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Relocate Smart: Ship or Drive Your Car for Your Next Move?

Embarking on a big move? Before you map it out, let's cruise through the pros and cons of shipping your car versus driving it to your next adventure. Buckle up for the ultimate road trip decision!

Tobi Miles
August 17, 2023

Imagine that you are finally taking that new job in another state. Or maybe, you’re moving closer to family; no matter the situation, moving is exciting, especially to a different area. However, everyone should consider one major factor: how will your vehicle get there? Well, you have two options, ship it or drive it. So, which one is better?

Let's take Phoenix for example. On average, driving your car from Seattle to Phoenix will cost  you between $1,150 to $1,500 including fuel, tolls, basic accomodations and food. To ship your car from Seattle to Phoenix will cost around $900 to $1,075 for an open transport and $1,200 to $1,400 for an enclosed. This reflects a total savings of up to $600 in the best case scenario, depending on your circumstances, when shipping a vehicle.

Our goal is to guide you through this decision-making process so you can be confident in your choice. We'll talk about the pros and cons of both aspects of transportation. That way, you are assured you've made the right decision for you and your vehicle.

How Much Does It Cost To Move A Car To Another State?

Moving your car to another state can cost a lot of money. However, this highly depends on whether you're driving or you're paying a transport company. The costs will significantly vary depending on what you choose to do.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car?

  • The reflected averages are based on fuel, food, tolls, and typical accomodation costs.

How much it costs to ship your car will highly depend on several different factors, including:

  • Type of vehicle
  • Distance
  • Method of transport

However, shipping your car is more like an investment. The 'cost' goes beyond how much you're paying. What we mean is your vehicle is going to be safe, and it's guaranteed to get from point A to point B as safely as possible. So, think of that added layer of security.

How Much Does it Cost to Drive a Car to Another State?

Driving your car from one state to another is feasible… especially if you're only moving one state over. However, the costs you will incur include more than just fuel costs.

For example, you need to pay for accommodations, meals, and maybe even some unexpected circumstances. Not to mention, the prices will differ depending on your situation such as how many cars you have, and how far you are going. Let's take a look at a few different scenarios.

Just a note: These scenarios don't reflect unexpected maintenance costs, price for roadside assistance, or any emergencies. These reflect only the most basic fees for motel, food, tolls and fuel.

Seattle to Phoenix

Let's assume you want to move from Seattle to Phoenix, which is about 1,400 miles and you have two cars that need to be driven. The total amount this will cost for you will sit between $1,800 and $2,500. This cost assumes that both parties will be sharing one hotel room along the way, and use unleaded gas. However, this is more expensive if you need a second motel room along the way and you use premium gas.

Cheyenne to Miami

You have one car, driving alone, and you're moving from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Miami, Florida. This distance is about 2,100 miles. With one driver, you can expect to have more frequent stops, and maybe even a few times where you stop for multiple nights in a row due to burnout.

Therefore, this trip will cost around $1,700 to $2,500. Again, it dpepends on the type of fuel you are putting in, and what accomodations you choose. If you're staying at the Hilton and you're eating at upscale restaurants along the way, you will see a significant price increase.

Cost Factors to Consider When Driving Your Car to Another State

While the idea of driving to another state is simple, it's not always that easy when you take the time to consider the actual costs incurred. Below, we will break this down a bit more.

  • Fuel Costs: Driving longer distances will rack up your expenses on fuel, especially if you're driving more than a state away. Gas prices fluctuate so much that it's hard to get an accurate price on how much fuel will cost you.
  • Accommodation and Food: Most of the time, driving through the States will require you to stay somewhere overnight. You may even have to stop a few times depending on vehicle health, your health, and the weather. The longer it takes, the more it will cost for motels, hotels, food, water, and other necessities.
  • Vehicle Wear and Tear: Most people don't realize that every mile driven is wear and tear on your vehicle. This is especially true for long distances. Your engine, brakes, and other components will take a hit which will most likely result in repair and maintenance costs.

Shipping Your Car vs. Driving: Pros and Cons

When choosing how to get your car from the current state you into the new location, it's not an easy choice. You'll need to take the pros and cons of each into consideration.

What Are The Benefits of Shipping Your Car to a New State?

