Tow Dolly vs. Auto Transport: What to Choose?

In 2002, romance novelist Danielle Steel sparked controversy with the San Francisco parking authority. Why? She hoarded twenty-six street parking permits–all for her luxury cars!

She wanted to be able to drive any of them at the drop of a hat. Unsurprisingly, SF authorities told her to pick a few–and store the others. 

Now, hopefully, city officials aren’t threatening to tow you. Still, even those of us who aren’t millionaire novelists have to transport cars occasionally. 

So, what’s the best way to do that?

Consider weighing the benefits of a tow dolly vs. auto transport options.

The best choice depends on what you’re doing. Are you hauling your family’s fleet of sedans as you move across the country? Or, are you taking your vintage Delahaye Narval to a Concours D’Elegance–and coming home that night?

Regardless of specifics, you’ll probably use a tow dolly. Or, you’ll solicit an auto transport service–or rent an auto transport trailer.

Today, we’ll break down the difference between the two options in detail. Then, you can learn how to use each option, and you’ll discern which solution is best for you.

What is a Tow Dolly?

A tow dolly is a two-wheeled trailer. It has no motor or power.

You can use a tow dolly to transport a car. To do this, you’ll mount the two front wheels of the car on the bed of the dolly. You also hitch the dolly to a motorized vehicle, the driving vehicle.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration classifies these trailers as “enhanced towing equipment.” This is because the dolly lets the driver pull a car behind the driving vehicle (towing).

When you use a tow dolly, the back wheels of the towed car roll along the ground. 

What is a Dolly Trailer?

Some people use the term “dolly trailer” as a synonym for “tow dolly.” Some haulers use the term “car dolly” for these trailers.

In other cases, a driver may refer to the bed of the tow dolly as the “dolly trailer.” The towed car’s wheels mount on the bed. A dolly also has:

  • wheels
  • axle
  • tongue
  • hitch

Engineers build different tow dollies with unique features to serve different functions.

For example, some incorporate a weight distribution adjustable hitch. This feature makes it safer to tow cars of different weights without risking “whipping,” a danger on the highway.

What is Auto Transport?

Auto transport is a category of services and methods to haul vehicles. Auto transport services load cars onto trailers.

Typically, services pull the trailer with a heavy-duty tractor, like a semi. Some even use specialized car carrier cabs with sophisticated engines.

Engineers design auto trailers with strong securement strategies, like fifth-wheel couplers. This is why, typically, you can’t just rent an auto-transport trailer and pull it with your car. Cars don’t support these attachment options.

That said, you may be able to buy or rent a flatbed auto-transport trailer in unique circumstances. You’ll need a pickup truck, and you’ll have to ramp load the vehicle.  

Tow Dolly vs. Auto Transport: Options

Tow dollies and auto transport trailers are broad categories. Within these, there are options. Which vehicle towing trailer works for you?

Mounted Front Wheels Dolly

Engineers design mounted front wheels dollies to twist when the towing vehicle turns. In this way, it mimics front-wheel drive as you tow. 

It’s easier to turn corners safely when you use a front wheels car dolly. This twist, or pivot-style, reduces the risk the dolly hits your bumper during a turn. 

Central Pivot Dolly

A central-pivot dolly holds the front of the towed car closer to the driving car. The wheels of this trailer are fixed. The dolly pivots as a unit.

A central pivot dolly is slightly riskier. It’s more likely to sway when you turn or change lanes. 

Wheel Dollies / Tire Stakes

Wheel dollies, tire dollies, and tire skates are not dollies. These are small “skates” you set under each wheel of a car. You cannot actually tow a car on wheel dollies.

These skates reduce friction between the car and the ground. This helps you load the car from a muddy or icy surface. And, they’ll help you tow a car that’s missing a wheel.

Enclosed Car Trailer

Enclosed car trailers are either hard-sided or soft-sided. Some carry one vehicle at a time, while others transport many at once. Typically, your enclosed car transport options are:

  • Hard-sided enclosed trailer
  • Soft-sided enclosed trailer
  • Single car enclosed trailer
  • Multi-vehicle enclosed auto-carrier

A hard-sided enclosed trailer completely protects a car from all elements in transport. One familiar example is a box trailer.

A soft-sided trailer mostly protects a car, but some dirt may splash in through the curtained sides. The polyurethane-vinyl sides give the hauler more space to load and unload the vehicle. This mitigates the risk of scratches or dings. 

Open Car Carrier

A car is secured to the floor of an open-car carrier. These trailers have no sides.

All four wheels of a car rest securely on the trailer floor. This is in contrast to a tow-dolly, where two of a car’s wheels roll along the ground.

