No matter what we’re buying, humans like saving money. And, like with many other things you can buy, you can also save money on car shipping services, too!
While shipping a vehicle isn’t necessarily cheap, for most people, it’s something that is affordable with a little time and planning. Others can do it at the drop of a hat, but regardless, it’s something most people want to save some money on.
Luckily for you, we can help! We have some tips that can help you save money on car shipping. We also have some tips that can help you avoid problems that might come from trying to save a buck or two! The auto transport industry is a route-based one, and that means that going rates fluctuate over time. So while we can’t necessarily guarantee these tips will work every single time, we know from experience that they usually do.
No matter what you’re shipping or where you’re shipping, keep reading to learn how you can save money on car shipping services, no matter who is shipping your vehicle.
An intro to how car shipments are priced
Before you can save money on shipping a car, you have to know what goes into pricing your shipment. There are a fair number of different factors, most of which you can’t control. But it’s still important to know how it works. If you do know how it all works, saving money on car shipping gets a bit easier.
For starters, every shipping company looks at where you’re shipping from and to. The distance between those two cities is the main determining factor in the price you pay. Cities that are closer together tend to be cheaper to ship from and to than those further away. For instance, it will be cheaper to ship from Dallas to Los Angeles, than it is from Miami to Los Angeles.
But distance isn’t the only factor. Season plays a part as well. During the summer months, the demand for shipping is higher. More people looking to ship means more freight available. Carriers can then choose the best-paying loads first and book those before the rest. during the rest of the year, though, demand is down, which means so are prices.
Another major factor is what you’re shipping. Standard vehicles, like a Ford Focus or a Chevrolet Cruze, are considered “standard.” They tend to see the lowest prices because carriers can haul up to ten at a time without a problem.
It starts getting more expensive when the vehicles start getting larger. SUVs and pickup trucks carry their own additional prices, as do minivans. Larger vehicles will have yet higher additional costs. This is because car transport trucks are usually built to haul cars, not larger vehicles. Those larger vehicles take up more room and more weight, which means carriers can take fewer vehicles at a time. Hence the higher prices.
Save money on car shipping by planning ahead
One of the best ways to save money on car shipping services is to plan ahead.
Planning for a car shipment isn’t always easy…or feasible. Sometimes you just have to get it moved regardless of anything else. Whether you’re moving soon or you’ve sold a car to a buyer in another state, there’s plenty of times when planning isn’t really going to be an option.
But, if you can plan ahead, you definitely should. Giving more lead time to your shipping company makes it easier for them to find a carrier at a good going rate. More importantly, it will allow your shipper to price your shipment to move at the time it will be available. This is important for several reasons.
Prices in the car shipping industry, as mentioned, change based on numerous different factors. A car shipping from Los Angeles to Dallas will cost a different amount in January than it does in June.
If you’re looking to ship a car and it’s the peak season and you don’t want to spend that much, you can plan ahead. If you can ship at a later date, say come the fall or winter, chances are your prices will be lower than they would be in the summer.
And while you may not always be able to save money this way, as sometimes you just have to get it moved, the more you can plan ahead, the better it’ll be for your shipment…and your wallet.
Save money on car shipping by being flexible
Nothing is ever really set in stone when it comes to shipping a car. While you can book your order with a company and they can do their due diligence to get it moved, there’s no guarantee that anything will happen. So one of the best things you can be when you book a shipment is flexibility.
There’s a lot of different ways that you can be flexible when shipping a car. The biggest is dates. If you’re able to be flexible when it comes to when your vehicle is picked up, something like standby shipping is an option. Standby is where you pay a lower-than-average price on purpose to save some cash. It usually takes longer to find a carrier, but if that’s something you can do, it’s definitely an option.
Another way to be flexible is with pickup and delivery locations. Carriers prefer to run routes to and from big cities. There’s always plenty of freight in those areas and, usually, it’s easy to find. Carriers can easily fill their trucks and turn a profit just by stopping in a few big cities.
Because of this, they try to avoid running routes to and from rural areas. If you’re shipping to or from a rural area, you can usually save at least a little bit of money by moving one or both to a nearby major city. More carriers will see your posting, which means more will be interested, and it will usually move faster.
Another way you can be flexible is to be willing to go either open or enclosed, especially for more valuable vehicles. Open transport is not more dangerous than enclosed transport; it just protects vehicles better from typical things like inclement weather while they’re on the road. If you’re shipping even a high-end daily driver, open transport is going to be lower-priced for almost the same level of protection.
Make sure the vehicle is running
One thing that a lot of people forget to do – or neglect to do – is making sure their vehicle is running. Now, the term “a lot” is subjective, but you’d be surprised at how many customers don’t realize their cars don’t run!
This is usually the case when a vehicle has been sitting for some time. Whether it’s just been sitting in the yard, or it’s been in a garage, or it’s been in storage – it doesn’t matter. If your vehicle has been sitting for any length of time, make sure that it actually starts.
There are a few quick fixes to ensure it will start on time if it’s not. Check the battery to start – many times, a quick replacement will save you up to $200 on non-operational vehicle fees. Spark plugs are another quick fix as well, at least if you know a bit about car maintenance.
Overall, though, you want to be sure that the vehicle starts and runs because inop fees can cost a lot. Most companies charge anywhere from $150-250 extra for vehicles that can’t move under their own power. This is because carriers actually demand it – it’s a lot more work to haul a vehicle that doesn’t run. Loading it takes longer and many times requires a winch. The same goes for delivering it. It’s also more difficult in terms of scheduling, as inop cars often have to be last-on-first-off, lest they have to spend additional time getting it off the truck.
Don’t go too low…
Of course, there comes a point where too low is too low. You don’t want to be taken advantage of, or book a price that won’t move your vehicle when you need it moved. And that’s more common than you might think.
Carriers don’t set the prices normally; brokers do. Carriers help to keep brokers honest and ensure they don’t lowball customers because they don’t take loads that pay too little. Carriers want to make the most they can; brokers want to offer the least amount they can. Carriers want to make a profit moving cars; brokers want to make profit shipping cars. That means brokers need customers and carriers need to make enough to keep their trucks afloat.
Low prices look great but they don’t move cars. While we all want to save money, there comes a point where too low is too low.
Watch out for prices that are lower than others. This is also why it’s important to review multiple companies that can ship your vehicle. You can do just that right here! Read about different shippers, then get in contact with the ones that catch your eye. Every company we review is fully licensed and bonded and they’re also top-rated. This way, you can find the right shipper for your needs without having to make a hundred phone calls or get a million different quotes in your email.