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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?

Just like in many 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 small and mid size broker and carrier companies that work 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.

Broker / carrier company car shipping rates

The most realistic rate you should get 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, are not the companies who 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 be from auto transport broker companies.

Car shipping lead generator website quotes

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.

Auction websites prices

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 give out 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.

An established broker company will provide you with realistic quote. A quote that will be the golden mean – neither too high nor too low. In order to verify the golden mean price you have to request several auto shipping quotes. It is important to see more prices and then position a reasonable middle ground rate.

What is the real cost to ship a car?

It is in your best interest to understand the real cost to ship a car. A realistic auto transport price is based on several factors. Distance does matter, but it is not the only factor. The real cost is somewhere in the middle of the price scale, between the high and the low rates. Learn about all factors to know what a fair rate is and how prices work.

The make and model of your vehicle matters

Bigger and heavier cars cost more to transport than small sedans. Thus, this is the first question we ask when calculating prices. Additionally, any modifications done to the vehicle will also affect the price of shipping. Whether your car is lifted or lowered, or has any special spoilers installed, this will affect the price.

The transport type of auto transport truck matters

Whether you choose open or enclosed carrier this will affect your price, as well as shipping time. Open carriers are almost 90 percent of the whole fleet in the US and thus more available. Wider availability means higher competition and lower rates. Open carriers are the standard option and thus you pay the standard rate. If you prefer enclosed, which fully shields the vehicle, you have to pay a premium.

The distance from pick-up to delivery location matters

Usually, the more miles the truck travels the less it costs per mile. This means that short distances often cost as much as long. Auto shipping prices work similarly to when buying in bulk. Long distances require large trucks hauling 7 to 9 vehicle at once, compared to the 1 to 2 cars trailers for local trips done by smaller trucks. All of this means that distance is not the decisive factor and that more miles don’t mean higher price.

The exact location of pick-up and delivery also affects the price

More populated areas, such as large metro areas like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other big cities, are transportation hubs. Carriers have higher chances of filling up their cargo space when they go to large cities. They prefer to travel to one big city and load more vehicles than drive to various rural towns. Thus, you can get a better price, and delivery time, to and from a big city versus a small, rural town.

The condition of your vehicle affects the price of shipping

Cars that don’t start will cost more to transport. When a vehicle does not move on its own power this means we need a carrier that can winch it onto the platform, or in some cases even a fork lift to load and unload the non-running vehicle. This immediately increases the price because we need a special carrier because not all trucks are equipped to handle non-running vehicles.

Supply and demand ultimately affects car shipping rates

Supply and demand situation often changes daily and defines what vehicles ship first. A correctly priced shipment usually is one of the first to be dispatched. Vehicles that are priced according to current market supply and demand are picked up within a standard time frame of 3-5 business days. A lower than that price will not be accepted by the carriers and thus you will have to wait longer.

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 and thus itr can not assess the current suply and deman situation, and hence it does not provide a realistic price.

For answers to more frequently asked auto transport question visit our How It works web section or our Questions page. To discuss your shipping options and price call us now or request a quote online. Thank you!