With a long-distance move comes the question of whether it’s better to drive or ship a car across the country. The best car shipping companies offer competitive rates and efficient transport, but sometimes it seems worthwhile to simply move the car yourself.

The easiest way to decide whether to drive or ship a car is by looking at average costs, potential wear and tear on your car, and the time it takes to move. It’s often worth getting car shipping quotes online to determine which method best fits your needs for your cross-country trip.

Is It Cheaper To Drive Or Ship Car Across Country?

Our review team reached out for quotes from cheap car shipping companies to find out how much you can expect to spend. The average rates we got for shipping an operable 2018 Honda CR-V from New York City to Los Angeles using open transport can be found below:

  • Montway Auto Transport: $1,389
  • Sherpa Auto Transport: $1,650
  • Easy Auto Ship: $1,362

If your decision to drive or ship a car depends on which option is the cheapest, it may be time to start planning a road trip. While it’s inconvenient to spend days driving, you’ll likely save money compared to the cost of shipping a car using an auto transport provider. However, costs tend to pile up on long-distance road trips, so you could end up with some unexpected expenses.

Expenses On The Road

Those who drive must pay for meals, accommodations, and potential stops at places like coffee shops. That’s in addition to high gas prices. There’s also the possibility that your car gets damage such as windshield chips or blown tires when you’re driving cross-country. Sightseeing stops en route can add expenses on top of your food, hotel, and fuel costs as well.

If you budget responsibly, the cost of driving may stay low. At the same time, the cost difference between driving and shipping a car might be less than you’d expect once you’ve finished the journey.

Wear And Tear From Driving Cross-Country

Long-distance road trips are never easy on your car, so expect wear and tear to surface during the drive. From dented doors to mechanical breakdowns, life on the road can often turn into a challenge.

Your cross-country journey can subject your vehicle to torn-up highways and severe weather conditions depending on the route and time of year. You’ll face unexpected expenses and undue stress if car parts fail or get damaged on the highway.

Even if no issues come up during the drive, hundreds or thousands of miles will take a toll on your vehicle. Parts will eventually start failing whether you drive or ship a car, but cross-country road trips may speed that process up.

Safety When Driving Cross Country

If safety is a major concern, the decision to drive or ship a car might be pretty simple. Road trips come with potential safety issues, from unsafe road conditions to dangerous drivers. What’s more, your car is at higher risk of smash-and-grab opportunities at motels or in rest area parking lots.

Long journeys can also lead to fatigue on the road. Tedious travel time causes some drivers to have decreased awareness behind the wheel, making accidents more likely to occur. If long-distance drives are hard for you to handle, deciding whether to drive or ship a car may come down to the peace of mind a car shipping service can provide.

Long-Distance Driving Tips

One of the best ways to stay safe on long-distance road trips is by taking a family member along to split the driving time. If you have to drive alone, follow the precautions outlined below to stay alert:

  1. Prepare your car for the drive.
    Long-distance driving takes a toll on vehicles, especially older models and those with high mileage. Before heading out, have your oil changed, fluids topped off, and tire pressure checked.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
    If you’re driving on a sleep deficit, your chances of getting involved in an accident skyrocket. Get at least eight hours of rest each night during your long-distance road trip.
  3. Drive a reasonable distance each day.
    It may be tempting to push yourself past your limits to avoid an extra hotel stay, but the risks aren’t worth it. Most motorists can’t responsibly drive more than nine hours or 500 miles per day. Even at that length, you’ll need to take breaks around every two hours.
  4. Take breaks during the day.
    Almost no one can focus on the road for 10 straight hours, which is why it’s essential for motorists to take breaks. It’s smart to spend around 20 minutes off the road every two hours to let your body rest and prepare for the next leg.
  5. Follow speed limits.
    While you may want to get to your destination as soon as possible, speed limits exist for a reason. Push past the limit and you may find yourself paying a hefty fine or even causing a severe accident.
  6. Avoid distractions.
    Cross-country road trips can sometimes feel monotonous, but there’s never a time when it’s OK to drive distracted. Keep your eyes on the road and never text, search for items in the back seat, or use headphones while driving.
  7. If in doubt, skip the drive.
    Moving costs may be your deciding factor on whether to drive or ship a car, but safety matters more. If a long-distance drive sounds like too much, ship your car to minimize risks.

