2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT 11 scaled
2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT

Ship a Car Cross-Country: Costs and Tips

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Crash Course:

  • The average cost of cross-country car shipping is around $0.61 per mile, but costs can vary widely depending on several factors.
  • You can expect a cross-country car shipment to take around five to 10 days.
  • Mercury Auto Transport offers the cheapest cross-country shipping estimate at $0.49 per mile.

Featured Car Shipping Companies

We reviewed the industry’s top car shipping providers. Here are our featured picks:

Best Service Options

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

See Plans

On Montway’s Website

(844) 601-0286

Or Call Montway Directly

Best Customer Experience

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

See Plans

On SGT’s Website

(864) 635-4879

Or Call SGT Directly

Locked-In Pricing

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

See Plans

On Sherpa’s Website

(888) 916-6358

Or Call Sherpa Directly

Easy Online Quotes

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

See Plans

On Nexus’ Website

(224) 286-8173

Or Call Nexus Directly

It’s almost always easier to ship a car cross-country than it is to move your vehicle with other methods, even if it isn’t always the cheapest. Using an auto transport company can save you time and energy, often for less money than you may expect. To help you plan your cross-country car shipment and find the best rates, our experts put together this guide. 

You’ll find sample rates along with some key information about car shipping and tips to get the best possible price. We’ve also included recommendations for two of the best car shipping companies from our latest auto transport study.

How Much to Ship a Car Cross-Country?

The average cost to ship a car cross-country is $1,488 in total or around $0.61 cents per mile, based on our research. We based this estimate on the average of quotes we received to ship a 2019 Nissan Rogue SUV 2,445 miles from New York City, New York to Los Angeles, California in an open carrier. These quotes ranged from $1,205 to $2,005.

Cross-Country Car Shipping Quotes

In the table below, you’ll find the auto transport quotes for shipment from New York City, New York to Los Angeles, California in order of cheapest to most expensive:

Car Shipping CompanyCross-Country
Car Shipping Rate
(2,445 Miles)
Car Shipping Rate Per Mile
(2,445 Miles)
Mercury Auto Transport$1,205$0.49
RoadRunner Auto Transport$1,245$0.51
Ship a Car Direct$1,275$0.52
Door to Door Transport$1,295$0.53
Montway Auto Transport$1,399$0.57
Sherpa Auto Transport$1,500$0.61
Ultimate Transport 123$1,530$0.63
Nexus Auto Transport$1,565$0.64
Easy Auto Ship$1,567$0.64
SGT Auto Transport$1,803$0.74
A-1 Auto Transport$1,908$0.78
Guardian Auto Transport$2,005$0.82

Ship a Car Cross-Country: Cost Factors

a graphic displaying six car warranty cost factors represented by red icons. cost factors are type of vehicle, deductible, coverage, warranty provider, age of vehicle, and mileage

The cost to ship a car between two states from one side of the country to the other depends on several variables. Some of the most important factors in your shipping costs include:

  • Shipping distance: Auto transport companies charge by the mile, meaning longer shipments typically cost more. However, per-mile rates tend to go down as the shipping distance increases, so shipping a car cross-country is usually cheaper by the mile than shorter distances.
  • Time of year: Car shipping rates are seasonal, with peak rates coming in the summer months and the beginning of the year.
  • Fuel costs: Fuel is one of the single biggest expenses for car carriers. When the price of fuel goes up, you can expect shipping costs to rise, too.
  • Type of vehicle: Some car shipping services are cheaper than others. For example, open trailer shipping is less expensive than enclosed transport, and terminal-to-terminal shipping is usually a cheaper transport option than door-to-door service. 
  • Vehicle condition: An inoperable vehicle will cost more to ship since it takes more effort to load and unload from the carrier.
  • Delivery time: Some car shipping companies offer expedited shipping if you need to get your car to its destination in a hurry. However, this service often costs much more than standard shipping.

Car Shipping Cost Calculator

Below, you’ll find a car shipping calculator that can help you estimate the cost of your next shipment. To use it, just enter the make, model, and year of your car. Then, select any options that apply to your vehicle. Finally, enter the name or ZIP code of your pickup and dropoff destinations. 

You’ll get an instant estimate once the form is complete and, if you like, you can request an actual quote by clicking the green button at the bottom of the calculator. 


How to Ship a Car Cross-Country

The cross-country car shipping process is relatively straightforward. However, if you aren’t sure how to do it, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure a smooth and hassle-free shipping experience. The steps listed below will help you begin the process.

