Hiring Cheap Car & Vehicle Shipping Companies – Worth It?

There are over 5,919 car and vehicle shipping companies in the US with varying rates, service quality, and reputations. Do you think they all offer the same value for money? Nope. It’s not possible when the pool is this large.

So, how do you get the optimal balance of value and cost? Well, we’ve compared the cheapest, standard, and most expensive car shippers in this guide, so have a read to know exactly that!

What’s Considered Cheap When Hiring Vehicle Shipping Companies?

There is no data available to tell you what’s considered cheap. But if we establish the average car shipping costs that car shipping companies charge throughout the market, then we can pinpoint what’s cheap.

So, as per Easy Auto Ship, the average vehicle transport costs are typically:

DistanceBase Price Per mile
1-500 Miles$1.00
500+ miles$0.75
1,000+ miles$0.60
2,000+ miles$0.50
2,500+ miles$0.40

The cheapest acceptable cost will be slightly lower, like 10%. But we suggest never going for anything lower than this standard rate, especially for short distances like 500 miles or under. That’s when vehicle shipping companies start cutting corners.

Moreover, try to go beyond the headline rate – consider additional fees that may not be factored into an initial “cheap” quote. Costs like terminal fees for pickup/delivery, parking or storage fees if the vehicle isn’t shipped immediately, weekend/after-hours surcharges, etc., can add up.

So What’s The Dirt-Cheap, MUST BE AVOIDED Cost For Car Transport Services?

After learning the averages and typical rates cheap car shipping companies offer, the next logical question you need to ask is what a shady auto shipping quote looks like. What’s the price that screams SCAM from miles away?

If you see anything 20-30% lower than the standard averages mentioned above, you run the other way. That’s because then you won’t get your deposit money or sometimes your car back. With such low rates, it’s not even possible to fulfill all of the expenses of auto transport services, let alone make a profit.

For instance, shady car shipping quotes less than 30% of the averages would look like this:

  • Up to 500 Miles = $0.70 per mile
  • 500- 1,000 Miles = $0.45 per mile
  • 2,000 Miles = $0.30 per mile
  • And so on.

The car shipping transport company has to pay for fuel, tolls, parking, staff, building bills, and many more costs before taking out its profits. And at these rates, it’s impossible to even pay all the expenses they incur. So either they’re doing noble work by paying from their pockets to fund your car shipping, or they’re scamming you.

7 Reasons to Never Hire The Cheapest Vehicle Transport Services

Lack of transparency

Hidden administrative, fuel surcharges, and dubious expenses not initially disclosed mean these cheap car shipping companies balance the books after the delivery in the final quote.

Insufficient insurance

Proper insurance is essential to avoid hefty repairs in case of accidents, but cheap shippers may not carry adequate cargo coverage to fully protect your automobile if it is damaged or lost during transit.

Compromised customer service

Cheap auto shipping companies offer little to no customer support compared to the top-rated vehicle transporters. They usually have one or two agents dealing with all the customers, resulting in hour-long wait times or sometimes no response.

Driver safety is compromised.

Car shippers on a budget will overwork and underpay their drivers. They rush their drivers to complete the loads to squeeze maximum shipments into the schedule. This puts the drivers at the risk of being in an accident.

Vehicles aren’t adequately secured.

Dirt-cheap car transport companies do not have enough funds to buy safety equipment for shipments, such as ties, chains, wheel straps, ratchets, etc. Even if they buy such equipment, they don’t have the funds to repurchase it if any breaks. They simply get cheap repairs and use them again, which is quite risky.

Maintenance is neglected

Aged trailers and trucks nearing retirement or in severe need of repair are still used to cut ongoing maintenance costs, even if they risk breaking down while hauling vehicles.

Hiring Low-Wage, Unverified, inexperienced drivers

With minimal vetting and training, inexperienced carriers may not know how to handle unexpected weather conditions, rural terrain, or tight urban roads. These in-experienced low-wage carriers are at a much higher risk of accidents.

Cheapest Vs. Standard Vs. Expensive Car Shippers – Costs Comparison:

As we’ve already established above, the cheapest and possibly scammy car shipping companies have little left to spend on their operations and offer you lower-than average service. So they cut corners. Let’s take the example of 1,000 miles shipping of a sedan and see how pricing compares between dirt-cheap shady, standard, and expensive auto transport companies:

  • 1,000 miles auto transport cost might be $450 with the cheapest, scam car shipping companies (40% lower estimate than standard shipping quote)
  • 1,000 miles typically cost $750 with standard vehicle shipping companies
  • Expensive vehicle transport companies might charge $975 for 1,000 miles (30% higher than the standard cost).

