Showroom to a car that is for sale

SGT Auto Transport’s Real-Time Car Shipping Calculator: Key Factors Used in Your Quote


Understanding the factors influencing your car shipping quote can help you make informed decisions and avoid unexpected costs. At SGT Auto Transport, we strive to provide transparent and competitive pricing tailored to your needs. 

Key Factors Used in an Online Quote by SGT Auto Transport

Whether moving across the country, purchasing a vehicle from out of state, or shipping a classic car, our comprehensive quoting system considers the following factors to offer you the best possible rate.

Pick-up and Delivery Locations

Your vehicle's pick-up and delivery locations significantly impact the cost of auto transport. There are notable differences between rural and metro areas regarding accessibility, convenience, and price. Understanding these differences can help you make a more informed decision when arranging your vehicle transport.

Metro Areas

Metro areas generally have better infrastructure, including well-maintained roads and highways, making them more accessible for large transport trucks. This often results in smoother and quicker pick-up and delivery processes. Urban areas typically have more transport service providers, giving you more options. This can lead to more competitive pricing and greater flexibility in scheduling. 

Due to the higher density of potential customers and shorter distances between pick-up and drop-off points, transporting vehicles in metro areas can be more cost-effective. Transport companies can optimize routes and reduce operational costs, passing on some savings to customers. The higher demand for vehicle transport services in metro areas can lead to more frequent routes and availability, potentially lowering costs. 

Urban areas can experience significant traffic congestion, which might cause delays and increase transport times. However, experienced transport companies often navigate these challenges effectively. Some metropolitan areas have restrictions on where large transport trucks can park and unload, which may require additional coordination and, in some cases, might add to the cost. 

Hand that holds Dodge keys

Rural Areas

Rural areas may have less developed infrastructure, such as narrower or poorly maintained roads, making it more challenging for large transport trucks to access specific locations. This can complicate the pick-up and delivery process. There are typically fewer auto transport service providers operating in rural areas, which can limit your options and reduce flexibility in scheduling. 

Due to the lower density of customers and longer distances between pick-up and drop-off points, transporting vehicles to and from rural areas can be more expensive. Transport companies may need to travel out of their usual routes, increasing fuel and labor costs. Transport companies might sometimes charge extra fees for accessing remote or difficult-to-reach locations to cover the additional time and effort required.

Rural areas might experience longer wait times for pick-up and delivery due to fewer service providers and fewer frequent routes. Planning ahead and booking early can help mitigate this issue. Rural areas can also be more susceptible to adverse weather conditions and road closures, which can affect the transport timeline and add to the complexity of the service.   

Distance and Route

The distance between the pick-up and delivery locations is one of the primary factors influencing the cost of auto transport. The longer the distance, the higher the price due to increased fuel consumption, time, and labor involved in the transport. 

Additionally, the specific vehicle transport route can impact the overall cost, with rural or less accessible locations often incurring higher fees than major urban routes. 

Vehicle Size and Type

Your vehicle's make, model, and size significantly impact the auto shipping price. Transporting larger vehicles like trucks, SUVs, and vans costs more than transporting smaller ones. 

There are numerous reasons why this is the case:

  • Space considerations: Larger vehicles occupy more space on a transport truck. A carrier that can fit nine compact cars might only be able to accommodate six SUVs or trucks. This reduces the number of vehicles a carrier can transport in one trip, leading to higher costs per vehicle to cover the carrier’s expenses. 
  • Weight considerations: Heavier vehicles contribute to the overall weight of the transport truck. Transport regulations often impose weight limits on carriers to ensure road safety and compliance with legal requirements. Heavier loads require more fuel and place additional strain on the transport truck, leading to increased costs. 
  • Loading and unloading: Larger vehicles can be more challenging to load and unload. They may require special equipment or additional manpower to secure correctly on the transport truck. This extra effort and equipment use contribute to the overall cost of shipping larger vehicles. 
  • Fuel efficiency: Transporting heavier and larger vehicles generally results in higher fuel consumption. Carriers must account for the increased fuel costs of transporting these vehicles, as reflected in the shipping quote. 
  • Custom and modified vehicles: Custom or modified vehicles that are larger or have special requirements may incur additional costs. For example, a car with an oversized roof rack, lifted suspension, or other modifications might require special handling or equipment to ensure safe transport, adding to the overall cost. 

A compact car like a Honda Civic is relatively small and light, making it easier and cheaper to transport. A full-size SUV like a Chevrolet Tahoe takes up significantly more space and weighs more than a compact car. As a result, fewer SUVs can be transported at once. 

