Best Car Shipping Companies, Reviewed By Experts (2024)


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Our Picks: The Top Car Shipping Companies in 2024

With the right shipping company, moving your car hundreds or thousands of miles is simple. Our experts name Montway Auto Transport, Mercury Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, Ship a Car Direct, and SGT Auto Transport as the top car shipping companies in 2024.

Below, we talk about each auto shipper’s stats, coverage options and costs:

Our best piece of advice for drivers is to invest in a personal GPS tracking device for addition peace of mind during your car’s journey.

At A Glance: Our Top Car Shipping Companies

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all of the shipping companies we reviewed during our research. Some of these companies didn’t make our top 5, but each has something to offer and may be worth exploring for your car shipping needs.


Better Business Bureau Rating

What Should I Consider When Shipping a Car? 

Shipping a car is not overly complicated, but it can be cumbersome for first-time shippers and even people who have previously hired an auto transport company. Our review team created the following guide to help consumers make better-informed decisions regarding car carriers. 

Read on to learn how to ship a car, avoid costly mistakes, and find dependable shipping services for the right price.

How Does Car Shipping Work?

To make sure you have a positive shipping experience and avoid unnecessary hassles, follow the steps below:

1. Set a Budget

Determine your budget before getting quotes to eliminate companies outside your preferred price range. By setting your budget, you can mix and match different services to better meet your needs. Remember, prices for similar car shipping services can vary drastically depending on your chosen company.

2. Do Your Research

Research companies on trusted sites like the BBB, Trustpilot and Google and read customer reviews. Look into companies that can support your transport needs, the size of your vehicle and the distance of your move. For example, if you work during the day, you should find out which companies offer extended or 24/7 customer service before you start getting quotes. 

3. Decide on a Shipping Method

Determine what transportation method you need and which additional car shipping services are important to you. Open transport is faster, available from more carriers and is typically the cheapest shipping method. In contrast, enclosed transport offers more protection but is often slower and comes at a higher premium from fewer shipping carriers. If you’re unsure which method you’d prefer, request quotes for both types of shipping. You’ll also want to consider door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal pickup and delivery options. 

4. Get Quotes

Start getting quotes from the companies you researched at least two weeks before you need to move your vehicle. We recommend getting between three to five quotes to compare prices and determine which one best suits your budget. Be mindful that quotes often expire in one to seven days, so always ask shipping companies how long it’s valid. 

Most carriers provide free online quotes, but to get the most accurate price, the car shipping company needs the specific details of your shipment, including your vehicle make and model, pickup and drop-off locations, shipping dates and whether you prefer open or enclosed trailer options.

5. Choose a Company

Ideally, you’ll be able to choose the car shipping company that offers the lowest price for the shipping services you need. Before you commit to booking a carrier, however, make sure you know the company’s cancellation policy and payment options. 

6. Book the Quote

A quote is not a contractual obligation between you and the car shipping company. You must confirm your booking to initiate the shipping process. Car shipping companies will require you to provide proof of ownership or ask for proof of insurance to ensure the company is not transporting a stolen vehicle. Having these documents handy when you book your quote is important.

Once you have booked your transport services, ensure that the shipping company confirms all the details, verifying your chosen transport method, shipping dates, pickup and drop-off locations and insurance coverage, including additional coverage if you purchased it. 

7. Prepare Your Car For Shipping

Before the carrier comes to pick up your vehicle, there are several steps you need to take to prepare your car for its journey. First, make sure your vehicle is clean and then take photos of your car’s current condition. This documentation will be useful if you file a claim with the auto transport company’s insurance.

If your shipping company allows you to ship personal cargo in your vehicle, like Montway Auto Transport, avoid exceeding the maximum weight limit, or you will have to pay an additional fee. In our experience, going over a carrier’s weight limit can add hundreds of dollars to your total costs. Remember that the carrier also has the right to search personal belongings shipped in a vehicle to ensure the driver’s safety and prevent the transfer of illicit drugs.

8. Give Your Car to the Shipping Company

You must meet the carrier at the agreed-upon location on the pickup date, whether at a terminal, your house or a nearby interstate. You and the auto transporter will inspect your car and document any existing damage on the bill of lading.

Once the inspection is complete, you will sign a bill of lading. This document acts as a receipt and details the services provided to you. Along with the photos you took while preparing your car for shipment, the bill of lading is handy if you need to file an insurance claim because it proves the condition of your vehicle before it was shipped.

