When looking into services that you’re using for the first time, there’s no doubt you have some questions. And the same is true when it comes to shipping a car.
Also commonly called auto transport, these services are designed to safely transport your vehicle from one location to another using specialized trailers. Any company you partner with for these services should be insured, licensed, and bonded to ensure your shipment is safe and delivered correctly.
Auto transport services are convenient for both personal uses and businesses needing to ship vehicles in bulk. The best part about car shipping services is that most of them provide door-to-door delivery, meaning your auto is picked up at your office or home and then delivered to another place of your choosing. Don’t worry if this doesn’t work for you, as they’ll also ship from terminal to terminal where your vehicle is shipped from one vehicle storage facility to another. This option is most suitable for those living in busy cities with narrow, congested roads where drivers cannot properly maneuver large trucks safely.
That being said, we know you have questions, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked car shipping questions to help you understand the details.
How Do I Get My Car Ready For Transport?
To make sure your car makes it to its destination safely, you must prepare it for the transport process. Here are ten things you should do before the car shipping company picks up your automobile.
#1 Wash Your Vehicle
Grime and filth easily hide dents, scratches, and dings. So, before having your car shipped, be sure to give a good wash.
Having a clean car makes it easier to see any damage that was incurred during transport.
#2 Thoroughly Clean the Interior
Roads are rough, so during the shipment, your auto may be jolted a bit. To avoid personal belongings from being tossed around your vehicle, thoroughly clean the interior and remove any item that’s not secured. Think of things such as spare change, air fresheners, electronics, and charging cables.
#3 Disable Your Alarm
This step may seem obvious, but make sure to disable any alarm system that’s installed on your vehicle. After all, you don’t want the truck driver as your enemy!
#4 Do Not Fill Up With Fuel
Remember, the car shipper isn’t driving your auto, so you don’t need much fuel in the tank. Since a full tank of gasoline will increase the weight of your vehicle, this will add weight to the shipment and potentially make it unsafe. So, leave as little fuel as possible in the tank during transport.
#5 Look for Leaks
You wouldn’t want transmission fluid or engine oil dripping onto your vehicle, would you? Before your vehicle is loaded onto the truck, check the undercarriage for any existing leaks. It’s important to note that if the driver notices a significant leak, they may refuse to ship your car.
Hence, you probably don’t want to wait until it’s being loaded on the truck, though. Give yourself ample time to complete any necessary repairs before the pickup day.
#6 Remove All Custom Accessories
To prevent the risk of custom accessories such as an oversized spoiler from getting damaged during transport, remove all custom accessories and parts from your car before it’s loaded onto the trailer.
#7 Take Photos of the Vehicle
Once your vehicle is shipment-ready, take time-stamped and dated photos from every angle – including the odometer. This is a great way that in the event of damage, you have proof it wasn’t three before the shipment.
#8 Remove or Deactivate Toll Tags
Regardless of whether you’re driving the car or on a trailer, the toll tag could pick up the fee. Avoid unnecessary expenses and headaches by removing or deactivating them.
#9 Check the Tires
Tires that are over- and under-inflated can cause problems during shipment just as they can while being driven. For example, if your tires aren’t inflated enough, they may become damaged during the trip.
#10 Lock the Vehicle
After your vehicle is loaded onto the truck, there’s no reason it should be opened until delivery. So, go ahead and lock the car and don’t forget to give the driver the keys!
How Do I Know My Car Carrier Is Reliable?
When finding a car carrier to ship your car, it’s crucial to ensure that they are experienced and reliable. The truth is there are many ways you can see if a company is legitimate. Here are our top suggestions:
Reputable Auto Shippers are Registered, Bonded, & Insured
Before hiring an auto shipper, make sure they are registered through the Department of Transportation. The company should have an MC and DOT number as proof of registration.
But it’s not enough to just find a registered company; they must also be insured and bonded. Ensuring the company has valid insurance ensures that you’re covered if anything happens to your vehicle during shipment.
Go With Experience
Auto transport requires experienced personnel and vast resources, so choosing a company with lots of past experience is crucial. You’ll want to conduct a thorough check, read plenty of past customer reviews, and check with the BBB.
They Should Offer Secure Payment Options
Reputable auto transport companies offer multiple payment options to meet your needs. All common payment options should be accepted, including credit cards, cash, and checks. One red flag that may signify an unreliable company is they only want payment via wire transfer, but not through a secure method like a cashier’s check, credit card, or debit card.
