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How Much Is Car Transport Cost Per Mile?

Each year, countless cars are shipped throughout America on auto transport carriers that you might not even notice on the highway. But how much is car transport per mile? Is it worth it?

Many of the vehicles being transported are brand new and headed to auto dealerships, while a significant portion are individuals like you and me moving personal vehicles. Surprisingly, the cost of car shipping is not as high as one might think. 

Direct Express Auto Transport meticulously analyzed data from an industry load board to ascertain the cost per mile for car shipping. Our research involved studying numerous vehicle shipments, including those of our competitors. 

With over two decades of experience in the auto shipping sector, we have a keen eye for critical insights within the data. We share that in this article.

Key Takeaways: 

  • The farther the distance, the cheaper the car transport cost per mile. 
  • Enclosed Transport is approximately 33% more than Open-Air.
  • Other factors affect the price of car transport are the length and weight of the vehicle.
  • Operational condition, as in running or not, and seasonality affect car transport rates.

In This Blog Article:
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Car Transport Cost

Compare Average Car Transport Rates by Distance

Comparing Car Transport Prices by Vehicle Length & Weight

What Affects The Cost Of Car Transport Services?

Vehicle Shipping Costs: The Bottom Line

Car Transport Cost: FAQ


Car Transport Cost

We studied thousands of marketplace vehicle shipments on the number one industry load board for auto transport brokers and car transport carriers. The information on car transport cost per mile is not widely accessible to the public. We have conducted thorough research and are pleased to present our findings in this article.

The Central Dispatch load board excels at providing accurate reports on the types of vehicles that are moving successfully along various routes and the corresponding price per mile. Rest assured, you can rely on the validity of the research data provided. 

Compare Average Car Transport Rates by Distance

  • The car transport route distance is the number one factor when determining the price or rate. 
  • While the cost of car transport per mile is lower the farther the distance, the total price is still cheaper for shorter distances. You would expect that. 
  • What is a tad surprising is that the disparity between shorter and longer distances are not as great as you might have imagined. 
  • Every 500 miles means another day on the road for a car transport driver. And every day matters because it adds to the total carrier expense on the route. 

That is why our study of the car transport industry breaks down the average cost of a car transport per mile in increments of 500 miles. 

When considering the vehicle type, an example is provided, and it is specified whether the shipment will be utilizing Open-Air Transport or Enclosed Transport.

500 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

1-2 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
500 miles Nissan Altima / Car OPEN-AIR $700 $1.40
500 miles Nissan Altima / Car ENCLOSED $858 $1.72
500 miles Mazda CX-5 / SUV OPEN-AIR $750 $1.50
500 miles Mazda CX-5 / SUV ENCLOSED $925 $1.85
500 miles Ford F-150 / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $800 $1.60
500 miles Ford F-150 / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $994 $1.99

500 Miles Data Highlights: A car (sedan) is generally shorter in length, lower in height, and lighter in weight than an SUV or Pickup Truck. So it will fit more easily on a car transport carrier and is therefore cheaper to ship. _____________________________________________

1000 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

2-3 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
1000 miles Hyundai Sonata / Car OPEN-AIR $850 $0.85
1000 miles Hyundai Sonata / Car ENCLOSED $1060 $1.06
1000 miles Kia Sportage / SUV OPEN-AIR $900 $0.90
1000 miles Kia Sportage / SUV ENCLOSED $1128 $1.13
1000 miles GMC Sierra 1500 / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $950 $0.95
1000 miles GMC Sierra 1500` / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $1195 $1.20

1000 Miles Data Highlights: Our research shows that for only $150 to $200 more on 1000 mile routes, you can ship your vehicle double the distance. Notice the nominal difference in total car transport cost between 500 miles and that of 1000 miles. That’s remarkable.
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1500 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

3-4 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
1500 miles Honda Accord / Car OPEN-AIR $1000 $0.67
1500 miles Honda Accord / Car ENCLOSED $1263 $0.84
1500 miles Acura MDX / SUV OPEN-AIR $1050 $0.70
1500 miles Acura MDX / SUV ENCLOSED $1330 $0.89
1500 miles Ram 1500 / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $1100 $0.73
1500 miles Ram 1500 / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $1398 $0.93

1500 Miles Data Highlights: Our research shows that a customer saves roughly 22% on the average car transport cost per mile vs. the 1000 mile rate.
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2000 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

4-5 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
2000 miles Toyota Camry / Car OPEN-AIR $1150 $0.58
2000 miles Toyota Camry / Car ENCLOSED $1465 $0.73
2000 miles Lexus RX-350 / SUV OPEN-AIR $1250 $0.63
2000 miles Lexus RX-350 / SUV ENCLOSED $1600 $0.80
2000 miles Toyota Tundra / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $1350 $0.68
2000 miles Toyota Tundra / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $1735 $0.87

2000 Miles Data Highlights: Our research shows that a customer saves another 10-15% on the average car transport cost per mile vs. the 1500 mile rate. The cost per mile steadily goes down the farther the distance.
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2500 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

5-6 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
2500 miles Subaru Legacy / Car OPEN-AIR $1300 $0.52
2500 miles Subaru Legacy / Car ENCLOSED $1650 $0.66
2500 miles BMW X5 / SUV OPEN-AIR $1450 $0.58
2500 miles BMW X5 / SUV ENCLOSED $1853 $0.74
2500 miles Nissan Titan / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $1600 $0.64
2500 miles Nissan Titan / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $2055 $0.82

2500 Miles Data Highlights: Our research shows that a customer saves almost another 10% on the average car transport cost per mile vs the 2000 mile rate. When you consider the cost of gasoline for 2500 miles, hotels for five nights, dining out for six days, and bar tabs along the way, it is probably cheaper to ship your car rather than drive it.
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3000 Miles / Average Car Transport Cost Per Mile

