Whether you are planning a long-distance move or out-of-state vehicle purchase, you may be wondering how to ship your car to its final destination. You value (whether financially or sentimentally) your vehicle, so finding a reliable and trustworthy shipping company is at the forefront of your mind. There are many things to consider to ensure the safe shipment of your car.
1. Have realistic time expectations when shipping your car.
Timing may be the first piece of information you have on hand as you consider how to ship your car. As you start considering the timing of your car shipment, understand that the shipping process takes time. Don’t count on your vehicle arriving at its final destination overnight or even within a few days. On average, international deliveries can take up to eight weeks, while domestic deliveries can take up to four weeks.
Some auto transport companies may offer guaranteed shipping and delivery dates with the possibility of a higher rate.
2. Thorough research is crucial as you figure out how to ship your car safely.
Do your due diligence. Check the track record of prospective auto shipping companies. You can do most, if not all, of your research online. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration runs a hotline you can call to check on an auto shipping company’s licensing and insurance records. You can also see if customers have filed any complaints filed against the company.
Other research resources include the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, or any reviews or complaints you can find on the company from doing a Google search.
3. Contact your list of prospective shipping companies directly to get price quotes.
After conducting your research and building a preliminary list of auto transporters, plan on contacting each one to get detailed pricing information. As you communicate with the companies, remember to ask what specific services they include at the quoted price, how long the quote is valid for, and what factors, if any, can cause the quote to change.
Keep in mind that it is risky to select a shipping company solely based on price. A lower quoted price can mean older or less reliable equipment. It could also indicate less experienced drivers who receive a lower wage. These will be the people directly handling your car, so you want them to have experience with the process.
Lower prices could also indicate the company offers less comprehensive insurance coverage. With less coverage, you run the risk of paying out of pocket if your car is damaged or even lost during the shipping process.
4. As you evaluate the pricing information you’ve collected, remember, several factors can affect the total shipping cost.
- Location – Shipping your car to/from/between major cities can cost less than remote locations. There is a higher likelihood that shipping companies can complete multiple pick-ups/deliveries to major cities on one trip, resulting in lower overall costs they can pass on to the customer.
- Vehicle size – Larger or heavier cars will cost more to ship. Heavier cars will require the transport carrier to consume more fuel. Larger vehicles take up more space and may result in fewer cars the transport can carry on a given trip.
- Time of Year – Winter tends to be a slower month for car shipping companies. Therefore, you will likely find more affordable rates during the winter months than at other times of the year. Although more affordable rates may seem attractive if you are flexible with your shipment’s timing, you run the risk of weather-related delays in the winter. If you find yourself having to move in the summer, remember summer is usually the busiest time of year for car shipping companies. Book early to reserve an ideal spot on their schedule.
- Location of Pick-up and Deliver – Door-to-door service may add to your final shipping cost. Dropping off or picking up your car from one of the shipping company’s locations may be more affordable.
- Covered or Open Transport – Additional protection for your car during shipping will cost you more. Covered or enclosed auto transports are unable to haul as many vehicles as open transports. There is a second level of cars that open transports can carry.
However, there can also be price differences between the top and bottom levels of an open transport shipment. The top level may be more desirable for car owners as it helps protect the vehicle from road debris and leaking liquids from other cars on the same transport. The desirability of the upper level can drive the higher cost.
5. As you research how to ship your car, have a thorough understanding of insurance options.
While evaluating prospective car shipping companies, make sure you understand the coverage included. Most shipping companies provide around $50k to $100k in liability insurance. This included coverage is known as carrier insurance. Ask for a copy of the company’s carrier insurance if you can’t find it on their website.
If you found your car shipping company through a broker, you might have additional insurance coverage options. Some brokers offer supplemental coverage for a fee.
Also, check if your personal car insurance covers your car during shipment. It’s better to know ahead of time, just in case.
In the unfortunate circumstance that your car is damaged in transit, ask about any deductibles that may be required for the carrier’s insurance coverage to take effect.
6. Understand your payment options.
Find out ahead of time who to pay, when to pay, and accepted forms of payment. Typically you pay the driver upon delivery. Also, find out if there is a deposit required to schedule the shipment of your vehicle.
7. As you finalize your car shipment plans, consider the space at your pick-up and delivery locations.
Ensure there is enough space at these locations for the transport to load and unload your vehicle safely.
8. In deciding how to ship your car, the total price will play a factor, so inquire about extra services they may offer at additional costs.
For example, some auto transport companies offer storage options if you cannot claim your vehicle right away. Also, some companies offer vehicle maintenance or cleaning services after your car has been in storage. If you plan on taking advantage of storage services, ask about the facility.
- Is the storage secured?
- Is it indoor, covered outdoor, or uncovered outdoor storage?
- If it is indoor storage, is it climate-controlled?
Remember, the quality of the storage facilities will likely affect the total additional cost of the service.
9. Properly preparing your car for shipment is important.
Here are some things to do before the driver loads your vehicle onto the transport:
- Take photos of the car right before the company picks it up to note the condition of its interior and exterior.
- Remove all your personal belongings. You don’t want your items to get stolen or damaged during transit.
- For safety purposes, leave only a quarter of a tank of gas in the car. This amount should be enough to get your vehicle to its final destination if you plan to pick it up from another location.
- Wash your car beforehand so you can more easily detect any scratches or damage at pickup and delivery.
- If you opt for open trailer shipping, consider getting a protective film put on your car or at least a car cover to protect your car in transit.
10. To adequately understand how to ship your car safely, understand the importance of the Bill of Lading.
The Bill of Lading includes the details of the transport agreement between the shipper and you. It also outlines the condition of your car at pickup. The document needs to be signed at both pickup and delivery to show agreement on the car’s condition before and after transport.
Inspect your vehicle carefully before signing the Bill of Lading. You want to note any damage that wasn’t present when the shipping company picked up your car.
This document also acknowledges receipt of the vehicle upon pickup (by the shipper) and delivery (by the owner).
Remember, signing a Bill of Lading can affect your ability to make an insurance claim, so inspect your vehicle carefully at drop off and pick up.
We at Reynolds Transfer and Storage understand that moving can be a stressful experience. That’s why we offer high-quality auto transport services to meet your specific needs. Whether it’s across the country or a shorter distance, we offer a move management system and electronic shipment tracking to keep you informed and connected as we transport your vehicle to its final destination. Contact us today to find out more about our auto transport services.