10 Things to Know Before Shipping a Car
The experts at Intercity Lines cover 10 tips and topics you need to know before shipping a car across the country to places like Los Angeles, New York or locally. Whether you’re shipping a classic car or an exotic car it’s important to understand the different types of auto transport companies and how the process works.
Some car shipping companies like Intercity Lines have $2 million dollars of insurance to protect your vehicle other car moving companies have much less. It’s important to understand these differences and more before deciding on an auto shipping company to ship your vehicle. Our 10 tips for shipping a car will give you peace of mind when selecting a car transport service and getting a shipping price.
1. It is risky depending on your method of shipment
You can ship your car in an open or enclosed trailer. Open trailers are typically cheaper but the cars being shipped are prone to damage, theft, road debris, and the weather. Cars on open trailers are typically secured with chains, while reputable enclosed car transport companies use nylon straps or wheel nets to prevent damage to the vehicle.
Be wary of companies that use chains to secure their vehicles. Chains are often put over a vehicle’s axle, which can put a lot of strain on that vehicle especially if they are over tightened. If the chains loosen, they will bang against the car for the remainder of the journey- over every pothole and bump. Enclosed trailers have lift gates for low clearance cars and have a lesser chance of damage or theft. At Intercity Lines, we only have top of the line enclosed carriers that use nylon straps to ensure your car is transported safely.
2. Reading reviews is not a waste of time
When shipping a car you are risking thousands of dollars. You need to use a transport company you can trust. Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website to look up a company’s safety record: http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnaps .
You should ask friends, family, and local dealerships for recommendations. You can also use car forums and review websites to ensure that you are picking a vehicle transport company that will offer you quality service. Some useful websites are: www.transportreviews.com and www.yelp.com
We cover how to research auto transport companies more in: How to Research an Auto Transport Company
3. Beware of auto transport brokers
Auto transport brokers are something that most people are not aware of when they ship their first car. So what exactly is an auto transport broker? They are companies that bid your shipment to a group of other shipping companies. When doing business with an auto transport broker, you do not know what car carrier or driver they are going to broker your order to. Unfortunately, customers often suffer at the hands of these tricksters because the cars are shipped with sub-par drivers that lack customer service and transport skills.
The equipment used can vary significantly in quality depending on the company the order is brokered too. The trailer may use ramps instead of hydraulic lift gates, which may damage low clearance vehicles. They may also lack oil drip pans, car covers, floor mats, etc. If you have an issue with your vehicle you will be going through two separate companies just to receive help. Get to know the driver you are trusting your vehicle with. Do not be fooled by these companies! Read more about auto transport brokers at: Be Wary of Auto Transport Brokers
4. Never give a deposit
Red flags should go up if a company asks for a deposit! Exclusive and reputable car carriers often do not require a deposit, but instead, ask for a payment when the car is picked up or dropped off. This allows you to ensure you are getting the service you expect and gives you a way to back out if they don’t live up to your expectations. We cover whether you should give auto transport companies deposit at Shipping a car? Should you pay a deposit?
5. Never base your decision on price alone
You will find that the old expression ‘quality over quantity’ is relevant in the car shipping industry especially with the cost to ship a car across the country. When it comes to how much to ship a car cross country, the cheapest is usually not the best or safest choice. Vehicle shipping companies’ pricing reflects the quality of the car shipping services’ equipment, experience, and level of service.
A new enclosed car carrier with the highest quality safety equipment can cost about $500,000 new and enclosed auto transport drivers are some of the highest paid drivers in the industry. Open transport equipment costs significantly less and older semi-trucks are cheaper than state of the art ones. When a price is low you are most likely dealing with an auto transport broker or an open carrier that has sub-par equipment or drivers with low experience.
They may also ship cars terminal to terminal in transit to decrease the cost. When cars are shipped to a terminal in transit they are being unloaded, stored, and then reloaded on a different truck. This increases the handling of the car and the driver that picked up your car won’t be the one to deliver it. Companies like Intercity Lines ship cars door to door on the same truck and driver. A low price should raise red flags! Read more about the Price of Shipping a Car here.
6. Be aware of insurance policies
It is always best to have your transporter provide a Certificate of Insurance. This certificate should include coverage amounts for liability, workers comp, cargo limits, and deductible if applicable. Typically broker companies do not carry their own insurances; only the brokerage bond. At Intercity Lines, we have $2,000,000 worth of cargo insurance that covers our enclosed transport.
7. Make your scheduling needs known
Most auto transport companies require a certain window of time for scheduling a pickup and delivery when shipping a car. Often at least 5-7 days because trucking is not like the airlines the trucks run different routes every day and the variables are a lot higher such as weather, traffic, and customer’s schedules.If the shipping of your car needs to coincide with a particular timed event such as a birthday or a car show you need to emphasize this to the car shipping company and your truck driver to ensure they can meet those dates. Strict scheduling may increase the cost to ship your car.
8. Preparing your car for transport
Once you have picked an auto transport company, you feel comfortable with, it is time to prepare your car for shipping. Car carriers typically charge a non-run fee if the vehicle cannot be driven on and off the trailer. Making sure there is gas in the tank and that your battery is fully charged helps prevent being charged with this fee.
Also, check the antifreeze level to ensure that it is adequate for the climates the car will endure during transport to avoid a cracked engine block or other problems.
It is also not recommended to ship additional items in the car because if not properly secured these items can cause damage. Don’t forget to remove your EZ Pass! It is possible for the transponder to be read even inside of an enclosed trailer.
9. Explain the oddities of your car
Explain those “quirky” things about your car to the driver such as kill switches, alarms, cut-off switches, and brakes only work with the motor running. The more information your driver has, the easier it will be for him to ship your car safely across the country and prevents you from getting charged an unnecessary non-run fee. Written instructions are very helpful!
10. Your car needs a thorough inspection
When your car is picked up, the truck driver should inspect it, and note any pre-existing damage, scratches, or marks. After delivery, you or a trusted representative should inspect your classic car and note any damage caused during auto transportation before signing. If any damage is noticed you should submit a claim with the auto transport company.
Here at Intercity Lines, we take care of our customers. Your vehicle will always be safe with us because we have the best drivers in the industry. We are a family owned auto transport business and have been in business since 1980! We only have enclosed trailers and specialize in classic car transport, luxury car transport, and exotic car transport.