9. Track Your Vehicle

Some companies offer real-time GPS tracking, but most require you to call the car shipping broker to ask about your vehicle’s location. We found that communicating with the carrier provides even more peace of mind, since it reveals whether your vehicle is on schedule to the correct drop-off location. For added security, you can invest in a personal GPS tracking device for your car to know where it is at all times.

10. Receive and Inspect Your Car

When your vehicle is ready to be picked up, meet the car shipper at the drop-off location and inspect your vehicle for any damage. If your vehicle has new dings, dents or scratches, you should take pictures and record the damages with the carrier. Ensure the damages are recorded on the bill of lading because the carrier’s insurance will deny your claim if the damage is not detailed there.

If you chose open car shipping, your vehicle may need a visit to the car wash upon delivery. Some car shipping companies, like Easy Auto Ship or Sherpa Auto Transport, offer a clean car guarantee and may reimburse you for car cleaning costs.

11. Review the Company

At the end of your car shipping process, you should leave a review of the company’s services on the car shipping broker’s website as well as trusted review sites like those in our review. That way, other customers can decide which companies to use and which to avoid.

What To Look For In A Car Shipping Company

It can be difficult to differentiate between most vehicle transportation companies because almost all offer similar shipping routes and transport options. However, there are several factors that indicate whether a company is reputable and trustworthy, including the quality of customer service, industry reputation, pricing transparency, years of experience and adequate supplemental insurance coverage.

Below are detailed explanations of the most important characteristics to look for when shopping for an auto transport company:

Consideration Definition Industry Average From Our Research
Years of Experience Trusted car shipping companies will usually survive the test of time. A company can leverage years of experience to negotiate lower shipping rates and pass the savings on to you. 20 years in business
Auto Transport Industry Reputation Reputable brokers are trusted by customers and carriers. Take the time to read about customers’ experiences on review sites to get a feel for how the company operates. A- BBB rating
4.5 on the BBB
3.9 on Trustpilot
4.4 on Google
Customer Service Ratings and Reviews Companies with consistently high ratings and customer reviews on trusted sites like Trustpilot and Google are generally good companies to work with.  4.5 on the BBB
3.9 on Trustpilot
4.4 on Google
Guaranteed Quotes Some of the best car shipping companies will guarantee all or a portion of your quote. With some companies, it isn’t unusual for shipping quotes to be lower than the final price by as much as 25% due to supply and demand and the fluctuation of gas prices.  Most shipping providers do not offer guaranteed pricing
Transparent Pricing Reputable car transport companies are upfront and honest about their rates and possible additional charges.  19% of customers we surveyed paid more than they were quoted.
Above Average Auto Transport Insurance Look for an auto transporter with robust insurance coverage and an easy claims filing process. Some companies also offer add-on insurance coverage if you want more coverage than the company’s standard insurance offers. Most providers include insurance, but some offer a deductible

What To Know Before Shipping Your Car

Before you ship your vehicle, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common shipping industry jargon. A strong understanding of how the quote, shipping, pickup and drop-off processes work will ensure a smooth experience.

Quotes Can Change

Quotes are estimates and do not guarantee your final price unless you use a company that offers locked-in pricing, such as Sherpa Auto Transport. This is because when you get a quote from an auto shipping broker, that broker doesn’t have a carrier lined up for the shipment right away. Instead, the broker gives you an estimate and then attempts to secure a carrier for that price.

The estimates you receive may increase due to carrier availability, fuel prices and market demands. To prevent unexpected price increases, provide your carrier with as much information about your car and shipment details as possible during the quote process.

Quotes Should Be Free, but You’ll Pay a Deposit

You can get a free quote from any reputable auto shipping company. You shouldn’t have to pay until the broker has secured a carrier, which could be a few days after you get a quote. At that point, you’ll either pay a deposit and elect to pay the rest in cash upon delivery or pay for the whole shipment up front.

Shipping and Delivery Dates Aren’t Set in Stone

Shipping dates can fluctuate — even among the best auto transport companies. Unless you get expedited transport or the company agrees to a guaranteed pickup date, your pickup window can be up to five days or more. The pickup window provided to you is the earliest and latest pickup date. However, carriers may experience delays on the road, so it’s a good idea to be flexible beyond the pickup window, too. The same goes for delivery times. Staying flexible with your shipping dates is also a way to save some money on car shipping. 

Know What Is Covered by Your Insurance Policy

Your car insurance company may cover some but not all damage caused during transit, so it is crucial to understand what insurance car shipping companies carry and what, if any, liability your car insurance company covers.

Know What Is Covered by the Carrier’s Insurance Policy

It is essential to understand precisely what is covered before you choose a carrier in case your shipment is delayed by weather or damaged by road debris, theft or a traffic accident.

