Updated: March 22, 2020
After you’ve purchased a new car online the most common question we get is: “How to transport the car your hometown”? Well, it’s time for not so exciting task – find the right auto transport company that will deliver your new vehicle to your doorstep. Is it hard to get a vetted and pre-screened shipper? Yes and no…
Yes, because the competition is fierce and companies fight for every client (sometimes by using ugly tactics). You might end up with the broker that can low-ball the price and might assign the driver without proper license and insurance.
No, because if you are prepared for the process you can easily screen perfect drivers and companies that will deliver your car without the headache. In this article, we’ll try to focus on key things that you need to check while searching and comparing quotes from different companies. Let’s get started!
The most obvious answer would be to simply Google for auto transport companies, but there is a trick… Most of the results you’ll get are from so-called lead generation websites. These websites are not actually transportation firms, they simply collect your information and sell it to 5 or 10 brokers. That’s when the nightmare starts!
The moment you submit your request you’ll get tons of phone calls, emails, and text messages. With people trying to sell you their service. The tricky part here is that most of the companies will do whatever it takes to sell you the service they offer. Those sales agents will tell you what you want to hear just to get a contract and credit card from you. Some companies will provide unrealistically low quotes just to get your attention and then raise the price once the car is about to be picked up.
If you don’t want to spend the entire day taking phone calls from random people, you can get instant and online quotes. Here is what you’ll need to have handy to estimate the price of shipping:
As far as you can see there is no need to put your credit card information or sign a contract to get a quote. It takes about 50 seconds to get an estimated price!
No, it’s just an estimate of what drivers usually ask on your specific route. Price can change 5%-10% up and down during high or slow seasons. The price is calculated based on numerous factors, but most importantly it’s based on the history of recent transportation orders performed by drivers. It’s like a marketplace – the more cars on the route the higher end price will be for the customer. If demand is higher from the driver’s end – the price will be cheaper for the shipper.
Here is what transport companies see when they are trying to estimate the price for the specific car on the route:
As far as you can see the price range for a standard sedan on NY – CA route starts from $753 and ends at $1144. Most probably transportation company will ask for something average on this route, but if you are in a rush you can end up paying on the highest mark for the expedited shipping request.
There are a lot of factors transportation companies take into account when calculating the price to ship a car for you. Some of the most important are vehicle size, locations, miles range, and dates when you need to get it done. The main idea is the easier it is for the driver to pick up your car the lower price will be.
Most of the drivers use big trailers – car haulers. Sometimes it’s hard to fit into the narrow street to pick up the car and the driver might ask you to meet him at the nearest parking lot or shopping mall. Distance from the main interstates is very important too. If the driver needs to drive 100 miles from the interstate or metro area to get your vehicle he might ask for additional change (usually around a $1 per mile).
Some drivers don’t really like to pick up cars that are going from auctions like Copart or IaaI, simply because they can wait for hours to be loaded.
Here is an example of a good pick up and delivery location. Both are on the metro area of bog cities and main interstate roads and not far away. Both locations are in a good area, it’s easy for the drivers to access both cities and there are a lot of vehicle shipping requests from these locations:
Now take a look at this example: pick up and delivery locations are miles away from main roads, the route is not popular among the drivers and it will be hard to find another vehicle after the drop-off. The driver will ask for more simply because it’s easier to get another car from different locations.
Drivers charge per spot on their trailers. The golden standard is a midsize sedan, so the larger your vehicle is – the higher the price can be. You can pay x1.25 for SUV, x1.5 for pickup truck from what you can pay for sedan shipping.
If your vehicle is heavier than stock, has any modifications – be prepared to add extra to ship it and don’t forget to indicate this information to the driver prior to signing the contract.
Here is a good example – price breakdown for sedan, SUV, and pickup truck on NY – FL route.
One question transportation companies get all the time – will I get a discount if I ship multiple vehicles at one time? The answer is Yes. It’s much easier for the driver to pick up and deliver multiple vehicles from and to the same location. So ask your shipping agent what discount can they provide to you if you are shipping multiple vehicles load.
This information might be very useful for dealers that need to transport many vehicles all the time. Next time you request a quote ask your shipping manager is it possible to get a discount for your move.
It’s much easier to pickup the car if it’s in running condition and the driver can simply transport it onto the trailer. However in case if your car is in inoperable condition (but rolls and steers) driver can use a winch to get in loaded. Usually, companies are asking for 75-100 more for vehicles that needed to be loaded with the help of the winch.
