What is the cheapest way to ship a car?

20.11.2019

In order to plan an affordable move for your car, first you need to acquaint yourself with the factors that affect the price of the car shipping service. Auto transport costs vary greatly based on distance, time, shipping method and the vehicle itself. So what is the cheapest way to ship a car? Here are some tips.

  • Get multiple quotes to guarantee the best rate
  • Choose open shipping over enclosed shipping
  • Ship to a major city or terminal rather than door-to-door
  • Move your car off season
  • Use a broker
  • Make sure your car is in a good condition

Which car shipper offers the cheapest rates?

When you look for the cheapest way to ship a car, ask at least 3 to 5 professional auto transporters to provide you with a shipping quote. Most reputable auto transport companies have online shipping calculators to serve the modern shopper. Look for a few licensed auto shipping companies and fill in their quote forms. An initial estimate request is a good start.

When you start looking over different price rates, make sure that you are not comparing apples and oranges. Do not just pick the cheapest bid. Company policies and tariffs vary with each company. Ask for a comprehensive estimate over email, where you can see what exactly is included in the price.

Before you book, reach out to companies to see how quickly and professionally they respond to your questions. Good people who belong in the service sector are dedicated and will go the extra mile to resolve all your concerns. Trustworthy companies will inform you about all possible hurdles without trying to leverage the situation.

Open transport is the cheapest way to ship a car

Go for open-air!

Open shipping is the most common method and in most cases, it is the cheapest auto transport method. Aside from the distance your car will travel, the car carrier type (open vs. enclosed) has the biggest impact on your auto transport costs. You need to weigh in the pros and the cons of each shipping method before asking for a quote.

Open transport

With open transport, your car will be exposed to the weather elements. There are more open car carriers, which means that you can get your car shipped faster and at a more affordable rate, using this option. Bottom line is that open transport is the most common and (generally) the cheapest way to ship a car.

Enclosed transport

Enclosed transport offers the highest level of protection and that comes at a price. Whereas enclosed car carriers do protect your vehicle from adverse weather conditions and road debris, they are less common on road. If you are shipping a classic or super car, then enclosed car carriers are the best option for you. Surely, you want to save money and avoiding incurring later fees on repairs should not be skipped.

Which is cheaper: Door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping?

Just as when you are looking for a new home, location matters. Shipping your vehicle straight from your current home to your future one is the most convenient option. However, if you are moving to or from a more rural area, this type of transport will likely cost you more money. Research options and consider terminal-to-terminal car shipping as well.

Door-to-door shipping

A lot of auto shipping companies specialize in providing door-to-door transport, making it easier to book. If you live in a major city or metro area, door-to-door transport can be a feasible option at a reasonable price. In fact, most of the cars are delivered door-to-door.

Terminal-to-terminal shipping

If you live in a rural area, shipping your car straight your doorstep can cost far more. Generally, transporters stick to major interstates, and venturing into the boonies to drop off your car costs time and money. Fewer, shorter trips with more vehicles—to and from accessible urban areas—mean lower costs.

Before you pay an arm and a leg for door-to-door shipping, get an estimate for a nearby city terminal to see if costs are lower than delivering to your small town. Unless the savings are significant, we don’t recommend terminal-to-terminal transport as it is slower and less convenient—you’ll have to travel to the terminal to retrieve your vehicle.

Planning to fill your car with belongings to save on moving costs? Not so fast. The US Department of Transportation doesn’t allow personal belongings on auto carriers, meaning you’ll need to empty out your car before you ship it.

Consider moving your car off season

Moving Your Car Off SeasonShipping your car in winter may take longer because some routes in the US are closed due to the heavy snow. Sometimes, car shippers will even stop servicing routes in the north states, where there are severe winter conditions. There are usually longer delivery times and often delays.

Nevertheless, you can get a discount when you ship a car across country in winter and you may even have more choices when it comes to your delivery date. That is because there are fewer cars being shipped during the wintertime.

Occasionally, despite the fact that there are fewer car carriers on the road and the conditions may not be favorable, shipping your car can take less time. This is true, as some people will wait to ship until the spring or summer, so there are much more unoccupied spaces available on trailers. Plus, carriers will have to make fewer stops along the route.

Use a broker

Car shipping brokers are flexible, as they can locate car carriers with free spots near you and schedule a faster pickup date. If you work with a carrier and the truck breaks down, you will have to wait until they can fix the issue. You may even pay a premium to have your vehicle shipped on a short notice. Given the same circumstances, a broker would be able to get your car onto another car carrier with minimal disruption in the process.  Professional car shipping brokers hire only qualified drivers. They run a background check on all of the truckers they work with to confirm drivers are properly licensed and insured. 

When you are looking for the cheapest way to ship a car, your broker is your great ally in finding the best deal. Moreover, professional shipping brokers will inform you and provide instant updates on the car shipping process. They will save you time, as the years of experience they have enable them to plan and execute car deliveries fast and efficiently.

Make sure your car is in a good condition

If your car has a mechanical issue and it is in a non-operable condition, then the car shipper will probably use a winch or a forklift. In that case your car shipping company will have to engage an experienced driver or in some cases even a towing company. If your car simply does not start, it can be as little as $100 - 150 more to get it shipped to you. However, for a vehicle that does not roll or steer, that cost can be significantly higher based on the particular situation.

How much can I expect to pay for car shipping

How much can I expect to pay for car shipping?

Generally, you should expect to pay from around $500 for a short distance move to about $1,500 for longer cross-country car deliveries. As you can imagine, the size of your car will play a crucial role in determining its auto shipping cost. For example, shipping a SUV, van and a pick-up truck will, on average, cost about $200 more than hauling a sedans for the same move distance. Keep in mind, if you are moving across the country, you can expect up to two weeks for your car to arrive.

As the car shipping price can vary widely based on the combination of make/model, distance and time, it always recommended to speak to a professional auto transportation specialist. You can call us at (312) 224-8620. We would love to answer all of your questions and plan the best trip for your car.






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