How to Get an Auto Transport Quote

Jenny Willden
Researcher & Writer
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Published on January 14, 2021
5 min read

At a glance

Whether you’re moving, purchasing a new car, or relocating a collectible Corvette, obtaining an auto transport quote is the first step to getting your vehicle from point A to point B. But with so many options to choose from, the process can be confusing. Every auto transport company handles car shipping quotes differently, but we’ve found it’s pretty easy to obtain an instant quote online or call car shipping companies directly.

If you’re a compare-and-contrast kind of person, use a shipping marketplace like uShip to get rates from many car carriers at once. Pricing depends on factors like season, car type, pickup and drop-off location, and shipment time frame.

Jumpstart your research with our list of the best car shipping companies.

The whole picture

Auto transport is, quite simply, the process of having a truck pick up your car at your home or business and move it to your new home or central pickup location. Prices vary depending on how, when, and where you want your car transported, but it’s easy to get a ballpark price range online or over the phone.

If you’re requesting an online quote (or calling a company directly), just provide your car’s make, model, year, and where you’re shipping it to and from to get an estimate on the spot.

While you could go to each auto shipper’s website to request these quotes, it saves time to nab a big-picture view via a marketplace like uShip.

You’ll receive quotes from multiple car carriers at once and can pick a winner based on price, time frame, and transport type—more on these differences later.

Whether you prefer an old-fashioned phone call or the anonymity of the internet, there are several options for requesting a car shipping quote:

  • Online quote generator: Looking to skip spam emails and unwanted phone calls? An online quote generator is the easiest option for obtaining a ballpark figure. Just input your car details and your destination to receive an instant estimate—without giving out your email or phone number.

We’re here to help you through the process of getting an accurate auto transport quote so you can confidently ship your car to its new home.

Here’s all the information you’ll need to request a quote:

  • Pickup and drop-off dates
  • Origin city
  • Destination city
  • Preference for open or enclosed carrier
  • Vehicle year, make, model, and type
  • Vehicle condition—does your car run?

Where do I get an auto transport quote?

  • Instant quote via email: Want an email copy of your auto transport quote? Visit any auto shipping company website, fill out a quick online form with basic information and your email, and get your quote delivered to your inbox. Choose just one or two reputable sites to avoid getting spammed by half a dozen companies.
  • Instant quote via telephone: Prefer to speak to a customer service rep directly? Most auto transport companies have a toll-free number. Call, provide the requested information, and get a quote in seconds from a live human.
  • Multi-quote marketplaces: More of a comparison shopper? Some auto transport companies work with multiple car carriers. Instead of boxing yourself into one option, use a marketplace like uShip to get multiple auto transport quotes on a single page—instantly. Downside: You may receive unwanted emails from partner companies.

What factors affect auto transport quotes?

Car shipping quotes may vary from company to company, but most take into account these factors when they put together your estimate:

  • Car make, model, and year: Larger and heavier cars, trucks, and SUVs cost more than smaller, lighter sedans.
  • Distance: This is the biggest variable in car shipping prices. Longer trips cost more overall, but the cost per mile is generally lower the further your car travels
  • Location: Transport to a major city is more affordable due to greater truck availability and easier freeway access. To save on small-town shipments, opt to meet the auto transporter at a central terminal instead of getting your car delivered to your home.
  • Transport type: Open carriers are the most common way to ship cars across the country, and they are more widely available (and less expensive) than enclosed carriers. Unless your car is rare or exotic, use an open carrier to save up to 80%.
  • Door-to-door vs. terminal shipping: Shipping directly from your current home to your new one saves you time and energy, but you may pay a higher price—especially if you live in the boonies. Reduce your cost by meeting the transporter at a predetermined location instead.
  • Seasonality: Car shipping tends to cost more in summer months—when many people move—but rates may also rise in the fall when snowbirds fly south for the winter. Book your transport in the off-season when possible to save a few bucks.
  • Vehicle condition: Car doesn’t run? There’s an added cost for that. If your vehicle doesn’t start but can roll, steer, and brake, you’ll still pay a premium but save compared to a completely inoperable car.
  • Expedited shipping: If you need your car quicker than the quoted delivery date, expect to pay a fee for speedy shipping.
  • Time frame: Don’t book the day before you want your car shipped. Select a date seven to thirty days in advance for the best rate.

How much does auto transport cost?

Auto transport costs depend on many factors—like distance, weight, vehicle size, carrier type, pickup location, and time of year—so it’s hard to provide an accurate estimate. That said, you can expect to pay roughly $400–$2,000 for coast-to-coast transport of a four-door sedan and $700–$2,250 for a pickup truck or SUV.

Do I have to pay a deposit?

Deposits are a typical part of the auto transport quote process, but they can also be an easy way for companies to scam unsuspecting customers. Auto transport brokers who request upfront deposits may take a cut from the shipping rate before handing your vehicle off to the car carrier completing the transport. This assures they get paid—even if your car never gets picked up. Sounds sketchy, right? It is.

But not every company that requests a deposit is doing bad business. Read third-party and customer reviews to see if auto transporters have a history of questionable payment practices, and put the deposit on a credit card to protect your funds.

How long does auto shipping take?

Distance traveled is a biggie in determining how long it takes for your car to arrive at its destination—and how much it costs to get it there. In general, you can expect transport to take three to ten days.

Shipping time estimates

Shipping distance
Shipping time

0–500 miles

1–3 days to transport

501–999 miles

2–4 days to transport

1,000–1,499 miles

3–5 days to transport

1,500–2,100 miles

5–7 days to transport

2,101+ miles

7–14 days to transport

Weather, traffic, and road construction can disrupt transport timelines. Keep in touch with your auto transporter via the company’s tracking app, phone, or email for the most up-to-date arrival time.

Take note

If your vehicle transport is delayed, some companies will provide a free rental car—or reimbursement for one—until yours arrives. Check your transporter’s terms and conditions to see if this perk applies.

Will my final price be the same as what I was quoted?

First, determine if your quote is binding or non-binding. Companies that provide binding auto transport quotes cannot charge more than what they estimate; non-binding quotes, however, may differ from your final price due to variables like weather, actual vehicle weight, and truck availability. Any estimate from an online quote generator is considered non-binding. Be sure to get the final price—in writing—before you commit.

Recommended resources

Want to scope out the best car shipping companies before you request an auto transport quote? Use these resources to answer your most pressing car shipping questions.

Jenny Willden
Written by
Jenny Willden
Jenny’s been writing stories since she first picked up a pencil and is lucky to call it her profession. She’s lived in five U.S. states (and counting) and uses her mishaps to help you master your next move.