The Breakdown: Understanding the Cost of Car Shipping

June 6, 2023

When it comes to car shipping, several factors shape the cost. These include car size, shipping distance, and time of year.


Many variables influence the cost of car shipping. The size of the vehicle, the distance traveled, and the type of transport service affect the price. For example, a large SUV or van will cost more to ship than a small sedan. Also, door-to-door services are typically more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping options.

The number of vehicles being shipped also affects the overall costs. For instance, if you ship two cars simultaneously instead of one, you will pay less than if you only sent one. Additionally, extra services like additional insurance or expedited shipping can increase the costs of your car shipment.

The pickup and delivery locations impact how much it costs to ship a car. Rural drop-off points can be more costly because they require more mileage and fuel for the carrier to travel to and from these destinations. In contrast, urban pickup and delivery locations are cheaper to serve because they are more accessible for auto transport providers.

Finally, the season can influence your shipping cost because demand is higher during certain times of the year. For instance, summer is a busy time for car shipping because many people relocate to warmer climates at this time of year. Also, January is popular for people to move because of new jobs and retirement.


When it comes to car shipping, there are a few different options you can choose from. Although some of them are more expensive than others, each has a particular set of advantages.

One of the most common ways to ship your vehicle is by truck. This method is generally cheaper than air transportation, and it's also highly convenient. You should work with a reputable carrier with lots of experience, which provides transparent pricing models, and who has a stellar record for customer care if you want to be sure that your automobile is sent efficiently and safely.

Another option is to transport your vehicle by rail or boat. This method is usually reserved for international or offshore shipments. Still, it can be a good option for classic cars, luxury vehicles, and other exotic cars you want to keep in excellent condition.

Finally, you can choose to ship your car door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal. While door-to-door shipping is more convenient, it's often more expensive. The carrier must pay for extra fuel and bridge charges when driving through populated areas, and it's possible that unforeseen road conditions could delay your shipment. For this reason, many people choose to ship their vehicles via terminal-to-terminal if they can. This way, they save money while ensuring their car is delivered in the best possible condition.

Time of Year

If you can be flexible in timing, it is often cheaper to ship a car during the springtime or fall. These times are less busy for shipping companies and road drivers. During the summer, many people drive their vehicles to vacation locations, which can increase traffic on the roads and add more hassle for auto transport drivers. In winter, most snowbirds hire car shipping services to move their vehicles down south before the weather gets too cold and then back north when ready for warmer temperatures. It creates another massive volume of cars for carriers to haul and can push prices up significantly.

When planning your relocation, remember that shipping rates are typically higher on long-distance routes and when you choose door-to-door service instead of terminal-to-terminal drop-off. It is because more variables are involved, and you're paying for convenience and peace of mind rather than just the cost of getting your vehicle from one location to another.

It's also crucial to consider the kind of company you're dealing with. Two main types of companies offer car shipping services: brokers and carriers. Brokers are larger organizations that work with multiple car carriers — the guys who physically haul your vehicle — to provide their customers with more options. Carriers are usually smaller businesses that work directly with their clients to transport their cars.

Condition of Vehicle

The quality of customer service and the reputation of the automobile shipping firm are two of the most crucial factors to consider. Legitimate companies will be quick to respond and should have multiple contact methods. Additionally, a reliable company will have plenty of reviews and ratings from past clients that you can look at online. These will give you an idea of what to expect regarding quality and cost.

Your vehicle's condition is also a significant factor in the shipping price. Inoperable vehicles and larger cars cost more to ship because they require more space on carrier trucks. Additionally, the type of pickup and drop-off locations you choose affects your cost. Terminal-to-terminal shipping is typically cheaper than door-to-door because it eliminates the need to travel between specific addresses.

Finally, it is crucial to prepare your vehicle for transport. Wash your car before handing it over to a carrier, and remove all valuables from the interior. It will help you notice any preexisting damage that you may need to report to the airline and ensure that your car is in good working order for its arrival. It is also a good idea to conduct a delivery inspection with the driver present so that you can log any new damage and confirm that the bill of lading matches the condition of your vehicle at pickup.


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