Shipping a car anywhere in the country or even beyond the border isn’t something you think about any given day. Until the day when you actually need to do it, which is when you usually turn to the internet to find out exactly how to make that happen.
Opting for a good company is certainly the right place to start, though there are a few confusing terms that you may come across.
Example: "guaranteed car shipping rate." What exactly does that mean?
What are guaranteed car shipping rates?
The notion of guaranteed car shipping prices or any other terms that convey something similar is essentially a company’s promise that the rates they tell you about on a web page or any other promotional place is the actual amount you’ll be charged for your shipment.
But, the term itself can be very misleading, and for a lot of different reasons.
For one thing, in a lot of cases, companies may boast about having the smallest rates on their flyers or ads, but when you actually hire them and get the bill, you notice that what you thought you should pay is nowhere near what they’re asking for. This is caused by a lot of hidden fees that the company may not tell you upfront, mostly because it would completely ruin their "smallest rate around" claim.
Unfortunately, hidden fees can even be added on top of a change in rate. Some moving companies will use this term to make a promise they essentially cannot keep.
Why a Shipping Rate Can’t Be Always "Guaranteed"
A vehicle shipping rate is usually set at $X / mile, but you can have different rates depending on the type of shipment you have:
These differences in rates have to account for the extra complexities certain shipments have. For example, shipping a small vehicle from one city to another in the same state will have a much lower rate than, say shipping that same car internationally. The company itself has additional logistical issues to worry about when shipping overseas, so the rate increases.
Sometimes, "price" and "rate" can mean completely different things to certain companies or can mean different things for some of them who are trying to only create an image of offering the best price.
As previously stated, the rate of shipment usually looks like "$X / mile," and the more miles the car needs to move, the higher the bill. The rate itself may also change, but if you talk to the moving company about your specific needs, they should be able to give you an accurate rate.
Then, based on that rate, the company can give you an estimate, by multiplying that rate by the number of miles the vehicle has to travel. Now here’s where it gets tricky: some companies may guarantee or imply that the estimate they just gave you is also the final amount you get to pay.
But anyone in the auto industry knows that cannot actually happen - the prices in this industry can even change drastically from one day to the next, and promising a client they will only have to pay X dollars is unrealistic. This can create the unfortunate scenario of having to explain to a confused client why their bill is different than their estimate, or even situations where the client cannot pay for the full bill because they were not prepared.
Usually, companies will try to sit down and explain exactly what goes into your final shipping bill, as opposed to guaranteeing a price. This way, the client knows what they’re paying for, and can also be prepared in the event that the bill is higher than the estimate.
So, What Goes into the Vehicle Shipping Price?
For A-1 Auto Transport, for instance, the rate to ship a vehicle is usually somewhere between 50 cents and one dollar per mile, but that depends on what kind of services you choose and any special criteria.
In general, here are some of the main things that can affect how much you pay for shipping your car:
1. The Vehicle Itself
The type of vehicle, specifically its weight and size, will say a lot about how much you end up paying. It generally costs less to transport a motorcycle or a regular car than it is to ship a van or an RV.
This is because you need different types of trucks to transport bigger vehicles, and smaller ones can be transported in bulk to save up money.
2. The Delivery Method
Generally, you have two vehicle shipping options: open and enclosed. With open-air carriers, companies can transport multiple vehicles at once, which usually translates into a lower price point for you.
For enclosed carriers, you only have one vehicle completely enclosed and secured in a truck. This is usually a more expensive way to transport a vehicle and is mostly reserved with very expensive cars (such as classic cars or collectibles) that you wouldn’t want to be exposed to the elements.
Of course, open carriers don't mean your car isn't safe, as it will be properly secured to make sure everything stays in place until it reaches its destination. It’s just that some vehicles may need to be kept away from the elements during transport.
3. The Shipping Route
Shipping on major transport routes is cheaper than, say, if you want your vehicle to travel between suburbs or smaller cities, as they take up more of the driver’s time. One way around it is to arrange for pick-up and dropoff of the vehicle to the company terminal.
4. The Time of the Year
It’s more expensive to transport cars during peak months, like in the summer when you’re more likely to move, ergo the demand gets much higher than the supply. This is a surprising price factor for many clients, and most probably wouldn’t even know it unless they check out a company’s moving prices well in advance and spot the differences.
Most companies will offer much better rates in the off-seasons, so if you want to save a few bucks you can consider moving your dates if possible.
5. Delivery Time
Lastly, if you need your vehicle to arrive at your destination fast, then you can expect to pay more for this service. Most of the time, moving companies offer flexible pick-up and drop-off dates because they will wait for a truck to fully load before they send it on its way.
Speedy delivery is also possible, but you will have to pay extra for it. So if you can be flexible with when to drop off or pick up your car, you should consider this option to save more money on your shipment.
We Are Here to Help
The cost of moving your car greatly depends on all different sorts of things, and this is exactly why we always take the time to fully discuss with our clients about their needs.
Thanks to our over 3 decades of experience, we know the most important guarantee a car shipping company has to make is quality; with us, your vehicle is in good hands and will arrive safely at its intended destination.
If you have any questions about our services or want a price estimation, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help in any way that we can, and offer full transparency. With us, you always know what you pay for!
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.
Email me - firstname.lastname@example.org