As for your belongings, most car movers prohibit the transport of personal items in vehicles. So if you do choose to leave any personal belongings in your vehicle, the shipping company’s insurance will likely not cover any instances of damages or theft. 

You can purchase supplemental coverage from most shipping companies. However, before purchasing extra insurance, you should review your insurance policy to know if the extra coverage is needed.

The Bill of Lading Is Important

You and the truck driver will inspect your vehicle and sign a bill of lading at pickup and delivery. At pickup, make sure this document accurately describes the condition of your vehicle. We recommend taking photos of your vehicle at this time to have visual evidence of its condition in case of an incident while it is being transported.

Ways to Move Your Vehicle

If you need to move your vehicle long-distance, weigh your options carefully. Generally speaking, you can move the vehicle yourself or choose to ship your car by truck, train, boat or airplane. Which makes the most sense for you depends on your shipping destination, your budget and the vehicle itself. If your situation allows for it, you can also drive your vehicle. Every method has its advantages and disadvantages, and we take a closer look at each below.

Different Types of Car Shipping: Transport Trucks

When shipping your car by truck, carriers offer open or enclosed transport options. Open car shipping is more affordable and often faster than enclosed shipping. However, enclosed shipping offers more protection against weather, road debris and other hazards. 

Open Transport Car Shipping

Open car transport is the most common and the cheapest way to ship a vehicle. In a recent survey we conducted of 1,000 car shipping customers, 36% of respondents reported choosing open car transport when moving their vehicles. With this service, the carrier loads your car onto a two-level trailer with up to 10 other vehicles on a modified truck bed or trailer.

Generally, open car shipping provides the most flexible scheduling options of all the car shipping methods. However, cars on an open trailer are exposed to the elements and other hazards, such as upper cars’ dripping fluids onto lower cars during the trip. That said, open carrier shipping is a safe and cost-effective way to transport your vehicle.

Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed shipping moves your vehicle on a trailer with sides and a roof that protects your car from the elements, road debris and other hazards. While enclosed shipping is used less frequently than open shipping, more than 29% of drivers in our survey still chose this method to ship their vehicles. 

You may want to book an enclosed carrier if you have a luxury or classic car because it is less probable that your vehicle will arrive with dents, dings, scratches or a broken windshield. However, shipping a vehicle on an enclosed trailer takes longer because the carrier can only fit two to three cars at a time, and fewer companies offer this service.

There are also situations in which enclosed transport might be the only choice. For example, the ramps on an auto transport trailer can damage vehicles with fewer than five inches of clearance. If you have a lifted truck or a very large vehicle, you may also need to select enclosed auto transport, as it might not fit on an open trailer.

Other Methods of Car Transport

In some cases, a shipping company may need to use other methods to move your vehicle. When shipping to Alaska or Hawaii, for example, you’ll often need to move your vehicle by boat. Planes and trains are also available and make sense for certain types of vehicles and moves.

Shipping a Car by Boat

When you use a boat to transport your car, you can choose from roll on/roll off (RORO) service and enclosed containers.

RORO is similar to open car shipping in that your vehicle is driven onto the cargo deck of a ship and is exposed to the elements during transport.

Enclosed cargo ship containers protect your vehicle from the elements. You can choose an individual container — which costs more — or a shared container that offers better value. Shipping a car by boat is the most common service used to transport cars internationally due to its affordability compared to using an airplane.

Shipping a Car by Train

Utilizing a train to ship a car is only advantageous for people moving up or down the East Coast. Amtrak’s Auto Train is the only rail freight company providing non-commercial car shipping, and it only offers one route between the Washington, D.C. area and Sanford, Florida. Along with the cost of shipping your vehicle, you must purchase a passenger ticket for this vehicle transport service. While that means you can skip I-95 traffic jams, keep in mind that the journey takes an average of 17 hours.

Shipping a Car by Airplane

Vehicles are not usually shipped in an airplane due to the substantial costs associated with this method, which often exceed the value of most cars ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. This service is excellent for transporting exotic vehicles quickly and safely.

Alternatives to Shipping Your Car

If you don’t want to ship your vehicle, you’ll need to tow it or drive it. Towing or driving often make the most sense for short distances, usually within a hundred miles. However, depending on your situation and your vehicle, towing may not be possible. 

