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“A1 Auto Transport became synonymous with top-notch service delivery, unfailing punctuality and constantly preoccupied with customer satisfaction.

See Article— USA Today

Are Car Shipping Costs Fixed?

Published by Tamar Hela.

Are Car Shipping Costs Fixed?

Understanding the mechanics behind car transportation fees is essential for anyone looking to move a vehicle without breaking the bank. Literally every little detail counts when it comes to shipping your car, so it’s important to understand what you need to look for.

As we dive into the intricacies of car shipping costs, we'll break down how these factors come together to form the quotes you receive. From using online calculators to picking the right season, our aim is to demystify the process and (hopefully) save you some money – and time. Let’s go.


Factors Affecting Car Shipping Costs

Contrary to popular belief, car shipping costs are not fixed and can fluctuate for numerous reasons. The price to ship your car is influenced by a variety of factors, making it a variable cost. Here are some factors to understand?


Distance, the type of vehicle, size and weight, its condition, the chosen shipping service, the time of year, and the pickup and delivery locations are all key elements that impact the cost.

The Season

Seasonal shifts also play a crucial role in the pricing landscape, with certain times of the year, like summer months or winter seasons in warmer states, witnessing a hike in shipping costs.

The Weight

Larger and heavier vehicles like trucks and SUVs generally cost more to transport than smaller sedans due to their larger footprint on the carrier.

Other Factors

A shipping company will take all these aspects into account when providing a shipping quote. Moreover, the current state of market conditions, which includes fuel costs, has a direct impact on the shipping rate. There are a variety of shipping methods to consider, such as Enclosed Transport for high-value vehicles or open trailers for standard transport, each with its own associated costs. Furthermore, a vehicle's operability determines the ease with which it can be loaded onto a carrier, contributing to the overall expense.

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Shipping Distance

The distance your vehicle travels is a central factor in determining the shipping costs. Longer journeys usually have a lower cost per mile but can accumulate to a more substantial total price. A car transported across the country might have a better rate per mile compared to a short-distance trip, but the overall price will be significantly higher due to the extended mileage.

Shipping services often base their prices on typical costs per mile, which on average can range from $0.50 to $2.00. The most direct routes yield cost-effectiveness, because they typically involve fewer stops and detours, thus reducing the transportation costs for the shipping company.

Vehicle Size and Weight

The dimensions and mass of your vehicle are directly proportional to the shipping costs. It's an essential factor as larger and heavier cars like full-size trucks or larger vehicles consume more space and weight on the transport carrier, which can increase the average vehicle shipping rates.

For instance, transporting a heavier vehicle like an SUV could fall between an estimated $800 to $2,000 range, depending on distance, while lighter and more compact vehicles might be in the bracket of $500 to $1,000.

These variations in weight also impact fuel consumption for the transport, with light trucks—vehicles over 6,000 pounds—costing more due to their weight. Specialized equipment or accommodations needed for larger or heavier cars can also tack on extra fees, with heavy-duty trucks potentially incurring about $400 more in shipping costs compared to their smaller counterparts.


Vehicle Type and Condition

A vehicle's make, model, size, weight, and even its condition influence car shipping expenses. Luxury vehicles, sports cars, and those that have been modified often require extra care and handling, which can drive up the cost. Features such as modified suspensions, larger dimensions, or aftermarket accessories necessitate special adjustments during transportation.

Furthermore, inoperable vehicles require additional resources to load and unload from a carrier, which may result in an additional charge. The curb weight, which varies depending on vehicle type (SUVs, pickup trucks, sedans, etc.), is a fundamental factor for carriers to calculate shipping rates due to the restrictions on weight for different axles on their trailers.

Shipping Method

When considering how to ship your car, you have the option between open and enclosed auto transport. Open transport is the most popular and cost-effective method. It involves your vehicle being loaded with numerous other cars on an open trailer.

On the other hand, enclosed transport provides additional protection against the elements but comes with a higher price tag. This method is often chosen for high-end, luxury, or classic cars that require an extra layer of security during transit.

The choice of shipping method depends on your budget, your car's value, and how much protection you want for your vehicle while it is being transported.

Market Conditions

Car shipping rates are also influenced by changing market conditions. For instance, during the winter months, rates to sunbelt states like Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas can skyrocket due to "snow birds" migrating south. Additionally, the start of the year, particularly February to March, represents a lull in the industry after the holiday rush, potentially leading to lower costs.

Inclement weather conditions such as snowstorms and hurricanes can also affect shipping prices due to the caution required by drivers on treacherous roads. Planning a shipment during off-peak seasons or taking advantage of various discounts offered by shipping companies (for seniors, military personnel, students, etc.) can help mitigate costs.


How Are Car Shipping Costs Calculated?

Car shipping costs are calculated by considering a multitude of variables, as mentioned previously. Distance plays a fundamental role as longer journeys tend to have a lower cost per mile, but a higher total cost due to the accumulated miles. For instance, shipping a car a few hundred miles could cost roughly $500, whereas a cross-country move can exceed $1,700.

Seasonality swings and demand significantly affect the pricing. And, lastly, market conditions encapsulate an overarching influence on shipping costs. These include economic trends, fuel cost fluctuations, carrier availability, and industry competition.

Using a Shipping Cost Calculator

A shipping cost calculator is a valuable online tool that provides a quick estimate of the transportation costs for a vehicle. By entering information such as vehicle make and model, pickup, and delivery locations, the calculator can provide you a ballpark figure for your shipping needs.

The results generated by an auto shipping rates calculator consider factors such as location, vehicle specifics, and the chosen type of transportation. It's important to note, however, that the calculated quote is indicative and not binding.

Shipping During Off-Peak Seasons

Shipping a car during less busy times of the year, like winter or early spring, can offer significant cost savings. Auto transport companies have less demand during these periods and are more likely to offer reduced rates and promotions.

By scheduling car shipments in advance during these low-demand times, customers can not only secure better pricing but also avoid the price hikes typically seen during peak shipping seasons. Overall, taking advantage of off-peak shipping can lead to substantial transportation cost reductions.


So, Are Car Shipping Costs Fixed or Not?

As you’ve just learned, car shipping costs are not fixed. They fluctuate based on a variety of significant elements. Each shipping service takes into account factors such as the distance the car needs to be transported, the desired delivery speed, the pickup and the delivery locations, and the type of transport, whether it's an open carrier or Enclosed Transport. Additionally, the vehicle's type, size, and condition—especially for heavier or larger vehicles and inoperable ones—can alter the final shipping rate.

Market demand also plays a pivotal role. And, fuel prices, which can be volatile, directly impact the shipping industry and, subsequently, auto transport service fees.

Looking to get the best price when it comes to shipping your vehicle? For peace of mind and efficiency, using a reputable auto transport service like A-1 Auto Transport is your best bet for your car shipping needs.

For more than two decades, we've helped thousands of customers safely transport their cars across the country (and beyond) without incident. Our team handles every shipment with extreme care and diligence from start to finish, where you'll receive real-time updates and have complete visibility during your car’s journey.

When you’re ready to transport your car, let A1 Auto Transport handle your shipping needs. You won't find better service, coverage, or peace of mind anywhere else. With us, your car is in safe hands – and your wallet will thank you.

Get a free quote by calling us or visiting us online.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
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A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

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Cristine Benoit
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There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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