Open car carriers transport different quantities of cars. Your options are:

  • Single-vehicle open trailer 
  • Single-level multi-car trailer
  • Multi-car carrier

A hotshot trailer is typically attached with a gooseneck hitch. Other carriers use heavy-duty attachments. These are pulled by semi-trucks. 

Multi-level carriers use hydraulic lifts to load the cars. Single-level carriers use lifts or ramps.

Tow Dolly vs Car Carrier: FAQ

You’ve learned the different types of transport options. But, those were broad strokes. Let’s unpack the details. 

How Safe is a Car Carrier?

It’s generally safe to use a car carrier service. That said, accidents can happen.

Ask the service to show you proof of insurance. Also, see, in writing, which protections the company provides in case of an accident.

Inspect your vehicle before and after transport. This ensures an accurate Bill of Loading. The Bill of Loading lets you secure reimbursements for damage. 

Can You Use a Tow Dolly For Long Distance?

No. The farther you tow a car on a dolly trailer, the greater damage you risk. The rear wheels of the towed car take on as many miles as you travel.

You also risk damaging the undercarriage of the towed car. Also, driving with a tow dolly is slow. 

Can You Put a Truck on a Tow Dolly?

The towing vehicle must weigh 750lbs more than the towed vehicle. You also don’t want to exceed the dolly’s maximum weight limit.

You can load a truck on a tow dolly if it fits within those parameters.

How Fast Can You Go With a Tow Dolly?

Many state laws require you to drive ten miles under the speed limit when you’re pulling a dolly. Manufacturer warnings state: do not exceed 55 miles per hour. 

How Fast is Car Carrier Transport?

A car carrier service typically ships a car within one to seven days. Express services use more direct routes, which is faster.

Car carriers must observe trucker speed limits. Auto transporters slow to 55 mph on hills, even on the highway. 

How Much is a Car Dolly from UHaul?

UHaul charges $46/day to rent a tow dolly for local use. For long-distance travel, UHaul generates rates based on zip code. 

How Much Does Car Carrier Transport Cost?

Experts calculate the average cost of car carrier transport is $1,080. But, there’s a significant range.

Distance, trailer type, and express options all factor into the cost. An open-carrier trip, shorter than 500 miles, might cost as little as $625.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Tow a Car Long Distance?

When it comes to a daily rate, a tow dolly is the cheapest. But, you’ll end up paying in milage, damage risks, and time. 

When you factor in safety and milage, the cheapest way may be an open, multi-car carrier service. This is most true if you have multiple cars.

Tow Dolly How-To

Is a tow dolly right for you? Excellent! Learn how to use a tow dolly in six steps.

Note: read these steps to learn how to tow a car with a dolly. Then, watch instructional videos specific to the dolly you’ve chosen.


1. Select the Right Tow Dolly

Choose the right tow dolly for the job. It must be compatible with the towing vehicle’s hitch.

Remember, the vehicle that’s doing the towing must weigh 750 lbs more than the towed car. Make sure the combination of the towed car and the dolly stays within the weight limit.

Follow all clearance regulations. The towed car cannot hang off the dolly’s sides.

Consider: when your vehicle is mounted on this dolly, what angle will it be?

If any undercarriage parts will drag at this angle, remove them. If you’re towing a rear-wheel-drive car, disconnect that car’s driveshaft. 

2. Secure the Tow Dolly

Attach the tow dolly to the vehicle that will do the towing. It may have a gooseneck attachment, a ball-and-pintle hitch, or some other clasp design. Follow all directions that came with your dolly trailer.

Hook up the tow dolly’s hitch to the towing vehicle’s attachment. Clampdown or latch the attachment.

If necessary, reinforce the attachment with safety chains. Use grade 70 chains or stronger.

Criss-cross your chains, so the right-side chain attaches to the left-side attachment on the towing vehicle. Don’t let the chains drag on the ground.

Once the hitch is secured, configure your breaks.

If a tow dolly and its cargo weigh over 3000 lbs, you need a safety break. Attach breakaway-system breaks using guides specific to your dolly. 

Finally, connect the lights of the tow dolly. The towing vehicle and the dolly will have four-pin electrical wires. Connect electric light circuits with the four-pin plug. 

3. Load the Vehicle Onto the Tow Dolly

For safety, only load the vehicle’s from two wheels. 

To load, first, extend the tow dolly’s ramps completely. Make sure they rest on the ground.

Then, release the securement straps spooled on the dolly. These are often winch straps, ratchet straps, or tire nets. 

Lay the straps flat on the bed of the tow dolly. Position the straps according to instructions specific to your dolly. Some strap segments may need to lie flat on the ramp. 

