Have you ever seen one of those big semi-trucks hauling cars on the road, like in the image above? We’d bet that you have. If you answered yes, then you have seen vehicle transport in action! The fact of the matter is, car shipping is a common occurrence across the country every single day. Sure, you can always drive to your destination if you’re moving cross-country…but it’s also fairly easy to ship a car. This guide is all about how to do it, and what different factors determine the cost of shipping a vehicle. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
Use a Specialized Auto Transport Company to Ship a Car
First thing’s first. A vehicle is a specialized type of freight shipment, and unfortunately, you won’t be able to use any of the three major shipping carriers for your car shipment. Instead, you’ll need to work with a company that specializes in automobile transport. The good news is, these companies will do everything for you for a fee!
Some Car Shipping Companies
Looking for a place to start? Below is a list of a few auto transport companies that specialize in shipping vehicles. You can click on the links to visit their website and obtain a free quote for shipping your car.
- Ship a Car Direct
- Montway Auto Transport
- Car Ship Guys
- A-1 Auto Transport
- Auto Transport Depot
The Factors that Determine the Cost of Shipping a Car (Besides Distance)
It’s true that distance is the number one factor that affects the cost of shipping a vehicle. However, while most auto transport companies base their quotes on distance alone, a number of additional factors also affect transportation cost. We’ve listed some of these other variables below.
Open vs. Enclosed Shipping
Open shipping means a car is exposed to the elements during transit (such as the cars in this article’s featured image). Enclosed shipping is the more “luxurious” option, and therefore costs much more than open shipping. On average, choosing enclosed shipping for a vehicle will run you at least 40-50% more than it would for open shipping. This is because of limited space—enclosed transport carriers can only fit up to 6 vehicles, while open transport provides enough room for nine or ten. Open transport accounts for nearly 97% of all car shipments, but most auto transport companies will offer both options for customers to choose from.
Height, Length, and Weight of the Vehicle
As you might imagine, the size of the vehicle is another key determinant of how much shipping it costs. Freight transports have limited space, and they price that space at premium. The more space a car takes up, the more it’s going to cost to ship it, plain and simple.
On a similar note, auto carriers can also only carry up to a maximum weight. Therefore, lighter cars cost less to ship than heavier ones. Make sense?
The Type of Vehicle
Adding to the above point, the type of vehicle you’re transporting also plays a part in the total shipping cost. SUVs, vans, and trucks typically cost more than sedans and coupes, since they are bulkier (and mostly always weigh more).
Condition of the Vehicle
Vehicle condition also plays a role in determining the cost of transportation. If your car is working and running properly, auto transport companies won’t need to wrestle it on and off the carrier with a towing winch. That additional work doesn’t exactly make an automobile carrier’s job easy, so they’ll tack it onto your total bill and call it the “Non-Running Fee.”
Seasons and Regions
Lastly, the time of year and region in which the car is being shipped play a role in total cost. For example, shipping a car in the middle of winter in the Midwest is going to cost more than shipping a car during the spring in California. You can obviously imagine why that is; snow and cold weather are a car’s worst enemy!