While modern vehicle shipping has become way easier and more efficient, finding the right company is the tricky part. The right company will make your car transport experience feel like a breeze, but the wrong company will make your life a living hell. The rest of your experience will feel like cake.
Therefore, the only thing that you should pay attention to during your whole vehicle transportation process is choosing the right company. In this article, we will explore the world of car shipping and discuss important factors to consider in selecting the right company.
Table of Contents
What is car shipping?
To help you fully understand the process, we would like to start with the basics of car shipping.
Car shipping companies transport vehicles from one place to another using specialized car-hauling trucks.
Types of car shipping based on target customers
While this definition might seem very simplified and have a very broad domain, let’s discuss types of car shipping based on their target customers.
- B2B car shipping: This usually includes shipping more than two cars from a factory to a showroom.
- B2C car shipping: This includes shipping one or two cars from a showroom to a buyer’s location.
- Relocating car shipping: This type of car transportation means shipping a customer’s car from one location to another.
The last type of car shipping is the main target audience for car shipping companies because a huge number of Americans relocate from one part of the country to another. Oftentimes, the distance between these two points is too great to drive all by yourself. Some of these customers are also adventurers looking to take a long-distance vacation but can’t drive their cars all the way.
How does car shipping work?
Car shipping companies help such customers find the right truck for their route. Hundreds of car-hauling trucks are running on American highways every second. However, to maximize profits, these trucks select their routes and therefore don’t deviate from them too much.
Customers connect with car shipping companies either through a telephone call or online and state their desired pick-up or drop-off location, car model, and date of pick-up or drop-off. Sales agents at these companies find routes connecting the two points and check their systems for car-hauling trucks driving along those routes.
Once the right car-hauling trucks are shortlisted, sales agents at car shipping companies ask them for quotations regarding customers’ requests. The most affordable and reliable quote is then revealed to the customer. If a deal is made between the two parties, then a booking fee is charged by the car shipping companies.
Then, on the desired date, the trucker will arrive at the customer’s given pick-up location, sign papers, load his car onto the truck, and continue his journey to the drop-off location.
Now, we need to describe other types of car shipping companies.
- Door-to-door car shipping companies: The company picks up the vehicle from the specified location and delivers it to the desired destination.
- Terminal-to-terminal car shipping companies collect cars from one terminal and drop them off at the designated terminal.
- Open carrier shipping: This type of car shipping is carried out by trucks specifically designed for car hauling. These trucks can carry a maximum number of trucks and therefore optimize costs.
- Enclosed carrier shipping: Enclosed carriers are like simple container trucks that can contain up to a maximum of three cars in a container.
Now that you know these types of car shipping services, your next question would be, “What are the pros and cons of open and enclosed car shipping?
Pros and cons of open and enclosed car shipping
Pros of Open Car Shipping:
- Cost-effective: Open car shipping is generally more affordable than enclosed car shipping. Since multiple vehicles can be transported together on an open carrier, the cost is shared among multiple customers.
- Widespread availability: open car carriers are more commonly available, making it easier to find a carrier and schedule your vehicle’s transport.
- Faster delivery: Open car carriers can accommodate more vehicles, which can result in faster delivery times since carriers can make multiple stops along the route.
Cons of Open Car Shipping:
- Exposure to the elements: Since vehicles are transported on an open carrier, they are exposed to various weather conditions such as rain, dust, and debris. This may lead to dirt or minor cosmetic damage to the vehicle.
- Reduced protection: Open carriers do not provide as much protection as enclosed carriers. Although most carriers take precautions to secure the vehicles properly, there is still a higher risk of minor damage or scratches during transit.
Pros of enclosed car shipping:
- Enhanced protection: Enclosed car shipping provides a higher level of protection as vehicles are transported in enclosed trailers. This safeguards the vehicle from external elements, road debris, and weather conditions.
- Reduced risk of damage: Since enclosed carriers provide a more secure environment, the chances of damage, such as scratches or dings, are minimized. This makes it a preferred choice for valuable or classic vehicles.
