How to Ship a Car

Before you ship your car…

How does car shipping work?

Car shipping FAQ's
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First you will likely search online for a company to transport your car from one place to another.  Once online you find a wealth of information, some negative, to help guide you on what to do and what not to do.  There will be lead companies, review sites, carriers and brokers everywhere you look and it can get overwhelming.  The lead companies take your information and sell it to 3-20 different companies, don’t put your information in one of those sites unless you’re ready to take the calls and emails.  Review sites can be a wealth of information but they also pander to the companies buying their leads, premium top billing and many times the actual reviews can be altered or were compensated for, it’s worth checking them though to make sure the company you choose isn’t a complete disaster.  Carriers are the hard working drivers and actual trucks that pick up and deliver vehicles.  Some companies have one truck and some companies have 1000.  If you are dealing with a car carrier directly make sure you get their insurance certificate directly from the insurance company, verify their DOT number at www.FMCSA.dot.gov and check out their Safer Rating and the most basic but best resource is always Google!  Google any company you intend to work with for moving your vehicle or vehicles.  The most important thing to be aware of is that if a carrier is assigned to your shipment then when the truck arrives the SAME NAME of the carrier including DOT and location information must be on the side of the door.  RED FLAG:  If you were told XYZ carrier was going to pick up your car and it says ABC on the door of the truck you have a problem and ABC carrier has not been properly vetted and you have no idea if they have insurance, a an acceptable safety rating or an active authority to transport. Brokers like us are the glue of the industry they market and find customers, create long lasting relationships and make sure they have quality business for the carriers.  They also market and find carriers, create long lasting relationships and make sure they have quality carriers for their customers.   Auto transport brokers are the matchmakers of the industry they find out where the customers need to go and they know which carriers are going that direction.  The brokers know by market data and trends what is will cost to ship the car from one place to another in a timely manner.  They pay for marketing handle accounting and set in place guidelines for qualifying carriers like insurance, experience, safety, authority, ratings and reviews requirements. Brokers establish relationships with a network of carriers whom they give more business too than one or two deals, the carriers in turn take care of their good brokers like good customers and it’s a win win for everyone.   Second you will choose the company you want to work with and place an order.  Once your order has been placed, your car transport will be scheduled for dispatch as close as possible to the date(s), which you requested on your order form. We will establish an auto transport tracking file on your car shipment. We will then choose the best auto trucking company that is available to transport your vehicle closest to the day you choose for dispatch. After we re-verify that the auto shipping company we chose is still properly licensed and insured, we will then assign your car shipment to them. You should get 8 to 24 hours advance notice from either the truck driver himself, his dispatcher or from the auto transport trucking company in order to schedule both the pickup and delivery time and day. Please be easy to reach at any time for pickup or delivery once your order is placed. If you didn’t use a credit card with us for payment make sure you have your cash, money order or cashiers’ check, if applicable, payable to the trucking company, ready upon delivery, or pick up if you choose.

Drivers are optimistic! If a car carrier could just have everything go as he or she planned cars would get delivered really fast! When speaking with your transport agent in our office they will provide you with average time frames that we use for particular routes. Let’s say you’re shipping your car from Miami, Fl to Los Angeles, CA and we tell you the timeframe is 7-10 days after your car is picked up for delivery. The driver may pick up your vehicle and at that time tell you he will be in Los Angeles in 5 days. This is what we mean by optimistic, he/she may be in Los Angeles in 5 days but there will be other cars to deliver and if you’re not his last car being picked up he could have delays with those customers before he even gets on the road. We’re really happy for you if you do get your car early but please take heed of the time frames we give you and use those for making plans. If the car is going to arrive before you do make sure to call your agent and create a back-up plan to have someone else receive the vehicle.

We give pick-up windows based on experience, pricing and seasons. Typically we ask for 3 business days and we work hard to find a carrier that will be there in that timeframe. You don’t have to wait at home for a driver. Once you receive an email confirmation that your vehicle has been dispatched you will hear from a driver preferably the day before your pickup is scheduled. Sometimes the driver doesn’t call until the day of but if you are getting close to the end of your second day please call our office so we can get an update for you. The driver should give you enough notice to arrange a meeting time and place. They can’t move as quickly from one place to another as we 4-wheelers can so please give them some grace on their timelines.

Why is my car early or late? Navigating all of the things that effect your delivery times is not an easy task for a driver. Every time they need to pick up or deliver a vehicle there’s a possibility of the person at the location delaying the process. The usual suspects like weather, traffic and weigh stations and federal regulations created to keep you safe on the road can also be a factor. Then the worst case scenarios are truck repairs, accidents and family emergencies. Guaranty is scary word in transport we prefer to say estimated or on average this is the time frame. Communication is the best thing we can do to help relieve and stress that may arise from waiting for a driver. We ask them to call you and we email you with updates. It’s one of the most tedious parts of our job but it’s so important for your customer experience. Please call us anytime for an update.

Normal transit time varies depending on where your vehicle shipment is shipped to and from, and how many vehicles are on the car carrier to be picked up or delivered. It can also be affected by how many vehicles shipments are available in any given area to be auto hauled. In general, an East Coast to West Coast move is usually delivered within 7 to 14 days. A move up or down the East Coast or West Coast is usually 3-5 days once on the truck. A move from the Midwest to either the East Coast or West Coast is approximately 4-8 days. The actual time for your delivery may vary due to the route taken, weather and road conditions, other pickups or drop-offs and even driver illness. Please remember that no company can offer you a guaranteed date, day or time for the above reasons. Also during some peak shipping times, for example, in the “snowbird season”, deliveries to and from the Northeast and the Midwest to Florida can, and almost always run late due to the vast amount of car shippers leaving at one time, and the inability of the auto shipping trucking companies to accommodate so many people with a limited amount of time and equipment.

