Why does the price of auto transport vary so much?

Why does the price of auto transport vary so much?

If you ever need an auto transport company’s services, one of the first things you’re likely to look at is the cost. Auto transport rates vary depending on the car shipping company. Several factors also impact the rates an auto transport company will charge. 

The cost to ship a car across country depends on how far you want to move your car, the make, model, and value of your car. The price also varies, depending on whether you select enclosed auto transport as opposed to open car transport. 

Before you make a booking with an auto transport company, it’s advisable to shop around and consider the factors that affect the price, before you make a decision. We’re going to look at these factors below and share some tips to help you get the best value for money price, and avoid getting scammed.’the inspiration for this post comes from a Quora discussion we recently read. 

Factors that affect the price of an auto transport service

Factors that affect the price of an auto transport service

When you book with an auto transport service, you know how much you’ll have to pay before your car is shipped and delivered. Whether you want to ship a car to Hawaii, from the west to the east coast, or any destination in between, you’ll be informed of the cost ahead of time, in the form of a quote. 

Several factors have to be considered, but here at SGT Auto Transport, we can generate an instant free quote for you in a matter of seconds. Let’s have a look at the factors that affect the price.    

Type of vehicle being transported

Vehicles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The dimensions, weight, and size of a vehicle can affect the price. If your vehicle is something other than a standard-sized vehicle, you might need to consider a special shipping service, such as enclosed auto transport. Likewise, if your vehicle is modified, enclosed auto transport might be the best option. Enclosed auto transport is not a standard service and costs between 30%-40% more.   

Vehicle condition

For a vehicle to be shipped, it generally has to be in an operable condition. It is still possible to ship inoperable or damaged vehicles, but there is typically an additional cost. The reason for this is that the carrier will need specialist equipment to load the vehicle onto the trailer.  

It’s worth pointing out that if you want to ship a car from Hawaii to the mainland or in the other direction, the vehicle has to be operable. 

Pickup and delivery locations and distance between

Your auto transport costs are going to be different depending on how far your vehicle needs to be taken. There are several reasons for this. The most obvious reason is that a journey from New York to Los Angeles requires more gas than from Houston to Nashville, for example. The cost is also affected by the number of hours a driver is driving. 

When comparing car shipping quotes, you might also notice that rates are lower when a vehicle is picked up and delivered in major metropolitan areas. If a carrier has to travel to a more isolated area for the pick-up or delivery, the cost could be slightly higher. This is because transport costs are different for regular routes, which tend to be to and from metropolitan areas   

Car shipping dates

Auto transport is much like any other industry that involves logistics. Supply and demand are what drives price and pick up times. The number of vehicles going in any one direction at a given time will dictate how many spots are available on a truck. 

First available pick-up or shipping date is a term that refers to the exact date when your vehicle is ready to be picked up. This date also affects the price even though it’s not necessarily the exact shipping date. The exact shipping date is specified once a carrier has been assigned to your shipment.     

Some times of the year are more popular than others. For example, September, October, and November are good times to ship your car. The weather is still relatively mild, and the number of care transport shipments is less than the summer. 

At the same time, if a few cars need to be shipped, it will not attract many carriers to run that route. If there is an excessive number of cars going in one direction, such as snowbirds heading south for the winter, it drives up the auto transport price. 

Auto transport method

The cost to ship your car across country will also depend on how you choose to have it shipped. The standard and most cost-effective way is open car transport. It is the most widely used car shipping service, and when you’re driving on the highway, this is the type of trailer you see more than any other. It’s a popular service for the general public and for car dealerships who want to transport both new and used vehicles across the country. 

An open trailer generally has one or two levels, and it can transport several vehicles simultaneously. There are different types of open auto transport trailers, but they all have one thing in common. When shipping a vehicle using an open trailer, the cargo is exposed to the elements and the surrounding environment because the trailer has no sides. However, don’t think your vehicle is any less safe. It is one of the safest and most secure ways to transport a vehicle. 

