Calculating Freight Quotes

Truck freight is arranged through trucking companies and freight brokers; charges for the same shipment may differ quite widely between them. To figure truck freight charges you will need to provide as much information as possible on what you’re planning to ship, and time to gather quotes. Knowing how to calculate freight quotes will give you peace of mind that your package will arrive at its destination safe, secure and for the best price. Freight is considered to be one large item or a collection of small items with a total weight of 150 lbs. or greater transported for personal or commercial purposes. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) bases freight class on four characteristics: density, stowability, handling and liability. Collect all the shipping details for your item, and obtain price quotes for shipping from several freight shipping companies. Then you can compare their costs and services.


1. Contact someone at the freight’s destination point and find out how the shipment will need to be unloaded. The freight hauler will need to know whether there will be a forklift or a loading dock, or whether hand loading is required. This will determine what type of truck is used, especially if the load needs a truck with a powered lift gate. You will also need to provide similar information about the pickup location.

2. Calculate the cubic feet of the item you want to ship. Measure its width, height and length. Multiply those measurements to find the cubic feet.

3. Find the item’s weight in pounds. Use a large scale or a forklift scale, and include the packaging or crating in the weight.

4. Calculate the item’s density. Density is the pounds per cubic foot of space. To find density, divide the item’s weight by its cubic feet.

5. Estimate the freight class. Enter the item’s measurements into an online calculator for a free estimate of its freight class. NMFC states that 18 freight classes exist, ranging from Class 50 to Class 500. A high freight class number results in a high freight rate.

6. Determine the handling format for your item. It may be packaged, crated or on a pallet.

7. Select special shipping requirements for your item if desired. This may include delivery confirmation, special packaging requirements, insurance, temperature control, time-critical delivery or delivery to a remote location.

8. Determine the best method of freight transportation. Options are truck, train, air and ocean freight. The shipping destination influences which mode of transportation you should use.

9. Enter the shipping details into various freight companies’ online form for freight quotes. Some allows you to obtain a free comparison of several freight companies, saving you a visit to each company’s website. Shipment information needed includes origin, destination, shipping date, transportation type, freight class, weight, liability (value) and special requirements. Stowability is automatically determined from the item’s dimensions.