Cheapest Way To Tow A Vehicle [Short Vs. Long Distance]

According to, the towing industry is expected to reach a market size of $8.95 billion by the year 2024.

This is due to the fact that even though vehicles aren’t owned by every person, towing a vehicle is one of those headaches that most people have to deal with at one point or another.

This means that it is considered a necessity, and the towing business is booming. Because of this, finding the cheapest price to tow a vehicle may depend on several factors including mileage and the type of towing apparatus the vehicle owner uses. 

Generally speaking, the cheapest way to tow a vehicle long distance is to hire a long-distance trailer and pull the trailer with another vehicle. If the car is being towed across the country, vehicle shipping is the cheapest option. For shorter distances, a tow dolly is the cheapest option unless the vehicle owner has a friend with a tow strap or a trailer that can be borrowed to transport their car.

If moving out of state, most people have their belongings with them. In this instance, it will be cheaper to rent a large truck to transport belongings and tow the vehicle behind the moving truck.

Tow trucks can be used to tow vehicles for certain distances, but if the distance is too far, then the trip can get pricey. 

Short Distance Tow

Sometimes vehicle owners only need to tow their vehicle a short distance due to having them repaired at mechanic shops that are nearby, cars breaking down on the road, and various other reasons. 

Towing A Vehicle 100 Miles Or Less

Rent A Tow Dolly

For short distances, the front wheel dolly is the cheapest and best option. The front wheel tow dolly can haul a load that won’t exceed 3,900 pounds.

Tow dollies are better when only used for short distances because when used over a long period of time, the dolly puts wear and tear on your vehicle’s back tires, which are on the pavement. 

Only two of the tires are hitting the pavement while the vehicle is being towed, so that means only two tires are getting wear and tear.

Have A Friend Or Family Member Help

I broke down on the interstate when I was pregnant with my first child. It was a sweltering hot summer day in the Southern region of the United States.

I was 20 years old and scared out of my mind. I called my dad, and he borrowed a family member’s trailer. He was able to tow my car back to my house for repairs. 

If we wouldn’t have had a trailer to borrow, we would have used a tow strap. This is something my family has done several times. 

It’s important to check the local ordinances regarding the legality of tow straps for your city and to make sure that the person towing the vehicle and the person in the vehicle being towed are both responsible and experienced drivers. 

If you can choose this option for towing over shorter distances, then do it, because it’s completely free! 

Rent A Tow Truck

rent a tow truck

If traveling 500 miles or less, renting a tow truck is the second cheapest option . Since the mileage is so low, most tow companies won’t charge a large amount of money to tow the vehicle for you.

Long-Distance Move

Towing a vehicle a long distance can be stressful, especially if the owner is the one towing the vehicle.

Moving a long distance away from home is a lot to handle, and towing a vehicle can add to that stress. There are several cheaper options for vehicle owners when facing a long-distance move. 

Towing A Vehicle Over 100 Miles

The cheapest option for towing a vehicle over 100 miles is renting a long-distance trailer.

These trailers can be rented from a company, and the vehicle owner pulls the trailer and the vehicle being towed to the desired destination. 

A long distance tow trailer’s weight limit will depend on the size of the trailer that is rented. 

If you don’t have a vehicle that is large enough to pull the trailer and vehicle, one can be rented from a rental company.

This will increase the price that you are spending to tow your vehicle, so be sure to check out the other options below. 


Auto-transport is another cheap option for long-distance towing. This takes the responsibility off of the vehicle owner because it is shipped to the new location without being driven by the vehicle owner.

This is the safer option out of these two, and it may be better for drivers who aren’t experienced in the art of towing. 


The only downside to auto transport is that there are specific drop off locations for the vehicles, so there still may be some driving required for the owner.

There are also no distance limitations on this type of transport, so unlimited mileage makes this a worthwhile option to look into.

Towing A Vehicle Across the Country

Hire A Shipping Company

Towing a vehicle across the country seems like a daunting task for anyone, much less an inexperienced driver or someone with no towing experience.

The cheapest way to tow a car across the country is to hire someone to tow it. 

The website advertises long-distance shipping for vehicles starting at $299.

This may seem like a large amount of money, but when factoring in gas prices and labor for the driver, it really is a way to save some money. 

If hiring a shipping company isn’t an option, then a long-distance trailer can be rented and used in this situation as well.

The vehicle owner should look at their contract carefully to be sure that there is no mileage cap, or if there is a mileage cap, that they won’t exceed it for their trip. 

Price Comparison Table [With Pros and Cons]

Type of TowProsConsLimitationsPrice
Tow Dolly-Easier to pull


-Uses less fuel

-Built in brake system

-Vehicle doesn’t accumulate mileage when towed

-More affordable option for short distances

-Can be pulled behind a moving truck. 

-Wear and tear on towed vehicle


-Not suitable for long distance towing

-Cannot be backed up

-Difficult to hook up

-Only use for short distances.


-3,500 pound to 5,000 pound weight limit.  

-Low mileage rentals range between $45-$250.


-Long distance rentals average around $500. 

Auto Shipping-Safer for the vehicle


-No hassle for the owner

-Fewer miles on the vehicle

-Exact drop off date is uncertain


-Damage could happen to vehicle while it is on the truck being transported

-Weight of vehicle is determined by the make and model +100 lbs, so you shouldn’t store belongings in your car while it’s being transported-For distances less than 200 miles: Average of $2.00 per mile. 


-Long distance rental of 1,500 + miles: Average of $.58 a mile. 

Vehicle Carrier Trailer-Easier to pull than a tow dolly


-All 4 wheels are off the ground

-Easy hook up

-More expensive than some other options. 


-Driver needs experience pulling a trailer

-Maximum capacity: 5,290lbs


-Better for long distance travel, but can be used for short distances also. 

-Daily rentals as low as $45. 


-Most can cost up to $200 per day, depending on mileage and vehicle weight/size. 

Tow Truck-No driving hassle for owner


-Safer for the driver. 

-Professional tow truck driver with experience vs. you using a tow dolly or trailer. 



-Tow truck availability

-Wheel Lift tow trucks can cause wear and tear on back tires. 

-Weight restrictions differ by state. If towing across state lines, make sure the weight limits aren’t exceeded. -Average range for price is $95. 


-Prices depend on mileage 

Check With Your Insurance Company

Some insurance companies will pay for your vehicle to be towed if it has been wrecked or broken down and has to be towed a short distance. 

Check to see what your insurance policy covers before choosing any of these options. If you can have it paid for by insurance, you could have your car towed for free! 

Overall, there are several options to choose from when towing your vehicle, and the best option will depend largely on the distance you are traveling and your experience pulling other vehicles. 

Tow dollies are a cheap option for short-distance travel. They do put some wear and tear on the back tires, and shouldn’t be used for long-distance towing for this reason. 

Auto Shipping is the cheapest and best way to go, for the inexperienced driver. This takes all of the stress off the driver and puts it in the hands of a professional. 

Vehicle carrier trailers are best for traveling long distances. They can hold a large amount of weight, and an experienced driver is needed to pull the trailer and vehicle. 

Tow trucks are also a great option for someone who cannot pull their vehicle themselves on a trailer.

Tow truck prices can fluctuate depending on the season, so it’s best to look around and get the cheapest price. 

Final Considerations

Towing a vehicle can be a tedious process. Especially if the drive is a long one. Be sure to decide on the type of towing that is best suited for your abilities and your vehicle.

There are many options to choose from, and most of the options are allowing you to get the best for amount of money you are spending. 

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