The benefits of open car transport 

  • It’s fast and efficient.
  • Insurance is always included.
  • It’s an affordable option.
  • Topload placement is available. No vehicles are loaded above yours, and there’s no risk of fluids leaking onto your car. It’s also a little further away from the road surface.
  • Suits many types of vehicle.
  • It’s better for the environment because an open trailer is lighter, can transport more cars, and therefore uses less fuel. 

Enclosed auto transport is different because the vehicles are entirely enclosed and protected from the weather and any traffic grime. It’s a popular choice and usually recommended for owners of custom, classic, antique, luxury, and high-end vehicles.

The benefits of enclosed auto transport

For most people, shipping your car in the standard way is more than suitable. There are, however, specific vehicle types that require a certain level of care and attention. 

Owners of rare, custom, classic, antique, or specialty motors prefer enclosed auto transport. This is because the vehicles are completely protected, not just from the weather but from traffic grime and debris. However, the increased level of protection means the service costs more. Typically, you can expect to pay 30%-40% extra.  

There are several other benefits:

  • Extra peace of mind protection
  • Low ground clearance
  • Increased insurance coverage

Quickness of pick-up and drop off

If you are in a hurry to get a car picked up, then express car shipping is the best choice. Your vehicle can be picked-up in 1-2 business days. With express auto transport, the promise is to deliver a quicker than standard shipping service at a reasonable cost.  

Guaranteed pick-up is another option if you need to have your vehicle picked up on a specific date. You can arrange a pick-up with a 24-hour window. 

Auto transport discounts

Most auto transport companies offer a wide array of discounts. If you want to cut the cost of your car shipping service, be sure to check beforehand if you qualify for any. 

Transport company discounts include:

  • Military discounts: Because military members often have to move frequently and to recognize their service, many auto transport companies offer discounts to active and retired military members.  
  • Student discounts: Many auto transport companies offer discounts in the summer and fall if you’re a student making the move to college. 
  • Senior discounts: It’s not unusual for seniors to live on a fixed income, and they often have a strict budget. Many auto transport companies offer discounts. 
  • Return customers: Some car shipping companies offer a discount if you ship a car with them for a second, third, or fourth time. 
  • Multi-car shipments: If you want to ship two or more vehicles at the same time, many companies will offer a discount. 
  • Snowbird discounts: If you’re moving south for the winter or heading back up north for the summer, you could be eligible for a snowbirds discount.  
  • Vehicle fleets: If you’re a company that needs to ship a fleet of vehicles, you might get a discount for shipping in bulk. 

How to calculate the cost to ship a car across country

You can use an online quote calculator to work out the cost to ship a car across the country. All it takes is a few simple steps, and you’ll have a quote in minutes. 

Enter the pick-up and delivery address

With our instant online calculator, all you need to input are the two zip codes or the name of the city—one for the pick-up address and one for the delivery address. When you input the zip codes, the city and state will pop up automatically.

Choose between open and enclosed transport

When it comes to transporting your car, you have two options. Which one you choose will impact the price, security, protection, and availability. The type of vehicle you want to be transported is also going to affect your decision. Open shipping is the most economical, but your vehicle will be exposed to different weather conditions and traffic grime. Enclosed transport is more expensive, but your vehicle will be completely protected and more secure. This is a better option if you want to ship your luxury, classic, custom, sports, or high-end vehicle.

Once you’ve decided on the type of transport, simply click the ‘Get a Quote’ button, and you’ll be taken to the next page.

Enter vehicle details and condition

Using the drop-down lists, you first choose the year your vehicle was manufactured, then the make and model. If your vehicle was manufactured before 1941, you’d need to contact a shipping agent for a customized quote. If you can’t find the make and model of the vehicle you want to be shipped, you’ll also need to speak with a shipping agent. 

Is your vehicle running or not? Check the appropriate box.

Once you’ve completed this section of the calculator, click the ‘Shipping Details’ button.

