Posted on 02/18/22

A Breakdown Of The Cost Of Shipping A Car

A Breakdown Of The Cost Of Shipping A Car

Why is auto transport so expensive?

Companies usually work out how much it costs to make a product and then mark it up to maximize their profit. The total cost of the product is usually not affected by any unusual factors. This is largely the overhead cost of the company plus the mark-up.

Vehicle transport is a different matter. Your auto shipment cost will be affected by many factors. All of these factors are carefully considered when calculating the final price.

What "variables" affect the price of auto transport? The primary ones are:

  • Distance
  • Type of vehicle (make/model)
  • Fuel prices
  • Shipping time
  • Shipping method
  • Season


The most important factor that affects the cost of shipping your car is distance. The cost of shipping your vehicle will increase the farther you have to go. If all the variables are in line, a long distance car shipment could be less costly than one that is closer to home. It's not a problem if you have the right variables.

Type of vehicle

Because different cars are different sizes, the make and model of the vehicle are  important. If the car is larger than normal, it may require extra labor or handling. It will also cost more to ship larger cars.

Fuel prices

Fuel prices change throughout the year, as we all know. The supply of fuel decreases as summer fuel demand rises. The result is that fuel prices rise. This is one reason to be concerned about fuel prices.

You should also remember that global events can sometimes impact the fuel price. Ten years ago, the fuel prices in the United States soared to approximately four dollars fifty cents during summer 2008. This was due to the turmoil in the Middle East at that time and the financial crisis facing the country back then. The skyrocketing fuel prices caused car shipping costs to rise much faster than usual.

Shipping time

Anyone who plans to ship their car should plan ahead. You can avoid paying extra for an expedited shipment. Depending on the distance you ship your vehicle, you should expect to be without it for at least one to three weeks. Your cost will rise significantly if you ask for an expedited option.

Shipping method

A shipping method can also include choosing an expedited shipping option as described above. When you refer to the shipping method in relation to auto transport it usually means things like enclosed transport or top-load versus bottom loads, air versus ground.

You will be charged an additional fee if you select anything other than ground transportation on an open-air carrier. This depends on the number of extras you choose. These fees may not all be equal. You will pay thousands more to ship your vehicle by air than if it is shipped on the ground. It will cost you only a few hundred dollars more to choose top load over baseload.


Your final price will also be affected by the time of year you choose to transport your vehicle. Shipping season can have an impact on many things that will directly affect your shipping cost.

One such factor is carrier availability. The availability of carriers can vary depending on the time you ship. This could lead to higher shipping costs. This is generally the case in the summer months. As mentioned, fuel prices can be affected by the season you ship. Your price will rise if fuel prices are higher.

Avoid paying super-low shipping costs for your vehicle

Be aware of bait and switch pricing scams. Some "fly-by-night" auto transport companies will attempt to undercut the competition. Once your vehicle is in transit, they will notify you of any "extra fees". They will take your vehicle if you refuse to pay. To get your vehicle back, it will take legal action and time. When you are looking for auto transport quotes, you will see that most companies offer the same price but one company offers a half-off quote. Do not book with this company.


Shipping a car can be expensive due to many factors. These include distance, make and model, time of year, shipping method, fuel prices, and whether the car is still in good condition.

With all the variables at play, it can be difficult to estimate an auto shipping cost. Any reputable auto transport company can provide a free estimate for your vehicle shipment. These estimates are accurate too. Sometimes circumstances can change and shipping costs might be slightly higher than quoted. You'll be notified of this before you pay, or hand over your car.