Car Shipping Prices

  • John Goreham
  • 6/10/2020

We often see questions in the Car Talk Community about how much it costs to ship a car. So we investigated car shipping prices and here is what we found.

Car Shipping Online Price Quotes

The good news for those that wish to find out how much it costs to ship a car is that now there are portals or broker sites, that will provide you with a list of quotations from various companies, quickly and for free. We dove into the uShip website to get the matrix of prices shown for our Car Talk readers. uShip was a handy reference because it pulled together instant quotes from a half-dozen different shipping companies. That is a lot easier than contacting six companies and asking them each for a quote.

Car Shipping Prices

So what does it cost to ship a typical car, uncovered, if you’re not in an extreme rush? The answer will depend on the distance the vehicle needs to go, obviously. But you deserve a straight answer. So here it is! It will cost you about $1,400 to $1,600 to ship a typical car across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, on an uncovered trailer. That estimated price range includes service fees and insurance and is for a 2015 Toyota RAV4. Our prices were provided by uShip and they included six car shipping bids. Five of the six had a 4-Star review rating and one had a rating of 3.7-stars. Just for grins and giggles, we ran the same query but reversed the pickup and delivery locations. The prices were about 5% lower. Maybe the tailwinds help reduce the cost of shipping east.

To ship a 2015 RAV4 from Boston, MA to Miami, FL the best price we could find was about $1,100 and the highest price estimate was about $1,200. To see how much the actual city might change the equation, we also ran a query with Providence, Rhode Island as the start point and Naples, Florida as the destination. The results were almost identical for this very similar drive. Clearly, the price is linked closely to the overall miles being traveled.

Car Shipping Rates by City Combination

To get a budget price to ship a car for our readers, we used a 2015 Toyota RAV4 crossover as the example vehicle. Crossovers are now America’s top choice as personal-use and family vehicles, and the RAV4 is a long-time top seller. If your vehicle is much larger, say a GMC Yukon XL, you are going to pay about 25% more. Also, it is important that your vehicle be “operable.” If your car is not a runner, you should re-check our estimates with the shipper you choose directly and expect to pay more.

Here are the typical prices we found to ship the RAV4:

New York,NYLos Angeles,CAMiami,Fl
Boston,MA45014001100
New York,NY--14001200
Atlanta,GA7001000450
Miami,Fl12001050--
Chicago,IL8001100925
Dallax,TX850750550
Phoenix,AZ13005001050
San Francisco,CA13504351300
Los Angeles,CA1400--1300
Honolulu,HI450030003600

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Car Shipping Cost Factors

There are several factors that can impact the cost to ship your car. Some of these include:

  • Shipping A Vehicle Uncovered vs Covered - Our estimates are also for open carriers. That means your car is going to be uncovered and exposed to the elements and road grime while it is transported. Don’t expect it to come off the truck nice and shiny. In fact, Car Talk suggests that those who plan to ship a vehicle should budget for a complete exterior wash and wax by a detailer following a vehicle shipment. Budget $200 for this, or an afternoon of your time and elbow grease.

  • Shipping a Convertible - Convertibles are going to cost you more money to ship. This just makes sense. The insurance is going to be more. We Car Talk lackeys love convertibles and we would have reservations about shipping one uncovered. You should be sure to check the prices and listen to the shipper’s options if you ship your drop-top.

  • Car Shipping Drop-off and Pickup Locations - Another factor is the pickup and drop-off point for the shipment. If you want to get the best price possible, you would be wise to make things easier on the trucker behind the wheel of the 18-wheeler who is going to transport your car. Time is money. If you can drop your car at the shipper’s hub and then pick it up at a place that is near you, but not your driveway, you are going to get the best price possible. Flexibility is key.

  • Car Shipment Timing - The time of year can also make a difference. We are basing our budgets on shipments done in February of 2020. Be sure to check our budget prices against your timetable. If you can be flexible, tell your shipper. While you are at it, ask them if they have any other suggestions about how to get the best price possible for your situation.

  • Shipping Classic Cars or Special Cars - Finally, a RAV4 is not a vintage 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider with a valuation of $20 million. If your ride is customized, a classic, rare, or in some other way cherished and expensive to replace, expect to pay more. That will start with shipping your vehicle in an enclosed cargo truck. It will also mean a much more costly insurance rider for the transport. We are offering a budget price here for everyday cars.

  • Shipping A Car To/From Hawaii - Speaking of driven miles, we also tried to break the internet by asking the uShip portal how much it would cost to ship a vehicle from Honolulu, Hawaii to New York, New York. The answer was about $4,500 and there were two 4-Star carrier options. That means your vehicle will be on a ship for a while, so plan for a bit of time away from your car.

Also Important...

Getting car shipping quotes online is quick and easy. Be prepared to check the references of your shipper and to ask some questions to help ensure the cheapest transportation costs. We have compiled this quick checklist for you to have ready when you call.

  • Which exact drop-off and pickup locations will result in the best price for me?
  • Which exact date will result in the best price for shipping my car?
  • How long will the shipment take?
  • Is this price inclusive of insurance?
  • Are all the taxes and fees included in this price?
  • Will I save money if the vehicle has less gas in the tank?
  • May I put any items in the trunk or backseat?
  • Can I track the progress of my car as it is traveling?
  • What condition should I expect the car to be in when it arrives?

Finally, good luck!

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.

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