5 Cheap Ways to Ship a Car Cross-country

5 Cheap Ways to Ship a Car Cross-country

You may need to move your car cross-country for a big move or because you’re a “snowbird” going south for the winter. Regardless of the reason, shipping your car cross-country can be an overwhelming and expensive process. 

However, research and planning ahead can save you money and reduce your stress levels. Below, we’re sharing the best ways that you can cheaply transport your car cross country, including:  

  • Car shipping companies
  • Moving companies
  • Driving or towing
  • Driveaway
  • Train 

Car Shipping Companies

Car shipping prices can vary significantly based on the following factors: 

  • Vehicle transport type
  • Distance shipped
  • Time of year and delivery window (expedited door shipping will cost more)
  • Type of vehicle (Larger vehicles, like SUVs, will cost more)
  • Shipping option
  • If you have a tight drop-off or pickup date
  • Enclosed carrier or open transport
  • If your car needs to travel via boat (If you live in Hawaii)
  • Where you live (If you’re in major cities, like New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, you’ll have more car transport company options available.) 

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to change the time of year, delivery window, or distance shipped. However, making other smart decisions can save you money with car shipping companies. 

Skip door-to-door service. Door-to-door service for car shipping will also cost more than if you pick up your car at a designated location from the company. You can also opt to be flexible with delivery location and pickup times to ship your vehicle at a lower rate. In addition, remember that enclosed car transport services are rarely necessary unless you have an expensive classic car or delicate type of car. Choosing open transport will always be cheaper than enclosed trailers, and it’s an easy way to save yourself hundreds of dollars in shippers fees. 

On average, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 to ship your car cross-country. In general, shipping your car by train will cost less if you need to move your car a considerable distance. However, your location will limit your choices as some areas aren’t near railroads or major car shippers. 

Keep in mind that the free quote you receive from the car shipping company is not necessarily your final price. These are usually estimates. We recommend asking the movers directly if the shipping rate is a flat rate or estimate and how much the car shipping price usually fluctuates. Get everything in writing to back up what you’re told to get the best price. 

If you choose car shipping services, gather multiple quotes from vehicle shipping companies in your area to get an idea of the car shipping costs and cheap car shipping companies in your area. Less reputable companies may give you a purposefully low quote to get you to choose their service and then raise the price after you book with them. 

You may be able to cancel the service, but you’ll likely lose any deposit you’ve given the auto shipping company. So, don’t choose the auto transport company with the lowest price without researching the car carrier’s customer reviews and BBB standing online first. 

Towing

If you’re only shipping your car a few hundred miles away, you may be able to work with a tow company to ship your vehicle. If you have a tight deadline, this may be a cheaper option than working with a car shipping company that will almost certainly charge you additional fees or a premium rate for auto shipping your car last minute. 

So, if your car only needs to go a few hundred miles, contact your local towing company to see if it will move your vehicle for a cheaper price than a car shipping company. 

Driving 

Driving your car across the country is the most obvious way to transport your vehicle. However, driving across the country is time-consuming, expensive, and a hassle. 

First, you’ll need to consider how much time you’ll need to take off from work and the income you may lose if you don’t have paid vacation days available. Then, you’ll need to factor in if you’ll be driving alone or taking a second driver with you. A second driver helps you reach your destination faster because you can alternate between driving and taking a refreshing catnap. 

Next, consider fuel, lodging, and food costs. Gas will be more expensive if you drive your car, rather than transport it via a cross-country car transport. You’ll also need to account for food, drink, toll, and lodging costs, which can quickly add up, especially if you need to stop for several nights. The average cost of a hotel stay throughout the United States is $90.92 per night in the United States. These stays may include a simple breakfast, which can save you money on food during your travels. 

The benefit of driving yourself is that it can be the cheapest way to transport your car, rather than hiring a carrier, and you can make the most of the journey and take an enjoyable road trip. You also won’t need to worry about anyone else handling your car and possibly damaging it. 

If you choose to drive, we recommend following these safety tips

  • Leave early in the day — Night driving is typically more dangerous, and you can become fatigued faster. 
  • Listen to music or an audiobook to keep yourself alert. 
  • Take a break every two hours to stretch and walk around. If possible, switch off with a second driver every couple of hours and take a nap to refresh yourself. 
  • Eat well — Don’t rely on energy drinks, sugary treats, and soda to keep yourself going, as you can experience a “crash” and feel tired prematurely. 
  • Do not use cruise control — Avoid cruise control because it can make you less likely to pay attention to your speed and surroundings. 

If you have a dolly or trailer, you can use this to transport your car. However, we recommend taking this approach with caution because driving a trailer is not easy and requires practice. If you don’t have experience driving a trailer or dolly, you’re probably better off going with a different choice. 

Driveaway

Driveaway involves hiring a driver to drive your vehicle to your new home for you. Many people like this option because it can be cheaper than hiring a car shipping company. However, it will put many miles on your vehicle, and you’ll need to find a reputable driver for this option. 

Companies offering driveaways will screen the drivers thoroughly to give you peace of mind. Some companies also require a deposit from the driver and references so that you can rest easy knowing that your car is in good hands. 

The driver is usually responsible for their food, drinks, gas, and lodging. However, you’ll be responsible for your car’s insurance policy and the company’s fee, which is about $1,100 on average. 

Train

A cheap option for moving your car cross-country is by train. Not only is this a great way to save money transporting your car, but it’s hands-off and saves you time. Many train car services even pick up your car from your home, so you don’t have to worry about getting a ride back from the train station. 

Shipping your car by rail is usually cheaper than truck transport when moving your vehicle more than 750 miles. Estimates will vary dramatically based on how far your car needs to be transported. However, many customers report paying around $1,500 for door-to-door service with shipping by rail. 

Many rail companies also offer a transport service for humans that run alongside the train. For example, Amtrak runs a snowbird auto transport service that ranges from $350 to $600 to ride by vehicle alongside the train transporting your car. 

Final Thoughts

We hope our article on the top five cheap ways to ship your car helps you choose the best option for your situation. Driving your vehicle a long distance can be time-consuming and just as expensive as hiring a car company. So, we recommend you research all available options in your area and gather multiple car shipping quotes to find the best deal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or about shipping your car at an alternative time to save money.

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