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How Does Car Shipping Work?


1) How Much Does It Cost?

2) Brokers & Carriers

3) Car Shipping Process

4) How to Prepare Your Vehicle?


The car shipping industry has been around for much longer than you might think. The first semi-trailer/semi-truck was created all the way back in 1898, by Scottish-American Alexander Winton, founder of the Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland. Winton developed the invented the tractor-trailer as a means to better facilitate selling merchandise (namely cars) to customers that lived great distances away. Of the years, the industry has evolved to include a number of airlines and naval freighter options. Each year, thousands of cars are transported locally and internationally, commercially and privately.

This industry is continually evolving and expanding, with more and more transports becoming available each year. This has caused a rise in competitive prices amongst seasoned companies and carriers, making auto shipping cheaper than ever before (often ranging in amounts from $500 - $1,300). Whether you’re having a shipment of cars delivered from a manufacturer, moving a prize-winning luxury car from one side of the country to the other, or if you’re picking up the car you’ve won on eBay, the auto shipping industry can address your needs. Detailed below are some of the more critical aspects regarding the auto shipping process, start to end.


How to prepare car; car shipping cost


How much does it cost 


The price of auto shipping can vary broker to broker, carrier to carrier. Not only is it affected by fluctuations in the market (which is defined by the carriers), but also by other factors about your specific order. Here are some of the major points that can either increase or decrease the price of your service.

1. The company you choose will have a significant impact on the price. 1 thing you have to remember - all companies that will get in touch with you are brokers. They will post your vehicle to the national carriers board CentrlDispatch and search for the driver to move your car. Some companies have better contracts and relationships with carriers than others, and that translates into better prices for their customers. In order to get a better rate and not be scammed by low-balling companies check online reviews first. You can simply goolge keywords like "[company name] reviews" to get a better idea about the company you are about to hire. 

2. The type of service you select will definitely alter the price of your shipment. While open transit carriers are notably less expensive, if you select the enclosed option, you can expect a sharp increase in price. The delivery dates can also be a factor in how much the service provided will cost in total. Flexibility with pickup and delivery dates can be a huge factor in auto transport. Most companies do not guarantee exact pickup and delivery dates due to the nature of the business (traffic jams, weather conditions, road collisions, etc.) so the more flexible you can be - the better rate you can get. If your dates are fixed expect an additional "expedited" charge to meet your timeframes. 

3. The number of vehicles you are having transported will also affect the price. More cars mean higher costs. While this statement might seem logical, sometimes shippers think that the more cars they ship the less they will pay. In fact, some carriers make discounts for more vehicle (du to the fact that it's easier to pickup more vehicle from one location and deliver to one location), but in reality, carriers will do that only if there are no other vehicles listed on the same route. Carriers are businessmen and they try to get better rates for every spot they have on the truck. 

4. Distance is also a factor that determines the price. While many services offer bicoastal transport (from one side of the country to the other, and north to south), shorter distances will cost less. I would say that the average cost to transport a car from Florida to New York would be around $550-$650, Florida to California around $750-$850, California to New York around $1150-$1250. But prices are a subject of drivers confirmation and the larger vehicle you the higher price you'll have to pay to have it transported.  

5. Pickup and delivery locations are a huge factor when the quote is being calculated. Metro areas are usually considered as favorable by drivers (even though most drivers don't like super busy cities like New York do to tolls and traffic). It's easier to deliver cars o cities that are not far away from interstate highways, than to cities that are really far away. Drivers can ask for up to $1 per mile additionally if they have to turn off the highway and deliver cars to rural or hard to deliver places and cities. It might be a good idea to meet the driver not far away from the highway in some cases to reduce the cost of shipping. 

These factors are typically automatically considered when you use a company’s estimate generating tool. The best way to get a better understanding is to either use a site’s estimate generator (like the one provided in the link above) or file for a quote to get a more accurate idea of how much it will cost.


