Thanks to a great new job, you’re getting ready to move across the country. You don’t want to drive all that way, but don’t want to go through the hassle of selling your car and buying another, either. Your friend tells you her grandparents use an auto transport service when they go to their winter house every year. Although that sounds like a great option, most likely your first thought, like many first time shippers, is: How much does it cost to ship my car?
Although we’d like to say there’s an easy answer for this, there’s actually some information that you’ll need to provide before getting a straight answer. It’s with this information that we come up with our car shipping quote. It starts with 3 main factors: Vehicle Type, Locations, and Time of the Year.
Do you drive a lifted truck or a Smart car? Not all vehicles load or take up the same amount of space on the trailer for an auto transport. If you’re car has any modifications, it can affect the way it would need to be transported. For instance, if your vehicle makes the load taller than the 13’ 6” (highways and metro law) to 14’ (interstate law) clearance, your vehicle won’t be able to be on a standard car hauler. Bigger vehicles can also take up more space on a carrier, causing the driver to lose a spot for another vehicle. Weight is also a factor. We like to say that in car shipping, it’s actually a good thing to have your gas tank below half. Having a full tank of gas can add more weight to your vehicle and the overall weight of the carrier.
Another factor is the care that is needed to move the vehicle. There are two ways to ship a car: open or enclosed auto transport. For instance, are you looking to move a classic show car? You probably wouldn’t want it to go on an open auto transport because it will be exposed to the elements. It would be the same if you have an exotic low-profile vehicle such as a Lamborghini – you’d want an enclosed carrier with a lift gate, not ramps. Enclosed transport drivers are also specialized in how to handle a classic car or exotic low-profile vehicle. Expenses such as insurance for enclosed carriers are also higher due to the nature of the shipment, too. If you just have your daily driver, you wouldn’t want to pay the upcharge for an enclosed carrier. Open carriers can usually transport more vehicles than enclosed, which also helps lower the cost. It’s why we’re glad we can offer a network of carriers with various skills, experience, and equipment to handle any type of vehicle.
Although you might think the distance of an auto transport would affect the price most, it’s actually the location for pickup and drop off. If you’ll be having the carrier pick up and/or drop of in a more populated or large metro area, chances are your rate will be better. For instance, if you ship a car from a suburb of Chicago, you’re probably going to have a better rate than, say, Billings, MT. The reason for this is the amount of “truck traffic” an area gets. Major metro suburbs like Chicago and New York are more likely to be on a carrier’s route than smaller towns or rural areas. Large cities’ suburbs are also more truck-friendly, whereas the city itself can’t always accommodate a car carrier. The same also goes for drop off location. Another factor to consider is if your locations are major vacation spots because transport could be higher during peak seasons.
Alongside the location is the time of year you’re looking to ship a car. Now, you might think that during what we like to call “snowbird season” it would be cheaper to ship from a colder climate to warmer. In fact, the opposite is true. Many drivers don’t have trouble filling their trucks when the snowbirds head south – it’s the trip back north that’s tough. No driver likes to travel with an empty trailer, because they aren’t being paid. Within reason, any money is better than none – if you’re looking to transport your vehicle from Scottsdale, AZ to Chicago in December, you’ll most likely have a better rate. The opposite would happen for the spring when snowbirds head home – you’d pay more to ship a car from Scottsdale to Chicago.
Some people also think that the rise and fall of gas prices will affect the cost of a transport as well. In this industry, like a lot of others, it’s more about Supply and Demand not just the cost of fuel. Gas prices might be down, but if a carrier has a full trailer, the cost might actually be higher. For instance, certain trucks have certain capacities, so sometimes if the shipment is greater than the capacity, the price can be higher and vice versa. If you’re looking to ship your Jeep to Hawaii, make sure it’s not during their busy vacation season!
These are some of the main factors you’ll need to consider when it comes to the cost for shipping your car. Make sure to let the representative know anything unique or special about your auto or the shipment itself. It also helps the driver be prepared when he comes for pickup and as well as drop off. For more info on which type of transport is best for your vehicle, read our previous post Know Your Options: Enclosed or Open.
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