You’ve probably encountered this scenario:
You need to ship a truck. You do not have a large budget, and you need to find the cheapest way to ship it.
Beyond knowing about these options, you do not know much about shipping or logistics. You want to learn more about how trucks are shipped using these different methods so that you can make the most informed decision and arrive at the cheapest option possible.
That’s where we step in
We’re an auto logistics company and we’ve helped thousands of people safely ship their trucks across the world. Take a deep breathe, because this guide is designed with you in mind.
Finding the cheapest way to ship a truck isn’t hard if you are armed with the right knowledge.
Find a Good Automobile Shipping Company
There are many ways to lower your shipping rate on a truck. Finding the cheapest way will depend on many factors.
We get it, your budget is limited but your truck still needs to be transported. Looking at all the automobile shipping companies online, it can be tough to research different shipping rates and methodologies.
Practically every second blog post you read is an advertisement with a random fact thrown in for “accuracy.” Not here. Here, we will explain to you how you can lower your shipping rates.
Instead, we want to provide you with useful information that will help you get the cheapest price without sacrificing quality.
Here’s what we recommend you do
Shop Around for Quotes
It is a simple mathematical fact that the more companies you call up, the better quotes you will receive. The reality is that the auto shipping industry is nothing more than a number’s game. If you receive a quote to ship a truck for $1000 USD, another company may provide the same service for $900 USD or even $850 USD.
It really pays to shop around. Certain companies will even match the prices of their competitors. The entire industry is super competitive and most auto shipping companies want your business, so long as they can turn a reasonable profit in the process.
Consider Multiple Shipping Options
Different shipping options have different rates. You generally have the option to ship a truck by land, by air, and by sea. Within each of these transportation options, you have various methods of travel open to you. Each method of shipping your truck will differ in price.
If you are shipping your vehicle within North America, you should probably ship your truck by land using either open or enclosed transport methods.
Shipping your truck by sea is another common option for international shipments. Large container ships have a lot of space and shipping your truck overseas is more affordable than you think.
We usually do not recommend that you ship your vehicle by air unless you need it to arrive very quickly, or your vehicle is extremely valuable. This option is expensive and not budget-friendly.
Shipping a Truck by Land
The cheapest option is using open air transport when shipping your vehicle by land. While trucks can be transported this way, your truck will need to be within the normal dimensions of a vehicle. Small and medium-sized trucks will be fine, but you may have to pay more to ship a larger truck this way.
Think about it like this
Any truck that requires special accommodations will cost more to ship. The simpler your vehicle is to ship, the cheaper it will be to do so.
If you do not like open air transport, or your vehicle is too big for it, you can also choose trailer shipping. Your truck will be loaded into a trailer and driven on a flatbed truck to its destination. This is not as cheap as open-air transport though, so if you want a lower rate, you should use that option.
Flatbed shipping is a popular option for heavy equipment and larger vehicles that don’t fit on traditional open-air loads.
Another option is disassembling your truck and shipping it in components. This is often unnecessary for overland travel though, as even very large trucks like ambulances and firetrucks can be shipped in one piece.
But, it is an option in certain situations, especially if you are shipping a vehicle with uncommon dimensions, or if a specific country has regulations demanding that a vehicle be disassembled.
Shipping a Truck by Air
When shipping a truck by air, your options are limited. Your truck will be loaded into a cargo plane and then flown to another airport or landing strip. While using a plane is a very quick way to transport a truck internationally, it is also very expensive.
Your truck will be either driven into the cargo hold of a cargo plane, secured in a container beforehand, or disassembled. Unless you absolutely have to ship a truck by air, there really is no cheap option to explore here.
Planes are simply more expensive to ship things in than ships or vehicles.
What planes do offer is a quick way to ship a truck. If you need to ship a truck to Europe, for example, and you need that truck in Europe within a few days, planes are the best option because they are the only option.
To recap, if cost is a factor, and your car is not some super luxurious, ultra-rare truck that needs to be in Europe in 15 hours, there is no need to rent a plane. Stick to overland or overseas travel.
Shipping a Truck by Sea
When shipping a truck by sea, you have three main options: “roll-on, roll-off” shipping, shared container shipping, and exclusive container shipping. If cost is a factor, shipping a truck by sea is generally more expensive than shipping a truck by land, and generally less expensive than shipping a truck by air.
But sometimes it is the only sensible option
After all, you cannot ship your truck by land if it has to cross the ocean. Makes sense, right?
Here’s what you can do
“Roll-on, roll-off” shipping is where your truck will be driven into the cargo hold of a ship, secured, and then shipped to another port. Shared container shipping is where your truck will be shipped in a container with other trucks. Exclusive container shipping is just like shared container shipping, except your truck will be the only vehicle in that container.
If your car is operational, the cheapest method to use is “roll on, roll off” shipping. If your car is non-operational, the cheapest method to use is shared container shipping.
The Bottom Line
We have outlined five different factors that you can use to lower your rate. While controllable tactics like these are great to learn, there are some uncontrollable factors that are out of your hands. Factors like luck, the price of gas, the backlog of shipping jobs, the number of workers employed by the shipping company, the state you are located in, and more can also affect your shipping rates.
This is what we recommend
When searching for the cheapest rate to ship a truck, do not be concerned about getting the absolute cheapest rate.
Instead, it is far more worthwhile to choose a budget range that you are comfortable with beforehand, and attempt to arrive at a rate that is within that range. That way, no matter what, you will always be satisfied with the rate.
A-1 Auto Transport has been helping people find the cheapest way to ship their trucks for years. A lot of people feel anxious with the shipping process. We want to put an end to that and we are doing that by making it as stress free as possible.
If you want your truck shipped right, at a competitive price, give A-1 a call today. We aren’t interested in wasting your time, we just want to get your truck shipped at a good price and delivered on time.
Written By:Joe Webster
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.