Does Shipping an Auto Cost More than Driving It?

by Tom Kearns

The fact is that shipping a car is going to be more costly than driving it considering the only cost involved is monetary. Driving a car long distances can vary in cost depending on many variables - a major one being the miles per gallon your car gets. Suppose your distance is 800 miles and your vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon. You will need approximately 40 gallons from start to finish of your 800 mile trek. Assume a national average of $3.00 per gallon for gasoline and your total fuel costs will be around $120.00. You should add to this an estimation of the cost for oil for the trip and normal wear and tear on the tires.

Budget one night for a motel at $100 to be safe, and $50 a day for food on the road. The cost for you to drive your car on an 800 mile trip would be about $320 for a drive-it-yourself scenario. Naturally, this does not include any roadside emergencies.

Throw in some family members or friends who are either relocating or vacationing with you and you must calculate a per diem for their food and lodging as well. If it is just you and your spouse, the total cost of your drive-it-yourself trip would be $420.00. The average cost of shipping a car 800 miles is around $700.00. You must not forget to add in the tab for airfare or ground transportation for the two of you to reach your destination.

Then again, if you plan to tow the car behind your rented U-Haul, your only additional costs for your car's transport would be for the rental/lease or outright purchase of the towing gear.

Are dollars and cents the only way to measure if shipping your auto is more expensive than driving it yourself? Definitely not.

Are you a professional who charges by the hour: doctor, dentist, lawyer, consultant, etc.? What is your hourly rate: $200, $250, $300? Or are you a skilled person like a mechanic, electrician, plumber or mason? What is your hourly rate? If you are going to be on the road for twelve or more unproductive hours, how will this affect your wallet? If you are going to be starting a new job in a new city and can begin three days early, how will this affect your first paycheck? It is something to add to the equation.

For non-monitorial rationales, consider your peace of mind. Are you a white-knuckle driver? Are you going to be so stressed out over the long drive that when you arrive at your destination you will need several days to unwind? Are you going to be spending your waking hours at the end of your vacation worrying about packing and making that return trek to your point of origin? How does your fear and anxiety affect your traveling companions and people around you?

And let's not forget the family car with mom, dad and three young ones in back. It goes against the laws of nature that three young siblings can stay in one small confined space for two days or a day and a half without bickering, hair pulling, crying, socking each other and generally making life miserable for the parents. Don't make me come back there! What price can you place on peace of mind for two individuals who work 40 hours a week and then come home to take care of three young ones? Priceless.

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