In case your car does not roll you will need to hire a forklift or towing car to get it on and off the trailer. Companies don’t like dealing with such vehicles simply because it will take much longer to load and unload them and such vehicles can damage the trailer.
Don’t forget to indicate this information when making the request, because some drivers don’t have winches on their trailers.
There are two main trailer types: open and enclosed. Open trailers are more common and it’s easier to find them on the market. 85% of all shipments are being delivered on open trailers. They are safe, reliable and the cost is affordable. However, if you need to transport luxury or expensive car you might want to use an enclosed trailer. There are two main factors why you should think about enclosed transportation:
It’s worth noticing that price for an enclosed trailer significantly higher, than open. Expect to pay approximately 50% more to ship your car in an enclosed trailer.
It would be perfect if you could make a request at least 1 week in advance to the first available pick up date. In this case, the transportation company will have enough time to prepare the move, screen available drivers and get you the best rate on the market. But it’s not always possible… Sometimes you need to get it done yesterday, and there is no time to search and wait. In this case, drivers might ask for $150-$250 more to re-schedule their routes and pick up your car asap.
The easiest way to save here is to plan everything ahead of time. 1 – 2 weeks prior to the first available date is enough. Also remember, that most drivers ask for a 1-day window for pick up and delivery. Let’s say you need your car to be picked up on the 23rd of March – there is a possibility that the driver will not be able to match this timeframe, so all companies indicate a 1-day window in their contract and never guarantee exact pick up and delivery dates.
Ok, now that you understand the main shipping cost factors, it’s time to find a way to save on car shipping. It might be hard because some companies can offer very low rates just to lure you into the contract, but we’ll describe things that you need to check to avoid being scammed.
It might sound easy, but sometimes it’s really hard to deal with all things in advance. Especially if you are moving and you need to take care of many things at one time. However, it might be a good idea to request quotes from different providers at least 7 days prior to your desired shipping date.
Most drivers and dispatchers schedule pick ups 3-4 days before the date when the car is supposed to be picked up. Let’s say you need to transport your car on the 30st of March, you should submit your request on the 23rd. In this case, brokers will have enough time to pre-screen drivers and choose the best one for you. remember that sometimes drivers ask for more if they see that vehicle pick up is supposed to be in 1 day.
Here is a simple truth – most of the companies you’ll be dealing with are brokers. They charge their broker fee on top of the carrier pay. This broker fee vary from company to company. The industry standard is $150 broker fee, but some companies can charge $200-$300 for doing the same job. Literally, they will hire the same driver for the same carrier pay but will add $300 on top as a fee for their service.
*Carrier pay – the price, that goes directly to the driver for his service
*Broker fee or deposit – the price that goes to the broker company as a fee for their help with scheduling everything.
*Total price = carrier pay + broker fee (deposit)
The best decision would be to get something in the middle – not the lowest quote, bot the highest. Then check online reviews and pre-screen companies that you like.
Most companies can offer military, senior or student discounts to their customers. It won’t hurt you to ask for a discount but can save $50-$75.
You should try to be flexible with pick up dates. It would be hard to get a good price if you have an exact date for pick up and the driver has to be at your doorstep at 1600 sharp. First – carrier companies will never guarantee exact pick up and delivery timing, second – brokers might take advantage of this fact and ask for expedited rate (which is $200-$250 more). The best idea is to be flexible within a 1-day window period (ex. 25th and 26th of March) to be sure that you or your designated person will be there to meet the driver.
Remember we talked about inoperable vehicles and how they can cost more to ship? It might be a good idea to repair your car before shipping. 1st – it will be easier to find a driver since you won’t need a winch to load the car; 2nd – broker won’t ask for a premium to ship an inoperable vehicle.
It can cost $100-$150 to fix some minor problems (change battery, simple repair jobs), but isn’t it better to pay for your vehicle repair, than pay extra to the driver?
The car shipping price can be different throughout the year. Many factors, like the season, weather, fuel price can influence the rates. Moreover, the price can be different from company to company. The easiest way to get the best rates is to compare different sources, companies, and vendors. It’s easy if you are not in a rush, but it can be a hard task if you need to get your vehicles asap.
Drivers calculate their rates in price per mile. Brokers get their fee on top of the carrier pay to manage the process and check drivers’ legal paperwork. We’ll try to break down and disclose the estimated shipping price on some major routes.
