5 Main Factors That Contribute to Car Shipping Rates

4 min to read

How much is it to ship a car? If you’re considering a cross-country car shipment, you’ve probably asked yourself this very question. Cost is always a large factor in any decision-making process. Unlike many services, however, the cost to ship a car is not a flat rate. There are several factors that go into creating unique car shipping rates for the customer, and determining the price can be difficult.

This is why Montway has an intuitive online quote calculator that can provide unique shipping quotes instantly. Knowing what factors contribute to that quote is the first step toward understanding the cost of shipping a vehicle.

How Much Is It to Ship a Car?

Let’s take a look at what those five main factors are.


So, how much is it to ship a car? Generally speaking, the farther your vehicle goes, the higher the transport cost. If you are shipping from New York to California, it is going to be more expensive than a shipment from New York to Illinois. Naturally, an increase in fuel means an increase in cost as well. Furthermore, long-distance shipments require more hours from the truck driver, which means a higher cost for the shipping company and ultimately higher shipping rates for the customer.

By considering how far your vehicle needs to go, you can get an idea of whether it will be on the more expensive side or not.


After considering the distance, you should start thinking about your origin and destination location as this is a big factor in both shipping rates and time. If you live in a major metropolitan area, there are many trucks coming in and out of your city picking up and delivering loads. Since these areas are heavily populated, there are more opportunities for truck drivers to pick up more cars and make money, which generally means lower prices for customers.

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However, if you live in a remote or rural area there are fewer people looking to ship a vehicle and fewer opportunities for truck drivers to make money. Plus, truckers must often stray from their main route to pick up or deliver your vehicle. Therefore, it may take a bit more money to bring truckers to a rural or remote location.

Type of car

lamborghini auto transport

When asking yourself how much is it to ship a car, it’s important to consider the size and weight of a car have a direct impact on the cost to ship. A larger vehicle, such as a Chevy Tahoe or a full-size SUV similar to it, will take up much more room on the transport truck than a Honda Civic. Since the larger vehicle is taking up space that may otherwise have been used for another fully-paying customer, the shipping rate is going to be slightly higher. If your vehicle is heavier than the average car, that will also increase the price since transport trucks have weight limits they must adhere to. One very heavy car may mean they have to load fewer cars overall, so the price is usually higher to ship a heavy vehicle.

Car shipping companies must also consider the value of your vehicle. Since a newer, more valuable vehicle costs more to insure during transport, it can affect and increase the overall shipping rate.

Type of truck

enclosed transport truck

The type of truck being used to ship your car will be different depending on the type of vehicle you are shipping as well as your individual needs. If you are shipping an everyday, the family car then an open transport truck should meet all of your needs. It is less expensive to ship by open transport because the vehicle is exposed to the open air, weather, and outside elements. This doesn’t mean this method is less safe though. Most new vehicles being shipped to car dealerships are shipped by way of open transport.

Customers that ship classic cars or high value luxury or sports vehicles may opt for enclosed transport. This means their vehicle is protected by the elements such as sun, wind, rain, etc. during transport and therefore is more expensive than shipping by open transport.


Like most industries, the auto transport industry has its high and low seasons, which can greatly affect the answer to your question of how much is it to ship a car. The high season starts in summer and carries out until early fall. If you are looking to ship a car during this time, it may be more expensive than if you were to ship during the winter, which is the low season. However, if you are shipping to, from, or in the Northern states of the country in the winter- especially in mountainous areas- the price may increase slightly due to difficult weather conditions such as snow and ice. It can be difficult and dangerous to operate a large transport truck in these conditions, so truckers may ask for more money.

There are particular routes that have different high and low seasons as well. In the spring it costs more to ship south to north since a lot of snowbirds are shipping their cars back home for the summer. Snowbirds are mostly retirees from the Midwest and Northeast who move south to escape the cold weather in the Northern states. In the fall, it will cost more to ship a vehicle to the South since most snowbirds and their cars are heading south for the winter.

Keep these factors in mind when scheduling a shipment as they can have a large impact on your shipping rate. As with any service or product, it’s best to compare and contrast the prices of different transport companies before making a decision. And remember, the lowest price is not always the best choice!

Learn more about our covered car transport services and shipping a car across the country.

Read what our customers say about their experience with Montway at Montway Auto Transport reviews.