If you are moving across the country, chances are you will need to look into auto transport companies. These help you reduce the wear and tear on your car and often times are a convenient alternative to driving it yourself for days. In this article, we will explore the auto transport industry with all its ups and downs and provide a short guide to help you choose the best service.
Here’s everything you need to know before booking a car transportation service:
How the Auto Shipping Industry Works
There are dozens of companies that offer auto transport services in the U.S. alone. After choosing one and signing the contract, you will need to have the car ready for pickup or drop-off. Note that few auto transport companies have a freight license, too. Therefore, your insurance might be voided if you try to ship your car with any goods in it in a try to make the whole process more efficient.
Here are the main steps of any car transportation service:
- You sign the contract and get your car ready for pickup (or drop-off).
- The car shipping companies will send an inspector from their insurance company that documents any existing damage to the car.
- The carrier arrives, documents any subsequent damage that appeared in the meantime, hen loads the car up and hauls it away.
- The car arrives at its destination, where it undergoes another inspection by the insurance company to check if any damage appeared during transportation. If this is the case, the company will reimburse you the repair costs.
- You pick up the car and go on your way.
Auto Shipping Carriers vs. Auto Shipping Brokers
Most of the time, you will not get in touch with the actual carrier company. Instead, you will contact a broker that finds a carrier who has the route your car needs to be sent through. The advantage here is that brokers have access to multiple carriers and are able to select the cheapest service, thus offering you lower rates, too. However, there are auto transport companies that act as a broker and a carrier at the same time.
What to Look for in Auto Transport Companies
The first rule when contracting services from car transport companies is to ask for estimates from multiple companies. When making a preliminary list of such companies, make sure they are all registered and have good online reviews. Then, you can proceed to compare the following aspects:
Auto transport companies can offer door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal auto shipping services. While brokers usually only offer door-to-door services, carriers seldom do. If you go for the cheaper option and hire a carrier, make sure you won’t have to go above and beyond to drop your car off at a certain location and pick it up from another.
Note, however, that large trucks and platforms are not allowed in some residential or urban areas – so you might need to go and drop off or pick up your car anyway.
2. Trailer Types
Although few car transport companies can guarantee this aspect, it might be worth looking into. There are 2 types of auto transport trailers: enclosed or open. Naturally, enclosed ones offer more protection – but they also involve higher costs.
This should go without saying, but never sign a contract with a carrier or broker who is not insured. in the event of an accident or superficial damage to your car, you will likely not be reimbursed if they don’t have insurance.
Even though brokers are easier to contract and work with, carriers might have lower car shipping rates since they cut out the middle man. If you have the time and energy, it might be worth looking into carriers to save some money. Payment options might also be relevant for some, as well as when you need to make payments.
Depending on the distance, type of transport trailer, and your car model, auto transport services can cost anywhere between a few hundreds of dollars and up to $3,000 or more. The latter mainly refers to coast-to-coast routes.
Of course, the time it takes for your car to be delivered is one of the most important aspects. When comparing this aspect, always take into account the time it will take for your car to be picked up. Even though a company might be able to ship it in 2 days across 6 states, this won’t be advantageous if they can only pick it up in 10 days from now.
Generally, it takes somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks to transport a car from coast to coast.
Top Rated Auto Transport Companies in the U.S.
Here are the best car shipping companies in the United States at the moment of writing, according to reviews and ratings on ConsumerAffairs.com:
- Ship a Car Direct.
- AmeriFright Auto Transporters.
- Executive Auto Shippers.
- Stateway Auto Transport.
- eShip Transport.
- Ship Your Car Now.
All the aforementioned auto transport companies are insured and have impressive customer reviews and ratings. Generally, if you are moving and want to ship your car from one location to another, you can confidently choose one of them.
Other Things to Consider
Here are some tips and tricks to make sure everything runs smoothly:
- Always ask for estimates from at least 3 companies.
- Carefully read the contract and do not sign it unless you agree with everything written in it. Be particularly attentive to dates, car model, and other variables you established with the broker or carrier for the estimate.
- Don’t try to sneak other goods in your car, since this might void the insurance if your car suffers any damage during transportation.
- Don’t leave your car’s documents in the car. This should go without saying, but we just want to stress how important it is. If you do, any eventual car thieves that attack the trailer your car is in will have a greater chance of getting away. Although such cases are rare, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Carefully inspect your car at its arrival. Don’t go a mile without making sure everything is in the right place. If you discover something peculiar, talk to the insurance agent right away.