Auto Transport Quote Examples:


From To Sedan SUV Pickup
Austin, TX Seattle, WA $900 $1050 $1250
Atlanta, GA Los Angeles, CA $775 $875 $950
Oxnard, CA Fort Myers, FL $685 $780 $950
Tampa, FL Chicago Heights, IL $650 $725 $850
Miami, FL San Francisco, CA $850 $950 $1025
Norwalk, CT Lynchburg, VA $750 $850 $940
Everett, WA Mechanicsburg, PA $875 $985 $1075
Denver, CO Spring, TX $550 $625 $675
Washington, DC Sacramento, CA $1100 $1150 $1250
Ashland, MA San Mateo, CA $900 $1050 $1150
Princeton Junction, NJ San Jose, CA $850 $1000 $1150
Medway, MA Scottsdale, AZ $1000 $1150 $1200
Hempstead, NY Blaine, WA $1400 $1550 $1600
Woods Cross, UT Boulder, CO $350 $375 $450


*add $100 if your vehicle is inoperable

How To Get Started (4 Steps)
1. Get Your Quote

While there are a number of aspects to securing an auto shipping service, as mentioned, most companies are doing their best to streamline the process. Not only does this make things easier for the customer, but also increases their business. The best of auto shipping companies will have smooth, easy services start to finish. If you’re curious about acquiring service for personal or commercial reasons, here are five easy steps to getting started.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to get a car shipping quote. This will give you a rough idea of how much your service is going to cost, allowing you to manage your finances better. Different companies will give you different quotes, so you should do your research thoroughly. There are a number of factors that will contribute to the overall price of the service provided.

2. Choose Your Company

Once you’ve acquired a quote, you’ll want to select the company that best provides you with the desired service. There may be many competitors that are close in price, but you’ll want to go with the more popular selection. Be sure to read reviews and select a service that will take care of the vehicle(s) in question. The better the company you select, the lower the chance of being dissatisfied with their business.

3. Prepare & Sign Documents

While the carrier will be in charge of loading, delivering, and unloading the vehicle(s) in question, it’s up to the consumer to ensure that their vehicle is ready for transport. This includes a number of things (listed below), some of which are for your benefit should your car be damaged during transit. This probably the easiest part. Once everything has been decided and agreed on, it’s just a matter of signing the documents and agreeing to terms. After the papers have been inked, it’s just a matter of the carrier coming to pick up your vehicle and begin the delivery process. Be sure to schedule in advance so that your service will be completed within your desired time frame.

4. Receive Your Car

Equally as important as being there to have your car picked up is being there to receive it at the delivery destination. Most companies will likely have strict policies regarding this, as your vehicle is more than likely not the only one being transported. Do your best to make sure you are on time to receive your vehicle on the agreed delivery date and time.

The Car Shipping Process

The entire auto shipping process can become quite convoluted sometimes, because of the research it requires and the amount of planning that goes into it. Many companies and service providers have done their best to streamline the process and make it as easy as humanly possible, but with so many services available, it can still be difficult at times.

Once you decide on a company to move your vehicle(s), it’s up to you to make sure your vehicle is prepared for pickup (more on that below). The auto shipping service will handle all of the labor of delivering your car to your agreed destination, which includes transport, ensuring that it’s loaded correctly, and secure throughout transit. While this might all sound straightforward and simple, as mentioned, it can sometimes be challenging to make sure everything aligns. Auto shipping companies provide a number of services, and you need to make sure that you’re not only selecting the ones that you need but not inflating your price by choosing options that you don’t need.

The best thing you can do for yourself is careful, thorough research. The more you know about the industry, its standards, and its process, the better you will be able to make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase an auto transporting service. Knowledge is power, and even when it comes to a widely used industry like automotive shipping, there’s no such thing as knowing too much.



Car Shipping Methods (Open vs. Enclosed)

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether or not you want your vehicle to be shipped using an open or enclosed trailer. While both are viable means of auto transportation, there are distinct differences between the two. The biggest is most certainly the price.

- Open auto shipping is the most popular of the two forms of transportation that you can find on the market. All across the United States, thousands of people and hundreds of companies move their vehicles, and most select the open car transport service. This type of trailer works for any kind of vehicle (except in some cases where the car has undergone significant modifications). Being too low or too high can increase the costs of being transported via open transport. In extremely rare cases, a multi-level, multi-car transport may not be able to hold your vehicle. The important things to note about open transports is that your vehicle will be exposed to weather elements, including sun, rain, snow, wind, and to possible road elements like dust, dirt, and road debris. This increases the risk of chips on the paint or anything else that might be caused by inclement weather or poor road conditions. So, while being convenient, it is also less friendly to your vehicle.