The typical broker fee ranges from $150 to $250 per vehicle, so let’s see how much remains after that for each:

  • Cheapest Shady Car Shippers: $450 – $150 = $300
  • Standard Car Shippers: $750 – $200 = $550
  • Expensive Vehicle Transporters: $975 – $250 = $725

The broker has to pay the carrier the most of the remaining expenses. Other expenses include paying for a dispatch platform like Central Dispatch, paying for CRM, paying taxes and insurance premiums, and other miscellaneous expenses.

  • Do you think the company/broker offering the cheapest price, now left with $300 after taking out its fees, can pay all of these expenses? It’s not possible. They’ll most probably jack up the price at the final quote or significantly cut corners by hiring part-timers or new drivers with little to no experience, putting your vehicle at risk.
  • Standard companies have enough room to pay the carrier and manage the other expenses from their own fee and some remaining amount after negotiating bulk loads with the carrier.
  • Expensive companies take the most money, and that’s not necessarily a justified cost to the end customer. After paying the carrier and other expenses, they have a good chunk left, which they spend on marketing themselves all over the internet.

For your reference, here’s the chart showing how car shipping companies offering the cheapest, standard, and most expensive quotes spend their money. You can clearly see that the middle one (standard car shippers) is the sweet spot you should aim for.

How to Reduce Car Shipping Transport Costs While Getting The Best Value?

If you’re on a budget and cannot afford the standard car shipping cost but still want to get the best value, then here’s how you can reduce the costs:

See if you qualify for a discount:

Some of the top-rated car shippers have a way of attracting and keeping customers, and they do it by offering discounts to different types of clients. From students to military persons, snowbirds, disabled people, and multiple car shippers, there is some percentage off for different people.

Ask about self-transport discounts.

Driving the car halfway between loading/unloading terminals will give you substantial self-drive discounts. Research safety requirements and routes where you can maximally shave miles off the full-carrier trip.

Research peak/non-peak season pricing strategies

Carriers often charge high costs during peak transport seasons like summer. Ask auto transport carriers when their prices go down due to seasonal demand and pinpoint months when prices are lowest.

Inquire about backhaul load opportunities.

Some carriers offer discounts when your vehicle will be transported alongside cargo on a return/backhaul trip. This utilizes space on an otherwise empty return trip, lowering costs. Ask the shipping companies about this as well.

Consider oversize/overweight vehicle surcharges.

Larger vehicles like SUVs, Trucks, RVs, and Boats often face size/weight surcharges that increase shipping rates. Ask if dismantling non-essential parts such as spoilers, ski racks, or bike holders could help avoid these fees.

When is it Safe to Hire The Cheapest Car Transport Services?

They’re Top-Rated.

Sometimes, top-rated car shippers offer a low price for a limited time as a promotion or during the low season. If that happens, it’s okay to go with them. However, even then, the difference would not be 30-40% lower than standard average costs.

Your vehicle is average and common.

Not going with top-rated shipping companies and hiring cheap shippers makes sense only when your vehicle is quite old, worn out, and has no good market value. Plus, transporting a mainstream vehicle without any modifications reduces risk, as most carriers are experienced with common models.

You buy GAP insurance coverage.

Almost every top-rated car shipping company has enough cargo coverage to protect your automobile from bumper to bumper. But cheap car transport services skip out on this. So you can buy GAP coverage to ensure the safety of your vehicle.

The route is short-distance and low-risk.

Short intrastate hauls have fewer delays, accident risks, or weather issues compared to long-distance hauls. Stick to nearby moves with affordable carriers if the top-rated ones ask too much.

Don’t Risk Thousands Trying to Save a Few Bucks on Cheap Vehicle Shipping Services:

Your vehicle is one of your big investments, and it’s not a smart move to let anyone claiming to offer top-rated services at a low price touch it. As we’ve already discussed, a lot of risks are involved in dealing with low-budget movers, and the probability of getting scammed or at least having your vehicle damaged is quite high.

So always bet on the safest shippers, those with excellent online reputations, proper registration and certification, and industry-average car shipping rates.