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Cost Comparison of Car Transport for Individuals and Dealerships


There are typically two categories of people that use car transport services. The first are individuals. They might want to ship their car because of a relocation. They might also choose to ship a car they recently bought online across the other side of the country. People who race or take their cars to exhibitions and shows might also choose car transport. 

The second category of people who regularly use auto transport services is owners of car dealerships. They might use car transport for dealerships when they’re getting in new stock. Dealerships also use car transport services when delivering cars for customers. 

One question that is always asked is how much it’s going to cost. This question is asked by individuals who want to transport cars and dealerships alike and the answer is pretty much the same, with some very subtle differences. 

In this post, we’ll compare the two and explain how the cost of car transport is calculated. But let’s get the ball rolling with some rough estimates for average auto transport costs.

Distance (miles)Average price per mileSample distance (miles)Sample price


The prices above were correct as of April 2022. For more accurate figures, it’s always best to use our instant quote calculator

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Alternatively, speak with our shipping advisors by phone or Live Chat. You’ll find the number at the bottom of the page.

So, back to comparing the cost of auto transport for individuals and the cost of a car transporter for dealerships. 

What elements influence the cost of transporting cars?

There are many things that can impact the cost of shipping a car. These elements apply whether you’re a dealership or an individual. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.

Distance between the pick-up and delivery locations

The distance a vehicle travels is the most significant factor. The further a carrier has to drive between the pick-up and delivery location, the higher the cost. 

For example, if you want to ship a vehicle from Georgia to Washington, it will cost considerably more than shipping from Arizona to Oregon.

Distance is not the only factor. Whether you’re shipping to or from rural or city locations also affects the cost. Rural locations are trickier for carriers and take longer to reach. Therefore, you’ll pay more.  

Whether or not your car is operable

Occasionally, we’re asked to make arrangements to ship a vehicle that’s not working. For example, if you’re the proud owner of a classic sports car such as a 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. You might need to get it to a specialist garage for some repair work. 

When a car is not running, extra care is required. The carrier might also need to use specialist equipment to load and unload the car. In such cases, these additional requirements could mean you pay extra. 

The size and weight of your vehicle

Vehicles come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. From small cars such as a Fiat 500, Honda Civic, or MINI Cooper right through to larger trucks such as a Ford F-450, Dodge Mega Cab RAM 3500, or a Hennessey VelociRaptor.

Such a variety of vehicles can be challenging for a carrier because they have to comply with strict weight restrictions. When they are transporting heavy vehicles, they can haul less freight. 

The bottom line is that you can expect to pay less if you own a small car, compared with someone who owns a van, truck, or SUV.  

The type of shipping service you’d prefer

When you get in touch with an auto transport provider, there will be two options to choose from. You will be asked whether you prefer open or enclosed car transport. Which is right for you, depends on your needs and the type of car you’re shipping. Let’s quickly compare the two:

Open car transport

Open car shipping is the standard option for anyone who wants to ship a vehicle. It also tends to be the cheapest and easiest to arrange. More carriers offer open auto transport so you have more options and greater flexibility. 

How does open car transport work? Your car is loaded onto an open trailer. During the journey, it’s exposed to the weather and traffic debris. However, don’t be put off because the risk of damage is negligible. 

There is an option if you’re at all worried. Choose top loading and the chance of damage is further reduced. There is an added cost for this service. Speak with our shipping advisors and they’ll advise you what it is.  

Enclosed car shipping

Enclosed auto transport is a car shipping service that’s designed for a special kind of car. If you own a classic, custom, antique, high-class, high-end, luxury, or exotic car, this is the service we usually recommend.

Cars are shipping in a trailer that’s completely enclosed. Therefore, your car is given total protection. 

You can expect to pay an additional 30% to 40% for this premium service. But in most cases, the complete peace of mind you get is more than worth the added expense

How you want your vehicle to be delivered

The most common way for a car to be delivered is to your door. Door-to-door auto transport is a service we offer and our most popular one. We arrange for a carrier to collect your vehicle from outside your home. 