6-7 Days In Transit Vehicle / Type Carrier Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
3000 miles Mercedes Benz E-Class / Car OPEN-AIR $1400 $0.47
3000 miles Mercedes Benz E-Class / Car ENCLOSED $1785 $0.60
3000 miles Jeep Grand Cherokee / SUV OPEN-AIR $1500 $0.50
3000 miles Jeep Grand Cherokee / SUV ENCLOSED $1920 $0.64
3000 miles Chevrolet Silverado 1500 / Pickup Truck OPEN-AIR $1700 $0.60
3000 miles Chevrolet Silverado 1500 / Pickup Truck ENCLOSED $2190 $0.73

3000 Miles Data Highlights: Our research shows that the average car transport cost total is only twice as much to ship a car 3,000 miles ($1,400) as it is 500 miles ($700). Think about that. Your vehicle is going six times farther for just double the money. That is a very good deal.
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Comparing Car Transport Prices by Vehicle Length & Weight

The table below sheds light on two key factors that greatly influence the cost of car transport per mile: Vehicle Length and Weight. Following the route distance, these variables are among the most significant in determining car shipping quotes. 

* Based on a 2,000 mile car transport route.

Vehicle Length Vehicle Weight Vehicle Example Vehicle Type Total Cost Cost per Mile
170 inches 2,765 lbs. Toyota Prius Car $1164 $0.58
192 inches 3,595 lbs. Toyota Camry Car $1189 $0.59
193 inches 4,750 lbs. Lexus RX450h SUV $1214 $0.61
209 inches 4,898 lbs. Ram 1500 Reg Cab Pickup Truck $1264 $0.63
229 inches 5,687 lbs. Ram 1500 Quad Cab Large Pickup $1429 $0.71
237 inches 6,964 lbs. Ram 2500 Crew Cab  X-Large Pickup $1659 $0.83
259 inches 8,017 lbs. Ram 3500 Crew Cab XX-Large Pickup $2324 $1.16

Key Points

  • Small Cars  /  At 170 inches and only 2,765 lbs, the Prius’ length offers a car transport carrier the chance to fit an oversized vehicle. That makes the Prius a very attractive vehicle to any dispatcher.
  • Average Sedan  /  At 192 inches and 3,595 lbs, the Camry is considered an average length and weight sedan. Perfect as a baseline barometer for auto shipping quotes.
  • Average Size SUV But Heavy  /  At 193 inches and 4,750 lbs, the RX450h SUV is almost identical in length to the Camry, which is great, but it weighs nearly 1,200 lbs more, which is going to cost the carrier extra to haul, hence the slightly higher price than the Camry.
  • Long Pickup  /  At 209 inches and 4,898 lbs, the Ram 1500 Regular Cab pickup truck weighs almost identical to the RX450h SUV, but it is 16 inches longer, which may force a dispatcher to find a shorter vehicle to pair with it. When a vehicle is over 200 inches, the possibility increases that it may limit the number of vehicles that will fit on the carrier. Hence, a little higher price.
  • Even Longer & Heavier Pickup  /  At 229 inches and 5,697 lbs, the Ram 1500 Quad Cab Pickup Truck is 20 inches longer and 800 lbs heavier than the Regular Cab, which will likely limit the number of vehicles that can be amalgamated.
  • Huge Pickup Truck  /  At 237 inches and 6,964 lbs, the Ram 2500 Crew Cab is nearly twice the weight as the Camry and 45 inches longer. The car shipping price is 50% higher than the Camry, probably should be even greater, but it is still possible to fit it and nine other vehicles. But just barely.
  • Enormous Pickup Truck  /  At 259 inches and 8,017 lbs, the Ram 3500 Crew Cab has almost certainly taken two spots on the carrier trailer, eliminating the possibility of fitting ten cars, and therefore the customer should pay for two spots. The car transport cost reflects that reality.

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What Affects The Cost Of Car Transport Services?

The pricing for car transport services is determined by several factors, such as distance, vehicle type, and preferred delivery options like standard, expedited, or rush service.

In terms of car transport trailer type, choosing open car transport proves to be more cost-effective compared to enclosed car transport. Similarly, shorter distances for shipping cars are more economical than hauling longer distances.

Other factors that can affect the cost of auto shipping include the time of year, and condition of your vehicle, i.e. whether it is operable or not.

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Vehicle Shipping Costs: The Bottom Line

In order, here are the car transport cost biggest factors:

  • Route Distance

How far your vehicle ships is the top car transport price factor.

  • Enclosed Transport vs. Open Transport

Shipping your vehicle enclosed over open is the second biggest car shipping rate factor.

  • Vehicle Length

As the length of your vehicle stretches over 200 inches and longer, you can expect the auto transport cost to increase anywhere from a little to double.

  • Vehicle Weight

The truck must get through the highway weight scales. There is a limit. As the weight of your vehicle increases over 4,000 lbs and heavier, you can expect the auto shipping rate to increase anywhere from a little to double.

  • Operational Condition

Wrestling a non-running vehicle on and off an auto transport trailer is no easy task, especially without a wench. The hassle will likely cost you anywhere from $150 to $300 more than a properly running vehicle that also brakes and steers.

  • Seasonality

The time of year that you are shipping your car will likely affect the vehicle transport price. 

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Car Transport Cost: FAQ

 

Related Topic Resources

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Prepare Your Car For Shipping

What Are Car Shipping Quote Calculators?

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport Service

Seasonal Fluctuations in Auto Transport

How Long Does Car Shipping Take?

The Real Cost of Shipping A Car

Tips For Last Minute Car Shipping

Safely Transport Your Non-Running Car

car transport calculator, Car Transport Estimates, open-air transport