Vehicle Condition

The condition of your vehicle plays a crucial role in determining the cost of car shipping. Whether your vehicle is operable or inoperable significantly affects the price. 

An operable vehicle can start, run, and be driven onto and off the transport truck under its own power. Shipping an operable vehicle is generally more straightforward and less expensive because the carrier can easily move and position it. 

On the other hand, an inoperable vehicle cannot be driven due to mechanical issues, damage, or lack of essential components like a battery or tires. Transporting an inoperable vehicle requires special equipment and handling, which increases the cost. 

Moving an inoperable vehicle typically requires using a winch or dolly to load and unload it onto the transport truck. In some cases, forklifts or crates might be necessary to handle the loading and unloading.  

Transport Type: Open vs. Enclosed

Your quote will be affected by your choice between open and enclosed transport. Open transport is the most common and cost-effective method, in which vehicles are transported on an open carrier; however, they’re exposed to the elements. Open carriers can transport more vehicles simultaneously, so customers can share costs. More open carriers are also on the road, making finding and booking transport easier, leading to competitive pricing.

One downside of open transport is that your vehicle will be exposed to weather conditions and road debris. While this is usually not a significant issue, it’s a consideration for high-value, luxury, or classic cars. 

Enclosed auto transport involves shipping your vehicle in an enclosed trailer, offering complete protection from the elements, road debris, and potential damage. It is ideal for luxury, classic, or high-value vehicles that require extra care. 

When you use our car shipping calculator, you’ll discover enclosed transport is more expensive than open transport. The higher cost is due to limited capacity, as enclosed carriers typically transport fewer vehicles at a time. It also requires specialized equipment and handling, often involving experienced drivers who understand the importance of protecting high-value cars. Fewer enclosed carriers are available, making this service less common and slightly more challenging to book, contributing to the higher cost.    

Old Mercedes with steering wheel visible

Seasonality and Demand

The time of year and current demand for auto transport services are significant factors that influence auto shipping quotes. Understanding how seasonality and demand affect pricing can help you plan your car shipping needs more effectively. 

Peak Seasons

The summer months, particularly from May to August, see a spike in auto transport demand. Families often relocate during school vacations, and college students move to and from campuses. Additionally, people tend to buy and sell cars more frequently during these warmer months. 

Due to high demand, auto transport companies may charge higher rates to accommodate the influx of vehicles needing transportation. The increased competition for available carriers can drive up prices. 

Another peak season occurs during the snowbird migration periods, typically in the fall and spring. Snowbirds migrate from colder northern regions to warmer southern states, such as Florida and Arizona, for the winter months and return in the spring. 

The bi-annual migration creates a surge in demand for auto transport services, resulting in higher rates. Carriers must manage the influx of vehicles moving to and from these popular destinations.

Off-peak Seasons

During the off-peak seasons, such as winter (excluding snowbird migration) and early spring, there is generally a lower demand for auto transport services. Fewer people are relocating, and car sales volume tends to decrease. 

With reduced demand, auto transport companies may offer lower rates to attract customers and fill their carriers. This can be an excellent opportunity to save money on car shipping. 

Weather Conditions

Seasonal weather conditions can also impact auto transport pricing. Harsh winter weather, like snow and ice, can make transportation routes more challenging and potentially hazardous. Carriers may charge higher rates to account for the increased risk and difficulty navigating these conditions. 

Supply and Demand Dynamics

The availability of carriers plays a crucial role in pricing. The limited number of carriers can lead to higher prices during high-demand periods. Conversely, when demand is low, there are more available carriers, which can drive prices down. 

Like countless other markets, the auto transport industry experiences fluctuations in supply and demand, which can influence pricing trends.    

Final Thoughts

In answer to the question, “How much does it cost to ship your car?” the answer depends on a variety of factors, including the type and size of your vehicle, its condition, and the transport type you choose, the season, the distance, and the specific pick-up and delivery locations. 

Each element plays a crucial role in determining the final quote. By understanding these factors, you can make a more informed decision and choose the best service for your needs. 

At SGT Auto Transport, we strive to offer transparent, competitive quotes tailored to your specific requirements. Whether you’re shipping from a metro area or a rural location, our team is committed to providing reliable and efficient service. 

For an accurate and personalized instant quote, visit our website today and discover how easy and affordable vehicle shipping can be with SGT Auto Transport.

Get a quote banner