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The Cost of Car Shipping (Podcast)

The Cost of Car Shipping (Podcast)

Mike Scenna, sales manager at Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company  in Massachusetts, discusses the cost of car shipping.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Mike Scenna Sales Manager at Pre-owned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Our topic today is the cost of car shipping. Welcome Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John, how are you?

Calculating the Cost of Car Shipping

John: Good, thanks. So Mike, tell me a little bit about how you guys calculate the cost of car shipping.

Mike: Yeah, so there’s really no quick answer to this one, which is why we find that some of the bigger companies fail to honor their original quotes. Car shipping has a lot less to do with distance in the move, which people usually think is the main factor and more to do with the popularity of lanes. So whether you’re near major cities or in lanes that inventory happens to move a lot in or time of year can affect it. Certain trucks are moving to different parts of the country at different times of year, and that can be beneficial to the cost, or it could be more expensive if it’s not the right time of year. Some lanes are a little bit more predictable. For example, say the Northeast down to Florida, you have a lot of seasonal residents traveling back and forth in that lane, and it stays a lot more consistent throughout the year. Something like that you’d be looking at around a thousand dollars give or take, depending on what part of Florida you’re in and what part of the Northeast.

John: Okay. Yeah. So that gives you a little bit of a rough idea of what it might cost. And that’s interesting. So if I was moving and I was moving to somewhere maybe from Boston to Kentucky or something like that, and it’s just not in a normal shipping lane where lots of people are sending cars to that location, then that’s going to jack up the price a little bit.

Mike: Right. It might be a little bit more for that. We take the quoting process here pretty seriously. So we’ll take time to assess that lane and see what’s going on at the time you’re calling, at the time that you’re looking to ship and we really stand by our quotes. When we give you a quote, we want it to be an accurate quote. I actually think that as far as I know, we’re really the only auto transport company out there that guarantees our quotes.

Cost of Car Shipping vs. Driving

John: Okay. That’s really interesting. How does the cost of shipping your car compare to the cost that I might face if I just drive my car to my destination? Because I would imagine that that’s what people are most likely to compare it. So if they’re going to ship their car, well, what’s the cost of that versus if I just get in my car and I drive it to where I’m going?

Mike: Sure. So of course that really depends on where you’re going. On a shorter move it might not be as big of a factor, but we find that on longer distance moves it almost always works out to be cheaper to ship the car. When you start getting into thousands of miles, you’re looking into gas and are going to get up there. You’re looking into lodging depending on how many nights you’re going to have to pull off the road and stay somewhere, food every day, your breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, that’s going to add up, tolls add up quickly and also taking time off work. If you’re going on a drive that’s going to take three days, there’s really a lot of expenses involved in something like that.

John: Right. And then the other thing that people might think about, especially if they’re moving more permanently and not just going somewhere and then coming right back a few months later, people might think, “Well, what if I just sell my car? And then I’ll just buy a new car wherever I’m moving to.” What’s the cost of that compared to moving my car and why wouldn’t I just sell my car and buy a new one?

Mike: Yeah. This is something we talk to folks about quite a bit. As you stated, if you’re going back and forth, of course, that might not be much of an option. However, if you’re moving somewhere, it could be beneficial for someone who is experienced in buying and selling a car. But it’s something that if you tried to get into it could really hurt you as well. You’re coordinating selling the car before you leave. So if you don’t sell the car before you leave, you have to have a backup plan. Now you’re either looking to set up a shipment last minute, or you’re getting a lot less money for the car than you intended on getting.

Depending on what States you’re in, there’s taxes involved in buying and selling cars. So this is something that you really want to do your homework and have planned out very well if that were the way to go. We find that a lot of people, once they look into that and look into the cost of shipping and the ease of shipping a car, it usually works out to be a little bit easier and cheaper to just ship the car.

John: Yeah. And I imagine that depreciation comes into that as well. Where, as a lot of people know, as soon as you drive a car off of a lot, it’s just immediately not worth as much as what you just paid for it. And then same thing, if you’re selling a used car, you’re going to get a lot less for it than you would when you go out to buy another equivalent car of the same make, same model, same year. Maybe you’d probably pay more for another one. So there’s a cost right there in terms of depreciation and just selling a car and then buying another one.

Mike: Right. And outside of the cost, people buying a car is something that you spend quite a bit of time. You’re looking for the right car, the car that fits you. We find that people grow attached to their vehicle. It’s not something that’s easy to just sell, replace and get a new one. This is the car you picked out. This is the car that you want. And you might want to keep that with you when you move as well.

Types of Cars Shipped

John: Are a lot of the people that you move cars for people that are big car people, and maybe they have a fancy car or an old classic car or something like that? Obviously they’re not going to be able to just sell it and just buy a new one just like it. Or is it a mix between that and people who just have sort of what I would consider an average car?

Mike: Yeah, of course we see it all. We definitely ship cars for a lot of car lovers out there that there is no replacing the vehicle. So that’s a big thing. We ship cars for collectors. There are people out there buying cars all around the country, very specific to what they’re looking for. Or if they’re traveling around the country and very attached to their car and the idea of renting a car where they go, it is not an option. There’s this car, they love it and they want to bring it with them. And then of course, we ship cars for people who just need a car to get around. And if you go somewhere, we’ve done the math, I think it’s around about a month, if you go somewhere for over a month, it usually works out to be cheaper to ship the car then to rent one.

Cost Factors When Considering Shipping a Car

John: Okay. That’s interesting and that’s good to know. Are there any other factors that people might need to consider that affect the cost of auto transport?

Mike: Yeah. I think I may have mentioned time of year is a big one, size of vehicle I don’t think I mentioned that’s a really big factor. These trucks are only allowed so much weight and so around 80,000 pounds on the truck. So if you have a bigger vehicle, it’s going to be heavier. It’s going to cost a bit more. Then again, you can benefit from a smaller vehicle that is a lot lighter. You can save some money if that’s the case. Accessibility of location is really big. If you’re really off the beaten path, somewhere tough to get to it’s going to be a little bit more money. It’s going to take more time for the truck to get off its main route, pick up the vehicle and get back on a trip to where it’s going.

And then there’s types of shipment. Not everyone might be aware that there are a few different ways you could ship your car. The biggest two being there’s an open shipment, it’s on a car carry that I’m sure most people see driving down the highway. You could see all the cars stacked up on the truck, and then there are enclosed trucks. So the car’s covered the entire time. It’s a bit pricier, but it’s a protection for people with higher end cars that really want that extra peace of mind when shipping their car.

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Mike: Thanks for having me, John.

John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at or call (877) 542-1955.