Center the vehicle that needs to be towed behind the dolly. Then, drive slowly up the dolly ramp. Stop when the towed vehicle’s tires rest against the stops.

Once you’ve loaded the vehicle, check its interior. Secure loose parts like seatbelts. Set the vehicle in neutral.

Finally, use the straps to secure the car’s front tires. Make sure the straps are tight and centered. 

Spool the straps back onto the tow dolly’s mechanism. Tighten the straps with the mechanism. Lock the straps securely.

Note: Non-Running Car 

If you want to tow a car that doesn’t run, you’ll need a come-along device. This device has a spool of wire rope, hooks, and winch or ratchet.

You can pull a car up the tow dolly’s ramp by pumping this device’s winch. Do this instead of driving the car.

The come-along device should include detailed operating instructions.

4. Start Pulling a Car on a Tow Dolly

Now that you’ve mounted your vehicle, you can transport it. Start pulling the car with your tow dolly. 

Remember to drive slowly and defensively. Stay ten miles per hour under the speed limit. Never drive more than 55 miles per hour.

If the tow dolly begins to sway, don’t stop.

Instead, slow down below 25 mph. Control the steering wheel. Drive steady until the swaying stops. 

5. Know How to Backup a Tow Dolly

You might want to backup when towing. Don’t.

Do not backup when using a tow dolly. This is dangerous. It will also harm the car you’re towing. 

If you absolutely must learn how to backup a tow dolly, watch demonstrations on YouTube. But, only use this skill in extreme circumstances.

6. Park and Unload the Tow Dolly

First, park with enough space to unload properly. Then, remove the ratchet straps from the towed car’s tires.

Move to the side of the tow dolly. Extend the tow dolly’s release ramps. Unlatch and remove the securement chains.

Then, enter the towed car. Slowly drive back down the ramp. 

If you’ve towed a non-driving vehicle, set it into neutral. Simply roll it off the tow dolly ramp.

Discover Auto-Transport Rates in Seconds

We want you to make optimal car transport decisions. That means evaluating tow dolly vs. auto transport options. Find the best service for you.

And, discover the best possible rate. Compare transport rates today. We use up-to-the-minute market data to generate quotes you can use. 

Not sure what you need? Talk to us: 1-541-754-3010. 

Ship Car Across Country: Information on Cross Country Car Transporting

Cross country car shipping

In the fall of 2020, somewhere between 14 million and 23 million Americans were planning on relocating to a new region of the United States. One of the reasons why there is an uptick of interest in making big moves is because of the increasingly common arrangement of working remotely. This means that many Americans are no longer as tethered to the area where their office is headquartered, leaving them to dream of moving to greener pastures.

If you’re one of the people who is looking to move across the country, there is a lot of logistical planning involved. While it’s easy enough to figure out how to move your belongings across the country, figuring out how to ship a car across country can feel like a completely different animal entirely.

Actually, though, shipping your car can be a very simple process indeed. Having a professional auto transport service take car of moving your car from one place to another can help save you a lot of time, stress, and headache.

Do you still have a lot of unanswered questions about cross-country car transport? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know!

What Is Cross Country Car Transport?

When you are moving across the country, one of the looming questions hanging over your head is likely how you will transport your car from one place to another. Luckily, there is a service you can purchase that moves you car across state lines, no matter how far away you are relocating.

There are a number of different ways you can move your vehicle from point A to point B.

Of course, you can drive your car across the country. However, this can be expensive when you factor in gas, the opportunity cost of driving rather than dealing with other moving considerations, plus the extra expenses of eating on the road and sleeping in hotels.

On top of that, driving across the country can be impractical when you have all of your other belongings to move. Moving your car is a part of the puzzle of moving your belongings, and it has to be figured out in conjunction with how you are moving your other stuff.

Another option is towing your car behind a rental truck. This can make driving a rental truck more difficult, particularly if you’re going to be doing city driving. While this is a viable option, you’ll want to consider whether it is worth the additional stress and complication.

Some people even might choose to sell their car when they are moving across the country. The logic here is to simply purchase a new car when you get to the new location or to rely on public transportation once you get to your new home. While this could make sense for some people, it is likely not actually the most convenient option unless you are planning on being car-free in your new location.

How Much to Ship a Car Cross Country?

Car shipping costs are going to depend on a number of factors. It can be a good idea to get quotes from a number of different companies to help you find the most cost-effective option.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that impact car shipping prices.


As you might guess, the most important factor when it comes to the cost to ship a car across the country is the distance.

If you are moving from New York City to Los Angeles, the national average cost for shipping is a car is $1,650. This is a distance of 2,790 miles. If you are shipping your car this distance in an enclosed carrier on a rush it can cost around $2,100, and the same distance with an open carrier and no rush is more like $1,200.


