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When searching for a car shipping quote, you should ask a few important questions. In our guide we will help you understand how the cost to ship a car is calculated, and what factors play an important role in the final price.

Factors to consider when requesting a car shipping quote

Make & Model

Vehicle make and model set the base price. The first important variable is the size and weight of a vehicle.

The Location

The exact location affects the price and the time for shipping. Shipping from and to major cities equals faster service. Rural areas are more difficult to service due to fewer trucks’ readiness to go.



Seasonality is driven by supply and demand. When demand is high the truck spots fill quickly, which means customers compete more and prices increase. That is why a price quote is good for one week only.

The Distance

Long distances cost more. However, short distances sometimes cost just as much due to other factors. The amount of work involved sometimes is more depending on the car, location and type of service.

Transport Type

The type of carrier you choose affects the cost. We often recommend enclosed trailer. It is more expensive, but offers full protection. Open trailer is the standard and certainly just as safe. It all depends on the type of vehicle.

Car Condition

A vehicle that is not moving on its own power is more expensive to ship. If the car rolls and steers then it can be loaded with a winch. If not, then a fork lift is needed and the price goes up.

What is the difference between manual and automated quotes?

Daily changes to supply or demand affect the prices. The way auto transport work is this – customers compete against each other for a spot on a car carrier. Brokers post their loads on the national central dispatch board, and carriers choose from loads on their route. It all depends on the price. When a vehicle is priced correctly, a carrier will take it right away.

A logistics expert can quote an accurate price based on current supply and demand. This will be a quote that will ship a vehicle now. Manual prices are rates calculated by logistics experts, not by software. A car shipping calculator has preset parameters that determine the price. It never takes into consideration supply and demand and this is what ultimately renders the price inaccurate.

A software cannot ‘see’ what happens on the dispatch boards daily, hence it can not assess current supply and demand situation, and consequently does not quote a realistic price.

What do you need to know about car shipping quotes?

Similar to other industries, in auto transport prices are driven by various factors. However, all quotes are not created equal, all auto transport companies too. When you search online you will find three major entities – broker/carrier companies, lead generation websites and auction websites.

Most of the time auto transport prices vary between all three entities. It is a fact that upon requesting several quotes, you get different rates. Some will be drastically different than others. Some companies quote extremely high prices, while others unrealistically low. You may wonder how such differences are possible. it is possible because who quotes the price matters. Prices quoted by lead generation websites, and auction websites, are quite different. Broker and carrier companies quote the most realistic prices.

The most realistic rate comes from an auto transport broker or a carrier company. They are the engine of this industry. This is what keeps the prices competitive and the industry in balance. All the small and mid-size brokers and carrier do not allow monopolization of the market by large corporations.

Most carriers, however, do not manage the shipping. A carrier is responsible to load, deliver and unload your vehicle. About 90 percent of the car carriers in the US are small, owner operated companies. They work with brokers to fill their cargo space. This is why the prices you receive online are from auto transport broker companies.

This entity is not an auto transport company of any type. This is an online business created to generate leads for other businesses. A lead is the customer’s information with a request for price for a specified vehicle shipping service. These lead generator websites are often found online and customers frequently confuse them for auto transport companies. In reality, they are neither a carrier nor a broker.

After receiving the customer’s request they sell their information to several companies. This is how a lead generator website makes money. However, the end result is not the best option for you. As a customer you will receive several calls from companies competing for your business. It is often very unpleasant to receive 5 to 10 calls in a matter of hours. Moreover, these companies compete against themselves and they quote low unrealistic rates.

This means that you will not receive a realistic price that will ship your car in a timely and professional manner.

The third entity is auction websites, or also called marketplaces. We advise customers to avoid such platforms because this is where underbidding wars happen. On such websites you can receive more than ten auto transport quotes and they will all be either too high or too low.

Most companies are not able to quote current market rates because they need to compete live and place multiple bids in order to win.

Also, often due to fees imposed from the auction website, auto transport companies are forced to quote higher prices so they can make at least some profit. It is not only the companies’ fault, or the platform itself. The demand for low prices has always been a factor. And when people search for cheap they get cheap. On auction websites you get what you pay for. A low price often equals low quality service.

The engine of the auto transport industry in the US is all small and mid size broker and carrier companies working together on daily basis. They make the industry efficient and prevent monopolization.

How do you know you are getting a fair auto transport price quote?

Many quotes you will receive are not current market prices. This is the case when you get quotes from lead generator websites or marketplaces. With some brokers, or carriers, this can also happen. Not every auto transport company will quote a realistic rate.

Some small companies try to low ball the price and have you book now. They usually ask for a deposit upfront. This means you cannot cancel when they fail to pick up your car in the specified time frame. And they do fail often because their rate is too low and most carriers will not accept it.

On the other hand, some big companies exploit the market by quoting very high prices. It is exploitation because the rate is way above current market value and the extra goes towards company profits, not  to the truck driver.

A correctly quoted rate guarantees timely and professionally transport. Moreover, prices fair to the truck drivers help build a solid business relation between good brokers and good carriers. Broker-carrier relations are very important because this is what keeps the industry competitive. It is an efficient and fair system that prevents large companies from monopolizing the market.

The most competitive prices come from small and midsize companies. They are the engine of the auto transport industry and they are what keeps the industry in balance. An established, small company is in business to stay in business, and they understand the importance of quoting realistic market price that will ship a car now.

Before choosing the best auto transport method for your vehicle, research all options. Make sure you understand how auto transport works, and how drive-away services work, for instance. Compare and then decide what best fits your budget and preferences. Request your quote online or call our team now. For all auto transport related questions call us or contact us online. Our dedicated team of professional logistics experts will answer all of your  questions and help you choose the best solution. We look forward to serving your auto shipping needs. Thank you.