- An enclosed transport service (also known as covered) is the opposite of the open transports. Vehicles are instead shipped in containers that will protect them from all external elements and conditions. These containers are much smaller than the standard open transport trailers. In most cases, the maximum number of cars that are shipped per container is roughly 7. These trailers are likewise more expensive, and because of their size, less efficient in terms of auto transporting service. This is a particularly limited service, with few carriers willing to undertake it (simply due to the inefficiency). This fact alone significantly raises the price of the service, though it is still a solid option for luxurious cars, or high-end sports vehicles, which buyers would not want being possibly damaged on in open transit. Enclosed shipping options are best left for vehicles of extreme value and importance, like the aforementioned sports or high-end luxury vehicles.

Brokers and Carriers

If you’re purchasing an auto shipping service, you’ll be dealing with both brokers and carriers in the industry. Even if you only interact with one or the other direction, both play a critical role in providing you with your purchased service. There are two sides of the same coin, and supplying customers with excellent services requires a healthy relationship between the two entities.

Let's get to the point right away. Once you submit your request to transport a car most probably it will be sold to up to 10 companies by lead generation websites. 7 out of 10 websites on the first page of Google are lead generation companies that sell "leads" or online requests to broker companies. The minute you submit your request brokers will call, email and text you. You might receive 10-20 phone calls within the first 5 minutes, so it might be a good decision to simply urn of your phone. 

Basically, all broker companies will try to sell their service to you. Some will offer unrealistically low rates, some companies will try to explain the whole process. The main rule here is not to your order right away. You should check online reviews and company reputation because some broker agencies will give you "low-ball" to lock the deal and get credit card information from you. They will raise the price afterward, but you won't have any other options and will have to accept the offer. 

Things to remember when working with a broker: 

- Check online reviews first; 

- Don't go with the lowest rates. Most probably it's a "low-ball" tactic to get an order from you; 

- Read the contract carefully. 

- Once the driver is assigned to the order you should ask for the driver's information and copy of his insurance policy;

- Remember about car transport insurance coverage, more information can be found here;

- Make sure the company indicates the total and final price in the contract (with all fees, taxes, and insurance included). 

- In 95% cases, you will have to pay a small deposit to lock the deal (usually around $150) and the remaining balance goes to the driver on delivery location with cash or any certified funds. Make sure you have enough cash available on the delivery location in order to avoid any problems; 

- You should get the signed copy of the Bill Of Lading from the driver on both pickup and delivery locations. It's important for insurance purposes. 

In the auto shipping industry, brokers are the logistics and management body (probably the company you’ve booked your service through). They spend their time organizing orders and coordinating logistics throughout their network. They’re the ones that process your orders and then offer those orders and shipments to the carriers. They are responsible for finding the best-rated transport carriers available to ensure satisfaction for the customer.

Carriers are professional, CDL drivers that are trained in loading, unloading, and transporting vehicles safely. A carrier will accept or decline loads from their brokers or shippers, deciding on a price they feel is reasonable to both parties. When it comes to moving a load across the country, they’re the ones that know best, and so they decide the auto transport rates.

When dealing with either the broker or carrier, you should be mindful of where you live and where your vehicle is being delivered. Some services provided by both may not apply to your area due to bylaws or regulations (weight limit on roads, etc.). At any rate, these two entities work closely together in order to provide you with the auto shipping service you know in today’s modern world.

Recent Shipment Rates
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE
El Paso, TX
Arlington, TX
2014 Honda Accord
Mason, OH
Miami, FL
2006 Toyota Corolla
Taylor, MI
Hightstown, NJ
2004 ford F150
Newport, VT
Burbank, IL
Preparing Your Vehicle for Transport

Getting your vehicle(s) transport-ready is about more than just cleaning out the essentials. There are some extra odds and ends that you’ll want to be sure to take care of it only to protect yourself in the case of damage or loss. Here’s a quick “to do list” whenever you’re getting your car ready to be shipped.