The size of your vehicle is going to have an impact on how much it costs you to ship your car across the country. For example, shipping a light compact car is likely going to cost about half as much as shipping a heavy minivan or an oversize SUV.

There are two primary reasons why the size of your car is so important when it comes to shipping costs. First of all, shipping larger vehicles take up more space on an auto transporter. This means that there is less room for them to ship other cars.

Secondly, shipping larger cars limit the carrier’s total capacity because they weigh more.

Commercial car haulers have a maximum freight limit of 80,000 pounds. This means that they average between five and nine vehicles at any given time.


Where you drop off and pick up your car will also impact how much it costs to ship your car across the country. For example, if you are willing to deliver the car to a central transport location and similarly pick it up on the other side, it won’t cost as much as if you are purchasing a door-to-door delivery service in a place that is very rural.


If you are trying to save money on car shipping prices, you might want to be considerate of the season you order this service. There is typically less demand for shipping services during the winter, so budget-conscious shippers might find this to be a more appealing time to have the job done. That being said, average delivery times might be longer if your car is being shipped through inclement weather.


It often takes weeks for a car to be shipped across the country. However, you can usually order a rush service if time is of the essence. Of course, you can expect this to increase the cost of the service.

How to Transport a Car Across the Country

If you decide that you are going to be shipping your car rather than driving it or selling it, the process is actually quite simple. Frankly, considering that moving is one of the most stressful things that people do, having a reputable company ship your car for a cross-country move is definitely a reasonable choice.

First, you will need to have a grasp of the destination where you are shipping the car to and from. Then you will want to pin down the dates that you want to have the vehicle picked up and dropped off.

Next, you can research a reputable car shipping company that you will work with. If you want to save yourself a lot of time, energy, and frustration during this process, turn to Carship Guru instead.

Using Carship Guru, you don’t have to spend endless hours tracking down and comparing quotes from different companies. This can help you get to the next step of booking your order much sooner.

Once you’ve booked your pick-up time, you’ve done everything you need to do! If you have ordered door-to-door service, the auto transporter will come to you to pick up the vehicle and drop off your vehicle in your new location. Otherwise, you will have to arrange to have your vehicle at the agreed-upon pickup location on the proper day and time.

Is It Cheaper to Drive or Ship a Car Across the Country?

Whether it is cheaper to drive your car or ship your car across the country depends on the different factors we discussed above. That being said, you will typically save a little bit of money driving your own car, though it will likely cost you in time, stress, and other issues. The further you are moving in miles, the more cost-effective shipping your car becomes when compared with driving.

What Are the Costs When You Drive Your Own Car Across the Country?

When you’re figuring out the cheapest way to ship your car across the country, it’s tempting to simply try and figure out how much money you will spend on gas for the trip. When you look at the situation this way, you will likely determine that driving your car is cheaper than shipping it.

However, gas is certainly not the only cost when it comes to driving across the country. Gas prices also fluctuate between states, making it hard to estimate exactly how much it will cost you.

You will also have to factor in the gas miles per gallon your car gets. If you are going to be hauling a trailer or packing your vehicle filled with your belongings, you will likely find that you have to stop to fill up the tank a lot more often than when your vehicle doesn’t have weight in it.

Other expenses to consider are the cost of hotels, food, wear and tear on your vehicle, and time.

Hotels are a major expense if you are going to drive across the country. The average cost of a hotel room in the US is $150 per night, meaning that it can start getting pretty expensive to drive yourself across the country. If you are driving with another person, you can take turns sleeping and driving and save money on hotels, but this can be accumulatively tiring and stressful.

Food is another big road trip expense. You can try and save money by packing appropriate meals ahead of time, but do you really have the energy and headspace to deal with this along with your move at large? If you aren’t able to set up your own food and drinks before you get going, you can expect to spend between $20 and $40 every day on each person in the vehicle.

Wear and tear is another cost. When you drive your car across the country, you are basically just fast-forwarding how soon you will need regular maintenance work done to your car, not to mention wearing down the tires.

Lastly, you’ll want to think about your time. When you’re in the middle of a cross-country move, you’ve got a lot on your plate. There’s a good chance that you are ending one job and beginning another, which likely leaves you with a lot on your mind.

Is it the best use of your time to spend a week on the road? Or would it be more cost-effective in the long run for you to be able to get to your new location sooner and get settled in? Driving across the country can be exhausting in a totally unique way, meaning that you will likely have to recover from the trip when you finally get to your destination.

