Top 7 cheapest ways to ship a car across country

Top 7 cheapest ways to ship a car across country


There are many reasons why you might need to move a car across country. You could be moving because you’ve received a promotion, started a new job, upsizing because your family’s got bigger or you just need a change of scenery. You could have bagged yourself the sweetest deal on a new motor a few states away. The only problem is, you’re not worried about how to ship a car across country.

Whatever the reason, the challenge of moving your car can become an issue. What is the best way to do it? Can you move it without breaking your budget? In this article, we’re going to look at the 7 best and cheapest ways you can do it.  

Hiring a driver

It’s possible to hire a professional to drive your car cross country. There are lots to choose from. You could choose a company that specializes in providing this type of service. The people they employ to drive customer’s cars are often students or retirees who use this type of employment as a side hustle.

You could also hire someone to drive your car cross country and employ them directly without using a third party. People who drive someone else’s car across country often advertise their services in the local ads.  


  • You might have the option to ride along
  • The service is personal
  • Specialized insurance is an option
  • You can transport extra luggage
  • The service is fast


  • Compared with cross country vehicle transport, the cost can be expensive
  • Unnecessary wear and tear
  • Finding a reputable company or individual driver could be difficult

Shipping by rail

You might not realize it, but yes you can ship a car by train. It can sometimes be cheaper, but not when you compare it with cross country vehicle shipping. The process is quite simple, but you do have to get your vehicle to the train station and then collect it at the other end. Both of which add to the final cost. If you’re lucky, the nearest station from which you can ship your car might be a short distance away. On the other hand, you might have to travel many miles.


  • Sometimes the cost can be less than other options
  • Trains are better for the environment because they have a lower carbon footprint
  • Rail services cover most of the major routes
  • Both open and enclosed transport options are available


  • Door-to-door transport is not an option, you have to travel to deliver or pick-up your vehicle from a designated station
  • Typically, shipping by rail takes much longer
  • When you factor in additional costs, transportation by rail can work out to be more expensive than the cost for shipping a car across country using auto transport
  • The service is not very flexible as trains run on a defined route, time, and schedule
  • You can’t transport personal items in your vehicle

Auto transport with a car hauler

Many consider this to be the best way to ship a car across country. Most car haulers provide a door-to-door auto transport service. It’s a very simple process to arrange, and it’s a convenient service. Using a car hauler is perhaps the most common way to transport a car across the country.

The actual cost of cross country car shipping depends on factors such as the type of car and its condition, the time of the year, distance, and the start and end locations. Car haulers also offer a range of different services depending on your needs. Open car transport is the most popular and affordable service. However, for an additional charge you can also choose enclosed auto transport (for vehicles of high value), express auto transport (for those times when you’re in a rush), and guaranteed pick-up.


  • There’s no wear and tear on your car
  • Cheapest way to ship a car across country
  • No extra miles added to the odometer
  • Shipping a car is stress free
  • Saves time
  • Multiple vehicle shipping is an option
  • Extra protection for valuable vehicles with enclosed auto transport
  • Door-to-door service
  • Expedited service available if you’re in a hurry


  • Not all locations are accessible for auto transport trucks and trailers

Drive it yourself

Driving it yourself is the most obvious solution, and if you’ve got the time to spare, it’s definitely a cheap option. There are, however, a number of reasons why it’s not necessarily the best idea.

You can cover a 3,000 mile trip in 48 hours if there are two drivers who can rotate shifts. For one driver to make the trip saely, it will take five overnight stays. That’s 5 nights in a motel room you have to pay for, at an average cost of between $40 and $70 per night. Then there’s the cost of food, drinks, filling the gas tank, and possibly road tolls depending on the route you take. If you’re going to collect a car you’ve bought online, there’s the cost of getting there to add to the overall cost.


  • You can make the journey at your own pace
  • It’s possible to stop along the way wherever you want to
  • Experience the countryside
  • Visit interesting places along the way
  • Enjoy a road trip with your family


  • Compared with cross country car transport the total cost is much more when you factor in accommodation, meals, wear and tear, and cost of fuel
  • Driving long distances is dangerous
  • Driving for long periods of time is stressful
  • Your journey is dependent on weather and traffic conditions

Can take a long time

Transport your own vehicle using a dolly or trailer

There’s always the option of transporting your own vehicle using a dolly or trailer. One big advantage is that it adds no extra miles to your car. You might also be able to carry extra cargo, depending on the weight limit of the trailer. One big downside, however, is that towing a car is not for the faint hearted. If you’ve never done it before, it’s quite an experience and takes a lot of getting used to. Reversing and maneuvering while towing requires a certain amount of skill and practice.


  • Door-to-door service
  • Safe option
  • No wear and tear on your vehicle


  • Towing a trailer takes skill and practice
  • Can work out to be more expensive when you add in other costs such as accommodation, food, and additional gas

Have a friend or family member drive it for you

You might have a friend or family member who could drive your car for you. It’s a very budget friendly option and you know the person you’re trusting to drive your car. Another advantage is that you can pack extra luggage into the vehicle which is going to save money on removal fees. There are, however, some disadvantages. You may require additional insurance and let’s not forget the unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle.


  • Affordable option
  • You trust the driver
  • You can transport personal belongings


  • You may require additional insurance to cover the driver
  • Additional mechanical bills because of the extra wear and tear
  • How good a driver is your friend or family member?  

Use a terminal-to-terminal carrier

A terminal is somewhere that they can store vehicles while they wait to be transported. They are generally used by more than one company at the same time. Terminals are often located near airport terminals, in many of the large cities across the United States. You can also find them just off many of the major highways.

A terminal is where auto transport carriers collect and deliver vehicles. Often, companies use them for combining shipments going to the same area. Carriers do it this way because it saves them time and effort because they don’t have to drive around picking up and delivering vehicles.


  • You can nominate a third party to deliver or collect your vehicle
  • Peace of mind because the service is safe and secure


  • Terminals tend to be located outside city limits, which means you’ve got extra miles to travel to deliver or collect your car
  • Additional costs make it more expensive compared to the cost to ship a car across country door-to-door
  • You may have to pay storage fees
  • Takes longer than cross country car shipping with an auto transport company

If you need to ship a car across country, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at SGT Auto Transport. You can speak to our shipping advisors directly by phone or Live Chat, and they’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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