Believe it or not, there are plenty of benefits when it comes to shipping your car to a new state.

For instance:

  • You will have a clear breakdown of the cost so that you can save the correct amount of money.
  • You won't have any extra expenses such as meals, repairs or accommodation costs.
  • The vehicle in question will have a longer life span as it won't have to make it through a long journey. Therefore, any wear and tear on it is significantly reduced.

What Are the Cons of Shipping Your Car?

Let's be real; anything that has benefits also has some disadvantages. So, let's take a look at the disadvantages of shipping your car so that you can make the best decision for you:

  • You will need to pay upfront. Shipping companies don't typically allow payment plans.
  • You’ll have to plan ahead of time. This is usually a scheduled event, so you'll need to ensure all your ducks are in a row, so to speak.

However, the beauty of shipping your car is that the cons are relative to your situation. So, if these things don’t pertain to you, then shipping your car is an easy decision.

What Are the Pros of Driving Your Car?

Don't get us wrong, driving your car can be beneficial too! It just depends on your overall situation:

  • You can make memories in your vehicle as you head to your destination. Plus, you'll get to explore new places and check out different locations along the way.
  • If you're not in a hurry to get to where you're going, you get to travel at your own pace.

What are the Cons of Driving Your Car?

While the benefits of driving your car might be enough for you to make a quick decision, you'll also need to consider the disadvantages as well.

Driving your car long distances means that you also need to account for some random expenses that pop up. It's hard to know how much gas, motels, and food will cost. Plus, if you park overnight in a bad area, your car may be subject to vandalism, or someone could steal it. You should have several thousand dollars aside for a bit of cushion, just in case.

Also, If you're on a time crunch, driving may not be a good option for you as this will require you to take several days off from work. Plus, any unexpected hang-ups can take hours to days, depending on the situation you get stuck in.

Finally, remember that driving your vehicle long distances will lead to wear and tear, which means you'll need to pay for these. This can be anything from a blown head gasket to brakes, oil change, and stress on your suspension system.

Shipping Your Car vs Driving: What Are The Risks?

As with everything, there are risks associated with both choices. So, let's take a look at a few of those as well!

What Are The Safety Concerns During a Long-Distance Drive?

There are several safety concerns when driving long distances, such as:

  • Accidents
  • Driver Fatigue
  • Navigating unfamiliar areas
  • Abrupt weather changes
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Blown tires
  • Change of mind in the middle of the process

You need to thoroughly think this through, as you might end up regretting it halfway through. You can't necessarily change your mind when you're in the middle of a trip.

Does Shipping Your Car Help Mitigate Risks?

Some risks can be greatly reduced when shipping your car!

For example:

  • Your car can be safe from outdoor elements. If you choose to have an enclosed transport, this keeps your car safe from weather, debris, and other road hazards such as nails and rocks.
  • There are insurance options. You'll have the choice of including insurance on your car so that you will be protected from the financial burden of any accidents.

What Considerations to Take When Choosing Between Shipping and Driving

There are several different circumstances you should take into consideration when debating on shipping or driving your car.

Classic and Luxury Cars

Those who own a luxury car, or a classic car for that matter, will want to do everything they can to keep it in the best condition possible. Therefore, it's better to ship these to keep them safe from any wear and tear along the way.

Multiple Vehicles

Many families have more than one vehicle, which would make it hard to drive them to the new location. But shipping them instead can help by reducing any stress and make for a better move that's straightforward and coordinated.

Pets and Kids

Those who are relocating with kids and pets will greatly benefit from shipping their vehicle(s). You'll be able to focus better on your family and your furry friends. Plus, you won't have to put them through all of that hassle.

Choosing What's Best For You is Key!

The decision between shipping and driving your car sits on several different factors. You'll have to consider finances as well as time, safety, convenience, and more. This isn't just about choosing between two modes of transportation but more a reflection of your circumstances and priorities.

Before you make your final decision, you should take a moment to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option carefully. Honestly, look at each piece of the puzzle so you can ensure the bigger picture fits your needs the best.

You should always make sure you're well informed when it comes to decision-making, no matter the situation, especially when it comes to getting your vehicles where they need to be. Your vehicle is a cornerstone of your family and should be treated as such.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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