Enter contact details and pick-up date

A copy of your quote will be sent to your preferred email address, so you need to input this into the space. When the email is sent, this locks in your quoted price for the next seven days. If the quote expires, this isn’t a problem because the details are saved, and it can be recalculated. Rest assured, we will not share your email details with anyone else and will not spam you. If you don’t want to provide your email address, you can speak with one of our shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038

Frequently asked questions relating to cost

Cost of auto transport faq

As you can see, the process for getting a quote is uncomplicated. There are, however, a few common questions you might want to ask. 

Is the price all-inclusive?

Car transport prices vary from company to company, so if you want to compare instant car shipping quotes, always be careful. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in the cost. 

Make sure to ask whether the price is all-inclusive. You’re not going to be very happy if there are extra charges to pay before your car is released into your care. Always read the offer’s small print because not all auto transport carriers include all costs in their car shipping quotes. Check there are no additional charges or fees you might have to pay at a later day.

Here at SGT Auto Transport, we guarantee our quotes are all-inclusive. We promise there will be no extra fees or charges. 

Does the quote include full insurance?

It’s not usual for standard motor insurance to cover the cost of transporting your car across country. It’s therefore essential that you check the shipping company has adequate insurance coverage. Request insurance documentation so you can check what level of cover your vehicle will have during shipping. Rest assured, when you book with SGT Auto Transport the cost of full insurance coverage is included in the price.   

Is prepayment required to secure a booking?

Some auto transport companies require a deposit to secure the quoted price. Some shipping companies, however, take no upfront payments until they confirm your auto transport booking. SGT Auto Transport has $0 upfront payments at the time of booking. 

How long is the quote valid?

How long your quote will be valid varies between auto transport providers. A quote you get from us is valid for 7 days. If you make your booking within that time, the price remains the same. Wait longer than one week to make your booking, and we simply recalculate the cost of your service, using the information you’ve already provided.    

Why is the lowest price not always the best when shipping a car?

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t love a deal. It might not surprise you to learn that 76% of consumers report price comparison shopping, discounts, and coupons to be a staple of their shipping habits. But looking for deals is not just a part of human nature. It’s also critical if you want to keep within a budget. 

However, cheaper is not always better, especially in the world of auto shipping. The adage “You get what you pay for” really does apply when it comes to car shipping. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should stop and consider before booking with the cheapest auto transport company you find. 

Be wary of scams

If you come across a significantly lower price than any other company, there’s a strong likelihood that you could be getting scammed. It might not be a scam initially, but some auto transport companies offer a seemingly unrealistically low price and then try to charge you with various hidden fees during the process, especially once your vehicle arrives. This is known as a bait and switch scam. 

If a company offers you a really low price but demands most or all of the payment upfront, rather than a small deposit, you can be pretty confident you’re going to be scammed if you choose them.

When comparing auto transport prices, always ask for the proper certification and licenses from the companies. They should always make their DOT number available. You can visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website for more information. 

You get what you pay for really does apply

Choosing the lowest price that’s offered may seem like you’re getting a bargain. But be prepared to be disappointed with the level of service you get. Pay the lowest price, and you’re not going to get the very best in auto transport services. 

A legitimate company that offers very low prices may be lacking in certain features that they offer. For example:

  • They may not offer revised auto transport insurance.
  • There may be no way of keeping up to date with the progress of your service. 
  • It could take a long time for a carrier to be found to ship your car for such a low price. 
  • There’s a strong possibility your booking will be cancelled, leaving you with nothing, huge delays and lost time. 
  • 24/7 customer service might not be available.
  • The drivers used may not handle your vehicle with care at all times.
  • The security measures for your vehicle are likely to be much lower. 

An auto transport company has to make a profit. They’re not charities, after all. If you’re being offered a much lower price than the competition, it’s highly likely sacrifices are being made to save on costs.

Most auto transport companies will offer a price that is very similar to another company unless it’s a last-minute request. The best approach is to choose an auto transport company that’s roughly in the middle, which offers you outstanding service. 

One of the best ways to check the quality of service is to visit the Better Business Bureau’s website and read some reviews. 

Choose SGT Auto Transport, and you can be confident you’re getting an affordable price with no sacrifice in quality. Out shipping advisors are available to help you today. Call (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option.    

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