Avoid Deals That Seem Too Good
Moving vehicles from one destination to another takes resources, time, and expertise that isn’t cheap. If a company offers you the lowest price, there may be a reason for that. Chances are the company may cut corners, leading to additional costs down the road.
How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car Across Country?
This is one of the most common questions that we receive, and we usually tell customers that the average time for shipping a car across the country is 5 to 7 days. However, this average will vary based on several factors, including the weather, traffic, the customer’s schedule, road construction, and so on.
For instance, consider that most enclosed car carriers can transport between five and seven cars at one time. This means the driver has many pickup and delivery windows to work around. When car haulers travel across the country, they will pick up all the cars on one coast and take them to the other coast simultaneously. Other companies pick up and drop off cars across the country, which adds time to transit.
It’s also important to note that car shippers that use terminals to transport vehicles usually have longer transit times. Terminals are basically warehouses that shippers use, but many companies that use terminals outsource to regional or local truck lines, which can double your shipment time.
Is My Car Insured During The Transport?
Yes! Insurance is needed to protect against thefts, accidents, and other damages. All active car shippers, by law, must have full coverage insurance policies. And for a good reason; for most people, their car is their lifeline. But what many people may not realize is that when your vehicle is loaded onto a car hauler, some auto transport companies may or may not have the coverage you’d expect.
And to make things more complicated, some car shippers require a waiver that exempts them from being responsible for any damages incurred to your car during the move. Therefore, you should ask for a copy of the car shipping company’s insurance policy before you hire them. Once you have a copy, be sure to check if their policy covers the entire car or just portions of it. It’s also worth knowing if you’ll be required to pay a deductible or not.
Does My Car Need To Be Registered To Ship It To Another State?
Documentation is crucial for getting your car transported through a reliable car shipper for many reasons, with the biggest being security. However, you should know that these companies do not ask you for registration or titles before accepting the shipment. So, in short, no, your car does not need to be registered, but there are some things you should know.
As we mentioned, the towing company will not expressly ask for the vehicle’s title or registration since many people and businesses use these services for many reasons. For example, junk cars are being transported to be dismantled and scrapped. These cars don’t have proper documentation because they are not in a state to be restored, or they are abandoned.
At Long Distance Towing, we’ve shipped tons of unregistered cars from one coast to the other and have never had an issue. But you may be wondering how auto shipping companies know they’re shipping the right auto if there’s no paperwork. Great question, but the answer is simple: they rely on the vehicle identification number (VIN) from each car. The VIN is obtained before the shipment begins and is double-checked at delivery.
How Much Does It Cost To Tow A Car Across Country?
The final question on our list is also one of the most common. On average, the cost to ship a car by open-air hauler across the country is anywhere from $1,200 up to $2,500. However, the cost of car shipping depends on several factors that you must take into account, which include:
Time of the Year
Much like moving companies, auto transport prices fluctuate due to supply and demand. The most expensive time of the year to ship a car is during the summer. So, expect to pay higher prices between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s also important to keep location in mind, though. If you’re looking to ship a car from Massachusetts to Florida in December, you may pay a premium rate because it’s “High Season” in Florida.
The Type of Vehicle
Car carriers can only haul so much weight and so many cars. In general, the bigger your vehicle, the more expensive it is to move across the country. Hence, moving an SUV would cost more than shipping a sedan.
Length of the Trip
It should not be a surprise that the further your car needs to travel, the more expensive the shipping service will cost. This is especially true when traveling across the country after you consider fuel, labor, and toll costs, as these add up quickly when traveling thousands of miles.
Additional Insurance Coverage
Sure, professional car shippers carry their own insurance, but when dealing with your vehicle, you may want to add additional coverage. This is especially true for those of you who own luxury or collectible cars.
Type of Auto Transport Carrier
Do you want your auto shipped in an enclosed trailer or one that’s open to the elements? The type of shipping you choose is one of the biggest factors for price. Typically, open-air haulers are the cheapest way to go, while enclosed trailers provide the highest levels of safety and discretion. Most experts agree that enclosed options can cost up to 30% more on average than the open-air option.
Special Care Required
Do you plan to ship a daily driver or your prized Bugatti? Your vehicle’s specific make and model also play a role in determining the cost. Some vehicles, such as collectibles, race cars, and other luxury autos, require special care, and this can increase the cost of transport.
Pickup and Drop Off Locations
Are you shipping from terminal to terminal, or do you want to pay a bit more and get door-to-door service? Another factor to keep in mind with delivery locations is that those that are far off the main route and hard to access may also add to your final bill.