Top Questions to Ask a Car Shipping Company


What transport services does your company offer?

Keep in mind that there are a lot of auto transport methods you can choose from. Some auto transporters ship via open-air trailer, whereas others offer enclosed car shipping, as well. Furthermore, there are multi-vehicle and single-vehicle shipping options. Keep in mind that some car transporting companies can handle non-operable vehicles, and others only work with operational vehicles. There are transport companies that can organize long-distance shipments by boat, train, or even by plane. Some local carriers only ship cars.

Can you give me a free quote?

A professional car transporting company will provide you with a comprehensive car shipping quote without obligation to use them. Most car shippers are aware that you will be asking for quotes from other companies and they are okay with that. A deposit or a reservation fee should not be required to get a quote. If an auto shipping company requires some kind of commitment at this stage, leave it. Most professional car shippers have online calculators on their websites, but it is recommended to call the company and discuss shipping details with a representative.

How much will my shipment cost?

When you ask for a quote, make sure you provide detailed information about your vehicle. If you omit important specifics such as the inoperable condition of your car, then your quote will be revised later. Non-operable cars require additional equipment, which will cost money. The cost to ship a car is based on the make and model of the vehicle, the route distance, your drop-off and pickup locations, shipping method and any specific handling requests.

Insurance shipping car

Are you registered and licensed?

Auto transport companies that ship cars are required to have a USDOT issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. International and overseas car transport companies need to be licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission. Ask your company about their USDOT number and look up the company’s operating status and safety record. You should only work with a licensed car shipper. If a company does not have such, this should be regarded as a red flag.

Are you fully insured? Can I see proof of insurance?

By federal law, all professional auto shipping companies are required to maintain proper insurance. The best companies secure enough coverage to respond to any individual case or emergency that may occur. Ask companies about their standard shipping insurance policy. Reputable car shippers should be able to provide additional insurance if needed.

Find out how your vehicle is protected against damages. Acquaint yourself with possible deductibles and clauses the release shipper from liability. Auto transport companies have to carry a valid insurance certificate and they must be able to present it at any time upon customer’s request.

How will my car be transported?

If this is your first time shipping a car, it can be useful to know all steps in advance. However, even if this is not your first time you are shipping a vehicle, keep in mind that companies can sometimes employ a slightly different approach. Ask about the loading and delivery procedures. Confirm the selected shipping method and all other arrangements.

How fast can you ship my vehicle?

As much as professional auto shipping companies strive to provide a fast and safe service, do not expect your car to be delivered in a day or two by default. If you are pressed for time and you need your vehicle to be shipped urgently, discuss that in advance. Expedited car shipping, or guaranteed pick-up, is not impossible. However it will increase the shipping cost, making the service more expensive. An auto shipping company should be able to offer you a few time frame options and inform you about the extra fee if such is required. 

Do you provide customer support during the process?

In most cases, frequent updates are not required en route, especially if you are shipping a common vehicle. Unless, you are shipping a highly expensive vehicle or you are shipping your car on a tight schedule, frequent updates are not necessary. Usually, you will be informed 24 hours prior to driver’s arrival at pick-up and delivery locations. However, make clear with your company what the best way to track your shipment is.

Car transporting company support

How do I prepare my car for shipping?

Reputable auto transport companies will give you professional advice as to how to prepare your vehicle prior to pick-up. You need to clean your car thoroughly and meticulously inspect it for exterior dents and mechanical issues. Also, it is very important to secure any loose parts and remove all financial receipts or personal documents. Not only will you incur a surcharge because of the extra weight, but also items stored inside your car are not covered by insurance.

Can you transport a non-running vehicle?

You might think that this question is irrelevant, but problems arise when drivers find out that there is a non-operable car upon pick-up. If you need to ship a non-running vehicle, inform the company representative whether it can roll, brake, or steer. Professional auto transporters can manage non-working vehicles as long as they can perform these operations. If those operations cannot be performed, then your driver will need a forklift or even other custom equipment.

What documents are required in order to ship my car?

Generally, you will only need to provide registration, insurance documentation and a photo ID. Some car shippers may also require you to show your title as well. If you are shipping a car internationally, then you need to comply with the requirements set by the receiving country. If you do not comply with local regulations, your car will not be released from the port at its destination. Customs clearance procedures can be tedious and so it is of great importance to acquaint yourself with local rules. Avoid delays at ports.

Do I need to be present for pick-up and delivery? Can a friend receive my car?

Most auto transport companies state that an adult must be present at both pickup and delivery. Someone will need to give the keys and sign the bill of lading and the inspection report. It is not necessary for that person to be you, it might be an authorized person. You can choose a friend, colleague, or even a neighbor you can trust, to represent you at pickup and delivery. If you are unable to attend delivery day, then find a person you can trust to fill in for you. You also need to discuss it with the shipping company so they are informed in advance.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing an auto transport company, but asking a lot of questions can make the process easier. We’ve also put together a guide to choosing an auto transport company that may help you make your final decision, and you can find more information about how cars and trucks are shipped in our help center.

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