How much does it cost to ship a vehicle?

Shipping a vehicle across the state or even cross country is often a difficult and confusing task. Does it half to be that way?

Why does it cost so much?

Many people who are shipping a vehicle for the first time are blasted with prices and incorrect information.

They usually start with a preconceived notion and the internet. While searching the internet for services such as Auto Transport, Car Shipping, or Ship My Car, in the back of their mind they know they can send a FedEx package across the country for $57.00. Shipping a car can’t be that much more. Can it?

The answer is, yes. It is in fact a lot different. Let’s compare modes of transport.

FedEx uses trucks much like auto carriers do, Right? They are about the same size and use the same type of fuel and probably get about the same mileage efficiency. That’s correct, but think about how many packages can fit into one of those trucks versus how many cars can fit on an Auto Transport trailer. Most Auto Transport trailers can only fit 8 – 10 vehicles on them per load.

So now you need to think about the incremental fuel cost per shipment. If I have the same (per mile) fuel costs as the FedEx driver, but only have 10 paying vehicles on my trailer, and he has 300 packages on board, I need to gross 30 times as much per vehicle to equal his collateral fuel costs.

Okay, let’s look at transit times. Some people will argue that FedEx will get my package to me overnight. Well, your right and they do a great service with their infrastructure, but one must compare apples to apples. Organizations such as FedEx have terminals in many major cities across the country. They also have drop and swap points, where one driver meets another. They trade loads and continue moving without stop. And we haven’t even mentioned their ability to use airplanes.

The Auto Transport industry is much different. Virtually every vehicle reaches a dealership or customer via truck and trailer. Most of the time the same driver, truck, and trailer that loaded the vehicle will be the same driver that will deliver the vehicle. That driver is allowed to travel 11 hours driving time. Most of the drivers’ trips average 55mph, (when considering city traffic, load and unload time). That same driver has to factor many things when operating his equipment such as; cargo insurance, tires, brakes, oil, major engine components, wear and tear on his truck and trailer, age of receivables, down time, etc. Needless to say he has a lot of factors to consider before accepting a load at a certain price.

Now we can cover the risk factor. If we look back at the FedEx driver, what major concerns does he have with damage to cargo? The consumer agreed to insure it at their own expense, right?

This is not true with the Auto Transport carrier. His cargo insurance coverage is very expensive and with usually a $2,500.00 deductible. I remember when I had my own trucks; our cargo insurance on only 4 trucks was $42,300.00 per year! Heaven forbid one of my drivers had a damage claim on one of the vehicles, which usually meant at least a $2,500.00 deductible. You can bet that if there is even a little scratch on the hood or roof of a car the customer will see it.

Most drivers will point damages out to the customer if the driver already knows about it. It is always better for a driver to be the one to point out a mistake and deal with it, than try to hide it. Most drivers work by these same ethics. Mistakes will happen.

On each Auto Transport trailer there are endless obstacles, and all of them will cause damage if you are complacent. The driver has to watch clearance on all sides, top, and even underneath the vehicle. He has to think about placement on the trailer, how to tie it down, and consider the bounce factor of his load as he is traveling. If he is using chains, and a chain comes loose, that chain will find a way to strike any and every car in its path before the driver pulls over to get coffee and finds the aftermath. When transporting used cars, inevitably one of the cars on the top rack will have a brake fluid, coolant, or oil leak. So, when the driver arrives to deliver one of the bottom cars, he finds a mess.

All of this to say, the driver has many potential risks to consider, and even more expenses to consider. This driver is responsible for a customers’ (likely) second most valuable possession. He has a stressful and complicated puzzle to anticipate, and should be paid accordingly. Most customers would not want the cheapest rate and service when paying for other important tasks in their lives. Like other industries, You get What you pay for.




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