Step 1: Find car shipping companies
The first thing to do when getting an auto transport quote is to identify several car shipping companies. While there are thousands you could choose from, we’ve done the research to narrow down your options to five of the nation’s best vehicle shipping companies.
Since we recommend getting multiple auto transport quotes, you’ll want to visit the websites of three to four auto shipping companies.
Move.org’s best car shipping companies
Move.org researched 10 different companies and analyzed nearly 700 quotes to identify the nation’s best car shipping companies. In addition to carefully reviewing each company’s website, we also called them posing as customers to get a firsthand look at what customers experience.
We also invited several industry leaders to our headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, to learn more about current trends and get pricing and insurance details not easily available via company websites or phone calls.
What’s the difference between a broker and a carrier?
An auto transport broker is the company that gives you your quotes. Brokers connect you with one of the thousands of truck drivers, called carriers, who delivers your vehicle.
Step 2: Determine quote options
Visit the websites of several auto shipping brokers to determine how to get an auto transport quote. Companies offer a combination mix of three auto shipping quote options:
- Online forms. Nearly every car transport company has an online form where you can fill in basic information about your auto shipment. However, these forms don’t typically result in instant quotes. Instead, you’ll often receive an email or a confirmation number and be directed to call the company.
- Telephone quotes. All transport brokers can provide car shipping estimates over the phone. These are usually the most accurate because telephone reps analyze real-time variables that affect shipping costs, like route popularity and road closures. Most car shipping companies prefer this option, but it can take 10–15 minutes to get an estimate of your car shipping cost.
- Instant online quotes. A few top-notch auto transporters like American Auto Shipping and Easy Auto Ship offer instant online quotes. Unlike online forms, you don’t have to call the car transport company back with a confirmation number. You instantly get an estimate of the shipping cost. This is the most convenient option, but you also sacrifice some accuracy compared to telephone quotes.
Ways to get an auto transport quote
Car shipping quote type
When to use
|Online forms||15–20 minutes||You don’t have time to make a phone call and can’t find a company with instant online quotes.|
|Telephone quotes||10–15 minutes||You want the most accurate quote.|
|Instant online quotes||1–2 minutes||You want a quote right now.|
Step 3: Provide vehicle shipping details
The car shipping company estimates your car shipping cost based on the information you provide about your shipment. Every broker you work with will request basic details about your vehicle, location, and time frame. You’ll also need to choose between open and enclosed transport.
The car shipping broker needs to know whether your vehicle operates under its own power (it’s cheaper if your vehicle can drive directly onto the auto transport carrier). It will also ask for your vehicle’s year, make, and model. You can usually find this information on your vehicle registration or your car’s trunk or front grille:
- Year. The year your vehicle was manufactured.
- Make. The company which built your car (such as Toyota, Ford, or Hyundai).
- Model. The specific type of vehicle (like a Corolla, Fusion, or Elantra).
In this example, we went to Montway Auto Transport’s website and said we wanted to ship a 2017 Ford Fusion in working condition.
You need to enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle to get an auto transport quote. Most brokers will also ask if your car is operable (or driveable).
The auto transport company needs to know your origin and destination zip codes to estimate a car shipping cost.
You may also be asked for specific address information (it helps ensure that the car carrier has room to unload at your new address). However, that information isn’t necessary to get a car shipping quote, so feel free to push back if the broker presses you. Most telephone reps respond well if you say something like, “I haven’t memorized my new address yet. Could you give me a quote based on my zip codes?”
Tell your auto shipping broker when you’d like your car picked up. We recommend giving yourself a week’s worth of wiggle room. Why? Most pickup dates aren’t guaranteed. We’ve seen rare exceptions like Montway Auto Transport, but in most cases, your pickup date is only an estimate.
For example, if you request a July 15 pickup date, the company will arrive on July 15—give or take a few days. If you must be out of town on July 15, and the transport company hasn’t shown up, that’s a problem. On the other hand, you’d have some room to breathe if you provided a pickup date of July 8.
Sometimes, companies may ask you for a time window rather than a specific date. For example, Sherpa Auto Transport allows you to indicate if your car will be ready immediately, within one or two weeks or two months.
Car shipping companies need to know when they can pick up your vehicle. You can usually enter a specific date or a general time frame.
How to save big bucks
Give the car shipping broker a two-week window before your car needs to be picked up. That’s about the perfect amount of time needed for truck drivers to offer the lowest bids for your shipment.
Shipping option (or transport type)
Almost nothing affects car shipping rates more than transport type, so the broker will ask whether you want to use an open or enclosed carrier. There are a few main differences between the two options:
- Open transport. Your car is shipped on the back of an open-air truck without walls. It’s generally about 30% cheaper than enclosed transport. However, your vehicle usually gets dirty and has a higher risk of damage for things like windshield chips or paint scratches.
- Enclosed transport. Your car is shipped inside of a fully enclosed semi. There’s less room, so it costs more than open transport—but your automobile stays cleaner and has a lower risk of damage.
About 90% of customers use open transport because it’s cheaper. However, enclosed auto transport is ideal for high-end vehicles like luxury cars or classic cars.
The specific language varies by the car shipping company but will always include “open” and “enclosed.” We like this example from Ship a Car Direct because it clearly explains the cost difference between an open and enclosed carrier.
To get a car shipping quote, you must tell your broker whether you want to ship your vehicle on an open or enclosed carrier.
Step 4: Get multiple quotes
Once you obtain your first auto transport quote, it’s important to repeat the process with a few different companies. That’s because car shipping rates aren’t the same from broker to broker. It’s not uncommon for two quotes to be hundreds of dollars apart, so it pays to request three or four auto transport quotes and compare them.