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Questions to Ask a Car Shipping Company Before Hiring One

What's in this article?
  1. Are They Licensed?
  2. Other Crucial Questions To Ask
  3. Ask About No-Obligation Quotes
  4. Ask About Insurance
  5. Ask About The Pickup And Delivery Process
  6. Ask About Transportation Methods
  7. Ask About Transporting Non-Operational Cars
  8. Ask About Communication Channels
  9. Ask About Covered Routes
  10. Ask About Available Timeframes
  11. Ask About Their Experience And Personnel
  12. Ask About Extra Services
  13. Ask About The Handling Of Personal Goods
  14. Ask For A Quote
  15. Ask How The Rate Was Calculated
  16. The More You Learn, The Faster You Can Decide
Questions to Ask a Car Shipping Company Before Hiring One

You might believe that all shipping companies operate legally and in good faith. Sadly, that’s not the case, and many customers get scammed because they don’t do their due diligence.

This is why all communications with carriers should be two-way discussions. You need to know more than a freight shipping company might present you in their pitch to make an informed decision.

Before you go any further in your talks with a carrier, you have at least one big question to ask.

Are They Licensed?

If a carrier isn’t licensed, there’s no way to hold them accountable for damaged cargo or lost cargo in a court of law. Moreover, it’s impossible to determine whether the carrier conforms to any regulations and good business practices and has a general concern for the quality of the delivery and safety of your cargo.

Asking a company for its registration number with the U.S. Department of Transportation is one of the first things you should do.

And don’t worry about the shipper’s reaction. Reputable carriers won’t be bothered by this and will gladly present proof of registration and a copy of their license. Shippers know that this makes them trustworthy and more likely to get you on board as a customer.

If a carrier refuses to share this information or gives you the runaround, they could be hiding something and not have your best interests in mind.

Other Crucial Questions to Ask

Ask About No-Obligation Quotes

Not all moving car transport companies offer free quotes. Furthermore, some might try to rope you into a contract before providing a quote.

But this is good news when you’re looking to hire a carrier. Most reputable companies have no problems offering free quotes to potential customers. If a carrier isn’t transparent about calculating the delivery costs or doesn’t want to give you a quote unless you commit to a deal, you can move on to the next carrier on your list.

The worst auto transport companies will often avoid answering transport questions or giving free car transport quotes.

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Ask About Insurance

If you’re unsure what to ask when shipping a car, remember that a lot can happen during transport. Whether due to a driver error, bad equipment, bad weather, or another driver’s incompetence, your cargo can sustain damage.

So, never forget to ask shippers about their insurance. First, you should ask them to provide you with a copy of their insurance to make sure they’re operating legally. No carrier is allowed to handle deliveries without being insured at least according to the federal minimums.

Secondly, you should ask how much coverage the carrier has.

While shipping companies are obligated to have insurance, the policy might not be able to cover extensive damage or instances of total loss. If a carrier doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover an expensive vehicle, you might want to look at different shippers or get additional coverage.

Ask About the Pickup and Delivery Process

Not all carriers offer the same service package. For example, some might come and pick up your car from your driveway. Others may require you to drive it to the carrier’s warehouse or meet with the driver at a specific location.

The same applies to the delivery process. Some carriers might drop off your car at the desired location and be on their way. Others will require a personal pickup.

Depending on your budget and needs, these are some of the most important questions to ask shipping companies.

Ask About Transportation Methods

There are so many ways to handle cross-country car transport jobs. Shipping cars on an open trailer is an affordable way to do it but may leave your vehicle exposed to road debris, bad weather, extreme temperatures, etc.

An alternative is shipping your car in an enclosed trailer. This is much safer, especially when shipping a vehicle across long distances, during bad weather, or when transporting a luxury or vintage car.

Perhaps you can opt for soft-sided enclosed transport. This won’t give your car the same tough cover but is still enough to shield it from most road debris, rain, snow, etc.

What transportation methods do you offer is one of the most crucial questions to ask shipping companies. The answer will tell you if the carrier can meet your requirements or not.

Ask About Transporting Non-Operational Cars

Imagine you’re trying to ship a car that won’t start. Or maybe your car doesn’t have wheels, brakes, can’t steer, etc.

If your car doesn’t function, the carrier must have specialized equipment to load it onto a trailer. Whenever you’re looking for car transport for hire, don’t hesitate to pose insightful questions to ask shippers about their equipment and proficiency in using it.

Ask About Communication Channels

One of the most important questions to ask freight carriers is regarding communication channels. When you ship a car, whether internationally or domestically, you should always know where it is.

Modern tracking technologies make it easy to access real-time GPS data and see how your delivery is going. But that doesn’t mean all carriers offer these services.

At the very least, transportation companies should keep you updated with the car’s location and delivery status. They must inform you of any delays or problems encountered in transit.

If a company doesn’t offer these services, you might want to consider an alternate shipper.

Ask About Covered Routes

If you don’t need a shipping company for a one-off delivery, you should ask more transport questions regarding their delivery routes.

