Life as a service member can mean regular life changes of the kind civilians only deal with once or twice in a lifetime. Part of service includes routine PCS orders (permanent change of station), which can include the “Gray Hair PCS” upon retirement. Civilian-owned or personally owned vehicles (POV) can become a logistical headache during a move for military families. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that can help. We’ll show you the lowest-cost and easiest ways to transport a POV while on a military move. Consider this guide a current update to the standard information and tools given at Military One Source (militaryonesource.mil) for your move.
The average cost for shipping a car with Montway (after $50 military discount) is about $850. That’s about $200 less than the average cost for any other shipper we surveyed. Montway has a good reputation and is fully insured. The company’s drivers deliver door-to-door for pickup and dropoff, but can also meet at approved docks or facilities as well. If you are moving from or to base housing, Montway can also accommodate on-base access for an additional fee or arrange to meet outside of the gate to save you money.
Sherpa Auto Transport offers good rates and the highest military discount on our list. The discount is currently $100, bringing the average cost for automotive transport for military families down to about $1,040. Sherpa offers covered trailers and door-to-door service. Delivery to base housing can also be arranged.
The AmeriFreight military discount for car hauling is $35, bringing their average cost per move to $1,060, which is on par with most others on our list. AmeriFreight is also one of the more flexible freight companies on our list, offering moves for cars, trucks, sport utilities, motorcycles, boats, and even RVs. The company also offers flatbed service as well. Car hauling can be open or in covered trailers. There are several discount options for military families in these various services.
RoadRunner is one of the more highly rated freight companies on our list, but does not offer a military discount for many loads. RoadRunner also charges slightly higher than the average for shipping, but has a solid reputation and great online presence to make up for that. Tracking and dealing with a shipment is very easy via the RoadRunner website.
SGT is one of the only shippers on our list that does not require an up-front payment. They also quote what they will bill, making budgeting easier. This could make up for a lack of military discounts for many. Payment is made upon delivery of the vehicle and will not exceed what was quoted. That said, SGT’s pricing is slightly more than the average for automotive transport.
Shipping a vehicle can seem like a logistical nightmare, but in today’s market, it’s relatively easy. If you can rent a moving van, you can probably arrange automotive transport too.
The start is to know your beginning and end locations, with as much of an address for each as you can get. Postal ZIP codes are key, as that is usually what the mileage for the quote and billing will be based upon. Other details such as requirement for base access for base housing and such should also be included, as that extra security measure and wait can mean extra fees. Timing for the move is also critical, so it’s best if you can time the pickup and delivery to coincide with you or another responsible adult being there on either end. Most quotes for transport will include expected transport timing to let you know when the vehicle is most likely to arrive. Allow a day or so before and after in case it arrives early or late, as things can happen on the road.
All of the transport companies we’ve listed here, and most others as well, will have online quote calculators to give you a budget idea for your move.
The cost of the move is dependent on those factors. But this guide should give you an idea of the averages. We priced each of our top 5 for common base-to-base moves, not including gate fees for base access, and averaged them to show you what to expect. Each location is from one well-established military base in the continental U.S. to another as common duty stations from each branch. We quoted a newer model year (2019) mid size crossover-SUV (e.g. Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, or Honda Pilot). These averages and the locations (with ZIP codes) for mileage assumptions can be used to give you a good idea of what the costs might be. Quotes include insurance coverage for the vehicle while in transport. Larger vehicles may incur a higher cost and smaller vehicles may cost slightly less.
|Starting Location (ZIP)||Arriving Location (ZIP)||Average Cost|
Shipping a vehicle seems complicated, but really boils down to three things:
The reality is that this list of three basic things doesn’t include the several small sub-lists underneath them. Isn’t that how life works?
The most important thing to think about is insurance and the reliability of the shipper you’ll be using. Be sure that the vehicle transport company has a good reputation. The best ways to check this are to look at consumer reviews for the company, ask others you may know who’ve moved a vehicle about their experience and who they used, and look at the Better Business Bureau and similar sites for ratings. Most automotive transport companies have good reputations, but not all are completely up front about the fees and costs associated with your move. So it pays to check.
The next step is to talk to the company’s representative and/or comb their website to see what kind of insurance coverage they include in shipping. Most cover any loss or damage to the vehicle itself, but do not include damages to anything inside the vehicle, so be aware of that before stuffing your car’s trunk or back seat with items to be shipped with it.
For more on this topic, see our detailed guide on how to ship a car.
Finally, consider the size of the vehicle being shipped. A larger pickup truck will take up more space on the car hauler’s trailer and will thus likely cost more to ship than a compact car with a smaller footprint.
You can read more on Car Shipping and see our recommendations for the Best Car Shipping Companies in 2021 here.
This depends a lot on what you need out of a shipping company. Some offer lower prices, but more restricted service. Others offer better services, but cost more. We’ve rated our top five choices here. That should get you started.
Sherpa Automotive Transport does. But that is not the only factor in deciding a shipper. Others are cheaper despite having lower military discounts.
Shipping cost is largely dictated by distance. Shipping from California to New York is a lot more expensive than shipping a car from Virginia to Florida. The average cost is about $1,090 for automotive transport as most people shipping a vehicle are doing so for relatively long distances.
Sometimes, yes. Depending on your reason for moving, there are various reimbursements available for automotive transport. The general rule is that if you are under PCS orders, the military will pay for one vehicle move, but there are limitations and restrictions. Speak with your chain of command for details.
The best way to get a good price is to compare offers. We recommend reaching out to...