If it’s important to you that you are able to start getting settled into your new life as soon as possible, shipping your car across the country is likely the better option. To drive coast-to-coast, it takes about 45 hours of driving to make the trip. This means that if you are driving for eight hours a day, you will be on the road for six days.

Going on a road trip can be great fun, but your sense of a good time will likely be dampened by the other stressors of moving. Some people might be able to turn lemons into lemonade in this instance, but chances are you will just be crammed into your car for long days of driving in the effort to get to your new home and start your new life.

When you add up all those factors, is it really cheaper to drive than to ship your car? When you factor in the days that you lost working and getting paid an income and the days that you have to recover from the trip, on top of hotel costs, food costs, and wear and tear to your vehicle, is it really cheaper to drive? This is something only the individual can determine for themselves.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Across the Country?

As you might imagine, how long it takes to ship a car across the country depends on a number of factors, including how far you are shipping your car. Say you are moving to the fastest growing place in the U.S., Myrtle Beach. In this instance, it is going to cost quite a bit more to ship your car from California than it will from Washington, D.C.

Essentially, the window for how long it takes can vary from about six days to four weeks. Things that will have to be factored in include how many vehicles are on a transport truck, traffic conditions, and the hours that drivers are allowed to be on the road each day.

In general, most vehicles typically arrive between 6 and 12 days when you factor in booking, pickup, and delivery.

Is Cross-Country Car Transport Door-to-Door?

As long as the locations that you are moving from and to allow door-to-door cross country car transport, this will be an option that is available to you. Door-to-door shipping is one of the most popular options because it is so convenient.

In some circumstances, door-to-door transport won’t be available. This might be because of narrow streets, residential zoning laws, weight restrictions, and low-hanging trees. In these instances, the transport trucks won’t be able to enter the neighborhood.

Additionally, the car hauler might not be able to safely maneuver to your doorstep if you live in a mountainous area or on a hillside.

If you are wondering whether or not you can have door-to-door delivery, consider whether or not you regularly see tractor-trailer trucks in your neighborhood. If you do, there’s a good chance that a car hauler will be able to travel to you.

When the locations you are looking to have your car shipped to and from can’t have door-to-door service, there is another convenient option. The company you choose will have transport hubs where drop-off and pick-up can occur. It’s also possible that you can agree upon a drop-off and pick-up location that works well for both the service and your needs.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Across the Country?

If you are shipping your car across the country and are wondering what the cheapest option is, you’ll want to look into using an open rather than an enclosed carrier. When you are shopping around for quotes online, you will find that you can save hundreds of dollars by choosing an open carrier rather than an enclosed one.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

Ok, let’s talk numbers. Remembering that the cost can vary based on a long list of factors, it’s time to take a look at the average cost of shipping a car across the country. Take a look at this chart to help you get a sense of the average costs.

The average price per mile gets increasingly less expensive the further you are shipping your car. For example, if you are shipping your car less than 500 miles, the average price per mile is about $0.80. However, if you are shipping your car more than 3000 miles, the average price per mile is $0.33.

What this means is that to ship your car 250 miles, it will cost about $200. To ship your car more than 3000 miles, though, it will cost more like $1122.

How Does Shipping Multiple Cars Across the Country Work?

The average American household has 1.9 vehicles, meaning that there’s a good chance you are dealing with transporting more than one car when you’re making your cross country car transport and move.

Whether you have a collection of cars you love or simply have a large number of drivers in your family, you might start to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to ship multiple cars across the country. You might assume that this starts to get very expensive, but it can actually save you money.

When you ship several cars at the same time with the same auto transport company, that means that the auto shipper doesn’t have to make as many different stops. Basically, the auto transport company has to spend less time and money on the shipment, which ends up saving you money through what is essentially a bulk purchase of a service.

How Long Does It Take to Ship a Car Across the Country?

You can take a look at this chart to get a sense of the average transit time it takes for cars to be shipped across the country.

If you are only shipping your car a short distance, the whole process will be much quicker. For example, shipping your car less than 200 miles typically means that the average transit time will be between one and two days.

On the other hand, shipping your car more than 2000 miles will obviously lead to a longer transit time. On average, you can expect this to take between seven and nine days.

Ship a Car Across the Country: Car Shipping Is the Way to Go

There is a good chance that your vehicle is the first or second most expensive item you own. For this reason, it can feel really stressful to allow some company to have possession of it and transport it across the country. For this reason, it’s very important that you find a company that is reputable, trustworthy, and going to take great car of your vehicle on the journey.

At Carship Guru, you get the highest level of service, every time. We are here to provide competitive instant cross country car transport quotes from leaders around the industry. You want to make sure that you’re putting your car in the hands of professionals, and we’re here to make sure that your experience is nothing but wonderful.

