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How far in advance should I book a car shipment to get the best price?

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Factors Affecting Car Shipment Pricing
  2. Benefits of Booking in Advance
  3. When to Book for Different Scenarios
  4. How to Get the Best Price Beyond Booking Timing
  5. Conclusion
How far in advance should I book a car shipment to get the best price?

When it comes to car shipping, timing can significantly impact your experience and expenses. Many wonder, "How far in advance should I book a car shipment to get the best price?" The answer to this question can help you save money and ensure a smooth auto transport process. This article aims to guide you through the optimal timing for booking your car shipment, considering various factors that affect car shipping costs. Whether you're relocating, buying a new vehicle from afar, or sending a car to a loved one, understanding the car shipping process and how timing influences pricing is crucial. By the end of this read, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision when choosing an auto transport company for your car shipping needs.

Booking your car shipment 2 to 4 weeks in advance is generally the sweet spot for securing the best price. This timeframe allows auto transport companies to efficiently plan their routes, ensuring they can offer competitive car shipping rates. However, it should be pointed out that the "best" timing can vary depending on several factors, including the season, specific requirements of your shipment, and the current demand for car shipping services.

Advance planning grants you access to a broader range of options and flexibility in scheduling, potentially lowering your car shipping costs. It's a balance between giving the auto transport company enough time to accommodate your request and not so far in advance that you're locked into rates that might not reflect closer-to-date deals. Engaging with a reputable auto transport company within this recommended timeframe can lead to substantial savings and a more tailored car shipping process to suit your needs.


Factors Affecting Car Shipment Pricing

Several key factors influence car shipping costs, making it essential to understand these before booking your auto transport.

  • Seasonality: The demand for car shipping services fluctuates throughout the year, with peak seasons typically in the summer and around major holidays when more people are moving or buying cars. During these times, car shipping rates may rise due to higher demand. Conversely, you might find lower prices during the off-peak seasons when demand wanes.
  • Distance and Location: The length of the journey and the pickup/delivery locations significantly affect pricing. Longer distances generally increase the price, but the cost per mile might decrease for extended routes. Additionally, shipments to and from rural or less accessible areas might incur higher costs due to the extra effort needed to deliver or pick up the vehicle.
  • Type of Transport: There are two main options for transporting your vehicle: open and enclosed transport. Open transport is more cost-effective and commonly used, but it exposes the car to the elements. Enclosed transport offers more protection for your vehicle, ideal for luxury or classic cars, but comes at a premium.
  • Vehicle Condition: The operational status of your car also plays a role. An inoperable vehicle requires special equipment and more effort to load and unload, leading to higher costs.
  • Fuel Prices: Fluctuating fuel prices can directly impact car shipping rates. As fuel costs increase, so do the expenses for the auto transport company, which may be passed on to the customer.

Understanding these factors can help you navigate the auto transport process more effectively, allowing you to make informed decisions that could lead to cost savings on your car shipment.

Benefits of Booking in Advance

Planning ahead when scheduling your auto shipping can yield numerous benefits, not least of which is the potential for cost savings. By determining how far in advance you should book, you position yourself advantageously within the market's fluctuating dynamics. Here’s why early planning is beneficial:

  • Cost Savings: Early birds often get better deals. Auto shipping companies appreciate the leeway that advance bookings provide for route and schedule optimization. This efficiency often translates into lower prices for consumers, especially compared to the higher prices seen with last-minute bookings.
  • Broader Carrier Options: When you plan ahead, you're not just saving money; you're also opening the door to a wider selection of shipping dates and services. This flexibility ensures that you can choose the best option for your needs without having to compromise due to heightened demand or limited availability.
  • Flexibility in Scheduling: Booking your shipment well in advance gives you the luxury of choosing the most convenient shipping dates. This is particularly useful during peak season when moving companies are swamped with requests. Early planning means you’re more likely to secure the dates that fit your schedule, avoiding the rush and the stress associated with it.
  • Reduced Stress: Knowing your vehicle is scheduled for pickup well before your actual need reduces last-minute scrambles to find an available carrier. This peace of mind is invaluable, especially when coordinating a move or other significant life changes.

Planning your auto shipping ahead of time not only potentially lowers the cost but also enhances your experience by providing greater choice and flexibility. It’s a simple strategy that can make a big difference in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your move.


When to Book for Different Scenarios

The ideal booking time can vary significantly depending on several key factors:

  • Peak Season vs. Off-Peak Season: During peak season, typically summer months and around major holidays, demand for auto shipping services spikes. This heightened demand can lead to higher prices and limited availability. To avoid this, consider booking at least a month in advance. Conversely, during the winter months or off-peak times, you might secure a spot with shorter notice due to lower demand.
  • Long-Distance vs. Short-Distance Shipments: For long-distance moves, planning ahead is even more critical. Booking 3-4 weeks in advance is advisable to ensure carriers have the necessary logistics in place. For shorter distances, the lead time can be slightly reduced, but advance planning still ensures the best rates and availability.
  • Special Vehicle Considerations: If you're shipping a classic, exotic, or specialty vehicle, extra care from moving companies might be required. This specialized service often necessitates advance booking to ensure the right precautions are taken, and the cheapest option may not always be the best for these types of vehicles.

Understanding these scenarios can help you determine the best time to book your auto shipping, ensuring a smooth process regardless of the circumstances.

How to Get the Best Price Beyond Booking Timing

Securing the best price for your auto shipping involves more than just planning ahead. Here are additional strategies to ensure you're getting a great deal:

  • Research and Compare Quotes: Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Instead, gather multiple quotes from different companies to compare prices and services. This comparison will help you understand the market rate and identify the most cost-effective option.
  • Negotiation Tips: Use the quotes you’ve gathered as leverage in negotiations. Some auto shipping companies might be willing to match or beat the prices of their competitors, especially if you’re booking in advance and they’re looking to fill their schedules.
  • Discounts and Special Offers: Always ask about any available discounts or special promotions. Many companies offer reduced rates for military personnel, returning customers, or multiple vehicles. These discounts can significantly lower your overall cost.
  • Insurance and Protection: While not directly related to lowering costs, ensuring your vehicle is adequately insured during transit is crucial. Opting for the cheapest option without considering the level of protection could end up costing more in the long run if any damage occurs.

By employing these strategies, you can ensure you're not only getting the best price for your auto shipping but also the best value. Advance planning, thorough research, and savvy negotiation can make a substantial difference in your auto shipping experience.



The key to securing the best price for your auto shipping lies in the timing of your booking, alongside a strategic approach to understanding and navigating the industry's dynamics. By booking 2 to 4 weeks in advance, especially considering peak and off-peak seasons, and incorporating the tips provided on comparing quotes, negotiating, and seeking discounts, you're well-equipped to make an informed decision. Remember, the goal is not just to save money but to ensure a smooth and stress-free auto transport process. Let this guide serve as your roadmap for a successful car shipment experience.

Looking for reliable and affordable car shipping? Choose A1 Auto Transport for a seamless experience. Get your free quote today and discover why we're the trusted choice for auto transport. Book now to ensure your vehicle is transported safely, on time, and within budget. Let's move your car the right way!

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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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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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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