Average Cost to Ship a Car Per Mile

Average cost to ship a car per mile

If you’ve got a relocation coming up and are wondering about your auto transport options, how much it’s going to cost is a vital factor, particularly if you’re on a budget.

If you’re wondering about the average cost to ship a car per mile and want to know more, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ll look at the cost of different options, what affects the vehicle shipping cost per mile, how you can save money, and other important details.   

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What is the average cost to ship a car per mile?

The average cost to ship a car per mile by truck depends on the distance traveled. If the trip is up to 500 miles, the per-mile average is $1. This figure decreases as distances increase. A trip of up to 1,000 miles, for example, is $0.75 per mile.

Below is a table to use for reference if you want to get a general idea of the average vehicle shipping cost per mile.

Distance Average cost to ship a car per mile Example shipping distance Example total shipping cost
1-500 miles $1.00 400 miles $400
500+ miles $0.75 900 miles $675
1,000 + miles $0.60 1,200 miles $720
2,000 + miles $0.50 2,000 + miles $1,200
2,500 + miles $0.40 3,600 miles $1,440

The Avg. price per mile rates shown up above are reflective of current market conditions as of January 2020. The rates are subject to change due to seasonal fluctuations, price of gas, pick-up/delivery locations, etc.

Auto-shipping rates per mile for other methods

Almost all US adults drive a car regularly. According to recent polls, 83% do it regularly. Men drive more frequently than women, along with adults in the $90,000 income bracket, college graduates, parents of children under 18, suburbanites, and people aged between 30 and 49 years of age.

These figures go to show how important cars have become in our everyday life. We use them to go to the grocery store, fetch the kids from school, get to work on time, meet up with friends, and for vacations. We also get very attached to our vehicles. 

When something plays such a vital role, it’s no wonder people want to take their vehicles with them when they have to move.     

There are many different ways you can ship a car across the country, each with its own price. A car hauler is the most common method of transportation for vehicles, but there are others. Let’s look at the average cost to ship a car per mile for some of the other options. 

How much does airplane transportation cost?

This is the most costly way to ship a car. It can cost as much as $100,000, especially if you’re shipping internationally. If you’re shipping between locations within the United States, the vehicle shipping cost per mile is much less, but it’s still far more expensive than shipping by truck.  

How much does it cost to send a vehicle across the country by train?

If you want to send your vehicle across the country by train, the cost to transport a car per mile is typically much less. On average, you can expect to pay less than $1,000. However, the actual cost depends on the route. It can also vary depending on the railway company. 

A big downside with this option is that availability tends to be very limited, and commercial customers generally get the spaces first. Rates can also vary according to the time of year and as commercial demand rises and falls. 

What is the charge for sending a vehicle by boat?

You can easily ship a car by boat to destinations such as Hawaii and Alaska. The cost depends on the destination, but the average is between $1,000 and $5,000. 

How much do car haulers charge per mile?

On average, the per-mile price a car hauler will charge varies depending on the distance. For a trip of 1000+ miles, it’s around $0.60 per mile. For less than 500 miles, it’s $1. More than 2,000 miles is $0.50 per mile. 

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Why you might want to move your vehicle

The most common reason for wanting to move your car is because you’re relocating. There are, however, several other reasons why people choose to ship their car. 

  • If you’ve bought a car online from another state
  • You want to keep the mileage down on your vintage, classic, custom, or luxury car
  • You’re heading south for the winter or north for the summer
  • Because your kids are heading off to college
  • Your vehicle isn’t running, and you need to get it to a specialist garage
  • You need to get your collection of cars to a top car show

Factors that impact the cost to transport a car per mile

Factors that impact the cost to transport a car per mile

The figures we’ve already mentioned are just a rough estimate of the average cost to ship a car per mile. Several factors can impact the actual price you have to pay. A little further down the page, we’ll investigate some of the ways you can save on the cost. But let’s start by looking at what is taken into account when working out the average vehicle shipping cost per mile.


This is the most obvious factor. The more miles you want to ship a car, the higher the car delivery service cost per mile.    

The type, size, and year of your vehicle

The type of car you want to ship is a leading factor. The DOT and FMCSA regulate companies that offer auto transport services. Carriers have to follow regulations regarding how much they haul using their trucks and trailers, and they would naturally aim to maximize their load. 

The larger or heavier the vehicle you want to transport, the higher the cost to transport a car per mile. This is because the carrier will be able to move fewer cars to meet any weight restrictions.    