If you’re going to ship a car across country, click here to get an instant quote!

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country?

In 2019, about 14% of all American households that moved decided to move to a new state. Whether that state was just across state lines or it was all the way on the other side of the country, these families needed a way to move their car. While some people may drive to their new home, shipping a car is a much easier, convenient way to get your vehicle home. After all, you have enough to worry about without planning a cross-country road trip!

If you’re planning to move, maybe you’re considering shipping your car. If so, are you wondering what you need to do to lower your car shipping cost or get a fair price? How much does it cost to ship a car, and what are you expected to pay for? When shipping something as valuable as your vehicle across the country, you need answers. Without this information, you won’t be able to make an educated decision.

If you want to learn more about the average cost to ship a car, what shipping a car entails, and what you’re expected to pay for, keep reading. We are going in-depth in this all-inclusive guide regarding car shipment and cross-country moves.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car on Average?

As with many things related to long-distance moves, it’s difficult to put a price on exactly how much you can plan to pay for a car shipment without all of the little details related to your move. The average cost for a move between 500 and 1,000 miles should be close to around $960. If you’re moving farther away, as in 2,000-2,500 miles, your cost will be closer to $1,600.

The car shipping cost, in part, will depend on if you need an enclosed carrier to feel your car is safe or are willing to hire an open transport carrier instead. As you can imagine, any company is going to charge more for an enclosed transport carrier simply because they aren’t able to ship as many cars at once in this type of rig.
Other factors, such as distance, the size of the vehicle, the terminals, the time of year, and how fast you need the car, will also all play a huge role in the overall price.

For instance, rush services are available for individuals that need their car sooner than a few weeks out after a cross-country move, but the effort and resources required to make that happen will cost more money. In addition to that, it’s generally less expensive to ship your car in the winter because there is less demand overall for these types of services (as fewer people are moving during this time of year).

Car Hauling Rates Per Mile

One of the first things that you’ll want to consider when thinking about shipping your car is the distance. This is the primary factor when considering the cost (aside from vehicle size, which we will discuss in detail below).

If you’re planning on shipping a car from New York City to Los Angeles, for example, this is a distance of 2,790 miles. Since this is so much further than a shipment across just a few states, you’re going to have a higher vehicle shipping cost overall. Although mileage is not the only factor considered when you are shipping a car, it is one that will drastically impact the bottom line because longer distances require more labor and fuel.

The general, average rates that you can go by when factoring in distance alone include:

  • Less than 500 miles = $780
  • 500 to 1,000 miles = $960
  • 1,000 to 1,500 miles = $1,290
  • 1,500 to 2,000 miles = $1,530
  • 2,000 to 2,500 miles = $1,600
  • More than 2,500 miles = $1,590

It seems that most people that want to ship their vehicles are doing so when they want to make long-distance moves, but since most parts of the country can be accessed from other parts of the country within 2,500 miles, this is likely why that distance costs slightly less. It’s simply a less common order for these companies to see.

Cost to Ship a Car by Size

As we mentioned, vehicle shipping cost estimates are all going to depend on how big your actual car is. Larger vehicles weigh more, but they also take up a little bit more space, which is crucial if your car is being shipped on the same rig as others. When you jump up a car size, you can anticipate adding around $150 to the overall price of the car delivery cost. This means going from a car to an SUV or from an SUV to an XL truck.

One thing to consider is whether or not your vehicle actually runs. If you have a car that you’ve been working on, but it isn’t currently functional, for example, you’ll pay more for the transport service to tow your vehicle and get it on or off the trailer.

Another factor to consider is the current price of fuel. While this will fluctuate all the time, larger vehicles require more fuel to carry, so it’s a difficult factor to pin down regarding price until you’re ready to move.

Part of the average cost to ship a car will also depend on your vehicle’s size regardless of any other factor, so you need to determine which category your vehicle falls into. If you’re not sure already, you can consult a helpful guide to learn about some of the main features and characteristics of each type. You can also contact your dealer to learn more about the vehicle or get resources to find out information.

The cost to ship a standard-size car will be about $1,150 on average. If you’re interested in enclosed transport only, you’re going to pay around $1,340, while being willing to try open transport will run you $970.

Costs to Transport a Crossover/Mini-Van/Small SUV

The cost to ship a car that is in this size range will be right around $1,300 to $1,600 depending on the distance. If you’re planning to go coast-to-coast, you will pay more than if you’re going a slightly shorter distance.
Your car transport or vehicle transport service, which is the actual service that moves the cars, will be able to tell you more about the cost if it seems that your vehicle falls between this category and the next category. Specifically, with SUVs, it can be difficult to determine whether it is a small or large version.

