Car Transport Rates (2020 update)

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Car Transport Rates

There are several online sites that allow you to compare the rates of various transport companies that are quite helpful. Need to have your Toyota Prius shipped from New York City to Austin Texas? A comparison search at a site like will give you an answer in a few seconds.

However, if you don’t ask the right questions before beginning your search, the search result may leave you with more questions than answers.

Can Car Transport Rates Be that Complicated?

The answer is “Yes” – if you try to plow through the varying rates before determining some key factors before the search and “No” – if you’ve taken the time to decide when and how you want your vehicle shipped.

For example, comparing what it costs to ship that Prius costs an average of $1,333 but the range is from a low of $1,059 to a high of $2,268. Customer ratings search helps but aren’t enough for a satisfactory answer. All the companies on our comparison list received a five-star rating from satisfied customers.

What is the First Question that Needs to be Asked?

Getting the right answer for your needs requires asking this question at the beginning – Are you looking for an Auto transport broker or carrier?

Auto Transport Brokers

A broker does not actually ship your vehicle but charges a fee to handle finding a shipper for you. Depending on how much time you have available to search for the right transport company and the size of your budget, a broker may prove to be your best choice. Some of the reasons a broker may be the right way to go include:

  • Access to a wider range of carriers that may result in a lower cost.
  • Flexibility to choose the carrier that can offer a quicker pickup.

Auto Transport Carriers

These are the carriers that do the actual work of loading, safely transporting, and delivering your vehicle free of any damage. One advantage working directly with a carrier is you have direct contact with them.

A little homework and choosing the carrier yourself will give you the most accurate idea of overall costs, insurance information, and pickup / delivery times.

The main consideration in choosing a broker over a carrier is the urgency of your need. Need to have you Prius shipped in a hurry because you must move in two weeks? Consider a broker. If the move isn’t until a month from now, you may want to go straight to the carrier of your choice.

What do I need to know?

What do I Need to Know about the Carrier before I Sign a Contract?

Shipping a car can be a major undertaking that requires time to a find legitimate business you can trust with your vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) advises: “Be suspicious of any Web site where it is not clear whether the company is a broker or a transporter.” Not displaying this could mean they are committing fraud.

Federal Law required both brokers and carriers are registered with the FMCSA. If they are registered, they will have a six-digit MC Docket number clearly displayed on their website. The FMCSA warns consumers they should avoid a company that doesn’t have that docket number displayed. It warns this is the only way to know the company is legitimate.

As with any major purchase, it’s always a sound plan to check online reviews submitted to Consumer Affairs. Your can also visit FMCSA to find out if the companies you are considering is registered with the organization to view their history and any complaint records they may been have been filed against them.

Car Shipping Options

What Shipping Options are Available to Choose From?

Answering this question makes the biggest difference it what it will cost to have your vehicle shipped. Things like the value of the, whether or not it’s a classic, the time of year you need it shipped, and logistics of your own move help decide which option you choose. Four main options to choose from are:

Terminal- terminal:

With this option, you drop off your vehicle at a storage location. Once it arrives at its destination, the carrier leaves it stored there for you to pick up. Often, the vehicle can be left a few days before transport with no extra fee involved.


This is the most convenient shipping method since the carrier picks up your vehicle either at home or work and delivers it to your home or work at your destination. Door-to door my cost a little more because it involves extra time for the driver. Be aware that some locations may be inaccessible for carriers is they cannot navigate roads that are too narrow for their equipment. If so, you can still use this method, but you may have to compromise a bit on where the vehicle is picked up or delivered.

Enclosed Transport: With this method, a vehicle is protected from outdoor elements. It costs more but is recommended for classic or luxury vehicles.  Costs can be as much as 60% more.

Open Transport:

This method costs far less and is probably the right way to transport that Prius. Insurance and replacement costs factor into your decision between open or enclosed transport

Whether you are looking to ship a garage full of classic vehicles are that 2010 Prius you depend on to get to work, it’s essential you choose the auto carrier who can guarantee you’ll have what you need, when you need it, and like you want it to arrive. Asking the right question will get you the rights answers to the carrier you should choose.