13 Questions to Ask Before Shipping Your Car

Tesla Cars being transported

If you are moving state, have bought a car online, or want to send it to over someone, hiring an auto carrier is a much more convenient and cost-effective option compared to driving the car yourself. However, since your car is a valuable asset, you may want to choose an auto carrier that is reputable, reliable, and doesn’t rip you off by offering substandard services for the price. In this blog, we list down 13 questions to ask before shipping your car with an auto carrier:

1. Do You Ask for Full Payment Up Front?

If the answer is yes, then you may need to reevaluate the service. Reputable auto transporters may never ask for full payment upfront when booking your car for transport. Instead, they only ask for payment after the car has been picked up or dropped off or only a small deposit fee to lock in the price. Likely, a company asking for full upfront payment isn’t actually an auto carrier themselves but a broker who takes a cut from the shipment rate and sends your car to an actual carrier for moving.

2. Is Your Company Registered?

All auto carrier services need to be registered with the U.S Department of Transport (DoT). Ask them about their DoT number as well as Motor Carrier number and check those against the records Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. In case you are moving your car abroad, you will also need to ask them whether they registered with the Federal Maritime Commission.

3. What are Your Rates?

Reputable and experienced auto carriers would be very up-front about the rates they offer their services for. You can compare quotes from various auto transport companies and choose one which is the most reasonable. With that said, for the sake of cutting price, you shouldn’t compromise on service quality as that way you may end up paying more than you bargained for indirectly.

Stick to reputable names and choose from them the one offering rates that are well within your budget. Most transport companies will offer their quotes for free. If they aren’t then you shouldn’t even consider their service.

Be sure to also ask if they have any discount offers. Many may agree to lower rates if more than one car is being transported.

4. What Insurance Do You Offer?

Your standard auto insurance probably won’t include coverage of car transportation. Therefore, it is important to ask your car carrier about their insurance coverage for your car. If theirs isn’t sufficient enough, you should request them to increase cover or look elsewhere.

Having proper insurance coverage for your car while in transport will ensure that you have peace of mind, and will safeguard against any costly damage responsibility on your side should any accidents occur.

5. How Did You Arrive at Your Estimate?

It is important to ask a car carrier company how they arrived at their estimates and whether it covered everything related to the service. After all, you wouldn’t want to end up paying any extra charges later on you that you weren’t aware about.

Factors such as weather, distance, weight, delivery location, etc all determine auto transport costs. You would make sure what you are paying is a fair amount rather than being charged unreasonably.

6. Are There Any past Customers I Can Speak with?

While it is good to do your own research on the internet and read online reviews and testimonials, the risk is always there that such feedbacks could be fake or easily manipulated. Ask the auto transport provider for a contact of any past customers. They can help you get a more honest picture of the service you will be availing.

7. What Services Do You Offer?

Here in the States, there are thousands of auto carriers to choose from. However, you want to pick the one that best suits your particular needs. Ask them about the services they provide. For example, if you want your car to move long distances, it would best to avail a car carrier that offers enclosed transport, and has operations across multiple states.

8. What Documents Do You Need?

If you’re having your car moved across large distances, your auto transport carrier would wish to see your registration and insurance documents to make sure the car isn’t mistakenly delivered to the wrong owner. They may also require other documents and papers as well before shipping your case.

Be sure to ask them exactly what papers they need in advance so you can have time to prepare them when it is time to ship your car.

9. How Should I Prepare the Car for Shipping?

Auto carriers may delay transporting your car until you properly prepare it for shipping. Save yourself from unnecessary headaches at the last minute by asking beforehand how the car should be made ready for moving.

As per instructions by the DoT, they may ask you to remove all your personal belongings from the car and hand over the keys to the mover when it is being transported. They may also request you to keep your gas tank filled no more than a quarter of its maximum capacity prior to moving so as to reduce excess weight.

10. How Long Will the Shipping Take?

A lot of factors can influence the shipping time such as weather, transport distance, destination and time of the year. To save yourself from any unexpected delays in your plans, it is best that you ask your auto carrier to give an estimate of the shipping time.

Many good auto transport services offer options to deliver your car on a priority basis. If time is valuable and you can afford to pay extra, it may be worthwhile to consider availing these options if shipping would otherwise take longer than you expected.

11. Is My Presence Needed During Delivery and Pickup?

Since important paperwork needs to be, inspection made and among other things, auto transport carriers may recommend your availability during delivery and pickup. If you cannot afford the time to do so, you should notify the auto carrier on who will be available for signing and collection on your behalf.

12. Is Door to Door Service Available?

Depending on your location or carrier, door to door service may or may not be available. If you can land a deal with a company that does so then that’s ideal, otherwise, you will have to drop your car at a designated terminal.

13. Do You Move Inoperable Cars?

For non-running cars, special equipment is required to safely load and unload them for transit. Ask the auto carrier if they have the means to move inoperable cars and if yes, would the charges be extra compared to conventional vehicles.

Concluding Note

Auto transport is a huge industry in the US, with plenty of companies- some of them good and some not so good. By taking note of what type of questions to ask before shipping your car, you will be in a better position to select the auto carrier that can ensure your car is delivered safely, on time and at reasonable charges.