5 Camouflaged Costs in Auto Transportation Quotes

camouflage print on a dollar symbol

Auto transport quotes can be expensive enough without any costly surprises creeping in. Learn which expenses may be hard to see during your next query.

Key Takeaways

  • Pickup and drop-off methods impact price
  • Vehicle weight can influence logistics and your final quote
  • Time of year can spike transport expenses
  • Choice of shipping truck can make a big difference
  • Shaky insurance clarity can lead to confusion and added costs

Every car owner braces themselves for a big bill when moving their vehicle using a shipping company. One of the main reasons for this apprehension is a lack of knowledge about the vehicle transportation process. When you learn how it works and understand where the fees come from, you’ll have the knowledge to take control of the process and dispel those cost concerns.

Grasping the basics and appreciating which shipping factors may be unique to your situation are two great skills. However, there may still be hidden costs waiting to sting you when you least expect them. This guide will root out where some of those fees may lurk with five tips that will let you feel confident that your car will get from point A to B at a fair price.

1. The pickup and drop off

This part of the service falls into one of two columns: Either the carrier company will do both or the customer will. There is an obvious charge if the carrier does it and a less obvious one if the pick-up or drop-off locations are in remote or hard-to-reach areas.

Picking it up by yourself will incur gas expenses, which vary depending on how far away the carrier’s terminals are. Use of these terminals will also incur a temporary holding cost at both ends of the transport journey. Customers must make sure to inquire how much the necessary pick-up and drop-off locations will add to their final auto transport quote.

2. The car’s weight

Your car’s size is a typically obvious cost factor because the bigger it is, the more room it takes up on the transport. Many drivers forget to factor in the weight. The heavier a vehicle is, the more fuel it takes for the carrier to get it to the drop-off point. Provide your chosen carrier with as much vehicle data as you can (make, model, year, etc.) to avoid a potentially heavy hidden expense. 

There are a couple of cost-cutting tricks car owners can use to reduce vehicle weight. The first of which is not sending your car on its journey with a full fuel tank. A quarter- to half-full tank can be enough to account for pick-up, drop-off, or picking up from drop-off. Owners should also ensure the car isn’t loaded up with any items that aren’t strictly required for its safe operation.

A worst-case cost scenario is if overstuffed and overweight cars cause a carrier to exceed the maximum at any weigh stations along the way. Tickets, fees, delays, or route alterations are all possibilities. This will only cost time for the carrier and probably add financial costs for you.

3. Sneaky seasonal add-ons

Which time of year is the most cost-effective for car shipping? Half the year is pretty much guaranteed to drive up your quote. Winter (December, January, and February) can add extra cost to your auto transport quote for two reasons. First, it’s a more hazardous drive for carriers, and cold conditions can cause frequent (and costly) route delays. Second, there is typically less demand in winter, which means carriers have to inflate prices to make ends meet.

This leads some drivers to assume that shipping in the summer must be cheaper. June, July, and August are actually peak seasons for car shipping; a fact that sees the law of supply and demand come into effect as vehicle shipments increase with only a limited number of carriers to meet them. 

The sweet spots for a lower auto transport quote are usually spring (March, April, and May) and autumn (September, October, and November). Demand in these seasons is often still high enough to merit stable carrier prices. Weather is clement enough to allow smooth running and not yet cruel enough to cause winter-level price hikes. Ultimately, it must be stressed that seasons are no guarantee of higher or lower prices, so ask your carrier if they make the calendar a cost factor.

4. Open vs. enclosed shipping

Not all car shipping methods are made equal. Enclosed shipping can add a significant amount to your auto transport quote due to the added level of safety and protection your vehicle gains from things like the elements, road debris, and thieves.

Enclosed carriers also usually carry fewer vehicles than open ones, which can further hike the price. Open carriers are cheaper at the final quote, but they can lead to the hidden expense of an auto repair or even replacement due to exposure to the aforementioned risks (if there’s no insurance in place, that is).

5. Auto transport insurance

Good carriers will make this part of their quote and let customers know that they’ve added it and what it will guard against. Average carriers won’t let you know exactly what their insurance provides for and if their coverage is primary or secondary to yours.

Having a frank insurance discussion before you commit to a carrier helps you know how protected you are against vehicle damage during open, or indeed any form of, auto transport. Of course, not everyone has the time or inclination to get into the nitty-gritty of costs with a carrier. This is where auto brokers can be an invaluable ally by taking care of that side of things for you.

How auto brokers can help with hidden costs

Auto brokers are separate entities from auto carriers (here’s how to know the difference). Partnering with a broker is an excellent way to break down your auto transport quote, so every charge is clear. Transparency is the key benefit customers gain. This is because brokers only recommend carriers who they’re familiar with and who know their routes and rates equally well.

Mercury Auto Transport is a nationwide, full-service auto shipping company that connects buyers with reliable vehicle carriers anywhere in the country. Our process is transparent and trustworthy, and we’re always working to get you the best deal. Call us today for a quote!



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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.