheapest way to ship a car.

    Your car and you are companions. That’s why your safety and the safety of your vehicle are our number one priority. To make your search ask friends, or acquaintances, or call AutoStar Transport Express directly at 888-802-8250.

    Take notes while you do a thorough search and make comparisons of all kinds, from prices to facilities, time, insurance, and more.

    Reading car shipping reviews helps greatly as well.

    Check for the legitimacy of the shipping company online.

      Get your instant quote now!

      Or call us 888-802-8250

      Choose transport type

      Car Condition

      *We will use this info to contact you with a quote. We will never share your info


      Mark Dugger

      Mark works as operations manager at AutoStar Transport. He has extensive experience in systems management and understands how to run a business efficiently. Mark is with AutoStar since its early days. He writes about auto shipping, logistics, and cross-country car shipping. In his free time, Mark plays golf and do skiing.
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      Victoria Ruiz

      A wanderer at heart, Victoria keeps taking her RAM 1500 to new places. She has been working in the auto transport industry for 7+ years. As an evangelist for Auto Star Transport (and as a friend who transports her vehicle), Victoria loves helping Auto Star Transport customers with help guides and insights. She is nowhere to be found when she is not in the office.
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