Driving your vehicle could also cost more. Below, you’ll notice the average cost to drive your vehicle is $0.67 per mile, compared to $1.22 per mile to ship it 500 miles. For distances greater than 2,000 miles, shipping your car instead of driving it could save you around $0.13 per mile, which can add up to more than $350 worth of savings for a 2,900 mile trip.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the distance you need to move your car, the cheaper it becomes to ship it. If you drive your vehicle, you’ll need to pay for lodging and other expenses in addition to gas, which add up quickly.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Your Car

According to our research, the average cost to ship a car is $0.96 per mile, ranging from $0.54 for a long-distance move to over $1.22 for shorter moves under 1,000 miles. This generally means consumers should be prepared to spend between $500 to $2,500+ depending on your move distance and transportation type.

Average Car Shipping Cost By State

Car shipping costs by state can vary by over $1,500 according to our research — so it’s important to understand the factors that can affect the price in your area. Demand can be high when snowbirds travel south in the winter and return home in the spring — and if you’re shipping outside the continental US, that could add at least $1,000 to your quote. Check out our chart below to find the average cost to ship a car in your state based on rates from one of our recommended providers, SGT Auto Transport. 

Average Cost By Transport Type

According to our research, costs can be impacted by around $0.43 cents per mile depending on the type of transport you choose (open or enclosed). If you opt for enclosed auto shipping, your cost per mile will average around $1.28 — which may be worth it for the added security of avoiding loose debris and rocks that can damage your car during transport. For open transport, the cost will be lower ($0.85 per mile), but you’ll run the risk of damage and vandalism to your vehicle, which is usually rare. 

>> Related: Best Enclosed Auto Shipping Companies

Average Cost By Shipping Distance

According to the National Association of Realtors, over a quarter of moves in 2022 were long-distance. It’s important to understand how much the added distance to your move will impact your quote. The good news is that as your move gets longer, the price per mile of your quote will decrease. 

We’ve found that a 2,500+ mile move will run at just $0.54 per mile, which is less than a shorter move of under 1,000 miles which we found averaged to $1.22 per mile. The chart below shows how different open transport distances can impact the total cost per mile of your bill.

Factors That Affect Car Shipping Costs

In addition to the factors listed above, there are other important considerations when you’re thinking about shipping your car:

  • Vehicle size and additional features: Small cars are less expensive to transport compared to larger vehicles like SUVs or trucks. Also, cars with additional features like luggage carriers and roof racks are more expensive to ship than stock automobiles.
  • Vehicle operability: Carriers charge between $100 to $150 to winch an inoperable vehicle onto a trailer. Not all carriers have winching capabilities, which limits your options. 
  • Seasonality: Shipping prices vary based on supply and demand, so you’ll pay more for vehicle shipping when many families move in the summer. Demand is also high when snowbirds travel south in the winter and return home in the spring, increasing the prices of common shipping routes.
  • Pickup and drop-off dates: If you are flexible with your pickup and drop-off dates, you can save money, since the shipping company has more time to schedule your shipment on a trailer with other cars traveling to the same location.
  • Pickup and delivery locations: While the distance between pickup and delivery locations impacts rates, the population density of a location, popularity and difficulty of delivering are also important. Shippers often charge more to ship vehicles to rural areas, so you can lower costs by meeting the carrier at a nearby urban area or town.

To better understand the best ways to save on your car shipping costs, we got in touch with Sean Donnelly, a moving expert, who’s been featured on USA Today and Architectural Digest. He gave us the following advice on how far in advance to book your car shipping quote: 

“If you want the best odds of booking your [quote] at a favorable rate, scheduling on weekdays during the middle of the month may be ideal. Companies deal with heightened demand around the beginning and end of each month, which coincides with rental leases beginning and ending. Similarly, people with traditional jobs prefer to move on weekends to minimize time off from work. Avoiding these can make for more positive [shipping] experiences.”

How To Get A Car Shipping Quote

Once you decide on the best car shipping method and companies that fit your needs, you should gather free quotes from each of the companies and then call a representative to discuss your options. According to our research, 12 of the 20 companies we reviewed have an online quote tool that will give you an instant result — the rest will email you with more details. 

Our three-question car shipping calculator below shows how factors like transport type, distance, and vehicle type can impact your final car shipping quote. 

The calculators used on this website are being provided for educational purposes only. Data will not be collected or stored. The results are estimates based on information you provide and may not reflect actual pricing of your quote.

Best Auto Transport Companies: The Bottom Line

We rated Montway Auto Transport as the best overall car shipping company, but each of the other providers in this article is worthy of your attention. Mercury Auto Transport, AmeriFreight, Ship A Car Direct and SGT Auto Transport all earned high scores in our study and offer both reliable service and competitive pricing.

As with any search for coverage, you should get free quotes from several shipping providers to compare before making a decision. The shipping company that offers the best rates for your neighbor may not be as affordable or accommodating for your car shipping needs.

