Car Shipping

Kelly Blue Book says the cost of a new family vehicle runs from $25,000 to $33,000 with larger and luxury vehicles costing much more. The average used car is less expensive, but still carries a price tag of close to $19,000, According to Edmunds. Choosing the right car shipping company will help to protect your investment. This guide explains the factors you need to consider when looking at various car shipping companies. For example, several elements of the shipping agreement can affect the cost. This guide also provides information on each of the best companies and defines terms consumers should know when choosing a car shipping service.

We evaluated 15 car shipping companies, and after carefully reviewing each one, identified the three best car shippers. To reach our final decision for the best car shipping companies, we researched licensing and insurance information with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which issued a consumer advisory regarding car shipping companies. We also weighed such factors as speedy delivery time and affordability against the potential for vehicle damage during transport. Finally, we sorted through customer reviews. Several companies ranked relatively high on our list, and our top three picks stood out in these categories: Ship A Car Direct for best customer service, AmeriFreight for best affordability, and Ship Your Car Now for best international flexibility.

Top tips:

  • Ask about insurance – how much the company covers and what gap insurance, if any, is needed
  • Set up your order anywhere from two days to two weeks before hand. This allows complications to resolve before the move occurs
  • Pay a deposit. Reputable companies charge a deposit to show good faith placed in them to perform. The deposit gets returend if they don’t meet expectations

Tips for a Wise Buyer

Cost To Ship A Car

A variety of factors determine car shipping costs. We’ve highlighted the most common below.

Type/Size of Car – Cost depends on the size of the vehicle being shipping. Shipping a mid-size sedan costs around $50 more than shipping a small car; a large sedan would be $100 more. SUVs, trucks and luxury cars ship at a higher rate as well.

Compare quotes from at least three companies

According to our research, it costs anywhere from $890 to $1,142 to ship a 2018 Toyota Highlander (SUV) from Denver, Colorado to Orlando Florida, per the five most affordable quotes. Trucks start at the high end of that range and smaller sedans end at the high end of that range. If you’re shipping a classic car, you can expect to add an additional $800 to $3,000 due to the special treatment required to transport it safely. Here’s a breakdown of what it would cost to ship each type of vehicle, according to our research. Again, we used Denver to Orlando as an example destination. These price ranges are from the top five affordable quotes.

Vehicle Type Cost
2018 Toyota Yaris (Economy) $792-$862
2018 Chevrolet Malibu (Midsize) $799-$862
2018 Chrysler 300 (Fullsize) $799-$959
2018 Toyota Rav4 (Mid-size SUV) $869-$992
2018 Chevrolet Suburban (Large SUV) $938-$1,176
2018 Porche 718 Cayman (Luxury Sport) $799-$1,257
2018 Ford F-150 (Truck) $991-$1,202
1938 Cadillac LaSalle (Classic) $1,202+

Car Condition – If the vehicle isn’t in running condition, expect to pay around $100 if the car has no steering or braking power and between $200 to $500 if the vehicle has to be winched or moved via forklift.

Shipping – Most consumers want to ship and receive their vehicle as soon as possible, but this increases the price. It will cost an additional $100 to $500 for expedited shipping. Additionally, the form of shipment – closed or open transport, affects the price.

Insurance – Car shipping companies carry insurance, but the brokers who arrange the shipping do not because brokers only arrange the shipments. Get a copy of the insurance policy and read it, then discuss whether there is a need for additional protection with the company you are doing business with or with your insurance agent. Additional insurance can cost $100 to $300.

Time of Year – More consumers tend to ship cars during the summer months so prices are higher at that time. Holidays and inclement weather can also increase prices by $100 to $500.

Distance – While consumers understand distance affects pricing, they might not realize how much. When the pickup/drop-off location is not in a major city or it is not close to a central interstate, the cost could be double the initial quoted rate.

Fuel Cost – This might be understood but it’s easy to forget about factoring in the price of fuel during your move.