Most motorists won’t face issues as they travel, but there’s always the possibility something could go wrong. You’ll have to weigh the risks to decide whether you can safely make it through a lengthy drive.

Drive or Ship A Car: Conclusion

If you have decided you are going to ship your car across the country, below are some of the best shipping companies to help you with that process.

Best Companies For Cross-Country Car Shipping

Whether you’d like to drive or ship your car, it’s worth getting free quotes to get a sense of how much car shipping costs. Sherpa Auto Transport and Montway Auto Transport both offer competitive rates for car transport services and can quickly move your motor vehicle across the country.

Sherpa Auto Transport: Best For Locked-In Rates

Sherpa Auto Transport holds a reputation as one of the country’s highest-quality car movers. The company’s sterling reputation is backed by a 4.9-star rating out of 5.0 from customers on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a 4.6-star average review score out of 5.0 on Google.

According to Sherpa Auto Transport reviews, vehicle owners tend to pay reasonable rates with the car moving company. Its Price Lock Promise guarantees that you’ll only pay your originally quoted rate, a rarity in an industry with relatively common price increases.

Sherpa Auto Transport Best For Locked-In Rates
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 888-202-7706 Coverage : 48 states
Pros & Cons
Pros Locked-in shipping rates through the Price Lock Promise Vetted network of reliable and friendly carriers Strong customer service ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Offers a Clean Car Guarantee Cons Slightly higher prices than competitors Does not provide terminal-to-terminal shipping

Sherpa Auto Transport has many strengths, from excellent customer service to the added security of the Price Lock Promise. We name Sherpa the Best for Locked-In Rates in the auto transport industry, though the company’s benefits go far beyond that.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall

Montway Auto Transport is a titan among auto transport services due to its extremely competitive pricing and widespread availability. Few professional auto shippers can compete with Montway’s quoted rates, which consistently sit on the lower end.

The auto shipping company offers services in every state, allowing owners to have their cars moved anywhere nationwide. Based on its 4.5-star rating on both the BBB and Google, drivers seem more than willing to recommend the provider in Montway Auto Transport reviews.

Montway Auto Transport Our #1 Rated Provider
BBB Rating : A+ Phone : 844-601-0286 Coverage : 50 states
Pros & Cons
Pros Strong reputation, customer satisfaction, and industry ratings Carrier vetting Large network of 15,000+ carriers Offers expedited delivery Competitive pricing Cons No real-time tracking or mobile-app; must contact company for tracking info No guaranteed pricing $249 cancellation fee No specialty shipping services for recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, trailers, or other watercraft Intrusive Pop-up Ads

Montway Auto Transport is a reputable auto transport broker offering several car shipping services and cheap car shipping rates. We named it the Best Overall car shipping company for 2023.

FAQ: Should I Drive Or Ship A Car?

Below are some frequently asked questions about whether you should drive or ship your car when moving:

How We Rate Auto Shippers

Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of car shipping companies. While there are multiple qualities that make an auto transport provider successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:

  • Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between providers because so many factors impact auto shipping rates. To determine our cost score, we perform a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicles and routes.
  • Services: Our team of experts looks at the types of services available, as well as insurance coverage and the ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates. Ratings also take into account whether the transport company is a broker or a carrier.
  • Reputation: It’s important that a car shipping provider is able to deliver your vehicle in a safe and timely manner. Companies with a strong rating from the BBB score well in this category. Established providers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
  • Customer Experience: We comb through consumer reviews on sites like the BBB to learn about customer experiences. Car transport companies with a low volume of complaints score well in this area.

*Data accurate at time of publication