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Any auto shipping company that gives you a flat-rate quote over the phone is doing you a dis-service, plain and simple. There are just too many factors that can influence the overall cost of shipping an automobile for there to be any accuracy in a one-size-fits-all quote. What is possible is a base quote per mile, i.e. a generic expression of cost on a particular type of transport, but this doesn’t take into account any situational factors that could drive the cost up or down.

If you’re thinking of having your auto shipped somewhere, you would be well-advised to consider some of the things that can add or subtract from what you might expect to pay. Be prepared to convey all the details of your specific case to your shipper, so you can get the most accurate quote possible. No one wants to pay extra costs related to expenses that were not originally identified.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things that can affect those rates, so you don’t have any nasty surprises for your shipping project:


This is especially important when the weather makes driving difficult. For instance, if you live in the northeast and you’re looking to ship sometime between November and March, there’s a pretty good likelihood of winter weather causing complications. Even if there is no actual bad weather at shipping time, rates are likely to be higher during this period because fewer transports even risk making trips into wintry locations.


Where are you located in the country? Remember that a transport vehicle will have to make the trip to wherever you are to pick up your vehicle, and if you happen to live somewhere that’s difficult or impossible for a transport to get to, special considerations come into play. If a transport truck simply cannot reach the mountain top you live on, you may have to drive the vehicle to a lower elevation for pickup at an agreed-upon point. Difficult locations like a relatively remote area with meager road access will add time to the pickup and drive up costs.

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Speaking of road access, this also plays a significant role in the overall cost of a shipping project. Not only is the pickup point important here, but the kind of highway routes leading to the drop-off point also matter a great deal. Ideally, a transport vehicle would be able to drive most of the distance between these two points on multiple-lane interstate highways. This kind of scenario could actually reduce your cost because it makes travel easy for a transport.


The size and weight of the car being shipped matter a great deal because of the space they take up on a transport, and because of the overall allowable weight, a transport can accommodate. You can expect a larger, heavier car to cost more to move than a smaller, more compact car.


If you can provide a relatively broad window of time to a shipper, it will be much easier to match your request to a convenient pickup time for a transport that is scheduled to be in your area. On the other hand, if you are really pressed for time and can only give a few days’ notice, this is more likely to cause a shipper to specially schedule a transport to handle your request, and of course, this will result in higher cost to you.


The kind of transport your vehicle is shipped on is another factor that has a pretty big impact on the cost to you. If your vehicle is shipped on an open, unprotected transport this will cost significantly less than if you require shipping on a covered, fully enclosed mode of transportation.


The cost of gas is an expense to the shipper, so you can expect that any destination involving high mileage is going to require a great deal of fuel, which will become part of the car shipping costs per mile. Check out this link from for current fuel costs


So – what can you expect to pay for an automobile shipping rate per mile? A generic rule-of-thumb kind of calculation would start like this:

(Mileage) x (Cost for size of car) + Shipper Fee = Base Cost

Keep in mind that the resulting base cost will almost certainly be driven higher or lower when some of the factors discussed above are added in. To find out just which ones apply to your customized scenario, it’s best to have this information in hand when you are negotiating with a shipper to have your car transported.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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