Cars loaded on a shipping truck

Cheap Car Shipping - Cheapest Way to Ship a Car



When it comes to shipping a car, cost is often a primary concern. Whether you’re relocating, buying a car from a distance, or sending a vehicle to a loved one, finding an affordable shipping option without compromising on reliability and safety is paramount. This is where SGT Auto Transport, a leader in car shipping services, steps in to offer valuable insights and solutions. With years of expertise in auto transport logistics, we understand the nuances of cost-effective vehicle shipping. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the complexities of car shipping costs, offering you the most economical ways to transport your vehicle. We’ll delve into the factors that influence shipping prices, compare different shipping options, and provide practical tips and tricks to help you save money. We aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, ensuring your car reaches its destination safely, without breaking the bank. 

Join us as we navigate the intricacies of car shipping, simplifying the process and highlighting cost-saving strategies. With the right information and a trusted partner like SGT Auto Transport, shipping your car affordably is easier than you think.

Understanding Car Shipping Costs

Car shipping costs can vary considerably, depending on several factors. Whether you’re relocating or purchasing a vehicle from another state, understanding what elements influence the cost will help you find the cheapest way to ship a car cross country. 

Let’s break down the considerations a car shipping company takes into account when determining prices.

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Costs

  • Distance and Route: The primary factor that must be taken into account is the distance your car needs to travel. Longer distances typically cost more. In addition, the difficulty and popularity of the route also impact the price.
  • Type and size of the vehicle: Another key factor to take into account is the size and type of your vehicle. Larger and heavier vehicles take up more space on the carrier’s trailer and often cost more to ship. Specialized vehicles such as classic cars or those with unique features, may also have specific shipping requirements that affect the cost.
  • Seasonal fluctuations: Car shipping costs can fluctuate depending on the time of year. Demand tends to be higher during the summer months, the holidays, and snowbird seasons which impacts the price. If you plan to ship your car during off-peak times, you’ll likely find it’s the cheapest way to ship a car across country.  

How Carriers Determine Prices

Carriers use a variety of criteria to calculate shipping costs.

  • Distance traveled: The primary factor is the distance your car travels. Longer distances take more time and use more fuel and resources. All these costs affect the price of shipping your car. 
  • Vehicle size and weight: Larger or heavier vehicles take up more space on a carrier’s trailer. They may also require additional equipment, both of which influence the overall price. 
  • Vehicle type and condition: Vehicles requiring extra care or special treatment may incur higher costs. The condition of the vehicle also matters, as inoperable or non-running cars may need special equipment for loading and unloading. 
  • Carrier type: You have the choice of two types of carrier when you want to ship a car: open transport and enclosed transport. The cheapest way to ship a car is using open transport. Enclosed carriers cost between 30% and 40% more, but they offer greater protection for valuable or unique cars.  

Tips for Estimating the Cost of Shipping a Car

Understanding the ins and outs of car shipping costs allows you to make informed decisions when looking for the cheapest way to ship your car, door-to-door. When you factor in distance, vehicle details, and seasonal considerations you can better navigate the process.

  • Get multiple quotes: Obtain quotes from several reputable car shipping companies and compare prices and services. You’ll be able to identify competitive prices and choose the service that best suits your needs. 
  • Plan ahead: Booking your shipment in advance can sometimes lead to better rates. Last-minute requests may incur additional charges due to the urgency. 
  • Consider seasonal variations: Be mindful of peak seasons and try to schedule your car shipment during periods when demand is low. This could result in more favorable pricing.  
  • Factor in additional services: If you have specific requirements, such as express auto transport or guaranteed pick-up, consider how they might impact the overall cost.    

Cost-Effective Car Shipping Options

When it comes to shipping your car, exploring the various options will help you find the most cost-effective solution for your needs. In this next section, we’ll explore the different car shipping options, comparing open vs. enclosed transport and door-to-door vs. terminal-to-terminal shipping. At the same time, we’ll share some insights into the associated costs and scenarios where one option might be more advantageous. 

