Understanding the Cost of Auto Transport – Factors to Consider

A lot goes into the cost of auto transport, and a simple price quote is only sometimes accurate. It’sIt’s best to understand what factors influence the cost of your shipment before booking it. Car shipping prices are based on supply and demand, meaning they can fluctuate. A few significant factors determine the rate per mile of your vehicle shipment.


The distance to be covered by an American Auto Transport will significantly affect car shipping prices. Generally, state-to-state shipments are cheaper than cross-country deliveries. The company you choose should be transparent about what they charge for shipping and explain their pricing structure. They should also be able to clearly explain how they determine their prices and what factors influence those prices. If you can book your shipment as early as possible, you may save money by eliminating urgency fees.

Additionally, it can be cheaper to ship during the winter when rates are lower, and carriers have more availability. Also, the type of vehicle you need to be shipped will affect your cost. Larger vehicles take up more space on a carrier’scarrier’s trailer, which raises the shipping cost.


The size and weight of your car will directly impact the cost of auto transport. Larger vehicles take up more space on a carrier, leaving less room for other cars and requiring more fuel. Smaller vehicles are cheaper as they take up less space and weigh less. Whether you choose open or enclosed car transport will also affect the price. Enclosed shipping is preferred for classic, custom, antique, or luxury cars, offering added protection from the elements. Finally, your choice of drop-off and pickup methods will affect the total price. Terminal-to-terminal shipping is usually less expensive than door-to-door service but may add extra time to transportation.

Pickup and Delivery Dates

Despite what some car shipping companies might say on their websites, very few auto transporters can guarantee a time for pickup or delivery. Most carriers will only commit to a window since traffic, weather changes, mechanical failures, and other factors are beyond their control on the road. If you want a quicker turnaround, be aware it will cost you more. This is because carriers must make multiple stops on the route, and that additional time spent driving around will cost them more fuel. Additionally, suppose you opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping (the pickup and drop-off points will be at the car transport company’scompany’s operating bases or warehouses in cities). In that case, this will add an extra day to the accurate timeline.


Licensed auto transport carriers have insurance covering your car while in their custody. This typically includes liability insurance, customer/personal insurance (not a requirement but can be offered), and a USDOT number that keeps track of them on the internet and in public. Carrier companies typically have their fleet of trucks, but brokers have extensive networks of vetted carrier options that they work with to provide customers with the best transportation solutions. Their quotes are generated by considering several shipping considerations, and they ask carriers to bid on the shipment. This provides the most accurate, cost-optimized pricing. They also offer excellent customer service and regular communication. Carrier companies are often single-driver owned and focused on truck driving.

Additional Options

A few other factors can add to the cost of auto transport. These include whether the car can roll, brake, and steer on its own or requires fork lifting or winching onto the trailer, the vehicle’s ground clearance (lower cars are more expensive to ship), and if it can be driven or needs to be towed. Lastly, shipping options such as door-to-door transport or terminal-to-terminal can increase costs. For example, door-to-door is more convenient as the carrier can take your car straight to your doorstep rather than traveling to and from a terminal. Carrier competition also impacts price quotes. Prices are typically higher when demand is high, and carriers are scarcer. 

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