There are occasions when this is not possible. For example, there may be parking restrictions on your street or large commercial vehicles are prohibited. Low-hanging branches or power lines might also get in the way. 

It is possible to arrange a more convenient location close by. After your vehicle has been transported, the carrier will make the delivery to your preferred final destination. 

Another option is terminal-to-terminal shipping. This service used to be very popular, but it’s not as common as it once was. That being said, it is still an option if you’re interested. 

With terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’re responsible for driving your car to the terminal. The carrier picks your car up when they’re next in the area and transports it to another terminal or storage location near your preferred final destination. You can go and collect your car when you’re ready. 

The cost of door-to-door transport is a little higher, but it’s worth the additional cost for the convenience it offers. In addition, you don’t have to worry about dropping off and picking up your car.   

Speed of delivery

There are standard time frames in the auto transport industry. Typically, it takes between 1 and 5 business days for an auto transport company to pick up your car. Then, it can take between 7 and 10 business days to transport your car from one side of the country to the other. If the distance is shorter, it will, of course, take less time. 

If time is of the essence and you need to ship your car super quick, you do have other options. 

Choose express car shipping and it can significantly change the time frame. We can arrange for your vehicle to be picked up in 1-2 business days.

Another option is guaranteed pick-up. We can arrange a car pick-up with a window of 24 hours. 

It’s important to mention that both of these options will cost a little more than standard car shipping. 

The time of year

The auto transport industry is no different than many others in that it’s affected by supply and demand. There are times of the year when demand is much higher for car shipping services. This is when prices also tend to be higher. Good examples are holidays such as Thanksgiving, New Year, and Christmas. 

Demand is not the only influence related to the time of year. The weather also changes during the year and this impacts the cost of car shipping. Good examples are occasional floods in Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas and the hurricane season. 

Direction is yet another factor. Between October and December, for example, snowbirds are heading south from New York and other northern states. Therefore, demand for car shipments down to Florida and other southern states is higher. When snowbirds head back home from March to May, prices are higher in the other direction.  

The price of fuel

There is an element of control over the factors mentioned in this list, up until now. The price of fuel is something we have no control over. As we are all very aware, fuel costs go up and they go down. The price of fuel can also vary, depending on where you are in the US. 

Fuel costs are one of the biggest variables in the auto transport industry. An increase in the price of fuel will typically be passed on to the customer.

The list above relates to the cost of transporting cars for dealerships and for individuals, with one subtle difference. Dealerships oftentimes receive preferred pricing based on the amount of volume being shipped.

If you’re wondering how you can shave a few bucks off the price of your car shipping service, here are a few tips that will help:

  • Check whether there might be some discounts you can take advantage of
  • Try to book a couple of weeks in advance
  • Choose the right type of auto transport service for your needs
  • Pick the best time of the year in terms of price
  • Ensure your vehicle is fully operable
  • Ship multiple vehicles 

If you want to know more about the cost of auto transport services, we’d love to hear from you. Individuals and dealers can all (864) 546-5038 to speak with our shipping advisors. We also have a Live Chat option.  


What is the cheapest company to ship your car?

While it might be very tempting to look for the cheapest company to ship your car, it’s not necessarily the right option. A price that’s too good to be true could be just that and you end up the victim of an auto transport scam. 

What’s the cheapest way to move a car?

The cheapest way to move a car is using open transport. Carriers who transport cars for dealerships tend to use this method. Up to 10 vehicles can be transported at the same time which helps to keep the cost low.  

How much does it cost to ship a car 300 miles?

The average price per mile to ship a car up to 500 miles is $0.80. Therefore, shipping a car 300 miles will cost an average of $240. However, bear in mind this is just an estimate. Rates are subject to change due to the cost of gas, pick-up and delivery locations, seasonal fluctuations, and several other factors. 

How much does it cost to ship a car from PA to FL?

The distance between Pennsylvania and Florida is a little over 1,000 miles. For distances between 1,000 and 1,500 miles, the average price per mile is $0.70. Therefore, shipping your car between PA and FL could cost around $840. 

How much does it cost per mile to drive a car?

According to the US Department of Energy, the average cost per mile of driving a car is $0.58. 

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