8 Factors That Affect Car Shipping Quotes

Did you know that online-only auction sales rose by 255 percent in 2020? Or that virtual car dealerships such as Carvana saw a $1.12 billion increase in sales from April to June of 2020?

Whether you’ve recently won a car at auction, bought one from an online dealership, or are in the midst of a long-distance move, you need to hire an auto shipping company. It’s the fastest and most convenient way to relocate your vehicle.

But do you understand the factors that affect car shipping quotes? If not, you may end up paying more than you need to.

Keep reading for our breakdown of the seven factors that most impact car shipping costs.

1. Vehicle Make, Model, and Condition

When you start comparison shopping for auto transport services, you’ll quickly find these companies ask similar questions. At the top of the list are the make, model, and condition of your vehicle.

Why does car make and model matter? This information indicates how much your car weighs and how much space it’ll take up on the trailer. (We’ll delve into this further in the next section.)

It also lets the transport company know how valuable your car is. Daily drivers and commuters require different transport services than investment-worthy vehicles such as exotics, race cars, and classics. High-end cars should also get insured differently during transit.

Why does the automobile’s condition matter? Because non-operational vehicles require special equipment to load them onto the trailer (e.g., a forklift). You’ll find plenty of DIY forums on the topic but understand that getting one on a double-tiered open carrier is anything but simple.

2. Size and Weight of the Automobile

Different cars cost different amounts to ship. Why? Because car trailers have limited space. For example, a 40-foot-long trailer usually transports between two to four vehicles at one time.

If the carrier must transport a larger automobile, it can limit how many cars will ultimately fit the trailer. Besides space, the weight represents another vital factor when it comes to shipping.

Trailers come with weight limits. Besides maintaining weight limits, transportation companies must also consider the fuel-efficiency of their hauling loads. The heavier the load, the more gas gets burned up in transit.

In other words, it costs less to move a VW Bug than it does a Ford F-150. That’s why car transport companies will ask about your car’s make and model before providing a quote. They use this information to estimate the size and weight of your vehicle.

3. Shipping Method

Earlier, we discussed automobile make and model and how these two factors impact the way vehicles get transported. Let’s take a closer look at shipping method options for a moment.

The vast majority of cars get relocated on open carriers. These are the massive rigs you see on the freeway carrying upwards of eight to ten cars at a time. They prove easily recognizable due to the vehicles they haul in plain sight.

Open trailers are constructed to be as light and fuel-efficient as possible. As a result, they don’t have roofs or walls. This lightweight design also means the cargo they carry gets exposed to the elements such as the weather and road debris and the eyes of the public.

Does this matter when it comes to commuters and daily drivers? Not so much.

However, if you need to have a multi-million-dollar 1962 Ferrari transported, that’s a different story. You’ll want to opt for an enclosed carrier. These carriers come in soft-sided and hard-sided variations, but the basic idea remains the same.

Engineers design these carriers to shield vehicles from road hazards, the elements, and unwanted attention. You’ll pay 30 percent more (on average) for an enclosed transport, but it also comes with a highly skilled driver and insurance policy worthy of your vehicle.

4. Vehicle Modifications

If your car has modifications such as low clearance, you’ll also need to go the enclosed carrier route. Why? Because driving your car up the ramp of an open car shipping carrier could scrape or damage the undercarriage.

Fortunately, enclosed carriers have hydraulic lifts that work like elevators to raise and lower vehicles onto and off the trailer. They’ll ensure no damage occurs to your lowered ride.

What are some other modifications that could impact the price you pay to relocate your ride? Lifting cars and replacing standard tires with bigger ones will ramp up the price you pay for relocation.

These modifications impact your car’s weight and how much space it occupies, so expect to pay more. Relocating cars with customizations and modifications requires additional work and expertise from drivers, translating into a significant increase in the final pricing.

5. Distance and Location

What’s another vital factor when it comes to pricing out your transport needs? The distance your car must travel.

The further your car must go, the more it will cost. That said, the price you’ll pay per mile decreases the longer the haul. So, it’s similar to buying the “family-sized” item at the grocery store.

Besides distance, drivers must also consider pickup and drop-off locations and how far these addresses will take them off their standard route. The further a driver must come to service your auto transport needs, the more you’ll pay.

This fact proves especially true in rural areas or places off-the-beaten-path. How can you make the price more affordable if you live in a rural area? Make arrangements with your driver to drop off and pick up your vehicle closer to their regular route.

Typically, this means rendezvousing in an urban area or near an interstate freeway. Or, you could opt for a terminal-to-terminal service, which requires you to drop off and pick up your car from regional depots or terminals.

6. Insurance Matters

All reputable car transport companies provide basic insurance coverage on the vehicles they move. That said, this standard policy may not align with the real value of your car.

We recommend asking any auto shipping company you decide to work with to provide you with a copy of their insurance policy. They may even have it posted on their website.

Review this policy carefully so that you understand what is and isn’t covered. You may also wish to run it by your car insurance agent. They can provide you with additional insight into the extra coverage that you may need.

If you find the policy lacking, purchase additional auto insurance for the transportation process. Where should this extra coverage come from? Start by asking the moving company what their supplemental policies look like and how much they cost.

You should also get a quote from your current auto insurance company. Although car shipping proves safe, accidents and issues do arise. You need to prepare for these in advance, which will impact how much you ultimately pay.

7. Time Frame

The time frame for your car relocation will also have a significant influence on the bottom line. If you remain flexible about pickup and delivery dates, you’ll also enjoy significant savings. Standard car shipping services prove more affordable. When you go this route, you’ll receive pickup and dropoff windows.

Typically four to five days long, these windows permit drivers to most expediently deliver the cars they’re hauling. This reality translates into greater affordability for all customers involved.

What if you don’t have date flexibility? Go with an expedited service or an enclosed carrier service. That way, you’ll get specific pickup and delivery dates.

Just remember, you’ll pay for date specificity.

8. Seasonality

As a general rule, you will pay more for car shipping at certain times of the year. The same holds true especially for holiday automobile shipping.

Most people move during the summer months. As a result, car transport services are in greater demand then. Companies can charge more.

If you can ship your car during the winter months, you’ll save significant money. But the impact of time frames on shipping quote prices doesn’t stop there.

You must also consider current fuel prices. Auto shipping companies deal in fixed costs, and these include the price of fuel.

When you ship at times of the year when gas prices are lower, expect to pay less. That said, small fluctuations in fuel prices likely won’t have a major impact on the auto shipping bill of lading you’ll receive.

Get the Best Price For Your Auto Shipping Needs

As you can see, plenty of factors affect car shipping quotes. They include the make and model of your vehicle, the distance to be traveled, and the time of year you hire an auto transport company.

Are you ready to compare auto shipping quotes? Request a quote from one of the top auto shipping companies in the country to get the best pricing for your specific needs.