How much does it cost to ship a car?

As life would have it, there may come a time when you need to ship your car. When this day comes your top priorities are going to be making sure your vehicle arrives at its destination safely and on schedule, but equally as important is the cost to ship a car.

Fortunately for you, this article will help you understand what influences car transport rates as well as how you can save hundreds of dollars by planning ahead. You can even use our instant cost calculator to get an immediate car shipping quote. Be sure to give it a try at the end!

So whether you’re:

  • Moving cross-country to be closer to family
  • Taking a job that requires you to relocate
  • Or adding a hot rod to your collection

We’ve got you covered!

Car Shipping Companies Come in Two Different Types

There are quite a few factors that determine car shipping rates, all of which we’ll be covering soon, but the first question you’ll want to answer is whether you’ll be using an auto transport broker, or an auto transport carrier. They each have their own respective differences, and knowing what those are will help you find the option that’s right for you.

Auto Transport Brokers

If it’s your first time shipping a car, then using an auto transport broker might be a good idea. They’re not actually the ones who ship your vehicle, however, they do assume the responsibility of finding a carrier that will. Why would someone want to add a middleman to the equation, you might ask. Wouldn’t that mean you ultimately pay more?

Thankfully, that’s not always the case. Because brokers have years of experience shipping cars, they also happen to know the most reputable vehicle transporters. So instead of having to hunt down the best deals yourself, they already know where to find the most reasonable rates and quickest pickup times. This can save you a great deal of stress when you have somewhere to be.

Auto Transport Carriers

When your situation isn’t urgent and you don’t mind doing a little leg work to find a trustworthy and affordable company, auto transport carriers can be a great option for shipping your car. The benefit in going directly to a carrier is that you’ll have a direct line of communication with the people who are actually loading, transporting, and delivering your vehicle.

This makes it easier to coordinate pickup and delivery times, and so far as getting their pricing and insurance information is concerned, that too. But they don’t have any incentive to refer you to their competitors, who may be able to offer a better price or earlier delivery.

Aside from that, finding and arranging a decent carrier is complicated and time consuming (which we all need more of these days). In fact, most people head for Google when looking for carriers and often struggle to find what they’re looking for.

For auto shipping related search terms, the first few pages of major search engines will bring up roughly 80% brokers, 19% lead generation sites and 1% actual carriers. The last thing you want to do is end up submitting your details to a lead generation site, as your information will be sold to brokers.

Carriers aren’t heavily invested in marketing. They’re too focused on the mechanics of their business – things like driving, maintaining and dispatching. This is the whole reasons brokers exist, to bridge that gap and make your life easier.

These Factors Influence Cost Above All Else

At first glance, it might seem like figuring out what it will cost to ship a car would be fairly straightforward. Because certain factors such as the cost of fuel or demand tend to fluctuate, it’s not as easy as one would hope. In no particular order, here’s what you’ll want to consider when calculating your car shipping cost. Other factors such as your method of payment and insurance will also affect the price, but not as much as much as the following:

What is the Size and Weight of Your Vehicle?

Auto shipping companies must also take into account the total size of your vehicle. The longer or taller your vehicle is, the more space is required in the trailer thus increasing cost. Another factor is weight, and so the heavier your vehicle the more you’ll likely have to pay to have it transported.

Keep in mind, some vehicle modifications could also have a direct impact on cost, whether that be lowering, lifting or things like oversized tyres (which obviously require more space).

Where and How Far Does Your Car Need to Travel?

As you may have already guessed, distance plays a big role in the overall cost. More miles means more fuel, and until there are self-driving autonomous vehicles to transport cars, someone’s getting paid to move them. Of course, you’re covering that expense when you use a car shipping service.

If your final destination is a rural town where it’s often difficult for larger vehicles to traverse, it’s likely to cost more than if you were traveling to a big city. It’s in situations like these where you’ll find that closer doesn’t always mean cheaper.

Is It the Peak Season?

Because if it is you’ll be spending more. During summer when the weather is nice and everyone’s on vacation, there’s more demand for car transport services. On the other hand, fewer people ship cars during winter, so that’s typically when you’ll find the lowest rates. The fewer shipments en route, the cheaper it will be, so be sure to ask your broker or carrier when they expect to see a drop in demand.

If you have to travel during a busy season, try to get an auto shipping quote sooner rather than later. A little preparation makes it easier for brokers to find you good deals and for carriers to guarantee there will be room for your vehicle.

What’s the Make and Model of Your Car?

Certain vehicles are more costly than others to transport. Assuming you’re not shipping a classic car that requires special attention, the size and weight of your vehicle is what’s really in question. The bigger and heavier it is, the more money you’ll spend. For example, it can cost an extra several hundred dollars to ship a van or SUV than it would to ship an economy car, all else being equal.

High end-luxury vehicles also cost more to ship, but this is usually because their owners opt to have them enclosed rather than on an open carrier. When you spend several hundred thousand dollars on a car, a difference of up to a $1000 is little more than afterthought.

Is the Vehicle Operable?