Costs to Transport a Large SUV/Truck

If you’re wondering about how much to ship a car that is slightly larger, but still not as large as they go, you can expect to pay around $1,700 to $2,000.

If you have any modifications or additional accessories on your vehicle that impact the overall shape or size, this will also require additional fees. The driver that is transporting your vehicle has to have exact measurements to make sure that the vehicle is safe and secure on the rig, but also that they have the right side and height clearance.

Costs to Transport a Cargo Van/XL Truck

Shipping a car of this size is going to cost more because these require special precautions and resources. The average cost to ship a car that is closer to this size will be closer to $2,200 to $3,000.
Cargo vans specifically will usually have extended roofs and XL trucks may have a longer truck bed or dual rear wheels. Larger trucks also may have diesel engines, which also adds to the overall cost.
Other features, like a lifted suspension, roof racks, or XL tires, will also affect the cost. The main reason for this is that these are not as common as other vehicles and the modifications require additional attention to the shipment overall.

Cost to Transport a Car by Freight

If you’re interested in shipping your vehicle by freight, the cost to ship the car is going to change slightly. This is not as popular of an alternative to using a car transporter, but it is still a common way for people to move their vehicles and shouldn’t be disregarded if you’re open to other options.

You can ship your car using a freight train, port-to-port ship, passenger train, or air freight.

Freight Train

A freight train can be an effective way to save some money on your shipment, but they will not work with individuals to ship their vehicles as a car transporter service would. Instead, you’d have to get in touch with a transportation company that could arrange the service for you.

Even then, the space is often limited, and you may have restrictions regarding time frames, shipping distance, and more.

Port-to-Port Ship

Port-to-port shipping is great if you need to get around a large body of water to ship your vehicle like you might for an international move.

An example of how much this might cost if you’re shipping to Hawaii is close to $1,750. However, the cost is going to depend on how big the ship is, how long the journey is, and more.

Passenger Train

Passenger trains may not be the first thing you consider when you want to ship your vehicle, but Amtrak offers freight train shipping directly to consumers for about $300, which means you can work with them directly to ship your car from point A to point B.

The major caveat here is that you will have to ride on the train with your vehicle, which means you’ll have to pay for a ticket, and the auto train for Amtrak only goes along the east coast of the country.

Air Freight

Another option for someone that is considering an international move is air freight. You’ll be able to fly your vehicle to your destination in a similar way to how you may be flying to get there as well.

Although this method is likely one of the most convenient ways to ship your car, it is also extremely expensive. In some cases, the cost may be more than even the value of the vehicle itself.
If your car is worth over $1 million, however, your insurance company may require air freight to get it across international land and water.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car?

The cost to ship a car is going to be impacted by all of the factors we have discussed thus far, so it is difficult to determine with certainty which method will be the cheapest for everyone. However, if you’re planning to use a vehicle transporter service, we know that open transport is going to cost less overall.

Open transport is something that you’ve likely noticed on the road before. If you’ve ever seen those large semi-trucks that have multiple cars stacked behind them, you were witnessing cars being shipped using open transport. These trailers have no walls and the vehicle is exposed to the elements or out in the “open.”

Open transport is something that you’ve likely noticed on the road before. If you’ve ever seen those large semi-trucks that have multiple cars stacked behind them, you were witnessing cars being shipped using open transport. These trailers have no walls and the vehicle is exposed to the elements or out in the “open.”

Is It Worth It to Ship a Car?

At this point, you may be wondering if you even really need to ship your car. It can be a little scary to imagine spending so much more money for something like this, especially if you’re already tight on your budget for the overall move. Even if you’re not moving, the idea of shipping something that is worth so much money so far might be intimidating.

Remember: Now that you have a better idea of how much to ship a car and what you might expect, you can determine if it’s truly worth it for you or not.

However, we will say that many people that ship their cars find that the experience is a lot easier than it may seem. Remember that these companies are doing this every day for thousands of other people that are in the same or similar situations as you. They’ve seen it all, and they know how to take care of your car!

If you’re someone that owns a custom car, antique car, luxury car, or any other type of vehicle that is of premium quality, shipping your car may be the safest way to make sure it arrives at its destination with no problems. It will take some time and energy on your part to do the research before booking your service. Luckily, we can help you figure out how to get the best car transport quote for lower car shipping cost rates overall.

How Do I Get a Car Transport Quote?

As you may already know, there are hundreds of different companies across the country that work with individuals like you to ship vehicles.

It can be really difficult to narrow down such a broad list without some extra help, especially if this is the first time that you’ve shipped a vehicle. While looking at the car shipping cost may seem most important, we also want to help you look at the level of service you’ll receive and get you connected with professional companies that you can trust.