Quick tip: Always give the exact details of the car you want to ship, so you have no surprises at pick-up. 

The route

When it comes to shipping cars, time is of the essence for calculating auto shipping rates per mile. If you ship a car on a popular route, it will cost less. The same applies if you’re shipping from city to city. When the carrier has to drive out of their way to pick up or drop off a vehicle, it can cost more. Generally, expect the car delivery service cost per mile to be less if you’re shipping from one major city to another, compared to locations in the middle of nowhere. 

Quick tip: You could save money by agreeing to meet the carrier in the closest city or near a major interstate exit. 

Whether your car is running

If your car is not running, the car shipping company will need special equipment to load and unload your car. A car that won’t start and cannot be driven onto the trailer is not running. Besides specialist equipment, non-running cars also take more time and effort for pick-up and drop-off. All of this affects how much car haulers charge per mile for their service. 

Quick tip: Try to ensure your vehicle is running when booking your auto transport service. If it’s not running, make sure you inform the carrier, so there are no delays at pick-up.  

The time of year

Supply and demand can affect the average cost to ship a car per mile. High demand at certain times of the year can lead to higher prices. Holidays are a prime example. Auto transport drivers need their holidays, too, which means shipping a car before Christmas or Thanksgiving can be challenging to book. The same applies to New Year’s, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and even Valentine’s day. 

The weather at certain times of the year can also affect auto transport availability and the cost to transport a car per mile. For example, hurricane season or occasional floods in Texas, the Carolinas, and Florida. 

The direction in which you want to ship your car can make a difference to auto shipping rates per mile too. The snowbird season means that demand for car shipments from New York and other northern states, down to Florida and other southern states, peaks between October and December. Similarly, demand for routes in the other direction peaks from March to May because the snowbirds are heading home again.

Quick tip: Try to be as flexible as possible on your pick-up dates. You’re more likely to find an affordable car shipping company, especially if you avoid peak seasons.  

Type of auto transport: open vs. enclosed

Many auto transport companies give you the option of open or enclosed auto transport. One is more expensive than the other. 

Open car transport is the most common choice for people who need to ship a car. Typically, the average cost to ship a car per mile is around 30% - 40% less than enclosed auto transport. Open car transport carriers can ship more cars so they’re able to spread the cost between customers. An open car transport company can ship up to ten vehicles simultaneously, whereas an enclosed auto transport carrier can ship six at the most. 

Open car carriers transport vehicles in an open-air trailer. The cars on the trailer are exposed to the elements, traffic, and road grime. However, this is still a very safe and secure way to ship your car to another state. 

Enclosed car carriers, on the other hand, use trailers that are entirely enclosed. Your car is fully protected from debris, dirt, weather conditions, and other elements. It is an auto transport service recommended for owners of classic, vintage, luxury, custom, high-value, or other unique cars. The cost to transport a car per mile with an enclosed car carrier is around 30% - 40% more. 

Quick tip: If your car is worth less than $100,000, the more budget-conscious option is open car transport.  

Type of service: express vs. guaranteed pick-up

Express car shipping or a guaranteed pick-up service usually costs between 30% and 40% more than standard car shipping. 

If you need to move a car from one state to another at the last minute or be at a specific location by a deadline, express auto transport is a service that will meet your needs. It is a service for when time is of the essence, and you want your vehicle shipped super quick. A carrier will pick up your vehicle in 1-2 business days. The cost to transport a car per mile is higher.  

Guaranteed pick-up is a service that means you make your booking with a 24-hour window. It is perfect if you’re pushed for time or need to make specific arrangements. Auto shipping rates per mile for this service are higher. 

Special requirements can impact the average cost to ship a car per mile

Exceptional circumstances can affect the cost of transporting a car. If you want to carry extra personal items in the trunk of your car, if your car has any modifications or low clearance, or if you’d prefer top load, the average cost to ship a car per mile will be more.     

Tips for reducing auto shipping rates per mile

If you want to shave some bucks off the average cost to ship a car per mile, here are some tips to help you.