“Door to door” is a phrase you see often on transport websites.   This term is used loosely but if it’s an absolute must in your situation please let your sales rep know that you must have “door to door” service.   The carrier who brings your vehicle could be in a normal size truck pulling a one car trailer or he/she could be in a semi pulling a 10 car stinger.  The size of the truck and trailer combination along with the type of street your vehicle will be picked up or delivered on is what will determine whether door to door is a possibility.  The carriers do their best to get as close to your location as possible.  It’s important to communicate with the actual driver for the carrier and let them know if you have low hanging trees on your street or if the truck and trailer will be able to turn around and get out of the neighborhood.   A full size car hauler is much longer than a full size moving truck.  If it’s an open carrier the cars will be exposed and will be damaged if there are overhanging tree limbs.

Options for door to door pick up or delivery if it’s a full size car hauler:

  • Meet somewhere close by the pickup or delivery location. Meet in an area where the truck can safely park and load or unload.
  • Pay extra for a flatbed to pick-up or deliver the car to or from the bigger truck.
  • Have the carriers driver unload your car nearby and drive it to you then you can drive them back (please review insurance coverages if this is your choice).

At the time of your order we may not know which carrier will want to take your load. The smaller the car carrier the easier it will be to get a true “door to door pick up or delivery.  Large towns and cities often restrict large trucks and prohibit them from entering into some residential areas. Auto shipping trucks can be up to 85 foot long, and drivers will need lots of room to maneuver and turn around. When access to your residence is restricted by narrow streets, low-hanging trees, speed bumps or tight turns, the driver may ask that you meet the truck at a large parking lot nearby, such as a grocery store, school, or shopping mall.  Knowing the accessibility and limitations of your locations can help the car shipping process go smoothly.

In most cases, your vehicle(s) will be transported on an open 8 or 10 vehicle hauler, the same type of trucks used to deliver new vehicles from factories to your local dealerships. Enclosed carriers are also available.

Auto transporters are not licensed to transport personal belongings, as they do not have a household goods transportation license issued by the Federal Government. In addition, if you were to place things in the vehicle during car shipment, they would not be covered by insurance, unless you have a floater on your own home insurance. Many auto transporting companies we use, will however, allow some personal belongings discreetly placed in trunk. It’s their call.

We would like to have as much notice as possible of your preferred car transport dates. This will help us to schedule your vehicle pickup and delivery within the time frame which you requested. We will gladly accept your order for shipment with little notice, but the more notice, the better.

ONLY the trucking company (the actual car carrier, auto hauler) provides the insurance. During the pickup and drop-off of the vehicle, the trucking company will complete a detailed physical inspection of the vehicle, on a bill of lading/condition report, which you or your agent and the trucker must sign and acknowledge. Make sure you or your agent gets a copy. This same bill of lading/condition report will be presented again upon delivery, so that you or your agent can re-inspect the vehicle for any discrepancies.
In the highly unlikely event any damage did occur during the auto transporting, please be sure to note it on the bill of lading at the time of delivery and have the driver sign in agreement immediately while he is there. No claims will be honored if the damage is not noted at the time of delivery and acknowledged by the auto delivery driver. You still must pay the balance due COD for the transportation charges. It will not jeopardize any claim you may have for damage. The auto transporting company usually will not take the vehicle off the truck until you pay for the move. You cannot withhold or deduct moneys from the COD amount to cover any damage that may have occurred while in auto shipping transit. All claims are handled separately once the actual auto transporter has received the signed bill of lading noting the damages.

The deposit is paid to Auto Transporters Online. We accept cashier’s checks, money orders, cash, personal checks (shipping subject to clearance) and most major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Discover and American Express) for the administration fee down payment only. An administration fee is required to initiate the transport process.
The balance is paid directly to the trucking company driver. The trucker must be paid on delivery of your vehicle in cash, cashier’s check or money order only. The trucker will not accept credit cards. If you want to, you can pay the truck driver the balance due at the pickup point, if it is easier for you.
Whenever possible, we don’t use auto delivery terminals. Shipping terminals are usually in the worst parts of town where land is cheapest. Security is usually not very good. Auto shipping trucks are maneuvering in and out all day and the possibility of damage being incurred is very real.
We try to use one truck going all the way to your destination instead of allowing “truck switching” enroute, which can dramatically delay the delivery of your vehicle. Many companies offering guaranteed pickup dates deliver vehicles to holding terminals, where they often stand for weeks awaiting transport for shipment to the destination.
Open trailers are either partially or fully exposed to the elements. There are many different types of auto hauling, open car carrier trailers, ranging from small three car carriers to the large 11 car carriers that you often see on the Interstate. Enclosed trailers are protected from the elements, and your vehicle shipment is basically shipped in a mobile garage. Having your vehicle shipped enclosed is typically a 30-50% premium over having it shipped on an open trailer. Most cars can be car shipped either on an open car carrier trailer or in an enclosed car transport trailer. It all depends on what you want to spend. Some trailers are made to transport antique cars.
The most important issue for people to understand about the process of car transport is that this industry is not like UPS, Fed-Ex or even the Postal Service. Pick-up and delivery dates are estimates, typically not guarantees of pick-up or delivery dates. Unforeseen problems from mechanical break downs, traffic, and weather all contribute to delays in auto transport. Ironically, the biggest delays for vehicle shipping companies are typically caused by their own customers. Customers fail to show up on time, try to change pick-up or drop off locations at the last minute etc. Patience is required we want to get your vehicle shipped to you as soon as you do. Make sure you have realistic expectations about when your car transport will be picked up and delivered.

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