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5 Best Methods to Ship a Car to California

Here are factors that often affect car shipping costs in California:

  • Vehicle size and weight: Large cars cost more to ship than smaller ones.

  • Vehicle type and operability: Luxury vehicles and inoperable cars take extra work to move, so shipping them costs more.

  • Distance: The longer the distance between pickup and delivery locations, the more expensive overall but the cheaper per mile.

  • Shipping method: Enclosed transport offers more protection than open transport but comes with a higher price tag.

  • Time of year: The summer months and January are priciest for vehicle transport.

  • Popularity of route: Car shipments out of Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland will be pretty affordable. Similarly, deliveries to Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona will cost less.

1) Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transportation of a vehicle is when a car is shipped in a closed truck trailer. This ensures that the elements and weather conditions as opposed to an open trailer transport. Think of it like flying on an airplane in first class as opposed to coach. These trucks that carry the vehicles are usually only one level and carry anywhere from 1-6 cars usually. This type of transport is most commonly seen being used for luxury vehicles and vehicles that have a very low ground clearance. Also, this may not be the best option for you if you need your vehicle to arrive in a timely manner because this type of transport is usually a slower option compared to the others. It also is more expensive than the other methods as well. Pricing for this option usually is around $1500 which is about forty percent more expensive than other options on this list. About ten percent of people that ship their cars in the United States use enclosed transport. Due to this, it isn’t as easily available compared to other shipping options.

2) Open Trailer Transport

Open transport means your car is sandwiched with upwards of 10 vehicles on an open truck—a car carrier exposed on the sides to the elements. It's like flying coach on an airplane (but without the windows). And just like coach and first class, coach is a more affordable option for the common car being shipped. On average, most companies offer to ship cars in an open truck carrier trailer for about $800-$1100. This shipping option is more commonly used, so therefore it is much more easily available compared to enclosed transport.

3) Door to Door Transport

Door-to-door car shipping is the most convenient method of auto transport. You select a specific address for your vehicle to be picked up and dropped off. The truck driver will pick up and drop off your vehicle as close to this desired address as safely and legally possible. Another pro of door to door transport is that you don’t have to go to a terminal. With terminal-to-terminal shipping, your car could be left at the terminal for weeks while the carrier waits to get fully loaded to move to your destination. With door-to-door service, your truck driver is ready to haul right away… and you get your car delivered to your door.

4) Shipping by Air

If your budget allows for it or your situation requires fast delivery, shipping by air is the way to go. Air transport services offer faster shipping times than trucks or trains with a lower risk of damage (assuming no accidents occur). However, air transport costs are much higher than other methods due to increased fuel costs and handling required during loading/unloading processes. Prices for this method of shipping usually cost between $2000-$4000. If speed is important, but the cost isn’t an issue, this could be a great choice for you!

5) Driving the Car by Yourself

Well, out of the all the prior options, this one is most likely the cheapest. Since you don’t have to pay a service to do it for you, the expenses of transporting the car yourself are gas and bridge/highway tolls. Not to mention the time it may take you to drive the car, especially if you are going across the entire country. And unless you plan on staying in California permanently, you would have to book a one way ticket back to home which will probably cost between 3-500 dollars depending on where you are flying to and when.


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