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

See Article— USA Today

Why Are Some Cars More Expensive to Ship?

Published by Tamar Hela.

Why Are Some Cars More Expensive to Ship?

Ever wondered why shipping the sedan across the country doesn’t cost the same as the SUV? Shipping a car isn't like mailing a package – the price can vary dramatically. To understand why there are so many factors at play, it's important to take a deep dive into the automotive shipping industry. In this article, we’ll unravel the sometimes complicated and mysterious nature of auto transport costs to help you as you prepare to ship your car.

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Factors That Influence Auto Shipping Costs

When it comes to auto transport costs, several key factors impact the pricing of this service. First, the size and weight of the vehicle are definitely taken into consideration. Larger, heavier vehicles such as SUVs and trucks take up more space on a transporter, thereby reducing the number of total vehicles that can be carried. Additionally, they add substantial weight, which can affect fuel efficiency and lead to higher shipping rates.

The costs per mile tend to decrease for longer shipping distances, although the overall expense climbs due to extended mileage. This is a scaling factor that shipping company clients need to keep in mind – while a longer voyage might seem more economical on a per-mile basis, the aggregate shipping cost will be higher.

Vehicle Size and Weight

Shipping a sedan versus an SUV or pickup truck is definitely going to show you a stark contrast in shipping pricing. With a lower weight and more compact dimensions, it costs less to ship a sedan. An average sedan might cost approximately $800 to ship for a distance of up to 1,000 miles.

In contrast, heavier vehicles not only burn more fuel during transportation but may also see additional fees – anywhere between $15 to $250 – for their weight, as car carriers must adhere to an 80,000 lbs weight maximum for the truck, trailer, and the vehicles it transports.

Vehicle Type

The specific type of vehicle being shipped also determines the transport cost. Heavier vehicles like SUVs and trucks will always be more expensive to ship than lighter, compact ones such as sedans and hatchbacks. These heftier giants not only tip the scales further but may also require specialty trucks for transporting. This, in turn, nudges the transport expenses upwards.

Also, the space a vehicle takes up is a critical factor. Contrast a Toyota Prius with a Ford F-150, for example. The latter consumes considerably more room on a carrier, directly affecting the shipping bottom line. That’s why vehicle type, including both the weight and size, is a substantial determinant in the equation of shipping costs, with transport carriers carefully looking at these elements when calculating shipping quotes.

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Different Types of Shipping Services

When it comes to auto transport, there are multiple shipping services to choose from, catering to diverse needs and preferences. The most commonly selected options are open and enclosed car transport services.

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Open Car Transport

Open car transport services are the standard choice for many, due to their affordability and flexibility. Vehicles are transported on an open trailer, allowing them to be moved efficiently and at lower costs. Although the cars are exposed to the elements and road debris, the risk of damage remains minimal, making this an ideal option for standard vehicles that do not require special treatments.

Enclosed Transport

When opting for enclosed transport, customers are choosing a service that encompasses heightened protection for their vehicles. The cost of utilizing enclosed transport ranges from approximately $0.90 to $1.90 per mile, which varies based on travel distance and vehicle specifications. This method protects vehicles from the environmental challenges and hazards of open transport by shipping them on an enclosed trailer or in a container.

This service, while pricier—generally about 40% to 50% higher than open carrier transport—is often justified for transporting luxury, classic, or vehicles of high value.

Terminal Delivery

Terminal-to-terminal car shipping serves as a cost-effective alternative to door-to-door services. By utilizing predetermined pick-up and drop-off points, transport companies can minimize deviations in their routes, which in turn reduce fuel costs and potentially offer savings to the customer. Utilizing terminals allows for consolidation of vehicle transport, which can enhance the efficiency of the transportation process.

While terminal delivery offers notable cost savings, customers may face additional inconveniences, such as arranging transportation to and from the terminals and potentially longer wait times for their vehicle to be transferred or grouped with others for a specific route. Terminal-to-terminal services can also pose a higher risk of vehicle damage due to the increased handling of the cars at these transfer points.

How Shipping Costs Are Calculated

Shipping costs for vehicles are influenced by a variety of factors, making some cars more expensive to ship than others. The primary variables that determine shipping costs include the size and weight of the vehicle, distance to be transported, location, and chosen shipping method.

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Cost per Mile

The average cost to ship a car per mile lies in the range of $0.60 to $1.70. This rate may fluctuate depending on the transport method, vehicle size, and distance. For longer shipments, such as those over 1,000 miles, rates might vary from $1.00 to $1.75 per mile.

Open carriers typically charge between $0.60 and $1.10 per mile, making them a more budget-friendly option. However, enclosed carriers, providing additional protection, come with a higher price tag ranging from $0.90 to $1.90 per mile.

Gas Prices

Fuel prices are a substantial factor in determining auto shipping costs, and they have shown a significant increase over the past decades. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, retail gasoline prices have risen from $1.54 per gallon in May 2003 to $3.67 per gallon in May 2023.

Variables such as increased global demand, geopolitical tensions, reduced refining capacity, and market reactions to events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine dramatically affect fuel prices. These escalating gas prices are invariably passed on as increased shipping costs to the customer.

Average Cost for Auto Transport

The financial outlay for auto transport services exhibits a remarkable range, influenced by a suite of variables. The industry's beating heart, the average cost to ship a car, pulsates at approximately $1,108. Drill down, and you'll find that the gamut spans from about $510—typical for shorter distances on an open carrier—to around $1,580 for lengthier hauls shipped in an enclosed truck.

Auto transport costs exhibit elasticity, stretching from a modest $250 to a heftier $2,500. Decisive factors depend on the time of year, the type of the vehicle, the distance of the journey, and the urgency of the shipment.

Shipping Isn’t a Uniform Operation

So, c is not uniform, with several factors affecting the overall cost.

Here’s a final snapshot to summarize the key elements that influence auto transport expenses:

  • Vehicle Type and Size: Heavier and larger vehicles incur higher shipping rates.
  • Shipping Services: Choosing between open and enclosed carriers affects cost.
  • Delivery Locations: Urban areas may offer more competitive pricing.
  • Specialty Requirements: Non-operational vehicles require extra services at an increased price.

By factoring in these components, you can anticipate the variations in auto shipping costs and choose options that best meet your needs and budget. Of course, be sure to consult with auto transport shipping companies and trust experts in the industry to handle your car shipping needs.

Transport 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.

Whether you’re shipping a car cross-country or international, 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, your car is always in safe hands.

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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...my 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.

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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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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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