  1. Gather information: Collect relevant information about your vehicle, such as the make, model, and year. Then, prepare a list of your shipping needs, such as your pickup and dropoff locations, shipping time frame, and which transport type you want.
  2. Get quotes: Most auto transport services offer free quotes online. Prices for cross-country car shipping can vary greatly, so getting multiple instant quotes will help you find the best price.
  3. Book your shipment: Once you’ve chosen the quote you want to accept, contact the shipping company. They’ll begin the process of assigning a driver and will provide you with the details you need.
  4. Prepare your car: Remove all personal belongings from your vehicle before the carrier arrives. Some companies do allow you to pack personal items in your vehicle, but they usually have restrictions and instructions on how to do so.
  5. Meet your driver at pickup: On your pickup date, you’ll need to meet the driver to inspect your vehicle for pre-existing damage. This is a good time to take some photos. After this, you’ll sign the bill of lading which is a receipt documenting the condition of your vehicle from start to finish.
  6. Wait: There’s nothing else to do while your car is in transit. Some companies offer live GPS tracking and others will provide a location for you over the phone or email. Remember that delays due to traffic, weather conditions, and other factors are common in the car shipping industry – especially with long-distance cross-country moves.
  7. Meet your driver at delivery: Either your driver or shipping provider will contact you when they have an estimated arrival time. You’ll need to meet the carrier to once again inspect your vehicle for damage and sign the bill of lading. If you notice any new damage, take notes and photos and contact your vehicle transport company.
  8. Pay the driver: If all looks well, you’ll sign off on the bill of lading and pay any remaining fees to the driver. Note, some companies and drivers offer a discount for paying in cash.

Cross-Country Car Shipping Options

Auto shipping companies offer different options for how you transport your vehicle. The most common options include:

  • Open car transport: The cheapest way to ship your car is on an open-air trailer. But this option leaves your car exposed to damage from weather, road debris, and more.
  • Enclosed carrier transport: For additional protection, you can ship your car in an enclosed container. This option is more expensive but a smart choice for people looking to ship their sports car, luxury vehicle, exotic car, or classic car. 
  • Terminal-to-terminal shipping: You can save money by shipping your car between central pickup and delivery locations if a company offers it.
  • Door-to-door shipping: Your car transport service can pick your car up at your old location and drop it off at your new location for a more convenient shipment.
  • Alternative vehicle shipping: Some companies can ship motorcycles, ATVs, RVs, golf carts, and more.
  • Alaska and Hawaii shipping: Not every shipping company offers services outside the contiguous U.S., but some can ship your car to Alaska or Hawaii.

How Long Does it Take To Ship a Car Cross-Country?

According to our research, the average cross-country auto transport takes five to 10 days. On average, car carriers can travel between 400 and 700 miles per day.

However, auto transport times can vary greatly. Inclement weather, traffic jams, accidents, and more can all delay a car shipment. The more miles a shipment covers, the more opportunities there are for delays. When it comes to cross-country car transport, consider any delivery date a company gives you to be an estimate rather than a precise commitment. 

Some car transport companies do offer guaranteed delivery dates. This service typically comes at an additional cost, however. And even then, unexpected delays may occur.

How To Find The Best Car Shipping Company

We recommend looking for three things in particular when researching car shipping companies.

Customer Reviews

The Internet is filled with customer reviews. We recommend looking for transport providers with strong reviews. Although you can read about customer experiences on social media platforms like Reddit, we recommend looking on Google, Trustpilot, and the BBB. 

Care and Concern

Your vehicle is one of your most expensive purchases besides your home. The best auto shipping companies will care for your vehicle and do its best for your car to arrive on time. Reviews often tell how a car shipping company will treat your vehicle.


We prefer car shipping companies that offer an online tracking service. Reliable and reputable carriers will often provide necessary updates by phone, email, or text to notify you of any changes to the itinerary. You might want to prioritize a shipping provider that closely monitors your vehicle, especially if you’re shipping an expensive car.

How To Prepare Your Car For Shipping

Lastly, you will need to prepare the vehicle for shipping. We added a printable checklist for you to use when cleaning and preparing your car.

You’ll want to wash your vehicle to remove excess dirt and grime. A clean exterior makes it easier for the inspector to see any dings, scratches, or dents. It will also make it easier to see any damage that may have occurred during shipping once your car is delivered. Other than that, here are a few more tips for shipping your vehicle across the country:

  • Disable the vehicle alarm if possible.
  • Check the tire pressures and battery condition.
  • Deactivate the vehicle’s electronic toll pass (if applicable).
  • Remove exterior attachments and accessories like antennas and bike racks.
  • Ensure no valuables (money, jewelry, electronics, etc.) are left inside the car.
  • Check and refill vital fluids like the engine oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
  • Leave the gas tank at least a quarter full. If you can help it, it’s better to ship a vehicle with less gas in the tank. More gas means more weight and higher costs.
  • Make sure the parking/emergency brake is working. Car shipping companies can refuse service for a defective or non-working parking brake.