  • Book in advance: If you can, try to book in advance because it gives the car shipping company plenty of time to find and secure the best deal. If you can, book a couple of weeks ahead of time. 
  • Ask about discounts: You’ll often find auto transport companies offer a range of different discounts. Here at SGT Auto Transport, for example, we have discounts available for serving or retired military members, college students, and snowbirds.  
  • Choose the right type of auto transport: If you want cheap car transport, open car transport is the best choice. Your car will be exposed to the elements, but it is the most popular and affordable car shipping option. It’s also a very safe and secure way to ship a car. 
  • Pick the right time of the year: Auto transport services tend to be in more demand during the summer months. This means the vehicle shipping cost per mile is higher. One of the cheapest times of the year is in the fall. 
  • Ensure your car is running: If your car is running, no special equipment is needed to load and unload your car. 
  • Ship more than one car: If you own more than one car, you could save money if you ship them all at the same time. 

Getting a quote

Getting a quote is the first step in getting your vehicle shipping from point A to point B. Every car shipping company handles car shipping quotes differently, which can be confusing. 

You can contact a car shipping company directly to request a quote. You should be able to do this by email, instant chat, or telephone. 

Another option is to use a shipping marketplace such as uShip. uShip allows you to compare the rates from many different car carriers at once. If you don’t like any of the auto shipping rates per mile that are provided, you can take your shipment listing to uShip’s marketplace by starting an auction. You have to provide shipping details, and uShip’s car shipping experts will send you shipping quotes for review. 

Here at SGT Auto Transport, we provide an online instant quote calculator. All you have to do is give the necessary details to see the different price options instantly. 

Things to be aware of when getting auto transport quotes online  

Getting an auto transport quote is a very straightforward process, but there are some things you need to be mindful of. 

Check whether the price is all-inclusive

The average cost to ship a car per mile varies considerably, depending on the car shipping company. It’s, therefore, crucial to understand precisely what’s included in the total cost when you compare prices.

Ask the auto transport company if the price is all-inclusive because you’re not going to want any surprises when paying. You can also check what’s included in the price by reading the small print of the offer. Not all auto transport companies include all costs in their instant quotes. Check there are no additional charges or fees you might have to pay at a later date. 

SGT Auto Transport is a company that gives all-inclusive quotes. There will be nothing extra to pay and that we guarantee. 

Is full insurance included in the quote?

It’s not usual for standard motor insurance to cover your vehicle when it’s being transported. Therefore, it’s critical that you check whether the quote includes the cost of adequate insurance coverage. 

Ask for insurance documentation, so you can check what level of cover your vehicle will have while it’s being shipped. 

How long is the quote valid for?

How long your quote is valid varies between auto transport providers. A quote you get from us is good for seven days. If you make your booking within that time frame, the quote will remain the same. Wait longer than one week to make your booking, and your quote will have to be recalculated.

Do you have to pay upfront as part of the deal?

Some auto shipping companies take no upfront payments until they confirm your auto transport booking. Others may require a deposit in order to secure the quoted price. Here at SGT Auto Transport, we have $0 upfront payment at the time of booking.   

How to pay for your auto transport

It’s common for there to be a couple of options when it comes to the price. Here at SGT Auto Transport, for example, we offer a Discounted Cash Price and a Regular Price.

  • Discounted Cash Price: We take a small partial payment once your vehicle is scheduled for pick-up. You pay the outstanding balance in cash or certified funds upon delivery of your vehicle. 
  • Regular Price: You pay in full once your vehicle is scheduled for pick-up. There will be nothing more to pay when you receive your vehicle.

You can usually pay for your car transport using a debit or credit card, certified funds (certified check, cashier’s check, money order, manager’s check, or EFT wire transfer), or via PayPal. 

How to find a reliable auto transport company

Your car is one of the biggest investments you’re likely to make. Of course, you’re going to want the best car shipping company to transport your precious car. There are hundreds of different companies to choose from, but there are some fundamental factors to bear in mind. 

  • Only ship your car with a company that’s got a good rating with the BBB and is registered with the Department of Transport. When you contact the company, always ask for their DOT number and then check it by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.
  • Only ship your car with a company that’s bonded and insured. Should anything happen to your car, and it’s the company’s fault, you’ll be protected.
  • Look for a company with a professional website.
  • Spend time researching the company’s reputation online.
  • Search online for testimonials and reviews.
  • Make sure the company is transparent about its services.
  • Find out what the procedure is in the unlikely event that damage occurs.
  • Look for a company that has 24/7 customer service.
  • Always read the fine print of the auto transport contract, and if there’s anything you don’t understand, don't be afraid to ask for clarification.

If you’re ever in need of auto transport, get in touch with us here at SGT Auto Transport. We provide top-quality service at the best possible auto shipping rates per mile. You can speak directly with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038. We also have a Live Chat option, and you can get a quote by using our instant online quote calculator.

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