Auto Shipping Quote Calculator

January 10, 2017

When you are ready to ship your auto in the USA, the transportation company you request a quote from will use a number of different factors to put together a final quote.  Some companies may have a more simple formula than others, but generally, the following variables are used to calculate your total quote:

  • How Soon You Need Your Vehicle Picked Up and Delivered

Transportation providers rely on being able to plan their assets in advance, so an urgent need for transportation will add a significant amount of cost to your quote.  The urgent need may be inevitable, but if you know of an impending need, the sooner you request a quote, the better.  Most companies provide the best rates when they have at least a 72-hour notice of your transportation needs.

  • How Far Your Vehicle is Being Transported

The overall number of miles your vehicle needs to travel will be a significant factor in the final quote you are provided.  The mileage includes both the land travel (from your home or place of business to the port it is shipping out of and from the port of entry to the vehicle’s final destination where you will pick it up) as well as the maritime mileage traveled by ocean vessel.

  • The Origin and Destination City Locations – A heavily populated city will result in lower rates than rural areas or out of the way locations. The transportation provider saves money when they can make multiple deliveries on one shipment instead of shipping one vehicle at a time.  They pass that some of that savings on to you through a lower quote.
  • The Type of Equipment Being Used to Haul Your Vehicle

Most transportation providers that specialize in auto hauling will use specific equipment that hauls only auto up to a certain size.   If they do not have equipment that can handle your vehicle, it will require them to hire a partner with the correct equipment which will add to the cost.  Box type trailers provide the most protection for your vehicle but not realistic given the current transportation laws and permitted equipment sizes.

  • Vehicle Type Being Transported

The smaller the vehicle, the lower the cost to ship as transportation providers want to maximize the space they use on their trailer equipment. Motorcycles, mopeds or scooters will fit in almost any type of trailer which allows more flexibility to the providers and cost savings to you. In addition, modifications made to a vehicle can also affect the cost to ship if it increases the overall space the vehicle will require in transit.

  • Vehicle Condition

If the vehicle you are shipping cannot be operated, this will require additional work or equipment on the part of the transportation provider in order to load the vehicle into the shipping container, resulting in a higher cost to you.

  • Vehicle Value

The value of your vehicle will determine how much insurance the transportation provider will want to have in the event that something happens in transit. The higher the value of the vehicle, the higher the cost of additional insurance the transportation provider will need to purchase, and the higher cost will be added to your quote.


Door to door means that the transportation provider will pick up your vehicle from your home or place of business and be in possession of it until it reaches its destination. Terminal to terminal means your vehicle will be transported from your home or business to one of the provider’s terminals where it may sit for a time and incur terminal or storage fees until it ships again to another terminal closer to the final destination, again accumulating fees while it waits for the final delivery.   Some companies will offer both options, but you should always choose Door to Door service if possible.  Not only is this typically a lower cost but it also means less chance of damage to your vehicle and a reduced likelihood that delivery will be delayed.

  • Fuel Cost

This is most likely the most variable and impactful factor in shipping your vehicle any distance.  Fuel costs change on a weekly basis, and most transportation providers have their fuel calculation system.   If you receive a quote that says “plus fuel surcharge”, make sure you get a copy of their fuel surcharge table that tells you how they determine this charge and what it will end up costing you.  Fuel is typically added on a per mile basis.

  • Special Services

Some transportation providers will provide special services that come at an additional cost above their basic quote.  These services are not usually a requirement to ship your auto safely but may provide an additional peace of mind such as top loading (where your vehicle is placed in the very top row of a vehicle hauling trailer meaning it has less chance of being damaged in transit).  If you are interested in any of the services offered, make sure you quotes from multiple companies to find the best value overall.


While the formula used to calculate the quote for transportation of your auto is complicated, most reputable companies will make this process simple for you with a quote that doesn’t break down all of the factors that go into it.  Make sure to ask them to do so in order to compare quotes from multiple companies (who may value the factors listed above differently).


Be aware of any company who guarantees they will provide the lowest quote to transport your vehicle.  They typically provide one quote up front but don’t tell you about several factors that they add later or they use lower quality transportation partners to get your vehicle from origin to destination.   The best companies will want you to feel confident in their abilities to deliver your vehicle safely and will take extra steps to answer any questions or concerns you have whether during the quote processor while your vehicle is in transit.

Check Online Auto Shipping Calculator