Many drivers don’t have any experience with car shipping, yet it’s important to understand all your options before making a decision about shipping vs. driving. Below is everything you need to know and what you can expect when shipping your car.
Types Of Car Shipping Services
There are two main types of services offered by auto transport companies:
This shipping option means that car carriers will pick up and drop off your vehicle at specific addresses as long as these addresses are legally and physically accessible. Most customers prefer door-to-door shipping for its convenience, though this is harder to accomplish if you live in a big city on a crowded street.
Shipping to and from terminals is generally cheaper than door-to-door service, but it’s less convenient for the customer. It takes extra time to get to and from the terminal, as most of these are located in bigger cities.
Types Of Auto Transport
There are two main types of auto transport:
Open transport is the cheapest way to ship your car. Auto shipping companies can transport many cars over long distances with open carrier trucks that fit eight to ten vehicles. The hauler can make stops along the route to pick up and drop off cargo.
Open transport keeps prices down by distributing fuel costs across several different customers. However, keep in mind that open transport does leave your car exposed to road debris and potential bad weather.
If you’re shipping a high-end or classic car, you may want to opt for an enclosed trailer. The enclosed carrier keeps your car safe from bad weather and road hazards, but it will raise the cost of your transport. Shipping via enclosed trailer can be up to 50 percent more expensive than open auto transport.
Car Shipping Process
The car shipping process may seem daunting, but it can be broken up into a few simple steps.
- Get car shipping quotes online: Most car transport companies have tools on their websites to provide you with free quotes. Plug in your pick up and delivery locations, the make, model, and year of your vehicle, and your preferred transport type. You’ll also need to provide contact information and a timeframe for your delivery. To find cheap car shipping rates, it’s a good idea to obtain quotes from several car transport service providers.
- Book your shipment: Once you find a quote that meets both your budget and your shipping needs, book your transport. Each company is different, but most will have you contact a representative to confirm your quoted price and pickup window.
- Prepare your car for shipment: Gather paperwork, make an extra set of keys, and inspect your vehicle for any existing damage before the auto transport carrier arrives.
- Track your shipment: Once your car is en route to the delivery location, you can track the status of your transport. Some vehicle transport companies provide apps with GPS tracking, while others offer updates through a customer service representative.
- Receive your vehicle: Once your car is delivered, you and the truck driver will once again inspect the vehicle for any damage occurred during transit. You’ll sign a bill of lading to complete the job and pay any remaining balance.
What To Look For In A Car Shipping Company
Your car is a part of your life, so you’ll want to find a reputable auto shipper. Here’s what to keep in mind when selecting a vehicle shipping company:
- Years of experience: Companies that have been around for a decade or more have had time to build their offered services, improve their quality, and grow a good reputation among customers. They’re also more likely to provide nationwide shipping.
- Affordable rates: There are plenty of good companies that offer services with competitive prices, but some companies sweeten the deal by offering specialized discounts and guaranteed pricing limits.
- Positive customer reviews: Sites like Trustpilot, Google, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Transport Reviews are all great places to find honest and detailed customer testimonials for auto transport companies.
- Proper registration: You know a car shipping company is safe and legitimate if they’re registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).