Whether you need to transport your car across the country or overseas, auto shipping is a convenient option. However, choosing between shipping a small car or large vehicle can impact the cost and logistics. Here are some key factors to consider when planning your automotive transport.
Size Matters for Pricing
Not surprisingly, the physical dimensions and weight of your vehicle are major determinants of auto shipping rates. Larger vehicles require more space on transport trucks and risk exceeding legal weight limits on roads and highways. As a general rule:
- Small cars like compacts and subcompacts are the most affordable to ship.
- Mid-size sedans and SUVs have moderate rates.
- Full-size trucks, luxury vehicles, and commercial vehicles incur higher shipping fees due to their large footprints.
You can expect to pay at least $500-1000 to transport an average mid-size car across the country, while shipping a large pickup truck or SUV could cost $1500-2500 depending on distance. Overseas exports are even pricier, usually $1000-3000+ just for ocean freight.
Capacity on Transport Racks
Auto transporters have a finite number of racks to securely strap vehicles for transit. Smaller compacts and subcompacts can be doubled or even tripled stacked to maximize unused space. However, full-size trucks may only fit one vehicle per level due to height limitations.
This impacts the total number of vehicles a carrier can haul per trip. Fewer large vehicles means higher rates to cover operational costs. Transport companies also charge residential delivery fees to unload autos at homes rather than large commercial lots.
Ease of Loading and Unloading
The size of a vehicle directly affects the complexity of loading, securing, and unloading it for transport. Small cars require minimal effort while trucks and large SUVs pose more challenges:
- Narrower vehicle widths allow for easier maneuvering into tight spaces on transport racks.
- Lighter weights reduce strain on equipment like forklifts during lifting.
- Shorter vehicle lengths avoid issues fitting fully inside enclosed transport trucks or shipping containers.
Transporters have to spend more time and labor securing bulky vehicles to prevent damage during travel. Residential customers may face longer wait times for carriers to unload and retrieve larger autos from tight driveways or garages.
Tolls, Bridges, and Highways
Most major interstate highways in the US have legal size and weight limits that transport vehicles must adhere to. Unfortunately, not all routes are compatible with hauling oversized loads:
|Height and width thresholds on some bridges
|Route detours required for tall vehicles
|State Road Tolls
|Higher tolls charged for heavy trucks
|Increased transport costs passing through toll roads
|Total Vehicle Length
|Generally limited to 75-80 feet maximum
|Long trucks need special permits for travel
Carriers may need special hauling permits to accommodate oversized and overweight loads of large RVs, boats, equipment and commercial trucks. This adds further complexity and lead times for delivery.
Auto transport companies provide cargo insurance to cover vehicular damage during transport. However, policies often have stricter liability limits or higher deductibles for luxury vehicles and large commercial fleet assets. Sports cars, high-value collectibles, or commercial trucks worth tens of thousands will need top-tier agreed value coverage for full protection.
Always check your carrier’s insurance terms, maximum payouts, and any vehicle value limits well before booking shipping. You may need to purchase separate supplemental cargo insurance through your regular auto insurer for high-value or specialty vehicles.
While shipping smaller cars usually provides the most affordable rates, large trucks or luxury vehicles can still be transported with the right auto carrier.
The key is accounting for potential size restrictions, added delivery complexities, and insurance requirements well in advance. With proper planning, any vehicle – big or small – can conveniently and safely make the journey to its new home.