Best Vehicle Shipping Companies: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about car shipping companies: 

We recommend Montway Auto Transport as one of the top car shipping companies overall. The highly-rated company has over 15,000 vetted carriers and has moved over 1 million vehicles. In addition to offering competitive rates for open and enclosed transport services, Montway has extended customer service hours for added convenience. 

The cheapest car shipping company is AmeriFreight, according to our cost data. It offers rates of $909 for a 1,588-mile shipment. That’s quite a bit below the industry average of $1,341 for the same distance.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is widely known for its roadside assistance services, but it doesn’t ship cars. However, there are car shipping companies with “AAA” in their names.

According to our research, it costs about $1,341 on average to ship a car 1,588 miles. However, auto shipping rates are highly variable. Car carriers are independent businesses that set their own prices, which makes it difficult to predict costs accurately. What you pay to ship a car depends on your location, time of year, carrier availability and more.

While it is not illegal to put your personal items in your vehicle when you ship it, it’s not usually the best idea, and most auto transport companies prefer or prohibit the practice. Since transport insurance only covers damage to the vehicle, no carrier’s insurance policy covers items inside your vehicle from damage during transit. 

Shipping a car can be expensive, depending on which shipping options you choose and the destination. Long-distance shipments, such as from New York to Seattle, will cost significantly more than shipping a shorter distance. Shipping a car internationally is even more expensive, as boat shipments can cost up to $5,000, and air shipments can cost up to $40,000.

The best way to ship a car for most people is to use an auto transport carrier. Although driving a vehicle long distances may be cheaper, it is time-consuming and puts miles on your car. The cheapest and most common way to ship a car domestically is via an open transport carrier. 

To avoid getting scammed, thoroughly research car shipping providers and verify that the auto transporter has a valid Motor Carrier Number (MC) registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Legitimate auto transportation companies are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Start by reading online customer reviews on trusted sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot and Google to learn from other people’s experiences working with the highest-rated companies. You can get online quotes, but if you speak with an agent, you will get a feel for the company’s customer service and price transparency. 

Enclosed shipping means your car is transported inside a container with walls and a roof that protects the vehicle from the elements and common road hazards. Open carrier shipping means your car is driven onto a trailer, where it is exposed to the weather and road debris.

The cheapest way to ship a car is by having your vehicle shipped in an open container with several cars traveling to the same location. Also, be flexible with your shipping dates and the locations your vehicle is picked up and dropped off at.

How long it takes to ship a car can range from a few days up to 30 days, depending on several factors, including distance, transport method and market demand.

Car shipping companies are required to carry liability insurance, so you don’t need insurance to transport your vehicle. Some companies offer supplemental insurance to add more protection against damage.

If you are moving internationally, you can ship your car on a cargo ship. Be sure to look for cargo carriers that are able to help import and export your vehicle from and to your desired locations. Keep in mind that you should include the cost of customs fees when budgeting your shipment. 

You can ship a car by train, but only if you need it shipped along the East Coast between the Washington, D.C. area and near Orlando, Florida. Currently, Amtrak’s Auto Train is the only option available for non-commercial vehicle shipments.

Auto transport and vehicle shipping both refer to transporting vehicles. It is common that these are used interchangeably, along with car transport, vehicle transport, car shipping and auto shipping.

Shipping your car is generally safer and less stressful than driving it yourself, but it depends on your unique situation. Car shipping prices can fluctuate, but the cost of shipping your car versus driving it is typically comparable when you include the cost of food, hotels and gas.

You should remove personal items from your car to reduce your vehicle’s weight and increase the carrier’s fuel mileage, which means lower costs for you. Also, leave about a quarter tank of fuel to reduce your car’s weight.

The best way to transport a bike is enclosed transport, since it offers more protection than open transportation services. However, you will pay more for the added security. 

Our Methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car shipping companies. We collected data on dozens of auto transport providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the companies that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Cost (33% of total score): Auto shipping companies with affordable rates, locked-in pricing and discount opportunities score highest in this category.
  • Customer Experience (25% of total score): This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings and the availability of extras like GPS tracking. We also consider the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each transporter’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
  • Reputation (22% of total score): Our research team considers availability, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Shipping Methods (10% of total score): Companies that offer a variety of choices for car transport and added benefits are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Logistics (10% of total score): A smooth shipment is all about the details, which is why we look at how long it takes providers to pick up and ship vehicles, whether they include additional insurance coverage and more.

Our credentials:

  • 200+ hours researched
  • 20+ companies reviewed
  • 2,000+ consumers surveyed

*Data accurate at time of publication.


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