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Money Saving Ideas for Car Transport

Whether it is moving for college, medical school, residency, fellowship, or our jobs, shipping a car when moving can be a large expense for physician families.  Sure, there is usually a moving stipend.  But, we all know that goes fast!  Max represents the motor carrier MIG Auto Transport.  He writes this guest post today outlining ways you can save money when shipping a car!  

The Frugal Physician has no monitory relationship with MIG Auto Transport. 

Shipping a car can be expensive. If you got an auto transport quote and thought to yourself “There is no way I can afford that!” or if you just love to get the best deal possible, the following tips will help.

1. Get Your Timing Right

The most important thing to consider (as far as price is concerned) when shipping your car is the seasonal price fluctuations. The easiest one to take advantage of is the north to south winter price shift. People don’t like the cold and they want to get away from it! If you ship north in the winter when everyone is shipping south you could be looking at savings of up to 50%. The same is true when winter is over and everyone ships back up north, you can save a lot money shipping south between March and May.

The other seasonal price fluctuation happens in the summer. Shipments east to west or west to east get a little bit more expensive during this time because this is when most people relocate homes. It isn’t as significant but you could still save up to 25% shipping your car outside of the summer if you are shipping in an east or west direction.

2. Consider the Trucker and Your Location

If you live in a rural or hard to reach area like the mountains of West Virginia or northern Michigan you will have to pay more because there are less trucks in the area. Less trucks means less competition for your car and that means a higher price for you. Truckers like big roads near big cities. If you say you are willing to meet near an interstate or near a large metro area you could see considerable savings.

3. Be Flexible with Your Scheduling

Again, less competition means higher price. Well if you need your car picked up or dropped of within a very specific timeframe that decreases the amount of trucks that can help. If you can provide about a week of flexibility on both the pick up and the drop off this will guarantee you get the best price possible.

4. Size Matters

Many families have two cars and are planning to drive one and ship the other when they move.  It will always be cheaper to ship the smaller car. You still have to consider the money you would save on gas driving the smaller car to figure out how much the savings would be overall.  But, you are usually better off shipping the smaller car.

Another thing you can do to save money is to fix your car if it isn’t running. Non-running vehicles are usually about $150-$200 more expensive to ship than their running counterparts. Also if your car has modifications, removing them can also help with the price. If you can take a big spoiler, a lift kit, or lowering springs off it can save you about $100.

5. Carpool Your Transport

If you are lucky enough to match in the same location as your friend, you can save some money!  Shipping more than one car at a time saves you money because it saves the trucker time. If this is something you can arrange, then you will be able to get $50-$100 off of the price per car.  The more the merrier. And cheaper!

5. Get Some Digits

After you’ve shipped your car once make sure to get the phone number of the driver that transported the car. The first time you ship your car you will be going through a broker and they usually charge fees of $150-$250 for their service. If you ship regularly on the same route you can contact the trucker directly to eliminate this fee.

6. Shop Around

Using an auto transport company isn’t the only way to ship a car but it is usually the safest and most convenient. Here are some other money saving options that might suit you better than an auto transport company:

  1.  The Amtrak auto train is a great money saving option.  But, they are very limited in where they can ship.  If you are along their route the price is unbeatable. The only shipping lane they have is from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL.

  2. A driveaway service hires people to drive your car to its destination. Availability is scarce with this service and you have to consider the cost of the wear and tear on your car. There are companies that arrange this or you can find someone on Craigslist or Facebook or you could even ask a relative to do it. Just make sure it’s someone you trust!

  3. Doing it yourself is the cheapest option but will involve the most time, risk, and work. The price to rent a U-Haul auto transport trailer is around $250 to $350, depending on the time and the pick up and drop off locations.  If you don’t strap the car up correctly there is no insurance and if your car falls off on the highway things could get messy.  Not everyone has a car that can tow a transport trailer, so you may have to rent a truck also. Furthermore this requires driving to the location and driving back, so this is also a significant time investment.

7. Be Frugal, Not Cheap

While price is the focus of this article, make sure it is not the only factor when picking an auto transport company. You get what you pay for. If someone is promising an unbelievably low price, that may be a big red flag. There is a big problem in our industry of bait and switch tactics, so please make sure you are checking reviews for any company BEFORE you get a quote.

We all know Match Day can be very much like getting sorted by The Sorting Hat.  As you move around, we hope this information can make it easier for you to price shop the moving process! 

What has been your experience with car shipping? Comment below!

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Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial advice.  Photos from            


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