At first, the thought of your impending cross-country is thrilling. A fresh adventure on the horizon, a new city to explore, a different climate to enjoy. Start packing now!

But then reality sets in. Moving across the country takes a ton of hard work, intense planning, and a lot of money. If you’re paying for the move out-of-pocket, there are a plethora of details to consider when looking for a quote.

This guide explains 7 important factors that actually affect your car shipping quote.

Car Shipping Quote and Distance

The first variable always considered is how far the car will be shipped. Generally, the further the distance between ship point and destination, the higher the car shipping cost will be. When traveling a long distance, the price per mile is typically less. Think of it as buying in bulk- the more you buy up front, the better price you get.

The average price per mile to ship a standard car is between $1 per mile (for shorter distances) and $.50 per mile, for cross country shipping. This is the base price. Other things that will be added to the base price is the cost of fuel, price of labor, and tolls.

If you’re looking for a cheap auto transporter, keep in mind you should expect to pay at least $1200 to ship a car across the country from east to west. From northern states to southern, the cost to ship a car should be around $700.

Location: To and From?

Not only do you need to consider how far you’re shipping, but the specific location affects the cost as well. If you are shipping to a metropolitan area, there is the convenience of direct routes and wider roads to make it easier for car transport companies to move your vehicle. If you are having the delivery shipped to a remote location, the provider may add additional fees for the more costly rural routes.

You can ask to have the car shipped to a terminal in the closest metro area and pick it up there. This will save you some of the money they charge to deliver off the beaten path.

What Type of Vehicle is it?

The size and weight of your vehicle will influence the cost of shipping. The larger the vehicle, the more space required. Because of weight limits on shipping freight, if your vehicle is substantially heavier than the average vehicle, it will cost you more.

Extra-large vehicles in both size and weight, if special shipping requirements are needed, additional costs may be added to the freight. Hauling an oversized vehicle may take up more space on the transport truck, possibly affecting the number of cars on the trailer. In this type of situation, your price can change.

Luxury cars or vehicles with modifications that need special protection will require attention outside of regular service. If the condition of the vehicle is poor or inoperable, additional equipment that costs extra may be needed to load and unload from the trailer.

Which Season?

Like all industries, auto shipping has peak seasons and slow seasons, which impacts rates. Summer rates tend to be highest because 60% of households move during that time. Snowbirds moving to warmer climates as winter approaches increase rates along southern routes as well.

Winter rates can be lower, however, prices near holidays always increase. Traditional times with inclement weather and areas with typical severe road conditions are taken into consideration when giving the car shipping quote.

Multiple Shipping Options

There are typically four standard shipping options to choose from when searching for a car shipping quote for your vehicle. The type of trailer can be mixed and matched with pick-up/drop off options for a customized experience.


With open air service, the cars are loaded onto an open air rack on the back of a truck. There is usually a top and bottom deck that allows for the car transport companies to fit as many cars as possible onto the shipment. Because your vehicle may be exposed the weather conditions and road debris, the cost is generally lower.


This method involves cars being transported in an enclosed trailer. This is mostly used when shipping luxury vehicles and shelters the vehicles from weather, elements and potential public tampering. Because this service allows for less cars per trip and provides expertly trained handling, the cost will be higher.


When scheduling your service, you have two options. You can drive your car to the terminal and the transport company will ship to the terminal of your choice (usually the closest terminal to your final destination), where you will pick up your car upon arrival. This terminal to terminal service is best for cost purposes or if you are in a remote area.


This method is priced for convenience. The transport company will pick up your car at your home or work and deliver to your destination of choice. Because of the customization of this service you will find yourself paying more for this option.

How Many Cars?

Shipping in bulk is always more cost effective than single serving options. If you are a dealer or are moving and own multiple cars that need transported, there is usually a cheaper rate you can negotiate with the transport company.

Don’t Forget Insurance

When shopping for a car shipping quote, one cost point that is usually forgotten about is insurance. Auto transport services typically offer a variety of insurance options, from basic to higher end. Every licensed carrier is required to have cargo insurance.

Read the fine print when signing up for insurance to make sure you understand what is covered and what deductibles are required in case of an incident. Make sure you are clear on if items inside the car are covered as well or if the insurance is limited to only the actual car.

Let’s Hit The Road!

Now that you know what to look for when searching your car shipping quote, you can start setting everything in motion! Click here to get a quote right away so you can add it to your budget. Still have questions about where to find a cheap auto transporter? You can also call 224-218-2949 and speak with a live operator if you have specific requests!

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