Do you need to ship a car? Maybe you have just been relocated across the country for a new job? It doesn't matter if you’re shipping a family car or if you’ve got something a little more exotic and expensive, it's important to understand the difference between the types of auto transport companies available for shipping cars and some of the things you need to know before choosing a company to use.
If you need to get your vehicle from point A to point B, it will be vital to add it to your moving checklist. Considering how valuable your car is, it'll be essential to make a great car shipping choice. Let's take a deep dive into the considerations when shipping a car:
It Can Be Risky to Transport Your Car Across the U.S.
Typically, you have the option to ship your car in an open or enclosed trailer. Open trailers are always cheaper, but cars shipped using this method are prone to damage and even theft. Of course, the cars are liable to weather damage and are usually only secured by chains. This method can do even more damage as the chains usually go over the vehicle's axle, putting a lot of strain on the whole vehicle, especially if it has been overtightened.
The other side to this is that if the chains are too loose, they will bang against the other cars during their travel time, which will undoubtedly cause damage. Enclosed trailers have a reduced chance of damage or theft, but are usually more costly to rent.
Read Reviews to Make Sure You Can Trust The Business
When researching companies to use, it's vital to read any reviews you can find to ensure that you’ve found a business that actually cares about your vehicle. You can also check forums, Google reviews, or ask your friends, family and neighbors which vehicle moving companies they would recommend. By speaking to those who have moved using a car shipping company, you'll be able to build a picture of a business quickly, so you know they’re worth your time and your money.
Avoid Auto Transport Brokers
Going directly to an auto transport business means that you know exactly who will be handling your car and what sort of vehicle they're using. If there are any damages or scheduling issues, you can easily contact them. These are all things that become quite troublesome if you choose to pay a transport broker to move your car for you.
What a transport broker essentially does is bid your vehicle to actual auto transport companies, acting as the middleman, which means they don’t really care who actually moves your vehicle for you. They sell to the highest bidder, and this bidder could be terrible at their job. However, you’ll have no say over the matter.
Be sure to avoid any sort of auto transport broker and instead find an actual vehicle transport company to take your car across the country. Much like renting your own moving truck, it's better to have control and know exactly what is going on with your vehicle.
Never Give a Large Deposit
Reputable companies will never need any form of deposit. They should be asking/taking payment when they pick up your vehicle or drop it off, depending on how they run their business.
In rare cases, a small number of legitimate companies require you to give them a deposit. Car shipping companies do this mainly to discourage you from backing out at the last minute, so they can also be covered on any lost work due to this. However, this is fairly rare, and even then, the deposit isn't so large it's going to break the bank.
Don’t Just Pick The Cheapest Car Shipping Company
Everyone is trying to save pennies here and there when moving, whether it's getting a bargain from the local storage facility or finding some free moving boxes to use. However, you'll sometimes need to pay more to get more, which is the case with something as important as a service taking your vehicle from one location to another. With these services, price is usually a good indication of the quality of equipment the company has available to use.
Of course, this isn't always true, and plenty of companies are terrible and will just charge way too much, but it's a good rule to follow. Ideally, you’re going to want to implement one of the things already mentioned above: Read reviews and get recommendations!
Assessing the pricing, as well as the reviews, of a vehicle transport business will make things easier. It will increase the likelihood of finding a reputable company you can trust with your car.
Beware of the Insurance Policies That Auto Transport Company Offers
You're going to want your transporter to provide you with a certificate of insurance so you can confidently know they’re going to be insured while they’re carrying your vehicle. The certificate should include coverage amounts for liability, workers comp, as well as the amount of cargo they can actually carry. This should also be investigated before you schedule your vehicle to be picked up. In fact, it should be one of the many questions you’re going to ask the business when you initially contact them.
Understand the Shipment Schedule
Most auto transport companies will have specific timeframes for scheduling that need to be met when picking up and delivering your car. Often this is around about 5 to 7 days, as the truck can run different routes every day. Factors such as weather, traffic and the customer’s schedule need to be accounted for.
If your car needs to be shipped on a specific day, perhaps for a birthday, or so you can get your car when you move into your new home, make this known so the company and the driver can meet these dates.
Make Sure to Prepare Your Car for Transport
You’ll need to make sure your car is prepared for shipping, which means that you may need gas in the tank so that the car can be driven on and off the trailer. If you do not do this, you could be charged a fee. Also, make sure you have checked the antifreeze level so that the car will be fine during the climates in which it'll be traveling for the next couple of days.
Lastly, make sure you remove any items that don't belong in the vehicle. Anything left in the car could be lost, damaged or stolen if it's not secured properly. Generally, it's best to remove them from the car altogether.
Your car is likely one of your most valuable assets. It makes sense to do your homework to make sure your vehicle is in the hands of one of the better car shipping companies. By doing your due diligence in finding a reputable company, your car transportation experience should go smoothly!
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. Gassett works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.