Any shipper can get your car from point A to B, but that doesn’t mean everyone uses the same routes. It also doesn’t mean you can count on that carrier to make consistent deliveries on that route.

Questions on car delivery routes are essential to determine if you’re looking at a viable long-term partner to handle your shipping needs. Additionally, a shipping company that regularly uses a route you need might not charge you as much as a company that rarely moves cargo on that same route.

Ask About Available Timeframes

Sometimes carriers are so busy that they can’t accommodate everyone who needs a delivery. That doesn’t mean they can’t make room for your cargo on a different date, maybe even close to the one you had in mind.

It’s always best to ask when the carrier is most busy and when they have more room in their schedule to fit you in as a customer. It will give you a good idea of whether you should spend more time getting to know that shipping company.

Learn about how long it typically takes to ship a car here.

Ask About Their Experience and Personnel

What’s one of the biggest differentiators between good transport companies? Hiring practices. A freight carrier that only works with experienced drivers and logistics partners will be more reliable than someone willing to hire anyone.

Always look for a positive delivery history, years of experience, and highly qualified employees.

Good shippers will be transparent about their practices. The worst auto transport companies are unlikely to answer transport-related questions or any queries about their staff and expertise.

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Ask About Extra Services

Not all questions should be transport questions. Another great way to gauge a shipper’s experience and proficiency is to find out about their extra services.

For example, you could ask for information about what they do to help customers clear customs or find lodgement once their vehicle arrives overseas until it’s ready for pickup.

You could also ask about the whole logistics process and how many partners they work with to deliver their services.

Every bit of additional information you can get out of freight carriers is information you can use to make a better decision when trusting your prized possession in someone else’s hands.

Ask About the Handling of Personal Goods

Many vehicle owners want to ship their cars with personal belongings in them. Why is this a trend?

Sending personal goods to a specific destination inside a car also being shipped can save some money when relocating. At least that’s what people believe.

In reality, few carriers offer this as a standard service. Most reputable moving car transport companies advise against leaving your personal belongings inside the vehicle.

One of the reasons is that the insurance only covers the cargo, which in this case is the car. Should a car seat break during transportation, it’s covered by liability insurance. However, if you send three $5,000 suits inside your car and those suits get ripped, stained, or otherwise ruined in transit, they won’t be covered.

Any personal belongings that aren’t parts of the vehicle, whether left inside or attached to the car, aren’t considered cargo by default.

That said, it doesn’t mean some carriers won’t offer this service as an add-on to their package. It may require you to pay extra and ensure all personal goods are safely packed and stored inside your car.

But unless you know for sure, you must ask about personal belongings shipping policies to avoid shipping something without being covered.

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Ask for a Quote

How much do you charge? While it seems like the most important question, there are a few reasons it’s not higher up on this list.

For one, you shouldn’t waste time asking for quotes from companies that aren’t a good fit. If you’re working within a tight budget, you might be tempted to overlook shortcomings and flaws and pick a carrier solely based on price.

Secondly, if you don’t ask enough questions, you won’t know what a carrier offers in terms of transport. Number questions accordingly and get more information before you ask for a quote to ensure you don’t have to commit to anything or pay for a delivery appraisal.

Here’s another reason to save pricing questions for last. Quotes on transportation infrastructure challenges or possible delivery issues are very difficult to estimate without enough information on your end.

Carriers need to know exactly what car you want to ship, how you want it delivered, when, how fast, etc. There’s no point in requesting a delivery estimate if you can’t provide freight carriers with sufficient details about your unique situation and requirements.

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Ask How the Rate Was Calculated

Just because you got your free quote doesn’t mean you should take it or leave it. If you’re not in a big hurry, take some time to learn how that rate was calculated.

Not all carriers will give you a quote accompanied by a detailed formula indicating all the variables they account for.

Sure, all carriers use pretty much the same variables like distance, date, cargo size and weight, mode of transport, season, and pickup and delivery requirements.

But there could be unique factors involved when dealing with luxury cars, vintage vehicles, shipping to a particular state, making international shipments, transporting additional goods or multiple cars, etc.

Even fluctuating gas prices can be an important factor to consider. If that contributes to a more expensive delivery, you could wait a while and ship your car at a later date when it’s cheaper.

The More You Learn, the Faster You Can Decide

It’s easy to assume that all shippers offer the same services and only differ in pricing structures. But it doesn’t work like that.

Carriers have different areas of expertise, equipment, routes they like to cover, international connections, logistics partners, processes, etc.

Not every carrier will be a good fit for your particular transportation needs. So, the more you learn about a carrier, the easier and quicker it is to make an informed decision and send your car safely to its destination.

Whether you need a one-off delivery or a long-term partner, you should never settle for anything short of the best.

These are just some of the questions to ask a transportation company to get more assurances and feel better about your decision. And if you’re in need of an experienced shipper with an extensive logistics network, don’t hesitate to reach out and find out how we can help with your deliveries.

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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.

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Testimonial
Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★

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.

Testimonial
Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!
★★★★★

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!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.
★★★★★

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.

Testimonial
David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!
★★★★★

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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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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