It’s also good to consider that if your car is incapable of driving, it’s going to cost more to have it loaded and delivered. The main reason for this is that special machinery and expertise is needed to move inoperable vehicles. And if your car is dirty or damaged before it’s transported, then it may be difficult to verify whether or not it sustained any harm along the way.

Even if you’re unable to have your vehicle repaired before delivery, you always want to clean it so that’s it’s ready for pickup. This makes it easier for you and the carrier to do a proper inspection and avoid dubious damage claims.

Do You Plan to Have It Covered or Uncovered?

While it’s true that using an uncovered carrier is the cheaper option, it also exposes your car to the elements, and depending on the circumstances, that may not be your preference. Covered carriers protect your vehicle from wind, rain, snow, hail, dust, and the unexpected. Certain vehicles will always be worth the extra love and care, such as the case with classic cars.

Because of their age as well as delicacy of the materials used in their construction, some classic cars must be shipped in a controlled in environment where everything from the humidity to the temperature is monitored. If you own happen to own such a car, chances are you already know it, and you’d be correct to think that this type of car delivery service costs extra.

Is It Going Door-To-Door or Terminal-To-Terminal?

Nothing beats the convenience of having your car picked up from your home and delivered wherever you’d like, assuming the roads to get there are wide enough for your carrier’s equipment. This is door-to-door shipping and it’s more expensive than the alternative because it requires the carrier to drive more than they otherwise would.

The other option is to drop your car off at a local terminal and pick it up from whichever one is closest to your destination. If you live out in the mountains or are travelling to a remote location, you might have to go this route. But hey, at least it won’t cost you as much!

How Quickly Do You Need Your Car?

Shipping a car is a lot like mailing a package in the sense that if you want it to arrive in 1-3 days—which won’t be possible in many cases—it’s going to cost more, and in some cases a lot more. Due to trucker availability, the more flexible you can be, the less you’ll have to spend. When you can give your carrier a window of time instead of a couple day’s notice, you’ll be more likely to secure a good rate.

This is the biggest mistake first timers make. They wait until the last minute to start looking for car shipping quotes, which sets them up for delays, higher rates, and unnecessary stress. If we had to impart just one piece of advice, it would be to leave yourself enough time to avoid these problems.

Shipping Outside the U.S.?

Going to Europe, South America, or some remote island off the coast of Africa? When you leave the U.S. and desire to take your car with you, you have to pay taxes, have appropriate insurance for driving in another country, and figure out when your car will be arriving at your destination. Sometimes this can mean not seeing your car for weeks, and not all auto shipping companies will deliver internationally.

If you’ll be travelling outside the U.S., call your insurance company and ask them if they provide coverage for overseas delivery. You’ll also want to ask them if your insurance covers driving in a foreign country. If the answer is no, you may want to start shopping for one that will.There’s more than that to shipping a car outside the U.S. but this gives you an idea what additional expenses you’ll have to pay.

Are You Using the Right Payment Method?

Most auto shipping companies will accept all forms of payment – including cash, checks and the trusty credit card. One thing to keep in mind is that not all payment methods are equal, and you may find that using a credit card as opposed to writing a check will cost you 2-3 percent more.

This is why it’s always a good idea to check with your auto shipping company to see if there are any extra charges incurred by using certain payment methods – such as a credit card.

Did You Check the Deposit Refund Policy?

Before your auto shipping company will collect your vehicle, they will almost always require a deposit from you. It’s important to understand that in some cases, these deposits are not refundable.

Cancellations can and do happen, so it’s recommended that you check with your chosen shipping company whether they offer a full refund on your deposit should you decide to cancel for any reason. After all, you may just find a better deal elsewhere!

Last Things to Consider

We already mentioned the importance of cleaning your car before pickup, reason being that it’s easier for both you and the carrier to evaluate the condition of your car if it’s not covered in dirt, dents, and debris.

The shipping company will take note of any scratches or dents your car has before it’s loaded, but always make sure you agree with their report because this will help your case if something gets damaged along the way. It’s not a bad idea to take pictures of your vehicle before and after it’s delivered as well.

There’s no immediate need to decide between using a broker or a carrier, but the sooner you do, the easier it will be to narrow down your options. Just remember that above all else, choosing a car transporter you can trust will ensure your vehicle arrives safe and as planned. A reliable car shipping company will inform you of all factors currently affecting the prices, but the less scrupulous ones may not take the time.

Between all the tips we covered, you’ll easily save a few hundred dollars when you’re ready to ship a car. We offer our own affordable car shipping services and we’re always happy to answer whatever questions you may have.

Check Out the Instant Cost Calculator…

The next thing you need to do is use our instant cost calculator to get a free quote, so you can get a more concrete estimate what your expenses will be.

Our instant cost calculator uses all the factors discussed in this article to generate a real-time shipping quote. The calculator doesn’t require you to input any personal details, only the information needed to give you a fast and accurate shipping quote. If you’re happy with the price, you can then go ahead and make your booking.

If you have any questions and would prefer to speak to someone first, feel free to give us a call on 224-218-2949 (toll-free) and you can talk to one of our knowledgeable experts who will be happy to help.