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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 the process and the car shipping price calculation.

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 as well. When you search online you will find three major entities involved in the auto transport business – broker/carrier companies, lead generation websites and auction websites.

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.

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. They are possible because who gives you the quote matters. The prices given by lead generation websites and auction websites are quite different. Broker and/or carrier companies quote the most realistic prices.

The most realistic rate comes from an auto transport broker or a carrier company. As mentioned, the engine of this industry are all the smaller companies. This is what keeps the prices competitive and the industry in balance. Small and medium size companies 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, or management companies, 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 really low 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 found online is auction websites or 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 realistic, current market rates because they need to compete live and place multiple bids.

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.

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

Now you know that most prices you receive online are not fair. More precisely, the quotes are not current market prices that will guarantee professional and timely shipping. This is the case when you get quotes from lead generator websites or auctions. With some brokers, or carriers, this can also happen. Not every auto transport company will quote you a realistic rate.

Many small companies try to low ball the price in order to get you to book with them. They usually ask you to pay a deposit upfront and 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 the company itself, whether that is a broker or a large carrier company. The money do not go to the car carrier driver.

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 prices.

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 carrier. Broker-carrier relations are very important because this is what keeps the industry competitive. It is a very efficient system that prevents large companies from monopolizing the market.

A trusted broker company will provide you with a realistic quote. A golden mean quote – neither too high nor too low. In order to verify the golden mean price, you should request several auto shipping quotes. It is important to see more prices and to understand the spectrum and position a reasonable car shipping rate.

Factors to consider when requestting car shipping quotes

When shipping a car long distance it is important to understand how it works.

Make & Model

Vehicle make and model usually sets the base price because how big the car is the first most important variable. However, the cost is not a simple deduction based on distance and vehicle type. The better you understand all elements of a car shipping cost, the easier it will be to choose the right service, company and price.

The Location

Shipping from and to major cities usually equals faster service. Rural areas are more difficult to schedule because less carriers are willing to go. This means the price will be higher if you want a timely service. When shipping across country this could mean more than two weeks for delivery, after pick-up.


Seasonality is driven by supply and demand peaks and drops. When supply is higher, prices drop, when demand is higher prices go up. In auto logistics, 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

The distance always has an effect on the price to ship a car. In general, longer distances cost more. However, shorter distances sometimes cost as much as a long distance trips. Things vary daily based on other factors as well. It really depends on the type of vehicle you want to ship, but also on the type of service and exact location.

Transport Type

When shipping across country we always recommend enclosed trailer. It is usually more expensive, but will protect your car fully. Open trailer is the standard in the industry and certainly just as safe. It all depends on the type of vehicle you are shipping. The type of carrier you choose will affect your cost and delivery time.

Car Condition

Whether the car is in running condition matters. 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 it is not moving at all then a fork lift is needed and price goes up.


What is the difference between manual and automated quotes?

As we have explained, auto transport prices depend on supply and demand fluctuations. Daily changes to the supply or demand situation 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 manual quote is always the closest to a realistic market conditions prices. A logistics expert can quote a very accurate price based on current supply and demand situation. This will be a quote that will ship a vehicle in a timely manner. Manual prices are rates calculated by logistics experts, not by software. This is the main difference between a manual quote and one coming from a calculator.

A car shipping calculator has preset parameters that determine the price. It never takes into consideration supply and demand fluctuations 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 concequently does not quote a realistic price.

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.

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