The Different Factors That Affect Car Hauling Rates

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The Different Factors That Affect Car Hauling Rates
The Different Factors That Affect Car Hauling Rates

A major concern when shipping cars is the cost. Car hauling rates depend on different factors. Understanding these factors will help you cut the shipping costs. It will also help you select the most cost effective hauling company.

Factors Affecting Hauling Rates


Most companies charge car hauling rates on the mileage traveled. This is because the shipping trailer will use more fuel and more hours on transit to a longer distance. Hence, the further your destination, the more the hauling costs. For instance, shipping a car from Chicago would cost more to California than to Alabama. You can check some of the estimations here.


Although the shipping distance may be shorter, transporting to a remote location might cost you more. Generally, major cities have wider roads and have more people who ship cars. Maneuvering within these towns is easier for trailers. More so, the drivers can deliver more cars than within smaller towns. On the other hand, delivering to remote areas requires that a driver branch from the main route. Therefore, the transporting company is able to spread shipping costs and charge lower prices.

Type of car

Different cars have different sizes and weights. A large car takes up more space and may require special arrangements for transit. As such, it is more expensive to ship a large than a small car. For example, shipping a bus is pricier than shipping a two door car. A heavy car also means that the truck will take fewer cars on transit. The additional weight will cost you more. For instance, shipping a 3,208 pounds BMW costs more than a 2,888 pounds Toyota Matrix.

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Auto transporters charge higher costs in summer than in winter. Generally, there are more people shipping vehicles in summer than in winter. The high demand drives the car hauling rates up. In addition, it is riskier to transport cars during winter than in summer. However, some routes have higher shipping rates during winter. For example, the southern routes are more expensive in winter as the traffic is high as snowbirds are moving south.

Shipping option

Basically, there are four shipping options used by transport companies. The method you choose will determine the car hauling rates.

  • Open air transport: the cars are transported in an open truck. These trailers may have more than one deck to accommodate as many cars as possible. Due to the higher number of cars shipped by the open air method, the costs tend to be lower. However, your car will be exposed to elements, car leaks, and weather conditions.
  • Enclosed transport: the cars are moved in an enclosed container. These trailers might have additional conditions to suit luxurious vehicles. This method does not allow as many cars (usually up to 7) as the open air service. For this reason, the costs tend to be higher. In addition, the drivers for the enclosed trailers are more trained to handle the high-end vehicles. As such, the shipper incurs more costs. Customers prefer this method as their cars are protected from the public eye, the wind, the snow, road debris, and the sun.
  • Terminal to terminal service: you may arrange to take your car to a terminal for pickup. Upon delivery, you may also choose to collect it at a terminal. This method is cheaper as you are the one moving the car. If you are in a remote location, this service would be the best for you.
  • Door to door service: this is a convenient method where your vehicle is picked and delivered at your preferred location. This could be your resident. Since the driver will move from place to place, the hauling rate will be higher than for a terminal to terminal option. Remember that you must reside in a major city where streets are wide to utilize this service.

Number of cars

Some clients ship a fleet of cars. This will give an auto transporter an easier job picking or delivering the cars. As such, the transporter may give them favorable prices. However, this is up for the transporter to determine.

Depending on your budget, you can choose the cheapest method. For example, you can opt to transport your car in winter using the open air method and pick it from the terminal.

You can use these factors to estimate the hauling cost for your vehicle. However, it would be tedious and far from the actual estimate. The best way to get an accurate quote is by the online quote calculator.

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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