Get The Vehicle Condition Report

Be sure you get a copy of the Vehicle Condition Report when the car is dropped off. This document, similar to one you get when renting a car, describes the condition of your car when it was dropped off, including dents, scratches, mileage, and other information. Carefully compare the vehicle to the report to see if there is any damage when the car is delivered. Once you sign off on the report, your options for claiming damage will be limited. Don’t take delivery of the car at night if you cannot clearly see the condition of the vehicle.

Ask about payment options and any variable costs.

Car Shipping Payment Options

Payment options vary by car shipping company. Some require a deposit while others request the entire amount up front. Payment methods also vary. You may be able to make a deposit using a credit card with the balance paid on delivery with cash, certified check, money order or a cashier’s check. International shipments require the entire bill to be paid before the vehicle ships.

Truck carrying cars

Car Shipping. Source: Getty

Prepare Your Car For Shipping

Car shipping companies handle the transportation of your car, however, they don’t typically drive it to your new house for you. It will be loaded onto a multi-car carrying truck (or ship if you’re moving internationally) and delivered to your new location, or the car shipping company’s storage depot. Here are some tips on how to prepare your car for shipping.

Make sure your car is clean and secure

    Wash your car – Dirt and dust mask dents, dings and scratches. With a clean car, you’ll be able to notice damage caused by the car shipping company once your move is complete.

    Clean the inside – During shipping, your car may be placed in different angled positions. It’s a good idea to clean out the inside of your car and remove things that aren’t secure like loose change or things on your floorboard. Remove all electronics and their chargers.

    Disconnect the alarm – This might seem obvious but it’s easy to forget and it’ll help you stay on the mover’s friendly side.

    Don’t get gas – Having a full tank of gas makes your car heavier, which could affect cost and add risk to the shipment.

    Check for leaks – A car shipping company won’t transport your car if there are any noticeable leaks. Check the undercarriage for drips and get them repaired before moving day.

    Check tire pressure – Over- or under-inflated tires are just as risky during shipping as they are when you’re driving on the road. Decrease the risk of tire damage and properly inflate your tires before shipping.

    Remove custom accessories – If you’ve modified your car with custom accessories like a spoiler, for example, it’s a good idea to remove them prior to shipping. Modified cars are unique and increase your car’s size, making fitting them onto a truck more difficult.

Car Shipping Company Reviews

After our evaluation, we chose the three best car shipping companies: Ship A Car Direct, AmeriFreight and Ship Your Car Now. Each of these companies stood out above the others in three distinct areas.

Ship A Car Direct logo

  • Best Customer Service
  • Easy-to-use website

AmeriFreight logo

  • Best Affordability
  • Low costs

Ship Your Car Now logo

  • Best International Flexibility
  • Ships internationally

Ship A Car Direct Review

Best Customer Service

Ship A Car Direct was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Niwot, Colorado. The company is a broker, which means it has access to multiple carriers that ship cars, giving consumers more shipping options. The company uses both open and enclosed transport options. Open transport options are similar to the trucks you see on the road carrying eight- to 10- dealership cars on bi-level trailers. Cars shipped using the enclosed option are shipped in covered trailers that typically hold two vehicles.

Ship A Car Direct

Screenshot: Ship A Car Direct.

Ship A Car Direct has an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau, and 89 percent of the BBB reviews are positive. The company has also received exceptionally positive customer reviews from a variety of other review sites and the company is insured, bonded and offers a free quote calculator on its website.

Unlike most other car shipping companies, Ship A Car Direct does not charge upfront fees and payment is not due until the company has confirmed the vehicle pick-up information with the carrier. Also, the company gives customers $500 worth of free insurance in addition to the standard insurance it provides to cover any damage. Ship A Car Direct only transports vehicles in the United States and can deliver the vehicle to your home, office or other convenient location. Expedited car shipping options are available if you need the vehicle shipped quickly.

AmeriFreight Review

Best Affordability

AmeriFreight was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in Peachtree City, Georgia and is a broker/carrier with the ability to ship cars using their equipment or another company’s when needed. The company has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau, and 96 percent of the BBB reviews are positive. AmeriFreight has also received overwhelmingly positive customer reviews on a variety of other sites. The company only uses licensed carriers approved by the BBB.

AmeriFreight Screenshot

Screenshot: AmeriFreight Rates.