Cheapest Way to Ship a Car Cross-Country

Cross-country vehicle shipping can be expensive simply due to the transport distance. But there are a few things you can do to try and keep your rates down. If you compare multiple quotes, choose open-air with terminal-to-terminal shipping you’ll already be off to a good start saving yourself money. 

If you can, book your shipment in advance, be flexible with your dates, and avoid January and the summer months when it’s peak season for shipping companies. Once you find the provider you want to use, keep an eye out for discounts for military members, students, senior citizens, early bookers and return customers. Finally, some shippers will lower your price if you pay in cash.

Shipping a Car Cross-Country: Conclusion

It costs an average of $0.61 per mile to ship a car cross-country, according to our most recent data. However, car shipping costs vary between providers and based on several factors about your vehicle and your shipping needs. 

Mercury Auto Transport, RoadRunner Auto Transport, and Ship a Car Direct gave us the cheapest cross-country car shipping quotes. However, AmeriFreight, Sherpa Auto Transport and Montway Auto Transport gave us quotes that were only slightly higher and each company placed in the top five of our most recent car shipping study.

Ship a Car Cross-Country: Recommended Providers

Most car shipping companies can ship a car cross-country, but not all of them offer the same value. We recommend getting quotes from multiple auto transport companies and comparing them to see which ones offer the best rates. The quality of your shipping provider is important, so we recommend starting your search with a few companies that scored highly in our study.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Service Options

Montway Auto Transport earned the second highest score, after AmeriFreight, in our shipping study and the title of Best Service Options. The company offers competitive rates and a healthy selection of shipping services.

But what sets Montway apart is its near-flawless reputation among industry professionals and customers alike. When it comes to reliability and service quality, Montway is hard to beat.

Keep reading: Montway Auto Transport review

Best Service Options

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

See Plans

On Our Partner’s Website

(844) 601-0286

Or Call Our Partner Directly

Sherpa Auto Transport: Best Value

We named Sherpa Auto Transport Best Value in our car shipping study. The company offers everything you’d want in a provider: affordable prices, an easy quotes experience, and helpful customer support.

However, there are two things that really stand out about Sherpa: benefits like a free car wash after delivery, and the company’s Price Lock Promise. With Sherpa, the price you get on your quote is the price you will pay in the end. If not, they will contribute $300 to compensate for the difference. That’s highly uncommon in this industry and a huge selling point for the provider.

Keep reading: Sherpa Auto Transport review

Locked-In Pricing

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

See Plans

On Our Partner’s Website

(888) 916-6358

Or Call Our Partner Directly

Shipping a Car Cross-Country: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about shipping your car across the country.

How much would it cost to ship a car across the U.S.?

The average rate to ship a car across the U.S. in an open trailer is $1,488 or $0.61 per mile, based on our research. Costs vary, however, based on a variety of factors.

Is it cheaper to ship a car than drive?

It can be cheaper to ship a car than to drive it, but it depends on a few things. In addition to hard costs such as gas, lodging, and food, you’ll also need to consider the cost of your time. After adding all of these costs up, it’s often cheaper to use an auto transport company.

What is the best way to ship a car across the U.S.?

The best way to ship a car across the U.S. for most people is to use a car shipping company and to research and collect quotes from multiple providers. 

What is the cheapest company to ship your car?

Mercury Auto Transport is the cheapest company to ship your car based on the quotes we received. However, shipping prices are individualized and involve a number of factors.

Do I need any special insurance?

Auto shipping companies, by law, are required to have liability and cargo insurance. It covers any damages to your vehicle incurred during the transit period. However, this type of insurance will not cover the loss of personal possessions left inside the car. 

Can I Ship a Damaged Car?

It’s possible, but the shipping rates will go up for broken or damaged vehicles since it will need to be winched onto the carrier.

How much does it cost to ship a car from Florida to California?

The average cost to ship a car from Florida to California is around $0.61 per mile. Your shipping cost will depend on which locations in Florida and California serve as your pickup and dropoff points. It also depends on the type of transport you choose, when you ship your car, what kind of car you want to ship, the company you select, and other factors.

Our Methodology

Our expert review team takes satisfaction in providing accurate and unbiased information. We identified the following rating categories based on consumer survey data and conducted extensive research to formulate rankings of the best car shipping companies.

  • Prices: A variety of factors influence cost, so it can be difficult to compare quotes between providers. Our team performs ongoing secret shopper analyses for different vehicles, services, and shipping routes to give this rating.
  • Services: Because each consumer has unique needs, it’s essential that an auto transport company offers an array of services. We take into account the availability of services, ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates, and insurance coverage options.
  • Reputation: Our team considers Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, a company’s history of service, and years in business when giving this score.
  • Customer Service: Reputable car shippers operate with a certain degree of care for consumers. We take into account customer reviews, BBB complaints, and the responsiveness of the customer service team.

*Data accurate at time of publication.