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How to Determine the Best Car Shipping Route


People choose to ship their cars across the country because it’s a convenient option that saves money, mileage, and time. 

One thing that often puts people off shipping their car is that they think it will be expensive. However, it’s a more affordable service than many think, and there are ways you can save money too. 

In this post, you’ll find out how car shipping routes and location affects the cost of shipping and what other factors you need to consider when calculating the cost of shipping a car to another state.

Factors that impact the cost of shipping

How much is car shipping from state to state? Well, the truth is that it’s almost impossible to tell you exactly how much it will cost to transport your car to its new home. It is possible to provide an estimate, but certain factors affect the cost of auto transport. 

Knowing those factors will help you because it means you can contact an auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport. They’ll be able to tell you how to ship your car and how much it will cost when you give them all your details.

If you want to know the cost, we provide an instant quote calculator for your convenience. 

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The first thing to learn about car transportation is that the cost is directly related to the demand for the service. In addition, there are several other significant factors that will impact the cost of shipping your car. 


This post is about finding the best car shipping route, which is why location sits at the top of the list.

The location has much to do with how much you have to pay to move your car. For example, if you’re moving from one big city to another, you’re more likely to get a better deal. This is because there are lots of auto transport companies that travel the routes between large cities. 

The carrier won’t have to go out of their way to pick up your car or to deliver it if you’re shipping it between two cities or metropolitan areas. 

If you live in a more rural area and want your car to be picked up off the beaten track, you may have to pay more. This is because the car transport company has to make many changes to ensure the car gets there, which will cost the company more. The carrier hands back any additional costs to the customer. 

To keep the costs down and to reduce the time frame, consider an alternative pick-up and drop-off location. If you can be flexible and get your car to a different location, you could save a lot of money.   


The distance your car needs to go is another significant factor in determining the cost of shipping your vehicle to another state. If you only want to move your car from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Bismarck, North Dakota, a distance of just 427 miles, it will cost less than moving your car from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.

There are several reasons why the distance will cost you more or less, depending on where you need to go. 

  • The risk for potential damage increases the longer the distance
  • It takes extra gas
  • Truck drivers need to be paid more for driving longer distances  

Typically, you’ll find car shipping companies charge a price per mile. For shorter distances, the price per mile tends to be higher. However, the overall cost will be lower. 

Time of year

The auto transport industry isn’t busy all the time. However, there are times of the year when it’s much busier because more people are moving around or traveling. Snowbirds, for example, are big fans of car shipping services. They ship their cars south in the fall and back home to the southern states when spring approaches. 

Another busy time of the year for auto transport companies is the summer. Kids are out of school and it’s common for people to relocate before the start of the next school year. June and July are also popular vacation months. 

You will be right in thinking that these popular times of the year are more expensive for shipping your car. 

Seasons are another important factor to consider. Winter months tend to experience inclement weather or harsh storms, both of which make it difficult for drivers. If you want to ship a high end vehicle, you should take the seasons into consideration. 

Flexibility in the delivery time frame

If you can be flexible with your delivery date, the lower the price. A reputable auto transport company will provide a wide selection of options. Some will be very economical, while others come with guaranteed 100% protection, on-time delivery, or a super-speedy service. 

If you’re forced to ship your car on short notice, the options will be fewer and it will likely be more expensive. Fast pick-up and delivery demand quick and efficient route planning, which is going to increase the price.

The best thing to do is book your auto transport service a couple of weeks before you need to ship your car. It gives you and the car shipping company lots of time to prepare. 

Shipping options

As well as flexibility in delivery times, different shipping options also come with different price tags. Typically, you’ll be given two car shipping options:

Open car transport

This is the least expensive option. Cars are transported using a truck and trailer that’s open on all sides. The cars are uncovered which leaves them exposed to the weather and road conditions during the trip. Generally, there are no problems with this type of transport and car owners enjoy delivery of their car with no problems. 

This method is less expensive because carriers can load many cars onto the trailer at the same time and move them simultaneously. The costs are shared between up to ten car owners, making it more affordable. 

Enclosed auto transport

This is the option to choose if you want your car to have a little more protection along the way. It makes more sense for owners of classic or sports cars to use this option.

Enclosed car shipping costs more money, but for many people the extra expense is worth it for the peace of mind it brings. 

Dimensions and weight of your vehicle

A primary factor in calculating the cost of car shipping is the type of vehicle, its dimensions, and weight. You can expect to pay more to transport an SUV or truck across the country than you would a standard sedan. What is the reason for this?

Larger vehicles take up more space on a transport trailer and also weigh more than smaller vehicles. Space is at a premium and weight affects the fuel consumption of the carrier. 

When shipping your car, it’s also important to let the company know whether any modifications have been done to your car. These can alter the size and weight of your car and affect the cost of shipping it. 

The auto transport company also needs to know whether your car is operable or inoperable. It’s easy for the carrier to load your car if it’s running. An inoperable car, on the other hand, requires specialist equipment which means this service will cost more. 

Other factors that affect your car shipping price

There are several other factors that can affect how much it costs to ship your car. 

Vehicle modifications

Car hauling companies base their prices on standard vehicles but are also able to cater to the needs of various other car owners. If, for example, you’ve modified your car, it will require more specialist handling and shipping. Ultimately, this will affect the cost of shipping it. 

Modifications include lifting or lowering a car, which alters the height of the car. These modifications require the car hauler to adjust the transporting trailer levels to accommodate your vehicle. Special equipment may also be needed to load and unload it. 

Adjustments like these directly affect the cost of car shipping because additional work and attention is required. 

Personal items loaded in the vehicle

A common question that our car shipping agents are asked is whether a client can load personal items in their car to take advantage of the space. 

This is a great option for people who are relocating as they’ll be able to use the passenger and cargo space for transporting goods while the car itself is being shipped. 

The downside with this option, if it’s available, is that loading your car with personal belongings will increase its weight. While you might not mind paying a little extra, most carriers don’t include personal belongings coverage in their cargo insurance.

If you want to leave personal items in your car, you must clarify things with the carrier. Book your auto transport with SGT Auto Transport and you’re allowed to ship 100 pounds of personal items, as long as they’re secured in a box or suitcase and locked in the trunk of your car.  

Additional services such as top loading  

An additional service you have to pay extra for is top loading. What does top loading mean? It’s when your car is placed on the upper level of a two-level transport trailer. 

People choose to request top loading because it removes the risk of oil dripping on your car from a car on the upper level. Your car is likely to be placed on a trailer with multiple other vehicles. You don’t know anything about the condition of those vehicles. Some may be new, while others might be much older.  

In addition, it increases the distance between your car and the road. Vehicles positioned on the bottom level of a trailer are more susceptible to encountering dust, dirt, rocks, and other road debris. 

If you’ve decided on the best car shipping route and are ready to make your booking, speak to our shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 

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