AmeriFreight lists the cost of the average shipping price to be between $450 and $2000 depending on distance and vehicle size. Choosing an enclosed transport over an open transport option could increase the cost by 80 percent. AmeriFreight is a price-sensitive company offering various cost-saving options. The company’s website provides a calculator to get accurate estimates and a price guarantee so you never pay more than the quoted price. AmeriFreight also provides a variety of discounts for multiple vehicles, return customers, military and first responders, senior citizens and students. In addition, the company offers a free AFta gap insurance plan in case damage is found on the vehicle within 48 hours of delivery.

AmeriFreight transports vehicles in 48 states and Canada as well as some international locations. In addition to shipping cars, AmeriFreight also ships RVs, boats, trailers, and motorcycles and works with corporate clients and consumers. The company offers door-to-door delivery.

Ship Your Car Now Review

Best International Flexibility

Ship Your Car Now was founded in 2010 and is located in Boca Raton, Florida. This company is a broker providing domestic and international shipping services along with the ability to track shipped vehicles online. Ship Your Car Now has an “A-“ rating from the Better Business Bureau with 87 percent positive reviews and the vast majority of the customer reviews on other sites are positive. The company has a fully-licensed ocean transport intermediary, domestic freight forwarder and a property broker. All drivers are bonded and insured.

Ship A Car Direct Screenshot

Screenshot: Ship A Car Direct.

Ship Your Car is known for flexibility regarding shipping time frames and shipping options. While the company typically takes three to five days to find a driver, it can often find drivers faster for more popular routes. Shipping and delivery options include dropping off or picking up the car at a shipping port or having the company transport it to and from the customer’s front door.

Ship Your Car Now does not charge upfront fees. Customers are not required to make payment until the carrier is confirmed. According to Ship Your Car Now, it can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to transport a vehicle by ship, and anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000 to transport it by air. Shipping larger vehicles and choosing a door-to-door option can increase the price. Ship Your Car Now will also transport motorcycles and heavy equipment.

Additional Car Shipping Companies

Read our comprehensive eShip review.

Frequently Asked Questions about Car Shipping

What affects price when shipping a car?

The six main things that affect car shipping price are: location and distance, type of car, condition of the car, open or closed transport, the current fuel price and time of year.

Will I be given an exact delivery date?

It’s rare for companies to be able to promise a specific pickup or delivery date, but most companies will provide an estimate with a three-day window. During busy seasons, this delivery window may be greater than three days. If a company quotes a specific date, get this information in writing along with the consequences of missing the date, which may be a discount or rental car reimbursement.

How long does it take to ship a car?

Shipping a car usually takes around one to two weeks, depending on the distance shipped.

Do I need to purchase insurance?

The carrier has insurance that covers damage to the vehicle during transport. However, according to our research, one out of 20 vehicles are damaged during the shipping process outside of the transportation. AFta insurance will cover this gap. Some companies charge for AFta insurance, so ask what the car shipping company’s policy is on using this insurance option.

Can my car be picked up or left anywhere?

Customers can specify a pickup or delivery preference by using the door-to-door option. However, the car must be attended to by someone who will sign the appropriate forms and inspect the car before it’s loaded on the truck.

Why would I use enclosed vs. open transport?

Enclosed transport provides more protection for your vehicle but it’s more expensive than open transport. You can use open transport as a less-expensive option. It’s a good idea to use enclosed transport for luxury or expensive vehicles.

Can I store suitcases or moving boxes in my car?

It might seem convenient to put your suitcases and moving boxes in your car for transport, but it’s against the law to store personal items in your vehicle. Also, if personal items in the vehicle are damaged during transport, the company is not liable for replacement. Insurance only covers the vehicle itself.


Bottom Line: When you need to ship your vehicle, it’s important to know what affects the price. Consider things like distance, type of car, car condition, open or closed transport and current fuel price.

When shipping a car, whether across the state, the country or the world, it’s important to find a quality company that is willing to answer all of your questions. Ensure that your carrier has the proper credentials and licensing and that you will receive quality service at a reasonable cost. If you need information on the best long distance moving companies to move your personal belongings, check out our moving companies guide.