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When one has to move interstate or to a different country, one of the more complicated matters is arranging car shipping. Whether or not you have done it before, this is something to take seriously every time, as the last thing you want is to receive your vehicle post-shipment with distinct, considerable damages that aren’t your fault for but might have to pay for yourself. Therefore, it’s crucial to select the right shipping and transport company (or broker) for handling this, more so than other items you own.
Here are the steps to follow for shipping a car:
After doing the necessary research, you’re likely to lean towards one or a handful of companies that to entrust your car with for shipping. So firstly, reach out by email or telephone to a customer representative of each company you’re considering. Here, you can gauge just how credible the company truly is, based on how transparent the rep is when it comes to these questions:
• “Do you offer both open-car and enclosed-car shipping?”
• “Can you guarantee delivery in a specific number of days?”
• “Where do you park or store vehicles overnight before shipping them?”
• “What insurance can I avail of to cover for theft and damages to my vehicle during shipping?” (Reputable companies have reliable insurance that covers any type of damage, insuring from anywhere between $50k to $1M worth of damages)
There are two different ways you can have your car shipped, and it’s important to know the key differences before you proceed with purchasing a service. First, there is the open-car option, which means your vehicle will be uncovered throughout shipment. While this method tends to be chosen for its cheaper cost, it means your car runs the risk of being exposed to both natural elements and potentially extreme weather conditions during its journey by land and sea.
On the other hand, enclosed-car shipping involves transporting the vehicle while enclosed in a trailer or covered freight area. Those who need to ship a classic or luxury car prefer this option, given the added protection it provides as their cars will be traveling cross-country and passing through rough terrains, where elements such as sand and rocks can lead to unexpected damages.
Use the website of your chosen company/companies to calculate the total cost of shipping your vehicle, which should help decide if it’s worth going through with their service. The information you’ll need to fill in includes:
• Pick-up point and destination
• The make and model of the car
• The working condition of the car (running or non-running)
• Method of shipping (open-car or enclosed-car)
Purchasing can be done over the phone or through an online booking system on the shipping company’s website. Ensure you have important details and numbers ready on hand in case they’re required during this process, such as your driver’s license and vehicle registration.
Once your purchase is confirmed, expect the company to mention that they will contact you with an available slot for shipping your vehicle. Ideally, it’s as close to your preferred date as possible. Most companies generally give customers a full week’s notice before the day their car is ready to be shipped. Alternatively, you might be able to arrange a specific date for pick-up if shipping schedules are not flexible given your situation. Be sure to contact the company regarding this option. Most likely, you will be charged an additional amount for this.
The reason for having these documents stored in your car is simple: to verify your identity and confirm that this vehicle is registered under your name. Ideally, these documents should be stored safely in the glove compartment. But the important thing is that they are easy to access and won’t get lost as your car gets taken for shipping.
This is about making the whole experience easier for both the company and yourself. By taking the measures below, you minimize the chance of something going wrong as your car is carefully handled and transported. It’ll also make it easier to check for signs of damage once shipping is completed and prove that the company is liable for them.
• Wash your car by hand thoroughly with soap, water, and a couple of clean rags.
• Leave the gas tank only about 1/8 to 1/4 full, as this will save some weight.
• Shut off the car alarm completely or, instead, temporarily disable it so that you can easily reactivate it when it’s brought back to you at the destination.
• Detach and securely store any specialty items or loose parts of the vehicle (e.g., fog lights, spoilers, ground effects). If you have wide side mirrors, have them folded back. Also, ensure the antennae are lowered and retracted.
• Check that no personal belongings are kept in the car.
Depending on the arrangement with the shipping company, you must plan to have your car ready about five minutes before the actual scheduled time for pick-up. So if you will be traveling to a location, allow some leeway for bad traffic as you’re planning the drive there. If the company is picking it up, make sure it’s ready and located in the exact street as indicated in the pick-up details.
As part of the standard procedure, the company will have you review and sign documents including (1) a shipping invoice, (2) forms that list all payments received as well as any outstanding balance, and (3) a certificate of origin that certifies the country that the shipped good, your vehicle, is coming from.
Once that has been taken care of, remember to leave your car keys with the driver. Also, unless it’s not permitted for any reason, take photos of your car right before parting ways with it. This will be particularly helpful for comparing the conditions of your car before and after shipment. It will aid in presenting solid evidence to the insurance company if you proceed to make a claim.
The day has finally come to reunite with your car at its destination, which the shipping company should give you proper notice for (and inform you of any delays experienced). Expect to sign the necessary forms and papers confirming payments have been finalized, and you have received your vehicle. Note that some of these documents might have been sent by email or post, depending on what has been arranged between you and the company.
As exciting as it is to receive your car, take about 15 minutes to do a thorough inspection before getting inside to drive it. Remember that vehicles are prone to damages while they’re shipped, and the cause of damages can be anything from flying pieces of gravel or debris to the effects of a hail storm. It helps to take pictures of anything you know wasn’t there beforehand, which can be validated with photos from the very day you brought the car in for shipping.
If you think there’s any damage worth filing a claim for, go contact the shipper’s insurance company. Call them and when a representative speaks to you, describe the new damages of your car, mention the date and time of its drop-off, and if possible, provide the name and license number of the driver of the shipping truck. Additionally, they may ask if you have a written record of all damages predating the shipment, as well as photos showing the current condition of your vehicle. So have these ready to send via email as this will expedite the entire process for your claim.
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.
Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.
And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.
The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.
When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.
The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.
They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?
So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!
If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.
I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!
The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!
There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.
After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.
Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.
By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.
We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!
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