Before you agree to a price or service with an auto transport company, there are some very important questions you should ask. These ten questions will help ensure that you’re dealing with a reputable company, get the appropriate service, and get the best value for your money.
1. Are you a broker or carrier?
The auto transport industry relies heavily upon brokers and freight forwarders, neither of whom actually move your vehicle (the carriers do that). Brokers take your request and find a carrier from a loading board that can do the job while taking a small percentage of the total cost. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. The simple fact is that carriers don’t always have time to find customers and a competitive broker can often get you a good deal.
2. What is your MC# or USDOT#?
Using a company’s motor carrier or U.S. Department of Transportation number, you can look up specific information about them (and find out if they told the truth about question number one) through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s company snapshot feature.
*For the most accurate results, it is highly recommended that you look up companies by the MC# or USDOT# and not by their name.
3. Do you offer free estimates with no obligation?
Nearly every auto transport company should provide a free quote and if they don’t, you should probably keep looking. The reason being that free quotes are an industry standard--it’s how we get our business and it should raise a red flag if a company is unwilling to allow you to compare prices by offering a complimentary quote.
4. Do price quotes include everything or will there be additional costs?
This is an important one! Many of the complaints against auto transport companies are based on unexpected costs, which could have been easily avoided by asking one simple question. Make sure you inquire about any additional costs or penalties that may be incurred.
5. Do you have any references I can contact?
When you ask this question, do not take online reviews for a legitimate “reference.” Online reviews and ratings can be easily manipulated and this includes trusted consumer sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. Just take a look at this article that unpacks some of the tactics used by these types of websites. When you ask for references, they should be for former customers you can contact directly.
6. What is your physical address?
Another great way to sniff out if a company is legitimate or not is whether they have a physical business address. A quick search on google maps will show that many so-called auto transport companies are based out of a home residence.
7. What payment options are available?
It’s not uncommon for auto shippers to request a deposit or partial payment of the total before picking up your vehicle. They should not, however, request a full payment before delivery.
8. How are customer complaints resolved?
A valid auto transporter should have a complaint resolution process in place that is straightforward and easy to use. If a company is unsure how to answer this question or doesn’t have a process for resolving customer issues, it’s an indication of poor customer service.
9. Can you send it to me in writing?
If the answer to this question is anything other than “yes” you need to keep looking. Price quotes in the industry are designed to give customers an accurate idea of what it will cost to move a vehicle and the full terms of the contract should be disclosed and agreed upon.
10. What timeframe do you require for delivery?
Another important question since it can sometimes be the deciding factor, especially if you need a car or truck moved quickly. Most companies offer expedited or express service, but it typically costs more. Standard auto transport generally requires between 4-8 weeks of notice and the more time the better!
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.