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How to Calculate Return On Investment (ROI) for Automobile Transport

Subscribe December 25, 2014
Auto Transport | Car shipping process | Choosing an auto shipper | Industry Information

The high ROI for shipping your vehicle with a professional partner

No matter what your reasons are for moving your vehicle, either to the other side of the state, the country, or the world, you’re probably doing the same calculus we’ve all done in this situation. You’re trying to decide whether to hire a vehicle shipping company or your cousin Jimmy. Or maybe just drive it yourself?

To help make your decision easier, we’ve put together a list of the major costs involved in shipping your car yourself.

There are a lot of moving parts, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Fuel costs and wear-and-tear

First, there’s the actual cost of the drive. Presuming the vehicle that you’re moving is driveable and street-legal, you’ll need to take into consideration not only gas mileage but vehicle wear.

For ease of calculation, we suggest dividing the total distance by two. That’s how much, in dollars, that it costs you. (We arrive at the formula using the federal business mileage reimbursement rate from the IRS, which is $0.56 per mile for 2014, according to

For instance, if you’re moving a truck from Boston to Seattle, that’s just over 3,000 miles. Using the government rate to estimate cost of fuel and wear-and-tear, that’ll be $1500.

Over-the-road costs

That does not take into account the cost of fuel for the driver, let alone wear-and-tear on your own chassis.

To figure out hotel costs, you’ll need to estimate the number of nights you’ll be on the road.

Again, take your total distance to be covered. You’ll factor drive time with a conservative 60 miles per hour, even though many jurisdictions are posted at much higher speed limits. This gives you wiggle room in your schedule to get out at rest stops and, well, wiggle, wander and stretch a bit. In our Boston-to-Seattle example, 3,000 miles driven at a rate of 60 miles per hour will take 50 hours to traverse. For safety’s sake, limit yourself to 10 or fewer hours drive time per day. That means 5 days, or 4 nights, on the road.

Depending on your preference for accommodations and the economy of the places you find yourself in at night, you may find standard, double-queen rooms from $40 per night up to $150 per night. Split the difference and use multiply your anticipated number of nights by an average $90 room rate.

As for food, it depends on the qualities that are important to you in terms of diet and nutrition. To find healthier options, you may need to stray further from major thoroughfares and pay more. It’s reasonable, in our experience, to expect to pay at least $50 per day per person for fare.

Opportunity costs

It can be so tempting to want to get away from it all and indulge in the great American tradition of the road trip. Only you can determine how much that will cost you in terms of lost wages, lost business, missed networking opportunities, and spent time off.

Even if you’re retired and have “all the time in the world,” a cross-country driving trip represents a significant hiccup in your routine.

Return costs

Unless you’re moving a vehicle because you’re moving the household that goes with it, you’ll need to arrange for your own return trip after you’ve said fond farewells to your longtime traveling companion. Whether that’s by bus, train, or plane will affect the pricing. So we leave that as an exercise for you.

In short, ROI is simple enough to calculate. Add all the costs you would accrue were you to move the vehicle yourself and compare them against the price to ship with a professional partner.

The privileges of your investment in premium automobile transport

We would be glad to serve your vehicle shipment needs. If you’re ready to get a free custom quote, please fill out the form on this page to get started.

  • Working with a professional vendor, like DAS, means you only have one point of contact to make all arrangements, our friendly and knowledgeable customer service team.
  • Your vehicle will not suffer mechanical wear and tear in the journey. Nominal mileage is added in loading and unloading your vehicle at our terminals.
  • Your vehicle will arrive safely and on time. Your delivery time can even be guaranteed so you know when to expect it.
  • There’s no opportunity cost because you won’t have to take break stride, or diet, in your daily life.
  • You know that you’re working with a fully licensed and insured vendor with over 50 years experience. We’ve moved over 100,000 vehicles.
  • In the unlikely event that damage occurs during transport, DAS operates an in-house team to handle insurance filing and paperwork.
  • We do it all, so you don’t have to.


No issues to report, service was dependable and reliable. Our car was available before the scheduled date! Very much appreciated!
T. Rosenthal


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