Remember: Our website at CarShip Guru will give you immediate results regarding the vehicle and car transporter options that you can use for your upcoming shipment.

With the average cost to ship a car being in the thousands, it’s so crucial for you to work with a company that takes this investment seriously. Our professionals are a phone call away, ready to help you get a car shipping quote together for multiple companies that you can compare.

Why Is Car Shipping Pricing Different?

As we’ve stated, the average cost to ship a car is going to depend on so many different things. The pricing will vary based on what you need, how soon you need it, and what is best for your vehicle.

The main reason that the pricing differs so much is that the transporter companies have to be able to offer their workers fair pay for the work they are doing. For more complex or involved shipments, such as shipping vehicles with extreme modifications or shipping an extremely oversized truck, there is more work needed to ensure your vehicle arrives safe and sound.

The car shipping carriers are able to bid on your request once you put it in with CarShip Guru. From there, our professionals will work with the carriers to determine what offers you have and provide them to you so that you can make a decision.

The car shipping prices are set by the transporter companies themselves as well, which is why you will see different quotes on our website for the same service. Luckily, however, you’ll be able to figure out which option works best for you and which seems like the best option because you have more than just one company to choose from.

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Rates

To recap, there are several factors that impact your car shipping rates. In fact, since it is a supply and demand-based industry, your price may vary day by day!

However, some of the main factors that you want to consider before you book a car shipment service include:

  • The size of your vehicle
  • The price of fuel
  • The distance of the shipment
  • The type of transport you’re using (open or enclosed)
  • The modifications, features, or changes that you’ve added
  • The time of year
  • The vehicle’s condition

Every car transporter will look at these factors before they offer a bid on your shipment. They want to know exactly what they are agreeing to before they can provide us, your auto transport broker, with their quotes.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Overseas?

When shipping a car overseas, you have to determine what the best method of shipment will be to figure out the price. Although this sounds like a simple statement, as we discussed earlier, if you plan to take your car over a long distance or over land and sea, you may have to look into freight options.

When using freight options as opposed to a car transporter service, you may have a more limited selection due to time and supply constraints. You can expect the base cost to be around $1,500, depending on the countries you’re planning to ship to and from (as some have additional fees, such as customs duties). After that, the other factors we’ve discussed will come into play to impact the overarching price point.

Therefore, you can think of shipping a car overseas like a large puzzle, with each factor that you have to consider the puzzle pieces. Factors include your vehicle size, when you need the vehicle by, how much you’re able to afford, and more. The vehicle shipping cost is going to vary based on the distance you plan to travel as well. Just as with car transporters, freight transport will vary depending on how far it is going, especially since more fuel and resources are required. With all of that being said, it is still possible to ship with a car transporter overseas as well if you’re working with one that offers international services. They can help you figure out what the cheapest and most convenient option for overseas shipping will be for your specific situation.

Ship Your Car to Make Your Move Easy Breezy

In this article, we’ve discussed how much does it cost to ship a car, what are the factors that transporters take into account, and what are the considerations that you, as the car owner, need to take. Now that you have all of the information you need from our guide, you’re ready to make a decision on whether you want the convenience and safety of a car shipment or not. We are here to help you with everything you need regarding finding the perfect car or vehicle transporter service out there. Whether you’re looking for car shipping to the next state over, or you’re trying to move across the country, we want to make it easier on you.

CarShip Guru is your one-stop shop for the best quotes available for car shipments. If you’re interested in learning more and getting a quote within seconds, check out the rest of our website today.


Frequently asked questions

The most common questions about the auto transport business are answered in our FAQ

Go to FAQ

Still have questions? We’re here to answer them

  • Are there any hidden fees from


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  • Is there any special paperwork necessary?


    If you are transporting within the continental U.S. from residence to residence… NO! You do not need to show your license, title, registration or anything else. If you are transporting internationally, we will inform you which is the paperwork needed, according to the country of delivery.

  • Is my vehicle insured? Will it be safe?


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Process Why Us

Why choose Carshipguru for your auto transport quote?

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”

We’ve all heard this quote. In the car shipping business, truer words were never spoken.

Talk about stress. Don’t let this happen to you and your family. There’s an alternative – use an auto shipping company you can trust. Remember, not all car transport companies are the same.

Imagine this…

Despite all your hard work you’ve chosen a less-than-reputable auto transport service.

It’s the day they were supposed to pick-up your vehicle, but there’s a problem.

They’re overbooked, and you and your car aren’t their top priority.

Worse yet, car shipping company is no telling when, or if, they’ll pick it up at all. You’re in a bind because finding another car carrier will be a huge hassle – if you can find one at all.