Whether you are moving to a different state or buying a car online, shipping your car is much easier than trying to drive it across the country yourself. However, if you are a first-time car shipper, there are some important things to consider before handing over your keys. Your car is a valuable possession so you want to make sure you are working with a trusted and reliable shipping company. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you understand the process so your experience is stress-free. Here are a few of the most important things to consider before selecting a car transport service.
How Much Will it Cost?
This is probably the first question in peoples’ minds when it comes to auto shipment. The answer, however, is dependent on a number of factors. Here are some of the factors that can impact the cost of car shipment:
- Make, model, and size of your vehicle
- The exact distance of transport
- Open vs. enclosed carrier
- Time of year (some seasons are busier than others)
- Fuel costs at the time of shipment
- Special services such as transporting a vehicle that is oversized or inoperable
The best way to get an accurate estimate is to call several auto shipping companies to request a quote.
How Long Will it Take?
The next thing to consider is how quickly you will need your vehicle. Auto shippers will do their best to give you an estimated delivery date but keep in mind that this is only an estimate. It is nearly impossible to guarantee delivery dates with auto-shipment and you should be wary of any company that claims they can guarantee delivery. That’s because there are a number of factors that are out of the company’s control that can impact delivery time. For instance, bad weather, traffic jams, or mechanical issues with the carrier can all be potential reasons for delays. If you require your vehicle in a certain amount of time, be sure to discuss expedited shipping options with your transport company.
Know Who You Are Working With
Finding an auto shipping company usually starts with an online search but bear in mind that not all companies are created equal. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there and businesses who claim to be something they are not. Therefore, you should be prepared to do adequate research before choosing a car shipping company. Start by verifying the company’s licensing, registration, and insurance by using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. This website can also provide you with a safety record for the company. Next, spend time reading reviews, asking friends, and even contacting the Better Business Bureau. Finally, be sure to ask plenty of questions. If the company isn’t willing or able to answer your questions, this could be a red flag that something is off.
What Type of Transport Will You Need?
When it comes to auto shipping, you will have the choice between using an open or enclosed carrier to transport your vehicle. Open carriers are the cheapest and most popular choice. However, your car will be exposed to the outdoor elements which could present a greater risk for unexpected damage. The other option would be an enclosed carrier, which provides maximum protection for your vehicle from the outdoor elements. This option is more expensive, however, and is generally used for brand new, luxury, antique, or exotic vehicles.
You Will Need to Prepare Your Car for Shipment
You also need to bear in mind that there are a few things you will need to do to prepare your vehicle for shipment. These include:
- Top off all fluids and leave no more than a quarter tank of gas in the car
- Wash the exterior of your car so any scratches, dents, or dings are easily visible
- Take photos of the car’s exterior and make note of any scratches or dents. This will serve as proof of your vehicle’s condition prior to shipment
- Remove all personal items from inside the vehicle
- Remove all exterior accessories such as bike racks, luggage racks, spoilers, etc.
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.
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