Car Shipping Cost Explained by a Trucker

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Car Shipping Cost Explained by a Trucker
Car Shipping Cost Explained by a Trucker

If you're looking to gain thorough insight on how car shipping costs work, you've come to the right place. When seeking information on car shipping costs, it's a smart idea to source information from truckers who know the industry. A-1 Auto Transport employs truckers with years of experience—so we're enlisting their help with this article so we can include the most accurate and essential information for you to read. 

Throughout this article, we're going to be covering: 

  • The average cost to ship a car
  • Factors affecting shipping prices 
  • Car shipping methods 
  • Car delivery services 
  • Sourcing service quotes

—and more! 

Truckers understand that most people seeking information on car shipping costs are looking for an average price as a starting point. Let's unpack what average costs to ship a car are. 

What Is the Average Cost to Ship a Car?

While the average cost to ship a vehicle is based on several factors (more on that later), shipping a car domestically will cost between $500-$1,500 on average. If you're shipping a car internationally, you'll incur a higher cost. Since shipping a car can end up being a costly endeavor, our truckers thought it'd be best to talk about the types of discounts you may be eligible for. 

Is There Any Way to Receive a Discount When Shipping My Car? 

There are a number of discounts that you might be able to take advantage of when shipping your car. Part of your consulting process with an auto transport company should involve asking if you're eligible for any discounts. Let's examine some of the most common discounts offered by auto transport companies. 

Military discounts tend to be a standard discount offering from most auto transport companies. A-1 Auto Transport understands that members of the military are often subject to service relocation. Offering members of the U.S. armed forces an auto shipping discount is a way to make that relocation easier. 

Students moving make Late Summer and Early Fall some of the busiest times for auto transport companies. Whether a student needs their car shipped to a nearby state or across the country, A-1 Auto Transport has them covered. 

It's common for businesses to offer customers a discount for bulk orders. The same goes for a situation where a customer needs to ship a fleet of vehicles or a multi-car shipment. Two examples of someone who would need to ship a fleet of vehicles/multi-car shipments would include a rental car company or a person transporting vehicles to a car show. 

Senior discounts are standard in the auto shipping industry because aging adults often monitor their budgets carefully and live through fixed income. 

First-time customers and returning customers should ask an auto shipping service whether they qualify for a discount as it's natural for a vehicle shipping company to desire to attract new customers and retain their loyalty after a completed job. 

Discounts for early bird customers and first responders are relatively standard. An early-bird customer in the auto shipping industry is a customer that books a vehicle transport appointment within 48 hours of receiving a quote. Similar to military members, vehicle shipping companies will often acknowledge first responders' service by offering up a discount. 

Several specific factors influence how much you'll pay to have your car shipped. Some are easier to identify, while other factors might be more unknown among the public.  

What Factors Affect Shipping Prices 

The distance your vehicle is traveling, the size and condition it's in, how far in advance your schedule your appointment, and what shipping method/delivery service you select will be the main factors that influence your total car transport cost. 

The distance that your car travels from 'point A' to get to 'point B' greatly influences how much you will pay for shipping. Vehicle shipping companies often base part of their quotes on a "price per mile" basis. Long-distance routes will involve a customer paying less per mile but a higher price overall. When looking to cut costs on your vehicle's distance, try having your car shipped from a metro area to another metro area. Having your car delivered to or from a remote location will be more inconvenient for an auto transport company, and thus, more expensive. 

Your vehicle's size will either raise or lower the amount your pay for shipping as a shipping company moving a larger vehicle will have less room to ship other vehicles alongside yours. You might be wondering why the condition of your vehicle impacts how much you pay for shipping. Let's say your vehicle doesn't run. If you're shipping an inoperable vehicle, the transport company will have a more difficult time loading, unloading, and moving your vehicle, if necessary, during transit. 

Car Shipping Cost Explained By A Trucker

The further ahead you schedule your vehicle shipping appointment, the lower the price you pay. Scheduling at the last minute can inflate the price you pay due to a vehicle transport company's lack of availability. If you book at the last second and request to have the delivery expedited, expect to pay even more money. 

Each vehicle shipping method is priced differently. When selecting a way to ship your car, it's all about selecting a service that meets your needs and budget.  

What Different Types of Car Shipping Methods Are There? 

If you're shipping your vehicle through a land route, you can choose open carrier shipping, enclosed auto shipping, or air freight shipping. When shipping a vehicle overseas, sea freight or air freight shipping will be your two transport service options. Open carrier shipping is the least expensive option for ground travel, while sea freight shipping is cheaper than air freight shipping for overseas transport. The high cost of air freight shipping results in a customer base looking to ship high-value cars at an expedited rate. 

Open carrier shipping is less expensive than enclosed shipping since your vehicle will be exposed to outdoor elements during its transit route. While having your vehicle exposed to outdoor elements during transit does increase the probability of damage to your car occurring, truckers who ship vehicles are trained to secure and travel safely with your vehicle. There's a reason why open carrier shipping is the most popular method for vehicle transport as customers are consistently satisfied with the rates and service they receive. 

Selecting a vehicle delivery service is just as important as choosing a transit method. These two services may sound like two in the same, but there is a crucial difference. 

What Different Types of Car Delivery Services Are There? 

When setting up your auto transport appointment, you'll provide the company you're working through with a destination for the vehicle to travel to. We've covered how your car will cover the distance it needs to travel to get to its destination, but we haven't covered how your vehicle will make it to the address/delivery location you provide. Your vehicle will begin and finish its shipping journey through port-to-port or door-to-door delivery. Most people select door-to-door shipping as the service is more convenient than its less expensive counterpart of port-to-port delivery. 

Are you wondering what makes door-to-door shipping so convenient?

It's all in the name. Door-to-door shipping involves an auto transport company picking up your vehicle at your home and delivering as close as possible outside of the door of your destination's location. Port-to-port shipping consists of you delivering your vehicle to the port or land location it's departing from and picking up the vehicle once it arrives at the location the transport company gives you. You can experience different feelings of inconvenience during port-to-port shipping if your destination is in a more remote or inland area from the pickup point. 

Now that we've examined the fundamentals of how vehicle shipping costs are calculated let's take a look at the topic of how you can source quotes and find the best deal possible. 

How Do I Source Shipping Quotes?

It's important to apply a certain element of strategy toward your effort to find the best vehicle shipping quote. When an auto transport company sends you a quote, please keep in mind that this figure estimates the service's overall price. The broker you're working with will be able to give you the exact price of the service when the job is assigned to the driver that's covering the duty. Gathering multiple shipping quotes will be an essential first step to take in your mission to find the best quote from a reputable auto transport company. 

So, how do you know that a company is reputable? 

All reputable auto transport companies will include an insurance policy in your quote. Consulting with your personal insurance company to see if they'll assist with any damages that might occur during the vehicle's travels is a great way to keep your vehicle and wallet as safe as possible. If you have a handful of companies with reliable online reviews from accredited sources and all offer insurance, start comparing rates and fees. 

Many factors can raise or lower your cost for auto shipping. A-1 Auto Transport aims to make the process of shipping your vehicle as transparent and stress-free as possible so you can transport your vehicle where it needs to be. 


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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my 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.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to 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!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

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.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

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.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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

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
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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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