How to Ship Your Car Safely and Affordably
Whether you want to transport your car down the street or across the state, planning and research are key to your success. You need to find the best car shipping company that can meet your requirements and your budget for the move. Last but not least, you will need to prepare your car for the trip and deal with some paperwork.
If you are wondering how to ship your car without breaking the bank, this is the right place to be. In this guide, you will find some essential information on how to make wise decisions and not get overwhelmed during the process. Think like it is: your checklist to success.
Plan your budget (and time schedule) well
Just as it is with any other service and product in our lives, we want it fast and we want it to happen now. Car shipping takes time and money. It will not happen overnight and if you try to rush it, you may end up making it a lot more expensive. Not to mention the fact that there are some variable factors such as weather conditions and traffic that may delay your shipment.
Sometimes, there is force majeure and even with the best intentions, tight schedules are impossible to be met. Snow and hail make driving dangerous and if there are major roads closed due to construction work, that will inevitably congest the nearby highways and main routes.
Usually shipping a car from the Midwest to the East Coast or the West Coast takes from three up to eight days. The same can be said for routes originating in the North to the South and vice versa. If you want to transport a car coast to coast, then you can expect a time window from a week up to two weeks.
Figuring out how to ship your car safely and economically can be easy if you do your homework. There are a few cost-forming factors that weigh in. These are route distance, vehicle weight and size, time of the year, insurance, shipping method and accessorial services if such are requested.
Generally, the price rate per mile is lower with longer routes. Usually, for distances below 500 miles, you will be charged $1 per mile. If your distance between pickup and destination is more than 500 miles but up to 1000 miles, the car shipping rate is approximately 75 cents per mile. And last but not least, for long routes that are longer than 1000 miles car shippers normally charge 60 cents per mile.
These are standard shipping rates. You will have to ask for a personal quote to estimate your shipping costs. In the end, on average you can expect to pay from $400 to $1200 to ship a car.
Choose a shipping method wisely
Nowadays, there are a few various shipping methods to choose from. Each one has its benefits and its disadvantages. Each one will affect your final shipping price. In the end, your goal is to ship your car safely and easily. You will have to choose between shipping your car via an open trailer or an enclosed trailer. You can also choose if you want to have your vehicle delivered right to your doorstep or meet the driver at a nearby convenient terminal.
- Open-air transport
Open transport is the cheapest option that you can possibly book. It is faster since there are more car carriers who own open trailers, so there is a lot of availability and flexibility with this method. One possible hazard here is the fact that your car will be exposed to the weather elements. Unless you are shipping a vintage or a supercar, you are safe to go with that option.
- Enclosed transport
Enclosed car transport is recommended when you want to ship a very expensive vehicle. Your car will be protected from dust, road debris, snow and rain since it will be covered top to bottom. It also makes sense to opt for this option and pay sometimes double the price if you need to ship a car for an expo, or if it is a new model and there is an ‘unveil event’.
- Door-to-door shipping
This option is very convenient and as you can expect it will cost more money, especially if you live in a more remote area. However, if you are pressed for time, this option can save you time for other more urgent tasks. Your vehicle will be picked up and delivered to a particular address you give to the driver.
- Terminal-to-terminal shipping
Find a reputable car shipping company
It is important to be able to trust your car shipper that they know how to ship a car. When you look for the best car shipping company, do not choose a company based on the price they give. Surely, you want to ship your car cheaply, but you should never work with an unlicensed car carrier.
Check up with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to confirm that your car shipping company is licensed and have a valid operating authority. Furthermore, it always pays off to check the company's online reputation. Most reputable auto transporters have a dedicated page on their website where you can read some reviews and genuine feedback. And of course, ask questions. Get to know the company’s history and corporate policy before you entrust your vehicle to them.
Research what insurance potential car shippers offer. By federal law, all auto transporters are obliged to maintain a minimum insurance before they are authorized to operate. Check the company’s insurance policy to learn how will they protect your vehicle while in transit and also what level of liability do they assume. You can as well check up with your car’s insurance policy to see if it is covered while in transit.
Ask the company about the paperwork and their inspection procedures in advance. Also get to know the company's arbitration program. It is important to know your rights and responsibility when it comes to dispute claims. Car shippers have some requirements that you need to cover in case you want to make a valid damage claim. Keep in mind that you may be asked for driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance upon pickup.
How to Ship a Car - Last Arrangements
Before your car is loaded onto a car carrier’s trailer, you will have to make some last arrangements. These include disabling your car alarm and also folding side mirrors. You should remove or secure your antenna. Remove toll passes and remember to secure a spare set of keys for the driver.
Let your company know if there are any peculiarities around your car. For example if there is any issue with opening your car’s door. Another thing may be any issue related to your brakes or the way your car is maneuvered. Give a helpful note in case there is any operational problem with your car.
When you ship your car, know that car shippers are not allowed to carry personal effects. In fact there are certain weight limits that car carriers need to comply with. Empty your car from all personal belongings that you may keep inside.
Remember to check the seat pockets and the trunk, and check under all of the seats. Also, you should leave your gas tank filled up to a quarter of its capacity.
Wash out the exterior of your car to inspect for any scratches and dents. This is important, so you can note if there is (or there is not) any damage to the exterior of your car. Make high res photos of your car to prepare yourself for pick-up day.
Once the driver arrives, they will make an inspection report to note the exact condition of your car upon loading. Then you will have to sign that report and agree with the information written on the report. Upon delivery, the car must be returned to you in the same condition it has been taken.
Check your car for damage on delivery
Upon delivery, you will have to sign off an inspection report and confirm that your vehicle is as it was prior to pickup. You should be very careful and not hurry up to sign the report. This is the only time when you can submit a valid claim in case some damage has occurred while your vehicle was in transit. Once you sign your report, you cannot lately require any reimbursement.