How to Calculate a Trucking Freight Quote

There are a ton of factors that will affect your trucking freight quote and exactly how much shipping your cargo costs, including mode of transport, dimensions and weight, destinations and pick-up points, freight class and the current state of the economy. To gather accurate quotes your shipping provider will ask for all of the information they require from you upfront. Therefore, having the most accurate details to hand before quote searching is super helpful and makes this process much more efficient.

Here’s a quick look into how trucking freight quotes are gathered, and what goes into getting the most accurate quote.

1. Distance, Route and Destination 🛣

The further the destination is from pick-up the higher the transportation costs, generally speaking. Another factor bumping up the cost of your cargo’s journey could be the specific route your freight might need to take which could include things like toll roads or difficult terrain and traffic congestion. All of these factors lead to increased operational costs and higher fuel consumption. So, it’s important to understand the costs of mileage, figure out the best route optimization to get the best quote possible and understand why a trucking freight quote costs what it costs.

2. Weight & Volume 🏋️

Weight, dims (dimensions) and volume are perhaps the most important factors along with the distance when gathering a shipping quote. A logistics professional can probably look at these two pieces of data and come up with a roughly estimated quote for your shipment. Heavier freight = higher costs including, oversized and over dimensional freight these tend to come with extra charges that are worked into your quote. It also goes without saying, that the higher the volume of freight again the higher the cost to ship, as you’ll inevitably be taking up more room in the truck and will require more handing. Just like how an FTL shipment costs more than LTL, as your freight might require an entire truck all for itself.

3. Freight Class 📝

The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) have set guidelines that help to identify freight classification based on your cargos characteristics. Understanding the different classifications and how freight is categorized is crucial as it directly impacts your trucking freight quote. The four main factors that contribute to cargos classification include:


Density is the weight of the cargo in relation to its’ size and is calculated by weight per cubic foot.

Higher density = lower freight class. These sorts of shipments are easier to transport because they’re more compact, making the price of high density freight cheaper than large, low density items.


Liability covers the probability of theft and damage, in the case of freight being considered dangerous and or hazardous then it will cost more to transport and the liability will be much higher than ordinary freight.


This one is pretty self explanatory, if the freight requires more or specialized handling techniques and equipment during shipping, for example if it’s fragile, heavy or hazardous cargo then the shipment in question will fall into a higher freight class, meaning it costs more to transport.


This relates to how the freight can be loaded and shipped with other freight. So this highly depends on whether the freight is flammable, hazardous, perishable, or oddly shaped. When cargo is difficult to stow with other pieces of freight then it results in a higher freight class, which will bump up the price of your trucking freight quote.

4. What Is The Cargo? 🤔

We’ve touched on it above in the freight class specifications, but pricing also comes down to another crucial factor and that is as simple as, what the cargo actually is. Depending on the needs of your freight it might require specialized equipment, additional documentation and extra insurance covers. For example we once transported a Whale Shark to Georgia Aquiarium, which as you can imagine needed extra extra special solutions for care, equipment and handling throughout the entire transportation journey. So knowing any special requirements helps to create an accurate quote for your cargo.

5. The Economy ⛽️☀️❄️💨🌧⚡️

Factors affecting freight quotes that have nothing to do with type of freight, weight, distance, etc. include: seasonal demand, fuel surcharges (which we highlight in a weekly newsletter so all of our customers are kept up to date), and other weather conditions which make it difficult to carry out shipments. We’ve written another super helpful blog about factors that affect freight rates which you can read to get a bit more insight into what else affects your shipment quotes.

So How Do Shipping Partners Quote Your Freight? 🧮

Freight Rate Calculators

The most common way to quote freight jobs is by using online tools and software to automate freight rate calculations in minutes. These softwares are simple to use and require you to simply input all of the freights data including, weight, size, freight class and distance of travel, it then calculates a price reflective of the details provided.

Manual Calculations

Less commonly used by shipping partners is the manual calculation, again using the details needed for the freight calculators (listed above) people can manually work out pricing using appropriate formulas.

Additional Charges 💰

There’s always accessorial charges that need to be considered for each shipment. They’re calculated on a job by job basis and are applied when freight has extra requirements and needs including, additional labor, equipment, time, liftgate needs, residential delivery and another surcharge to be aware of is fuel surcharges that is constantly monitored by shipping partners, as we’ve mentioned above ⬆ in ‘The Economy’ section.

Conclusion 😁

After discussing all of the factors that go into getting a fast and accurate trucking freight quote, it’s clear why it’s so important to have as much accurate information and details about your shipment to hand, when speaking with a specialist or trying to calculate your quote yourself. Details like distance, weight, dimensions, freight class, etc. are essential for the most accurate quote. If you don’t have these you’ll only be able to get a rough estimate, which will most likely have extra charges when your shipping provider really gets into the intricacies of your shipment. Understanding the importance of all of this information and how each detail affects costings, will lead to more informed decision making, cost savings and enhanced logistics management.

Need a quote with no obligations for any of your specialized shipments?

At PEI we’re experts in dealing with specialized freight and can handle yours with any custom requirements.

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