Here’s a quick overview of the factors that play a role in our car shipping rates.

You’re a savvy shopper, which means you want to know what to expect to pay to transport your vehicle. The cost break down varies from customer to customer, however, the following should give you an idea.
It is always a good idea to get three or more quotes from different car shipping companies before deciding on the one for you. This will give you an idea of the range of prices you can reasonably expect to pay in the end.
Note: Be wary of quotes that are considerably lower than the other quotes. It is likely the car shipping company only wants to lock you down to a quote and promise more than they can deliver.
The cost break down varies from customer to customer, however, the following should give you an idea.

Distance of the Transport

Obviously, the further the vehicle must go, the more it will cost. However, the per mile rate decreases, so you’re not overwhelmed with unbearable car shipping rates.

The decrease is due to the cost per mile is only one part of the equation. Carriers expend the same effort loading and unloading a vehicle for a short trip as with a longer one. The overall costs will be less for a shorter trip, of course, but the cost per mile will be higher.

You also have to worry about fuel – when this increases, so does the rates charged by the driver. Then if there are any tolls along the way, this will apply to the quote as well.

Population of the Destination

There’s a big difference between transporting a vehicle to New York City and Maysville, Kentucky. One is a major city and the other is a small town. Larger cities are easier for large trucks to travel through compared to rural towns.

Large cities always have several entry points with wide, well-constructed roads leading to and from them. They also have a larger population, so more people likely to need transport services.

As a result, it is a better market for car shipping companies, and more carriers are likely to service larger cities and towns than you will find in rural areas with a smaller population. This means it will be easier to find a carrier that can accommodate your schedule.

Additionally, with more truckers and carriers competing for the same slice of the pie, car shipping rates are going to drop. This is good news if your pick-up and/or drop-off points are n highly populated areas.

If truckers have to stray away from popular roads, then this will increase your rate.

A workaround to this would be to arrange with the carrier for a pickup and/or drop off point somewhere along the nearest major highway, such as a gasoline station. The only drawback to this is you have to coordinate closely with the carrier. You will need to know when to bring or pick your vehicle at these points. However, the cost savings might be worth the trouble.

The Time of Year

As with any business, there are slow seasons and high volume seasons. The time of year will determine whether you pay more or less.

Plus, the weather will also be an important factor. For instance, traveling through snow will require a higher price to be paid. Snow birds can expect to pay more during this season when a lot of people are transporting vehicles to the warmer states.

In other words, the weather and route will determine the overall costs of shipping your vehicle. Spring (March to May) is the best time to ship your vehicle if you are sending it South, and fall (October to December) if you are sending it North.  You should also avoid booking for car shipping around major holidays such as the 4th of July and Christmas, as drivers are less likely to be available.

If you must transport your vehicle around peak seasons, try to leave your schedule flexible. You will be able to get lower rates if you do not absolutely need your vehicle in a certain place by a certain date.


Carriers often have to wait for close several bookings heading in the same direction before they can schedule a shipment. Doing this cut costs for the carrier, and translates to lower rates for clients.

This is to your benefit if you have a flexible schedule. After you book the shipment, carrier will give you a call on when you should drop off and pick up your vehicle. You might have to wait for a few days up to a few weeks.

However, if you have a tight schedule for the delivery of your vehicle, you will have to pay a premium for Expedited Auto Transport. This will put you ahead of the line, and gives you at least a guaranteed period for the pick-up and drop-off dates. The premium may be as much as 30% more than regular scheduling.

If you do book Expedited Auto Transport, make sure you have a guarantee in writing for a reimbursement if the carrier fails to get your vehicle to its destination in the time period specified. Aim at least for a reimbursement of the premium you paid for the service.

Mode of Pick-up and Delivery

You have two options when it comes to the mode of pick-up and delivery: terminal-to-terminal; and door-to-door. Terminal-to-terminal mode means you have to bring your vehicle to a designated area for pick-up by the carrier, and retrieve it from another designated area when it gets there. This is convenient for the carrier, and more affordable for you.

Door-to-door mode means the carrier will pick up the vehicle at your residence or anywhere you designate, and deliver the vehicle to wherever you want. This is convenient for you, but you do have to pay for the service.

In most cases, terminal-to-terminal mode is more practical. However, if you do not have the time to go to the designated pick-up and drop-off points, or your vehicle is inoperable, door-to-door services are definitely desirable.

Condition of the Vehicle

The price increases for vehicles that are inoperable. This includes cars that are unable to start, but can still brake, steer and roll. Special tools, such as a winch, are needed in order to load these vehicles.

Aside from the special equipment, it takes a lot more effort and time for the carrier to get an inoperable vehicle on to the transport. The driver might try to jump-start the vehicle. If this is not possible, the driver will have to maneuver it on the truck as well as off it somehow.

If the driver is transporting more than one vehicle, it might be necessary to do this several times. For this, you can expect to pay a surcharge of around $150 for the additional service. It should not be much more than that. To check if the car shipping company is overcharging for this, ask for a quote for a vehicle in running condition.

Make & Model of the Vehicle

It’s required under USDOT rules for truckers to account for any space loss due to larger vehicles. There’s only a limited amount of space and a weight limit per load. For vehicles that are large and heavy, the price is higher.

Carriers will try to load as many vehicles as they can in a transport truck to cut costs. Shipping heavier and/or longer vehicles means the carrier will be able to transport fewer vehicles because of the additional weight and/or space required. If you are shipping anything and/or longer than a sedan, the carrier will charge you a higher rate to offset lost income.

Additionally, vehicles with spoilers, roof racks, and other modifications that will add to the space required to ship them might also add to your cost. Remove whatever you can to keep your costs as low as possible.

Type of Transport

You have two options – open or enclosed transport. The cheaper option is the open trailer. You can pay as much as 35% more than the average car shipping rates for an open  trailer. However, if your vehicle is worth over $50K, then it’s recommended you use an enclosed trailer.

Open transport vehicles are usually open trailers with two levels, and long enough to accommodate up to 10 vehicles. Enclosed transport, on the other hand, is usually a closed trailer with just one level. It only has a capacity of up to six vehicles for the larger ones. In most cases, a carrier will schedule transport for half of that number for short trips, but maximize capacity for long haul ones.

Because enclosed transport has a lower capacity while having the same costs in time, labor, and gasoline as open transport, the rate per car for enclosed transport will be considerably higher.  The premium can be as high as 35%, depending on the size and weight of the vehicle.

The protection afforded by enclosed transport is not usually necessary for most vehicles, as exposure to the elements is normal in the general run of things. However, if your vehicle is brand new or high value such as a classic or an exotic car, you might want to shell out the extra cost for enclosed transport.

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