What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car – Your Auto Transport Guide

January 20, 2020Car Shipping Essentials
Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

There are a lot of different options that you’ll be presented with if you want to ship your vehicle across the country. Maybe you will be looking for the cheapest way to ship a car in case you have already spent most of your budget on a long-distance relocation. Still, moving to another state is not the only reason why people look for a cost-efficient solution. Perhaps most of your savings have gone into buying a new vehicle, and now you need it transported across the country to your new place of residence.

Whatever the case is, you will find this entire process very challenging, especially so if you have never done it before. Even though it may seem daunting at first, remember that you’re not the first or the last person looking for the most affordable way to transport your car. There are solutions out there that you’ll find suitable, and hopefully, this guide will make your decision-making process much easier. You’ll know about your options, what to look for, and what to be wary of.

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The Choice Between Enclosed Transport and Open-Air Auto Shipping

This will be one of the first questions that you’ll ask yourself as soon as you decide to hire professionals for the job. The shortest and most straightforward answer is that open trailer shipping is the cheaper option. However, your choice will ultimately depend on a variety of things. What kind of car are you transporting and how far do you need it shipped will be the most significant factors. You will have to consider these when it comes to both the costs of the job, but also the safety of your car.

Open trailer transportation is the most affordable option available, and it’s also the most common way of going about it. Open carriers often deliver a lot of different vehicles at the same time, and all of them are exposed to the weather and road conditions. On the other hand, an enclosed auto transport truck is the safest way to ship your car. It offers all the protection that your car will demand until it reaches your home. You won’t have to worry about the dust on the road or the bad weather conditions. However, enclosed trailer transportation is much more expensive than using open carriers. You will also have a choice between shared or exclusive carriers.

girls on the road trip
Enclosed carriers are more expensive, but it’s also the safest option if you’re worried about protection

The Difference Between Terminal-To-Terminal and Door-To-Door Shipping

Where you want your car transported will also affect how much the service will cost you. In case you’re relocating to a different state, it will obviously be more expensive. But it can also depend on if you are moving to a larger city, or if you are relocating to a smaller town that’s off the grid.

Terminal-to-terminal transportation is the low-cost option, and will surely be a good choice if you’re relocating on a budget. Auto transport companies have terminals in most major cities across the country where your car will be transported and waiting for you to pick it up. The downside is that it can take some time for a truck to deliver all the vehicles.

In case you want your car transported straight to your home, then door-to-door shipping is the way to go. If you’re in a major city or live close to one, then door-to-door shipping can be a very efficient method to deliver vehicles. But, it can get expensive if you need your car transported to a town that’s off the beaten track. Taking weird roads and spending more resources on one job than usual will cost more.

the person washing the car
Terminal-to-terminal transportation is often the most affordable option

The Cheapest Way to Ship a Car When Moving to Another State

When people move to a different state, they often fly there while paying professional movers to relocate their household belongings. Another part of the relocation process is transporting your car from state to state, as well. As long as you understand how the auto transport process works, you won’t have trouble getting your car to your new home.

Long-distance relocation can be a very complicated process, even more so if you’re taking your car with you. Regardless of your reasons to move, you will have a lot on your plate. If you’re wondering how to move efficiently, then keep in mind that it’s almost always for the best to hire professionals for their auto transport services.

Add Travel Costs to Your Expenses When Looking at Your Savings

In case you are not just shipping your car cross-country but your entire household, you will have to look at your savings, create a relocation budget, and see what the best options are. You’ll be wondering how much does it cost to move out of state, and whether or not you can cover the expenses. It’s important to keep your travel expenses in mind if you decide to leave your vehicle in the hands of professionals. In case you’re relocating with kids, you will have to get your family across the country, as well. Do remember that you can’t leave your boxes and belongings in the car, either. The US Department of Transportation doesn’t allow auto shipping companies to transfer personal items.

rows of cars
Don’t forget to reorganize your budget and take into account all of the travel expenses

Driving on Your Own or Hiring a Driver for the Job

In case you’re working with a really low budget, and won’t be able to afford the cost of the auto transport services, you still have certain options at your disposal. You can drive the car on your own, or you can hire a driver to take care of it for you.

Is Driving on Your Own the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car?

In case you aren’t relocating in a hurry, driving on your own often ends up being the most affordable option. You will have to take into account the cost of gas, the food, and the hotels, if you’re relocating to another state and will take longer than one day to do it. If you have a friend or a family member with you, you can rotate driving shifts. Just keep in mind that driving long-distance can be very tedious, so it would be useful to learn how to overcome driving stress.

