Save on Car Shipping With These 5 Surefire Steps


Car shipping can be a pricey business, but it doesn’t have to cost you. Learn the right ways to separate necessary outlay from expensive regrets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Timing is a critical element when calculating cost
  • Savings depend on numerous customer and carrier-specific factors
  • Sacrificing some convenience can benefit you financially
  • Working with an experienced auto transport broker saves time and money


Budgeting for car shipping services can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time transporting a vehicle. There’s a lot to consider logistically, and every new mile can seem to add dollars to an already big bill. The reality is that calculating for all your unique variables, combined with some industry know-how, can be your road to significant savings.

Five principal factors dictate the best ways you can save on auto transport expenses. This guide will walk you through everything you should consider so you can ship your vehicle with cash-saving confidence.

1. Weigh up different transport options

Auto carriers typically fall into one of three categories: flatbed, open, and enclosed trailers. Each has pros and cons to consider. Enclosed carriers are more expensive and offer one, two, or up to seven spaces. While slower than other carrier types, the higher price tag provides superior protection — a money-saver if it prevents costly damage to rare, antique, or luxury vehicles.

Standard models or used cars are better served by open carriers. These are the cheaper option due to lower operational costs and greater on-road numbers. On the downside, open carrier cons include longer wait times; higher elemental exposure; and greater risk of tampering, vandalism, or theft (more on mitigating those below).

Flatbed carriers are the most expensive option due to the unique cargo they haul. Vehicles such as motor homes, heavy pickups, tow trucks, and construction equipment are flatbed specialties. These carrier drivers are experts in on-road maneuvering, which helps prevent vehicle damage, but they’re a slow haul with little to no wriggle room on price if it’s your only option.

2. Consider the time factor

A comfortable preparation window is helpful when shipping a car, but sometimes you need to make a relatively sudden move. The first scenario saves money because you’ll have time to research auto transport companies and compare important data like safety records, job history, consumer reviews, and, of course, prices.

A situation requiring quick transport makes the time factor more stressful. It can also cause rushed and costly decisions driven by the need to just “get it done.” Hasty vehicle owners may end up choosing poorly qualified and unscrupulous carriers who will underperform and charge more because they know you’re in a hurry.

Time of year can be another cost-cutting factor. The seasons dictate how busy carriers will be, and winter months (excluding holidays) are typically cheaper for car shipping. The best move in any scenario is to contact an auto transport broker. They can quickly supply a list of pre-approved auto carriers graded on all the important shipping factors, saving you time and money.

3. Think about extra insurance

Good auto carriers will already be insured. You may now be wondering how paying more will save you money! Carrier insurance, unfortunately, has its limitations and won’t protect your vehicle against factors like elemental damage, vandalism, or on-road debris. Choosing an enclosed trailer helps, as we mentioned above, but consider buying extra coverage as a further money-saving move.

4. Don’t be too impressed (or put off) by price

So, you’ve compared carriers on your own and found there’s one operator who costs way less than the others. Resist the instinct to hire the cheapest team! Early low-balling on price is the oldest trick in the book to snare customers into a contract that may see prices creep up as the situation progresses.

Similar thinking applies to the most expensive carrier. Try not to be immediately turned off by their rates because they may be worth every penny and save you money in the long run. Conversely, they could be charging too much for a service that doesn’t match the cost.

Remember: Take your time to compare carriers if you have that luxury, or, better yet, contact an experienced auto transport broker who’ll do that work for you.

5. Leverage your personal status for savings

Some auto carriers will automatically lower prices if the customer belongs to a particular group. For example, first responders and military personnel, past or present, often receive more favorable rates, as do groups like seniors, students, and first-time or returning customers. Ask a broker or carrier if your personal status has any bearing on the costs of car shipping.

Speak to the Mercury Auto Transport team for maximum savings

These are some of the primary cost-cutting measures every owner should know when considering car shipping. Connect with our team to learn more about how we calculate every metric of your transportation needs to find the best possible carrier price. We’re ready to help!

Mercury Auto Transport finds quotes in minutes for open, enclosed, and flatbed auto transportation. We’ve arranged safe delivery for over 186,000 vehicles by road, rail, and air while working with the most trusted shipping partners in our industry. Email or call us free at (800) 553-1828 for a quote.


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