Even though there are a lot of factors that can affect moving costs, the estimated price is calculated on the base of very specific data. Most companies use CentralDispatch to AutoTransportQuoter to get an idea of how much will it cost to ship a car on the route.
The data is based on previous shipments since all information is logged and can be used to predict supply and demand on the lane. All prices will be shown for a midsize sedan, so remember:
Midsize Sedan = 1
SUV = 1.25
Pickup = 1.4
Example: the cost for sedan shipping is $1000, then the cost for SUV will be $1250, the cost for pickup truck will be $1400
The average price to transport a car from NY is around $0.35-$0.4 per mile. The simple rule is the following – the more miles the less price per mile. Let’s say you need to move your car from NY to FL, the mileage is around 1200-1300 miles and the average price would be around $0.4 per mile.
If you need to ship your vehicle to CA, where the distance is around 2600-2700 miles, the average price would be around $0.35 per mile.
There are periods when drivers don’t really like going to Florida, but still, it’s one of the most popular states in auto transport industry. Florida can be tricky during the so-called “snowbirds season”. November-December, when everybody’s trying to get out from NY and get a little bit more sun and good weather. Rates can sky-high to ship your car to Florida, but all drivers will try to get out of this state right away, so it will be really cheap to ship the car from Florida.
The same goes for the February – March period, when cars need to be moved from Florida back. That’s when rates to ship a car from FL are very high.
Here is a brief breakdown of the prices to ship a car from FL to other main destinations:
Texas is one of the most crowded transportation hubs in the USA. Austin, Dallas – these cities attract drivers because there are a lot of vehicles going to and from. Since Texas is logistically well situated, prices for car shipping are very good considering other locations. The average rates are about $0.3 per mile for 1 vehicle. It’s worth noticing that due to the fact that many vehicles are being transported from big cities sometimes it’s hard to get a driver to ship a car from remote cities.
Cities like Loredo, that are very close to the Mexican border can be hard to reach for drivers and sometimes it’s easier for them to pick up cars from Dallas or Austin, so the price can be a bit higher than usual.
Largest ports, Hawaii and a large population make California a very attractive place for drivers. Los Angeles and San Diego are one of the most popular cities in car shipping and many companies have their storages and hubs there.
The average price to ship a car is $0.45 per mile. However, it really depends on the route, total mileage, and your vehicle size. It would be better to get an online estimate. It will take just 1 minute of your time, but you’ll be able to compare quotes from different companies.
Yes, each vehicle is insured by carrier insurance. Open trailer shipping – up to $100K, enclosed trailer – up to $250K. Insurance will not cover things that you put inside your car.
Yes and no. According to carriers license driver is not allowed to transport anything inside the car. But most drivers are ok with no more than 100 lbs in the trunk of the car. Just make sure you secure everything correctly.
Drivers can make around 450 miles per day. Simply divide mileage on 450 and you’ll get days to deliver your car.
Usually, it’s divided into two parts: partial deposit when booking (around $150) and the remaining balance goes to the driver on delivery. You can pay via credit card the first partial deposit, the remaining balance can be paid to the driver with cash once the car is delivered.
Sure, all companies are working with major auto auctions and dealers. The most known are Copart, IaaI, Manheim. You will need to provide the shipping company with a lot number, buyer number and last 6 digits of the Vin for them to pick up the car. In the case of Manheim driver will need the release form.
You don’t need to have any documents to ship the car. The broker will issue a contract and dispatch list to the driver. The driver will give you the BOL (Bill Of Lading) on the pick up and delivery locations. Just make sure the driver signs BOL on both locations. You can take pictures or take photos if you wish (we’d recommend you do that)
Yes, the driver will need the keys to load the car, and keys will stay with him during the whole transportation process. It happens that drivers lose keys, so make sure you have spare ones.
No, the driver will need to have only keys from the vehicle. It might be a good idea to remove plates to avoid toll charges.
No worries, your vehicle is insured by carriers insurance. First of all, make sure the driver indicates all the information about the damage on the BOL. Than make photos or make a video of the car. Then get in touch with the company you’ve placed an order with (most probably it will be broker company) and ask them to send you all information about the insurance company and insurance certificate of the carrier company. Once you have this information simply get in touch with the insurance agent and file a claim.
Yes, most companies have a $1000-$2500 insurance deductible.
Wash it, take a couple of pictures, leave half of the tank of fuel, charge battery, disable antennas, remove roof rack if possible, take a picture of your odometer, make the video of the driver loading the car.