You Can Transport the Car Yourself

In case you have bought an expensive car, whether it’s a sports car, a luxury vehicle, or a rare old-timer, you will want it safely transported. You don’t have to drive it across the country if you want it in pristine condition. You can transport it to your home on your own. Renting out a trailer or a car dolly is a viable option, and you’ll have to look for vehicles, like a bigger truck that can tow the said trailer or car dolly.

Finding a Driver to Take Care of It for You

Hiring a driver for the job is also among the more affordable ways to ship your car. It can save you a lot of time, and you won’t have to go through the stress of driving across the country yourself. The biggest issue here will be leaving your car in the hands of a complete stranger. One of the best tips if you want to hire someone for the job would be to find an intermediary. Some companies require drivers to leave a reference and a deposit to provide some assurance.

usa auto transport truck
If you are working with a tight budget, you can try handling it on your own

The Cheapest Way May Not Be the Safest

If you are relocating on short notice, it’s easy to make some of the most common relocation mistakes. Perhaps you need your vehicle transported as soon as possible. It may seem like a good idea to go with the first company you come across that offers the most affordable service. But remember that the cheapest option is not always the most efficient option. You will, of course, be looking for ways to save up money on the relocation, but that can, in itself, be a problem. It’s often the case that the cheapest option turns out to be a much more expensive one in the long-run.

No matter if it’s a new expensive car or your old family car that you want transported, going for the lowest price can be disastrous. Sacrificing the quality of the service provided to save up some cash isn’t the best idea. Your vehicle could get damaged or even destroyed in a worst-case scenario.

Even with the best movers, mistakes can happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But, if you find a reliable and experienced shipper, you’ll feel much better about the whole procedure. The chances of vehicles getting damaged during transport are much lower, and the alleviated stress alone is worth spending a little more than the most economical option available.

usa auto transport truck
Don’t trade away the quality of the service for the lowest price

How to Choose the Right Auto Transport Company

If you decide to relocate your vehicle with the help of experts, you will suddenly find yourself presented with hundreds of different options. At first glance, you may decide to go with the one that offers the best deal. But remember that if the deal seems too good to be true, it’s probably because it is so. There’s no point in leaving your vehicle in the hands of an inexperienced and unreliable transporter. You’ll pay the lowest price possible for the services, and who knows in what condition your beloved machine will be waiting for you – if it reaches the destination you had chosen in one piece at all.

Research Auto Transport Companies

Don’t make any decisions on the fly, and take the time to research different movers, even if you think you’ve already found the right ones. It would be advisable first to decide what options you are looking for and to take into account all of the things that will affect the price of the services. What kind of vehicle do you want transported, the distance of the relocation, would you prefer open or enclosed carrier truck transportation? After you’ve written this down, you can look for companies that can provide you with the right service that suits your needs.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, trim down the choices, and create a shortlist of at least a couple of shippers that seem to fit the bill. Then you can go on to do some thorough research before you make any final decision. You’ll want to make sure that they are certified by the US Department of Transportation and look for their Motor Carrier number while you’re browsing their websites.

Another vital piece of advice is to look at reliable reviews left by previous clients. You can also check how the carriers go about their business and how they treat their customers. If you want to take a step further, don’t be afraid to contact the ones you have on your shortlist. You can ask about the services they provide, and about any special requests that you may have. They will surely have friendly representatives who can help you out, and tell you more about the company itself.

Get Multiple Quotes Before Shipping Your Vehicle

One of the best pieces of advice that you should remember is to get an estimate from different movers. This will give you a good idea of the price range you are looking for. You can then adjust your budget according to the quotes you got, and see if you can save up some money in certain areas.

Getting quotes from multiple auto movers will also help in your decision-making process. If a particular company is giving you a quote that’s surprisingly lower than the other quotes, then it’s probably too good to be true.

Don’t forget to ask about whether you are getting a non-binding quote or a binding quote. You may find the services that suit all of your needs are quite affordable when compared to others, and will seem nigh perfect. But, the price may suddenly change a couple of days before the relocation day and will be much higher than the estimate you got before. You will suddenly find yourself in quite a chaotic situation. You won’t have time to consider other options and look for another quote, perhaps you’ve made other plans and need your car shipped straight away, so you’ll find yourself paying much more than you had initially planned.

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