Open vs. Enclosed Transport

Open transport is generally more cost-effective. It is widely available and suitable for most vehicles. With this service, your vehicle is exposed to weather and road elements which means limited protection for high-value or unique cars.

Enclosed transport, on the other hand, provides superior protection from weather and road debris. It is the ideal shipping service for luxury, classic, or high-value vehicles. Typically, it is more expensive than open transport because of the increased protection. The availability of this service tends to be limited compared to open carriers. 

Door-to-Door vs. Terminal-to-Terminal Services

Door-to-door services offer convenient pickup and delivery at your preferred locations. It also saves time and effort for the customer. Compared to terminal-to-terminal services it can be slightly more expensive. 

Terminal-to-terminal services are potentially lower cost, as terminals serve multiple customers. This service offers flexibility in terms of drop-off and pickup times. On the downside, it requires additional effort for the customer who has to drop off and pick up vehicles from the terminal. 

Factors Influencing Costs

Primary cost factors include convenience, vehicle protection, and the level of personalized service. Open transport and terminal-to-terminal services often come with lower base costs, while enclosed transport and door-to-door services provide added convenience and protection at a higher price point.

We should point out that your choice of shipping company should not be based solely on cost. If you want to avoid becoming the victim of an auto transport scam, there are other factors you should consider such as the reputation of the company, customer feedback, transparency, and professionalism.  

Pros and Cons in Terms of Cost  

Choosing open transport and terminal-to-terminal services can be more cost-effective for standard vehicles and those willing to participate in the drop-off and pick-up process. On the other hand, enclosed transport and door-to-door services are worth considering for those with higher-value or unique vehicles despite the associated higher costs. 

Open transport and terminal-to-terminal services are suitable for standard vehicles and customers looking for the cheapest auto transport. 

Enclosed transport and door-to-door shipping services are better suited for luxury, classic, or high-value vehicles, and customers for whom convenience is a priority.  

Tips and Tricks to Save Money on Car Shipping

Shipping your car doesn’t have to break the bank, however, if you want to significantly reduce shipping costs you should implement smart strategies. We’ll finish up this post with some practical tips and tricks, covering flexible scheduling, choosing the right shipping season, taking advantage of discounts, and understanding the importance of comparing quotes and negotiation tactics. 

Flexible Scheduling

Consider scheduling your car shipping during off-peak seasons. This not only helps avoid times of high demand but may also lead to more competitive pricing.

Opt for flexible pick-up and delivery time frames. Carriers may offer lower rates for customers who can accommodate a more extended timeframe for loading and unloading.  

Choosing the Right Shipping Season

If possible, try to ship your car when the demand for car shipping services is lower. Rates tend to be more competitive when demand is lower, such as in the fall. 

Avoid peak shipping seasons, such as the summer months, the snowbird season, and during the holidays. If you follow this top it can result in considerable savings.  

Take advantage of Discounts and Special Offers

If you’re shipping more than one vehicle, ask about multiple vehicle discounts. Carriers may provide reduced rates for shipping multiple cars simultaneously. 

Check if the shipping company offers discounts for military personnel, students, or other affiliations. Some carriers provide specialized discounts for specific groups. 

The Importance of Comparing Quotes and Negotiation Tactics

Request quotes from several auto transport companies as this allows you to compare rates and services and make a more informed decision. 

Don’t hesitate to negotiate. Once you’ve got several quotes, approach the preferred company and check whether they can match or beat a competitor's offer. Some flexibility may be possible. 

Additional Services and Insurance

Evaluate any additional services offered by a car shipping company. Skip any unnecessary add-ons that may increase costs. Stick to the essential services needed for your specific shipment. If you don’t want your car shipped the fastest way possible, stick with standard open transport.

Understand the insurance coverage offered by the shipping company. While insurance is crucial, you may be able to save by opting for the standard coverage if your vehicle doesn’t require additional protection.   


Saving money on car shipping is about making informed choices and taking advantage of opportunities to reduce costs. By aligning your shipping schedule with off-peak times, exploring discounts, comparing quotes, and being smart about adding additional services, you can ensure a cost-effective and efficient car shipping experience. 

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