Take high-quality photos of your vehicle(s) – You’re going to want to take high-quality pictures of your vehicle. This includes the inside, as well. Be sure to get one of every side, and add some from various angles. The more pictures, the better. It might seem tedious and excessive, but you’ll be grateful when if you find something damaged and have the photo to prove it wasn’t their pre-shipment.

Provide Your Vehicle’s Precise Measurements – In most cases, vehicle transports are loaded with precise measurements in mind. They arrange everything so that all the vehicles on their load will fit without issue. The more details you provide about the make and model of your car, the better they can ensure no issues will arise.

Clean Out the Car – This seems simple, but it’s something you don’t want to overlook. Before you have your car shipped, you’ll want to clean it out. This doesn’t just mean actual cleaning, but gathering any important documents that you’ll need and would prefer not to be lost. This includes things like registration and any other important legal documents concerning your car. Transport trucks deal with strict weight restrictions and additional items in your vehicle might complicate that.

Ensure Low Fuel – If you’re going to have your vehicle moved using an auto transport service, be sure that you do not have more than a quarter-tank of gas. Having more fuel than this in your care can provide additional, unnecessary safety hazards.

Remove Any Loose Parts – This includes the car antenna (if it is not retractable) or any bed liners that are not bolted down. Loose parts not only pose a risk to damaging other cars on the transport unit but fellow drivers on the road. Should something detach from your car during transit and damage another vehicle being transported, or cause an accident, you could face serious legal actions. These simple and easy to follow steps can help ensure a safer transport experience for all parties involved, and give both customer and carrier confidence in the process.

More Articles: 

Motorcycle Shipping     Heavy Equipment Shipping     Cheap Auto Transport     Classic car transport     Cross Country Car Shipping

Car Shipping Reviews
Nisha O.
Tim A.
Siri G.
Randy M.
Ibrahim H.

I ask you all to read my comment to understand my view and get some tips. understand that everyone's has their experiences, I understand this is tough business to take care of, and I understand that some of you may think this fake user or something since this is my first review ever on yelp but no Movewheels did an amazing job delivering my car from FL to CA in 4 days!!! I was probably like most of you. I did not know who to choose since they are too many companies that does the job, but I had to give Movewheels a shot since they are located in Florida and my car is in Florida too. They came and picked up the car the next day and immediately told me it is gonna be there in four days. I did not believe them first since they have to say that just to get me some confidence on them, and I was surprised that they did it as they said. Ara and Rohando did great job. They communicate fast and I had no problem with them. They were honest and fast to help. My tip for those who want to ship their cars is this. If you want to ship your car, look for companies that located in your state. This is going to help them to pick your car quickly instead of sending someone from different state to pick it up because that will take some time and you will get desperate. I would definitely recommend Movewheels to anyone based on my experience with them.

The car made it across the United States and was 2 days early. Perfect

Very great customer service. Valery young was very helpful and was texting me with all the information i need. My motorcycle was picked up a day after I signed the contract from Seattle and was delivered to Houston 6 days later. The driver was very nice and helpful. I also used them to ship my car but it should be delivered in a few days since it was shipped later than the motorcycle

Other reviews warned of higher prices. The dispatch company called and said the driver wanted to charge a higher rate of $100. I said no. Then they called and said the driver is asking for $50 more. I said no again. Then they called sayingbthey had a driver in the area who could transport the car that day for $20 more. We agreed to this. Everything is negotiable, right? I feel sorry for the people who did not negotiate the higher rate. The drivers called and set up the pick up. They were nice and communicated well. At delivery they were nice to my daughter and communicated delivery in advance. Overall I'm pleased with transporting a car over 2000 miles away.

Hanna was very helpful. She explained the process step by step. She goes the extra mile to make sure her customers are satisfied. She did great with communicating with me. Overall, I am greatly satisfied with my service and I will be back. Thank you again.

I had the pleasure of working with Mia. She worked diligently to find a driver to meet my quote after the first driver increased the price. I cannot praise Mia enough. She was responsive, friendly, and--most importantly--great at her job. Cheers to you, Mia!