Moving is one of those life-changing events that requires excellent preparation, meticulous organization, and a laser-focus on your ultimate objectives. Otherwise, it’s far too easy to get distracted or start sweating the “small stuff.”
The same proves true when it comes to transporting your car. This vital aspect of a state-to-state or cross-country move requires careful preparation and planning.
Procrastination could leave you in the lurch, paying exorbitant expedited shipping costs or undertaking an unnecessary road trip. Fortunately, you can easily avoid this outcome with a little planning and a few handy tips.
Keep reading for tips to help you save money on car transport.
Pick Your Car Transportation Service Type Wisely
Most major car transport brands offer a variety of service types. These options permit you to customize the services that you broke. But if you don’t understand what these choices entail, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars more than you need to.
What do these options look like? They include:
- Open carrier transport
- Enclosed carrier transport
Let’s demystify these terms so you can make the best decision based on your car, budget, and relocation needs.
More than 95 percent of vehicle shipping happens via open carrier transport. By far, it remains the most popular and affordable transportation option on the market. It’s also the choice of most car dealerships across the nation.
Reserve enclosed carrier services for the owners of investment-worthy vehicles such as race cars, exotics, and antique rides. The cost of car transport for these automobiles is typically 63 percent higher than an open carrier.
Keep Your Timeframe Flexible
The timeline you set for auto shipping also has a major impact on car transport cost. You’ll gain access to better auto transport rates if you remain flexible about pick up and delivery dates.
What do standard shipping windows look like? Companies typically stipulated between one to five days from your first available pickup date. If you can handle this level of flexibility, you’ll enjoy better pricing.
However, if you’ve got a tight one to two-day turnaround, you’ll need to opt for expedited auto transport services. Expedited shipping proves much more expensive and will carve a significant chunk out of your change.
Choose Pickup and Drop-off Locations Wisely
Your pickup and drop-off locations have a significant impact on the final price you’ll pay for auto transport. For example, urban areas tend to be more affordable because they see heavy traffic and are located within transport companies’ standard routes.
However, if you live in a rural location, the driver will have to leave their main route. Dropping off the regular network of roadways means extra gas costs as well as more time in labor. When a driver must travel far from a major city or highway, expect to pay more.
Understand Seasonal Fluctuations
Most people move during the warm weather months. As a result, there are predictable seasonal fluctuations in the auto transport industry’s supply and demand that you need to understand. Peak season comes with more climbing prices and longer wait times.
This peak season lasts from the beginning of summer through the end of the fall. If you can avoid this high season, you’ll likely enjoy better prices. But it’s a gamble. You see, road and weather conditions can cause delays during the colder months.
Such delays translate into a higher price tag at the time of delivery. Winter mountain driving in places like the Rockies and Sierra Nevadas comes with some of the highest prices because these represent the most challenging conditions for drivers.
That said, specific routes across the nation may see their own seasonal highs and lows. For example, auto shipping from the northeast and midwest to the southeast proves more expensive in the fall when snowbirds relocate.
When snowbirds return to the northeast and the midwest in the springtime, this leads to predictably high rates again.
Compare Car Transport Cost Quotes
Before booking the services of an auto transport company, you need to do some price comparison shopping. Fortunately, the most customer-centric and experienced companies make comparison shopping a breeze.
Most companies offer free, no-obligation shipping quotes on their website. Just indicate the type of car you drive, its condition, and the pickup and drop-off locations for your service, and they’ll generate an instantaneous quote.
There’s a caveat to this, though. Some less than reputable companies bait consumers with below-average shipping quotes. These sub-par companies usually make up the difference (and then some) through hidden fees and expenses later.
These unscrupulous companies also come with poor customer service. After all, you’re just a paycheck to them.
While a high-quality car shipper may quote more upfront, the fee is likely all-inclusive. (Of course, you should always ask to make sure.)
What’s your best line of defense if you receive a shipping offer that looks too good to be true, know that it probably is. Check customer reviews and sites such as the Better Business Bureau to get the lowdown on subpar companies.
Transporting Your Car on the Cheap
As you can see from the tips above, a little research and flexibility could help you save money on car transport. Savvy customers conduct online research about the companies they’re considering working with. They explore customer reviews, and they compare shipping quotes to secure the most reasonable car transport expense.
The customers who end up saving the most money may not go with the lowest bid they receive. But they will opt to split the difference when it comes to convenience, affordability, and company reputation and experience.
Are you interested in more hacks for transporting your car affordably? Browse our blog for more useful tips and tricks to keep costs down.