Have you ever tried to find your boarding gate on the departure board at a busy airport? The times on the board sometimes seem to change as often as you blink, making it difficult to know where to go.
Car shipping prices don’t change quite that fast, but it’s common for them to change daily and create that same confusion.
- Bookings go through a bidding process. Auto transport brokers connect you with car shipping carriers that bid on your booking request. Brokers then come back to you with the carrier that offered to do the job for the lowest price (usually). Because car shipping is a supply and demand business, you’ll get a better deal some days than others.
- There are tons of cost factors. Your price can change based on your car’s size, how far it’s traveling, and even the time of the year. Carriers use these factors to figure out how much to charge.
Your booking starts when you call an auto transport broker. You ask how much it costs, and the broker gives you a quote. Then it asks carriers to bid on your shipment.
But how does it give you an instant quote if the carriers haven’t started bidding?
That’s the rub. Except in rare instances where a company offers a guaranteed price, your quote is a starting point for the bidders—not your final price.
If an auto transport company puts a price of $1 into the computer for a cross-country transport, it technically has a lower price than the competition. But no truck driver in the world is going to accept that job.
However, a carrier might bid on the job for $2,000. Another company might see that and say it can ship your car for $100 less. And so on.
The bidding continues until the auto transport broker picks a car carrier —usually about a week before you have to ship your vehicle.
Experienced companies know what the market is likely to pay for auto transport, so they can usually give you a quote that’s pretty close to what you’ll end up paying.
Less reputable companies just want your business. They’ll give you prices that seem too good to be true. By the time you realize it will cost more, they’ve taken a nonrefundable deposit (sometimes hundreds of dollars).
Car shipping can feel a bit like the Wild West, but it’s possible to get a reputable company and a low price. You just have to know where to look.
That’s what Move.org is for.
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Your cell phone bill is pretty predictable. Unless you go over on your monthly data plan, your costs don’t really change from month to month.
It’s different with car shipping. Prices can change from one day to the next depending on several factors:
- Carrier bidding process. Carriers bid on how much your shipment costs. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Mostly, it’s unpredictable.
- Distance. More miles means more money.
- Extra services. Extra insurance or expedited shipping costs more.
- Number of vehicles. Two cars cost more than one.
- Region. Shipping to and from rural areas tends to cost more than big cities.
- Route. Road closures, traffic jams, and direct routes all influence your price.
- Seasonality. Pricing heats up in the summer (which is peak car shipping season).
- Transport type. Open transport is cheaper than enclosed transport.
- Vehicle type and condition. Costs go up as your vehicle gets bigger. It’s also more expensive if your car isn’t in working condition.
The result is that the price you see now may not be the same price you can get next week—or even later today. But if you know what goes into your price, you can also take steps to get a better deal.