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Recently featured on USA Today

“A1 Auto Transport became synonymous with top-notch service delivery, unfailing punctuality and constantly preoccupied with customer satisfaction.

See Article— USA Today

What Is the Most Expensive Part of Car Shipping?

Published by Tamar Hela.

What Is the Most Expensive Part of Car Shipping?

Car shipping prices change – a lot. And it has lots of people confused. But understanding the puzzle pieces is crucial for budgeting this significant expense.

In this article, we’ll look at what the most expensive part of car shipping is, what to look for, and how to plan so you don’t face sticker shock when shipping your car. Let’s dive in.

Factors Affecting Car Shipping Costs

When you get into the nitty gritty details of auto transport, one question rises above all the others: what drives the price up? Surprisingly, it's not just about the shipping company’s margins. The most expensive element in the equation of car shipping is tied to a few fluctuating and vital factors. Let’s take a closer look.

Vehicle Type and Size

The make and model of your vehicle play a critical role in determining its shipping costs. Not all cars are created equally, especially when it comes to their transportation needs. Larger and heavier vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks demand more space and fuel for shipment than their compact counterparts.

For instance, shipping a hefty Ford F-150 from Los Angeles to New York City might set you back around $1,400, while a smaller sedan could decrease your final price by about $400, costing around $1,000 for the same distance.

Additional weight not only affects fuel efficiency but also the number of vehicles a transport carrier can haul at once, making it an expensive variable in the auto transport equation.


Distance and Delivery Locations

Distance is not just a number—it's a pricing dynamic in vehicle shipping. Generally, the longer the shipping distance, the lower the cost per mile, as the logistical efforts are spread out over a greater number of miles. However, the total price will, of course, be higher for further distances.

Urban centers typically yield more competitive rates due to the density of shipping opportunities, which allows for optimized route planning and carrier resource utilization.

Contrastingly, remote or rural locations may incur extra fees, reflecting the additional time and effort needed to reach them. Seasonal factors such as holiday traffic or inclement weather can also sway the shipping rates, impacting the planning and timing of vehicle transportation.

Transport Carrier Type

Shipping your precious automobile means choosing between open and enclosed transport—each with its price tag and level of protection. The majority of shipping is conducted on open carriers, which are more economically priced and adequate for most vehicles.

However, for high-value vehicles like classic cars or supercars, enclosed transport offers a secure environment, safe from weather and road debris, albeit at a premium that can reach up to 50% more than open carriers.

The choice between these transport types hinges on the value and the owner’s concern for their vehicle’s well-being during the journey.

Fuel Prices and Transportation Godsts

Finally, we reach a variable that keeps both shipping companies and customers on their toes: fuel prices. With gas prices rising and falling like the tides, they’re a constant source of cost fluctuation in the vehicle transport industry.

Essentially, the longer the journey, the more fuel it takes, and the higher the shipping price will be when fuel prices climb. The cost for gas is shared between the vehicles being transported, which means higher fuel costs can significantly inflate the final price you pay to ship your car. As an unavoidable expense that affects all parties involved, fuel prices are a crucial piece in the puzzle of auto shipping costs.

While these are the pivot points of car shipping expenses, it’s essential to consider that additional costs may apply based on factors such as

  • Insurance
  • Express services
  • Specific company fees

Always request detailed shipping quotes from auto transport companies to ensure a clear understanding of the services provided and the complete breakdown of costs.

New Deals are now available for shipping all types vehicles using our vetted reliable shippers. Compare price estimates & Unlock up 25% off.

Calculating Car Shipping Costs

As you’re learning, car shipping costs can fluctuate significantly. Remember: expenses often taper per mile as the overall distance of the shipment increases. But it's not just about distance; various elements can complicate the pricing structure. The vehicle's type and size, for example, can contribute to additional fees on top of standard distance charges. Here’s a more detailed look at everything:

Average Cost of Car Shipping

The average cost of shipping a car can start at around $500 for shorter, cross-state sojourns to upwards of $1,700 for cross country. The range of expenses goes from $630 to $1,810, influenced by both the distance and the type of carrier employed.

Open car transport services are typically more economical, costing between $500 to $1,400, but for extra security and protection, enclosed transport services can elevate the price to a bracket of $850 to $1,750. The dimensions of the vehicle play a role in the cost, with larger vehicles potentially raising the fee by $15 to $250 for significant weight increases.

Cost Per Mile

Cost per mile is not uniform and is influenced by various factors such as the total distance of the shipment, the shipping method selected, and the stature of the vehicle. While it's more affordable over long distances and with lighter cars, falling toward $0.60 per mile, it can climb as high as $1.70 per mile for shorter trips or when opting for enclosed transport services.

Given the fluctuating nature of these costs, factoring in the time of year, exact locations, and the vehicle's size is imperative when calculating per-mile expenses.

Additional Costs and Hidden Fees

Destination charges, also known as “delivery fees,” are standard costs set by automakers to cover the transportation of new vehicles from the factory to the dealership. Shipping heavy or non-functioning vehicles can inflate the standard cost, sometimes necessitating a towing service averaging around $100. Vehicles like SUVs, trucks, and vans can heft an extra $150 to $600 onto your bill just because they weigh more.

Seasonal shifts also alter shipping prices, with notable increases during the winter months due to snowy conditions, holiday traffic, and heightened demand from those relocating for the season. To mitigate these costs, it's wise to book in advance and make a comparative analysis of carriers to secure more favorable rates. Planning ahead, with a suggested lead time of 7 to 10 days to optimize your car shipping budget.


The Final Word on Car Shipping Expenses

So, the most expensive component of car shipping frequently boils down to the choice of enclosed transport, particularly for those shipping valuable vehicles. This option can surge costs due to the prized space it occupies on a carrier.

Moreover, the weight and operational status of the vehicle play substantial roles in the total expense, with heavier and non-functioning vehicles leading to higher charges. Seasonal changes can also inflate prices, especially in wintry or congested periods.

Larger vehicles like SUVs, trucks, and vans naturally add to the shipping cost, attributed to their additional weight contributing to increased fuel usage and carrier wear.

All these factors—distance, vehicle type, method of transport, specific pick-up and delivery locations, seasonal timing, and the vehicle's condition—are pivotal in shaping the final shipping price.

Don’t guess when it comes to price. Work with experts and ship your car with peace of mind by calling the experts at A1 Auto Transport.

For over 25 years, we've helped thousands of customers safely transport their cars across the country or overseas. Our team handles everything involving the shipping logistics with extreme care from start to finish. You'll get real-time updates and total visibility of your vehicle's journey the entire time.

When you’re on a budget, let A1 Auto Transport handle your shipping needs. You won't find better service, coverage, or peace of mind anywhere else. Call or visit us online to book your vehicle shipment today. With us, you’ll never suffer from sticker shock.

Get a free quote now for your car shipping needs.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

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!

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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... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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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.

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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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