How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car? 

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car? 

The big rig powerful semi truck with a car hauler trailer for the transporting of cars on the straight road in the Arizona twilight with the last rays of the sun on a trailer rack

In today’s blog, we are going to talk about how much it cost to ship a car in the United States, help you understand how this industry works, and how to choose the right car shipper and insurance. We’ll start with how a quote is generated and what factors affect the final price, as well as learn about the market and the people around it. Finally, we’ll help you choose the right auto shipper for your particular needs. In that section, we will discuss the different kinds of shippers and what you receive when working with one or the other. 

Cost of shipping a car

Knowing the ins and outs of the auto shipping industry will help you choose a reliable company and avoid a bad experience. It is common to assume shipping your car is similar to getting a package shipped (e.g., FedEx, UPS, USPS), but in reality, the auto transport industry is very different. There are thousands of independent truck drivers with dispatchers who build loads in the lanes where they specialize. A typical car hauler can take up to 10 vehicles at one time. Shipping a vehicle is more like hiring a contractor to do work on your house: the market (supply and demand) determines the final price, availability, and how quickly your car can be delivered. 

Note: The number of cars that needs to be transported daily greatly exceeds the number of trucks available.

In today’s blog, we are going to talk about how much it costs to ship a car in the United States, help you understand how this industry works, and how to choose the right car shipper and insurance. We’ll start with how a quote is generated and what factors affect […]

Pricing is based on the market rate

After a car shipping estimate is generated, the carrier or broker will review it and look at the overall market price of truck drivers running your origination and destination, or route. The final price of shipping your vehicle ultimately comes down to how much a truck driver wants to get paid to ship your vehicle over to someone else’s. If you’re in a highly populated metropolitan area, you’ll most likely get a better price, because more carriers are servicing that lane. 

Some brokers and some carriers will then advertise your vehicle shipment on what are called load boards, which is an online marketplace where drivers compete and bid on loads. Based on the factors mentioned above –like pickup point, the rate offered, brokers’ reputation, etc. – drivers look for loads that meet their requirements and pricing. They are also more willing to work with carriers or brokers who they’ve worked with before or have established business relationships with. 

To get started most online quotes generators are based on the following information and will give you a pretty good idea of what the final price will be:

  • Type of car
    Large vehicles will weigh more and take up more space. Consequently, they will come with a higher price to ship.
  • Car condition
    Inoperable vehicles require additional time, equipment, labor, and expertise to load and unload.
  • Location
    Metropolitan pickups and deliveries are cheaper due to the wider availability of transport trucks. While in less populated areas, drivers will charge more and it will be more difficult to find transport. 
  • Season
    Car transport in the fall tends to carry a higher rate on north-south routes due to snowbirds relocating for the winter.
  • Demand
    Cost is tied to demand. That means that it can change as a result of external factors. E.g. Wars, shortages, climate events, etc.

Protip: The key to keeping your shipping costs down is flexibility. The more flexible you are on dates, the type of service, and the exact pickup locations, the lower your overall auto-shipping quotes will be. 

Try our instant car shipping calculator to estimate your vehicle shipping price accurately!

How to choose the right car shipper and insurance?

There are generally two types of car shippers: brokers and carriers, or owner-operators. 

  • Brokers are companies that connect you with carriers/owner-operators to ship your car, saving you time getting multiple quotes and finding carriers who are willing to ship from your location.  
  • Carrier/Owner Operators are privately owned, and will either own their trucks or broker out your vehicle to other carriers/owner-operators. They usually operate from one location and have specific types of trailers, ie. open trailers, enclosed, flatbed, etc. 

Does my car need to be insured when shipping a car?

  • Customer insurance. You don’t usually need personal insurance to ship your vehicle
  • Carrier insurance. The carrier must have insurance that covers damage to your car
  • Broker insurance. The broker can offer supplemental coverage to attract customers but isn’t required to provide insurance
CustomerCarrier/Owner OperatorBroker
Insurance typePersonal auto insuranceLiability coverageSupplemental coverage
Insurance summaryAuto transport is not typically included, but supplemental insurance can be purchasedMust have federal minimums for license and insuranceMust use licensed and insured carriers; can offer supplemental coverage
Insurance requirementsState minimumsFederal minimumsMust use adequately insured carriers
Required for shipping?OptionalRequiredOptional
Cost to ship a car?

Final thoughts –

As you may have realized, the process behind your car being transported from point A to point B has many more steps and actors involved than what can be intuited when acquiring a quote on the internet. Knowing the ins and outs of how you get priced and how the industry works, will allow you to 

  1. Understand the proper time, season, and even location from where to transport your car
  2. Choose a company that ensures you that your vehicle will be picked up and that the ship will be under the budget agreed upon and under safe and efficient conditions
  3. Know why the cheapest price isn’t always the best and why when a company promises to transport your car well below the market price, is likely unable to keep its word
  4. Learn why reputation, years of industry experience, and full logistics services can make all the difference

Booking with RCG Logistics in four simple steps

The move shouldn’t make you have to deal with unclear terms, delays, extra fees, confusion, and many other variables proper to the logistics and transport industry. That is why we simplify the process for you and take all the pressure of the logistics off your shoulders by offering no upfront cost, working directly with you from pickup to delivery and we’ll handle any possible hiccups along the way. After the following four simple steps, which won’t take more than 15 minutes of your time, you won’t have to think about the move again. 

  1. Get your free online car shipping quote
    Get an instant car shipping quote through our shipping calculator. Just tell us about your vehicle, condition, location, and where you need it to be. Start Car Shipping Quote!
  2. Speaking with a Representative to make a Reservation
    Our customer service agent will contact you after you get a car shipping quote to verify. You’ll be able to discuss your specific needs and confirm the necessary details of your move.
  3. Schedule
    We will then schedule the carrier that most closely suits your schedule and equipment needs. Then just wait for your professional car shipper to pick up your vehicle.
  4. Let us handle the move and get it scheduled and booked in less than 3 business days
    Let us and your carrier handle all the work. You’ll receive regular updates on where your shipment is and when you can expect it to arrive at its destination.

About the Author: Maria Pelaez

I am Content Creator at RCG and I cover the transportation and relocation industries. My background is in journalism and writing for Mass Media and podcasts; the experience of creating content for a transport logistics company in the United States has been rewarding. As a Colombian, I have had the chance to learn a lot about the American culture and all the people behind the transportation industry.


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