Whether you are purchasing a car online or moving across the country, shipping your car is usually much easier than driving it yourself. However, before handing over the keys, you want to make sure that you have hired the right company for the job. Furthermore, you want to be sure you fully understand the shipping process so that you can have the best experience possible. Given that most people don’t ship cars on a regular basis, you will likely have several questions about the industry and how auto transport works. Here are a few important topics you should discuss with an auto transport company before shipping your car.
What kind of car are you shipping?
One of the first topics you will want to discuss with an auto transport company is what kind of car you are looking to ship. The make, model, and size of your vehicle can help the shipping company get a better idea of what it will cost to ship your car. In addition, if you are shipping a luxury, antique, or classic car, you may want to consider additional options such as enclosed transport. Finally, you want to let the shipping company know whether or not your car is in working condition or if it’s inoperable, as this can change the equipment that will be needed to ship your car safely.
How much will it cost to ship your car?
This is likely one of the first questions you will have and any reputable car shipping company should be able to provide you with a quote. Keep in mind, however, that there are several factors that determine the cost of auto shipment. These include:
- Size of your vehicle
- Distance of shipment
- Open or enclosed transport
- Door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal delivery
- Time of year
- Flexibility of shipping dates
When you receive your quote, be sure to ask if the quote includes everything. You want to make sure you understand the pricing clearly, because the last thing you want are unexpected fees and additional costs.
Are they properly licensed and registered?
You want to be sure that the company you are working with is in compliance with all necessary licensing requirements. Any company that transports vehicles is required to be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. They should be able to provide you with a valid U.S. DOT # for verification. In addition, they should also be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and should be able to provide you with their MC #. You can look this number up on the Motor Carrier website to check the company’s transport history.
What services do they offer?
You want to be sure and discuss what kinds of services the auto transport company offers. For example, some may have restrictions on the size or weight of vehicles. Some may not have the proper equipment to haul an inoperable vehicle. There are also other specific services such as open or enclosed transport, as well as door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal services. You want to inquire about all of these services so you can find an auto transport company that best fits your needs.
Are they insured?
Insurance is a very important topic to discuss whenever you are handing over your vehicle for shipment. You want to make sure that the auto transport company you are working with offers adequate coverage for your vehicle. If you don’t think it’s sufficient, ask about increasing the coverage.
How long will shipping take?
There is no guarantee in the auto shipping industry and this might vary from one company to another. However, they should be able to provide you with an estimated delivery time. Just keep in mind that things like weather, road conditions, traffic, and mechanical problems can arise and affect your delivery time.
What are the payment arrangements?
Be sure to inquire about what payment methods are accepted, and ask about a deposit. Many auto shipping companies will ask customers to pay a deposit or partial payment when the shipment is scheduled, but rarely would you be asked to pay in full. Be sure you understand all of the terms and conditions of your contract so you aren’t hit with any surprise bills.
What documents will you need for shipment?
In most cases, auto transport companies will require title, registration, and insurance information in addition to a photo ID. They need proof that the car you are shipping actually belongs to you. That said, be sure to clarify exactly what documents are necessary so you have everything ready and won’t delay shipment.
How do you prepare your car for shipment?
Though the process of shipping is pretty straightforward, there are a few things you will need to do to ensure your vehicle is properly prepared for shipment. As the owner of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to make sure that your vehicle is prepared for shipment so be sure and ask what you need to do prior to dropping off 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.
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