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Driving vs. Shipping

One question that comes up from time to time is this: is it more expensive to drive a car or ship a car when looking to relocate it from one region to another? To help you understand the differences, we’re going to use a real-world scenario. Let’s suppose you drive a Honda Accord, and you want to move your car from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. If we base our calculations on the distance from city center to city center, you are looking at an approximate distance of 2,700 miles. Let’s take a look at the cost of shipping your Honda 2,700 miles vs. the cost of driving that distance yourself.

The cost to drive to California, vs. shipping your car, needs to take into account not only the direct costs incurred by shipping fees, gas and tolls—but also the indirect cost of your time. Let’s suppose that if you drive your car and average 65 miles per hour while driving, you would spend approximately 41 hours on the road—or one day and 17 hours. You would also need to include stops and hotel stays. Let’s say that you have another driver, and you spend 14 hours per day on the road and leave the other 10 for meals, stops, and rest.

So, let’s work out the math.

You would need to stay at hotels at least two nights for this trip. Let’s say your hotel stay costs $125 per night. For the cost of driving, we need to look at the cost of gasoline and the cost of wear and tear on the car. The federal government allows a tax deduction of $0.51 per mile for work related travel expenses including gas, so we’ll use this figure. For a 2,700-mile trip, that works out to $1,377.  Include $250 for two nights at hotels, and the figure comes to $1,627. But we haven’t yet included your time.

Let’s say that you work at a job and earn $30,000 per year. This is an average of $15.00 per hour (assuming a two-week vacation and a 40-hour work week). This means that your time cost for this trip is $615 if you only include time spent behind the wheel. Since there are two drivers, this figure is doubled for a time cost of $1,230. If your salary is different, you can adjust for the real number, but we’re using this amount as a baseline.

Here is how the math works out:

  • Gas & mileage: $1,377
  • Hotel: $250
  • Time: $1,230
  • Total cost: $2,857


Try running that scenario through our instant quote form and see which one turns out to be more expensive. (We haven’t listed the number here directly because prices can fluctuate—but let’s just say that we believe you’ll agree it’s a no-brainer). Keep in mind that these figures don’t include tolls or meals on the road, which can add up as well.

Ready to spare yourself the expensive hassle of driving your own car all the way to its destination? Fill out our quote form and get started today.

Vehicle in running condition:   Yes    No
Shipping Preference:   Open    Enclosed


My dune buggy was shipped across the country without issue and delivered without any complaints!      

Nathan C.

Riley Auto Transport customer

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