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What cheap car shipping really means

Posted by Frank Mirando on Mar 8, 2017 9:35:02 AM

Is this you? “Ok it is time to book my flights, prepare for a move and find the cheapest way to ship my car!” If it is you are not alone but beware, most of these frugal bargain shoppers end up spending a lot more than they budgeted for and put their 2nd largest asset ( their car) at risk.

Let’s clarify what cheap car shipping really is, why you really need to dig deeper than just price and get you educated so that you don’t end up like some of the horror stories told on the review sites.

When you google “cheap car shipping” most of the search results that come up are paid ad’s by large companies who are brokers of some sort.  Other sites are set up just to generate leads.  Both are in it to make a fee on top of what the trucker will charge. This is what you will get:

Transport Services


  • Bombarded with calls from brokers who want to
    offer you a quote.  Some have been reported as using high pressure sales tactics.
  • Quote Bids- The larger companies are more of a platform for truckers to bid on your shipment.  This can be a good option if the company is aligned with great transporters and you have the time to wait around for the best bidder.  Again you will get a lot of calls.  
  • Inexperienced/ New brokers-  remember these are sales people, they might not mean any harm, but they only get paid if you book with them.  Hence- low price, and they tell you what you want to hear.

So what is a broker, a carrier, a trucker...who should I use?  Who is good and who is bad??

Auto Transport Broker- This is a middleman who coordinates the shipment of your vehicle with you and a trucker.  A broker MUST have the following:

  • Approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and issued a MC number.  You can check this here.
  • Must also satisfy the bonding requirements of $75,000.

There are good brokers and bad ones.  Read the reviews, get references and by all means check with the FMCSA.   The good ones will most likely not be the cheapest because they align themselves with the best Truckers.  The bad Brokers will book your shipment, take their NON REFUNDABLE BROKER FEE, and have a hard time finding a Trucker to ship the car for cheap.  The bottom line is- your car is not shipped when you wanted to be shipped.  Out of frustration you then find another company to ship the car, paying not just one but 2 companies.  If you are looking for a broker, click here to read the most frequently asked questions. 

Auto Transport Trucker- Also known as a Car Carrier.  This is who owns and operates the truck that your car will be shipped on.

    • Must be approved by the Department of Transportation and issued a DOT number. You can check that here.
    • Approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and issued a MC number.  You can check this here.
    • AT LEAST $750,000 Liability Insurance
    • Good companies will also have Cargo Insurance!

Good Trucking companies spend money on new equipment every year.  They spend even more maintaining that equipment.  They go the extra mile and purchase more insurance than required.  Finding good drivers is their biggest challenge.  In Order to attract the best drivers they offer higher pay, top of the line trucks and trailers, and usually a benefits package.

Trucking companies are usually busy moving cars. They are not usually advertising on the internet and are hard to find, especially if you need a car shipped to a specific place.  Carriers stick to the same routes over and over which is why a good broker is valuable.  Good brokers know good Carriers and know their routes.  You can get an quote from a true car carrier here. 

Cheap car shipping is exactly that- cheap.  Often times the broker does not have the proper bond posted and the carrier may not have the appropriate insurance.  Cheap carriers usually have old run down trucks and have trouble keeping up with maintenance.  For most of us our car is our second biggest asset.  In today’s economy you have to be frugal.  Bargain shopping is a responsible way to manage your finances, but do not forget what I just taught you.  Do the research on your brokers and carriers and try to get a referral from a friend.  That is how we have grown our business over 2 decades.   Safe travels!