What Is The Cheapest Way to Transport a Car?

Every now and then, a driver finds themselves in an unusual predicament. Specifically, they discover that they’ll need to transport their car from place to place without themselves traveling to either the destination or the origination point. If you’ve found yourself in such a predicament, then you may be looking for the best, most affordable way to transport your car from point A to point B without putting it in harm’s way.

As it turns out, there are actually a handful of ways to transport your car in an efficient manner. This quick guide will provide you with an overview of several of these cheap car transportation methods while also looking into the several reasons that you may need to (or want to) transport your car in the first place.

Reasons to Ship a Car 

There are a variety of reasons why you might need to ship your personal car or truck between two locations without you personally taking the wheel. Each of these reasons come with different restrictions on how your vehicle is procured and the timeframe in which it is transported long-distance. As such, it is important to consider each of the following reasons before committing to one car shipping method over another.

With that in mind, folks who are planning to move over a long distance may seriously consider shipping one or more of their personal vehicles. This is particularly the case if you are already using a long-distance moving company to transport all of your other personal belongings. Shipping your car would effectively simplify your moving process that much more and free you up to travel cross-country on a different mode of transportation (likely air travel).

Though it is less common, there’s a second significant reason why you may need to ship a car. Namely, if you just purchased a new car or truck out of state, you’ll likely need some way of obtaining that vehicle. Naturally, you cannot drive another car down to pick up your new vehicle without inconveniencing someone else to bring back the first car. Shipping your new car takes all of that hassle out of the equation without breaking the bank.

Keep in mind, too, that this second reason for utilizing car shipping also applies to antique and high-value cars, as well. For one reason or another, you may feel that driving your recently purchased vehicle over a long distance wouldn’t be in the interest of that vehicle’s health. In those cases, a car shipping option can help get your chosen car to you without putting it in harm’s way on the open road.

Don’t forget – there is also an assortment of other reasons you might need to transport your car for a special occasion. For example, entering a classic car show would be a perfect reason to ship your car to the show floor. Heading south for the winter or moving away to a far off college are also perfectly good reasons to pack up your car and have it sent along ahead of you.

3 Ways to Ship a Car

Currently, there are three primary methods for shipping a car between two locations. These include open transport, closed transport, and DIY transport. Consider each of these options below to see which best suits your budget:

Open Transport

If you’ve ever seen a semi-truck on the highway with a double-decker trailer of new cars in tow, then you’re already familiar with the basic concept of open transport. When utilizing this method, you’ll hire a specialized trucking company to strap your car to a purpose-made trailer. This trailer is open to the elements, meaning that your car could come into contact with the elements as it travels to your next destination.

In terms of cost, most companies charge a flat rate in addition to a per-mile rate. For example, an average of 150 mile open transport would cost around $380 in total. Meanwhile, a trip of just around 1,000 miles would cost upwards of $840 on average. So, this method isn’t exactly cheap, but it also isn’t egregiously expensive, either.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport follows the same general concept as open transport in that it involves your car being placed on a trailer and moved across the country in a secure manner. However, rather than using the open-air, two-level trailers of open-air transport, enclosed transport utilizes an enclosed trailer akin to what is used to transport professional racing cars. As such, it is considered far safer for transporting antique and luxury vehicles.

However, this added protection comes at a cost. To be specific, enclosed transport tends to cost about twice as much as an open transport. Even a short 150-mile trip, for example, would run you around $600. Long-distant trips of over $1,000 with enclosed transport are only moderately expensive, at around $1,200.

DIY Transport

All in all, the cheapest way to transport your car is to do it yourself. While this isn’t ideal for folks who don’t want to put in a bit of extra effort, it can be done by securing a properly-sized trailer and a truck that is strong enough to haul a car’s weight. With these two things, you’ll be able to load up your car like any other piece of heavy luggage and tow it along on your own terms.

Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping vs. Door-to-Door Car Shipping 

All three of the methods described above are typically associated with so-called “door-to-door” car shipping. That is to say, your chosen shipping company would usually show up to your home, load on your car, and begin the drive to drop your car off at a pre-determined location of your choice. This method comes with lots of added costs that can be avoided when using terminal-to-terminal car shipping.

In essence, terminal-to-terminal car shipping requires you to drop your car off at a central location where the shipping company is based out of. Then, as part of a scheduled trip, that company will then take your car (along with others) to another terminal that is close to (but not directly at) your target destination. This method can reduce your car shipping cost substantially while ensuring that your car is still in professional hands.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, it’s hard to argue with the fact that DIY car shipping is your best option if you’re looking to save money. However, you can also opt for terminal-to-terminal car shipping if you’re not in a rush to get your car transported and you are willing to go a little out of your way to pick it up on the receiving end.

Even if neither of these options suits you, you now know the basics of the car shipping industry. Going forward, you should be more able to choose an option that meets both your needs and your budget with ease.