Whether you are relocating to a new state, sending a child off to college, or purchasing a new car, using a car shipping company is a convenient and reliable way to get your vehicle from one location to another. Auto shipping takes the hassle out of driving long distances and can simplify the process of transporting your vehicle. For many people, this isn’t something they do on a regular basis so there may be a lot of unknowns. Understandably, people may be concerned about the cost of auto shipping as well as figuring out how the process works. The good news is that shipping a car isn’t as difficult as one might think and there are plenty of ways to save money. Consider the following tips for an affordable and hassle-free auto shipping experience.
Research Shipping Companies
Before booking an auto transport service, you want to be sure that the company you are working with is reputable and reliable. It’s important to research a few carriers so you can find a trusted shipper. You can start with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which allows consumers to check a company’s license, insurance record, and complaint history. You can also read customer reviews online or check with the Better Business Bureau. Once you have found a couple reputable companies, start asking for rate quotes.
Check Insurance Coverage
You always want to check your insurance coverage prior to booking a shipping service. While not anticipated, damage can and does occur from time to time. Most reputable auto shipping companies will offer liability coverage. In addition, you should check with your own insurance company to see if you have additional coverage.
Choose an Open Carrier Rather Than Enclosed
When shipping your vehicle, you will have the option of choosing between an open and enclosed transport carrier. The vast majority of carriers on the road are open trailers, and this is definitely your cheapest option. Since enclosed trailers can carry fewer cars, you will pay a premium price for them. Enclosed transport is recommended for a highly valuable luxury vehicle or an antique car. Otherwise, you can save money by choosing an open carrier.
Be Flexible with Your Pickup and Delivery Locations
Another way to save money is by being flexible with your pickup and delivery locations. While door-to-door service is certainly convenient, you can also expect to pay more for the service. A more affordable option would be to use terminal-to-terminal shipping. Furthermore, if you live in a remote location far from a major city or highway, you will pay more for shipping. The cheapest way to do it is by driving to the nearest terminal to drop off and pick up your vehicle.
Ship in the Off Season
If you aren’t in a hurry to ship your vehicle, another way to save money is by shipping it during the off-season. Coast-to-coast transportation carriers are busiest during the spring and summer from May-September while carriers that travel from north to south are busier during the winter months. If you can be flexible with your shipping dates, you can get a better deal by avoiding peak season.
Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport
In order to simplify the process, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your vehicle for shipment. For starters, you want to clean your car inside and out and inspect it for any dents, dings, or scratches. You want to take time-stamped pictures of your vehicle and document it’s condition prior to shipment. You will also need to perform a follow-up inspection at pickup to ensure your vehicle did not get damaged. In addition to an inspection, you should also remove any exterior accessories such as luggage racks, spoilers, bike racks, or antennae. You also want to check your tire pressure, fluid, and battery. You also want to make sure there is no more than ¼ tank of gas in your tank. Finally, you want to remove all personal belongings from inside your vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.