If you’re considering an auto transport company, the first question on your mind is probably this: how much does it cost to ship a car? This is one of the most frequently asked questions about car transport, but like auto insurance, there is no universal price — even within the continental U.S. This can cause frustration as you waste time calling all the car shippers in your area to get quotes.
Before you pick up the phone, however, there are several factors that can help you figure out in advance how to get the best price for auto transport. In this post, we’ll go over the largest determining factors that contribute to the cost of shipping a car.
Biggest Factors for Determining Your Price
LOCATION & DISTANCE
These two factors carry the most weight when car shippers give you an auto transport quote. Obviously the distance your car needs to be shipped will influence the cost, but you might be unaware that your vehicle’s pickup and dropoff locations also contribute significantly. For example, you could pay less to ship a car a long way between two major cities than you would to send it a shorter distance between two rural locations.
Why does location make such a difference? The U.S. has an extensive network of interstates that car transport truckers use to travel from place to place. The fastest routes are usually along certain interstate roads, such as the I10, but if the car shipper needs to travel a great distance off course to pick up or drop off your car, it adds a great deal of time to their route, which is reflected in the higher price to ship to those areas.
This is also the case if the pickup or dropoff location is in a sparsely populated or hard to reach area, such as the Rocky Mountains or some Northern Midwest states. You may want to meet the auto transport carrier near a major highway for the lowest possible shipping rates.
If you can’t make the trip to meet the car shippers, many auto transport companies offer door to door service as an option, which can bump up the cost of transport depending on how remote the pickup or dropoff location is. When using door to door service, the trucker will meet you at whichever location you designate, or as close as they can reasonably get considering the size of the vehicle they’re driving. Although more costly, this is an invaluable option for individuals with limited mobility or those transporting inoperable cars, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
There are two major factors to consider in terms of timing that will contribute to your car shipping quote: the window of time in which your car is shipped (number of days) and the month or season (time of year).
To start, you’ll want to keep in mind how quickly you need your car shipped from point A to point B. If you have a flexible window in which to ship your car and don’t need express service, your auto transport rate will be significantly lower than the rate of someone who needs their vehicle shipped on a specific date and within a set number of days.
For some routes in the U.S., the time of year also influences the price. For example, in the early spring months, many people are shipping their car north after spending the winter in a warm location, which could contribute to a lower overall cost for those individuals. However, if it’s April and you need your car shipped to Florida from New York, you could face a steeper price due to the flood of vehicles being transported in the opposite direction. Additionally, shipping your car during busy times of the year could contribute to an increased price as the supply of trucks is reduced, such as during the summer months when most people tend to make major moves.
Weather can also influence the overall cost of auto transport services. You might pay more if you need to ship your car in extreme heat or cold or during severe weather events. In general, it’s a good idea to plan your car transport well in advance and check on prices for several different weeks to make sure you’re not affected by seasonal surges.
The type of vehicle being shipped also influences the prices, as the cost of transport is often determined by the cargo’s weight. Mid-size SUVs will cost roughly $100 more to ship than a sedan, while larger vehicles like trucks could cost an additional $200.
Additionally, you’ll pay a higher price to transport an inoperable vehicle, as they’re more difficult to load and unload than a car that can be driven. Always communicate in advance if your car is inoperable, as the car shipper may need to bring special equipment to load your vehicle onto their truck. Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay for the extra time and effort, but these precautions ensure your vehicle is shipped safely and efficiently.
TYPE OF TRANSPORT
For truck-based car shipping, there are two main options: open transport and enclosed transport.
Open transport is the standard option and is suitable for the majority of vehicles, making it the most affordable choice. Your car will be loaded onto an open truck, oftentimes with several other cars. Although vehicles are exposed to the open air, there is a very low incidence of damage occurring, and your car was most likely transported to the dealership when it was new on an open carrier.
For collectible, vintage or luxury cars, enclosed transport may give you more peace of mind, but it also costs at least 50% more than open transport. Enclosed transport involves shipping your car in an enclosed truck, protecting it from the elements such as weather, dust and debris. This option is recommended for high value vehicles.
So…how much does it cost to ship a car?
Due to the range of factors above, it’s impossible to know in advance exactly how much you’ll pay for car transport services. However, several reliable and nationally available companies offer near-instant access to a customized quote, so you don’t need to call every car shipper in the phone book. Check out one of these companies below to get an idea of how much the cost will be for your car. So, if you’re looking for five-star car shipping services at a great price and want to learn how much does it cost to ship a car, you can look at companies such as Montway Auto Transport, uShip, Mayflower, or just go and search in Google for services such as “car shipping”.