Thanks to online marketplaces, such as eBay, auto transporting has grown as an industry. However, at this stage, it remains highly unregulated. The following tips will help you choose the best company for your needs, taking care to be safe, secure, and sensible.
When considering a vehicle shipping company, get price quotes from a variety of companies before choosing. You can get quotes directly from a company’s website, or you can use websites that offer quotes from multiple companies at a time.
Be sure to enter as much information about the shipment as you can provide: the more information, the more accurate the quote.
Do you have a standard vehicle, or does your automobile have modifications, e.g. lift kits, larger tires, lowered suspensions? Most automatic bids will be for the standard passenger vehicle. Those vehicles with modifications will cost more.
Avoid companies that charge upfront fees. When deciding upon a company, don’t take the lowest priced bidder. Companies that bid low often lure customers, then attempt to locate a carrier for the low price. When carriers turn down the offer, your car won’t be moved. Those companies who bid in the median range are generally the most reliable.
Get familiar with the types of transporters available. There are tractor- trailers (single and multiple vehicle loads) and hotshots. Hotshots are small trucks that carry one vehicle at a time. Though they are more expensive, they provide faster service because they only have one delivery; you don’t have to wait on other customers to fill empty slots. Hotshots can navigate neighborhood streets and can often make the delivery right to your home. Tractor-trailers, on the other hand, are often cheaper because the transport cost is spread among several clients.
If you choose multiple vehicle tractor-trailers for shipment, consider whether you prefer a top deck or lower deck position. Cars on the upper level are more exposed to the environment, but cars on the lower deck can receive drippings of oil and fluids from above.
If you have a collectible or more expensive vehicle, consider a closed trailer for shipment. While it’s more expensive, your 1965 Mustang with original paint will thank you.
To know if the bidding company is legitimate, check for DOT and MC numbers. All auto transporters must be registered with the Department of Transportation and have an active USDOT and motor carrier (MC) number. Numbers should be provided on the shipping company’s website. The only exception is in the case of forwarders and brokers. A broker doesn’t own trucks, rather they focus on finding the best auto shipping company for your vehicle. A forwarder acts as an agent between the client and a shipping company arranging documentation, terms of carriage, and customs clearance. Brokers and forwarders only have MC numbers.
Though you have insurance on your vehicle, most household policies won’t cover a car when it’s in transit. Check with your insurance provider to see if they have “rider” policies. All transport companies are required to carry liability and cargo insurance. Request written proof of coverage before booking with a carrier. It is not too much to ask, and reputable transportation providers won’t hesitate to provide the information.
Customer feedback is invaluable to a transport company. Use sites such as rip-off report, m3cents.com, or complaintsboard.com to check the company name before finalizing the deal. Search the Internet for reviews and better business bureau rankings. Avoid doing business with newer companies who don’t yet have established reputations. The industry as of now remains highly unregulated with many inferior companies taking advantage of unsuspecting customers. Do your homework up front so your vehicle is not a statistic.
Once you decide upon a carrier, consider the following basic principles of shipment before the trip:
- Read the contract completely before you sign it. Pay special attention to the small print for hidden fees.
- Remove all personal or valuable items from your vehicle.
- Try to have less than a quarter of a tank of gas in your vehicle for the move. Gasoline is added weight, which equates to added cost for the carrier. This cost will be passed on to you.
- Wash your car before the trip. A clean vehicle is easier to inspect, thus making the condition easily reported upon pickup and delivery.
- Make sure the carrier completes a vehicle inspection before transit.
- Document the mileage on your car before and after delivery.
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.