- Customized transport: enclosed carriers can offer additional services like climate control, air-ride suspension, and tracking systems, ensuring the safe and secure transportation of high-value or delicate vehicles.
Cons of enclosed car shipping:
- Higher cost: enclosed car shipping is typically more expensive than open-car shipping. The additional protection and specialized equipment used contribute to the higher cost.
- Limited availability: enclosed carriers are less common compared to open carriers, which may result in longer wait times for scheduling and availability.
- Slower delivery: Since enclosed carriers have limited capacity and make fewer stops, the delivery time may be longer compared to open-car shipping.
Ultimately, the choice between open-car shipping and enclosed-car shipping depends on your budget, the value of the vehicle, and your level of comfort with the potential risks associated with each method.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Car Shipping Company
After choosing the type of car shipping service that you want, it’s time to look at other factors in choosing a car shipping company.
Company’s reputation and experience
To ensure that the company you’re choosing is reliable, you’ll need to look at how long it has been in the industry, how many users use its service on a daily basis, and the overall reputation of the company.
In today’s day and age, finding answers to these questions isn’t that hard. Almost all companies have reviews on Google as well as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Look at the overall ratings as well as individual reviews. If a customer has left a negative review, look at how the company has responded to it.
More so, look out for fake reviews, as good companies don’t need to do such a thing to save their reputation. Similarly, the age and daily users of the company are usually mentioned by companies on their websites.
The most important thing that you need to do before signing a deal with a car insurance company is to inquire about its insurance coverage. Since you’ll be handing them over your vehicle worth $20,000 to $100,000, you’ll need to make sure that in the event of an accident, the company gets your car fixed.
While this might seem too obvious at first, with the abundance of car shipping companies in the market, immoral practices such as low-balling are common. Companies can quote significantly lower prices to attract customers, but once the deal is signed or the day of delivery arrives, customers are shocked by the news of exorbitantly high prices.
Overall, the car shipping industry isn’t scammy. Most processes are done by the book; however, lowballing remains an issue. And although not very common, customers do report such incidents every now and then.
Certifications and authorizations
Car shipping companies, like all other trucking companies, are required to have DOT approval and FMCSA certification. Ensure that every company you choose has these two before finalizing the deal.
Tips for a Smooth Car Shipping Experience
- Get multiple quotes: Obtain quotes from different car shipping companies to compare prices, services, and delivery times.
- Prepare your vehicle for shipping: Clean your car thoroughly and document any existing damage or scratches with photographs. Remove personal belongings and valuables from the car, as most car shipping companies do not allow personal items inside the vehicle.
- Disable or remove toll tags and alarms: Disable any toll tags or alarms in your vehicle to avoid unnecessary charges or disruptions during transit.
- Ensure proper insurance coverage: Check the insurance coverage provided by the car shipping company. If needed, consider purchasing additional insurance to adequately protect your vehicle during transit.
- Communicate with the car shipping company: Maintain clear communication with the car shipping company. Provide accurate contact information and be available during pickup and delivery to address any concerns or questions.
- Review and sign the contract. Carefully read and understand the terms and conditions outlined in the contract. Ensure all verbal agreements and special requests are documented in writing before signing.
- Obtain a thorough inspection upon delivery. Upon delivery, inspect your vehicle carefully for any new damage or discrepancies. If you notice any issues, document them with photographs and report them to the car shipping company immediately.
- Leave a review and share your experience. After the car shipping process is complete, consider leaving a review of your experience. This feedback can be helpful for other customers and can also encourage the car shipping company to maintain its standards of service.
Choosing the best vehicle transport company is crucial to ensuring a hassle-free and secure transport experience for your vehicle. Consider factors such as reputation, services offered, insurance coverage, and pricing when making your decision. By following the outlined steps and tips, you can confidently select a reliable car shipping company that meets your specific needs.
Q: How long does car shipping usually take?
The duration of car shipping depends on various factors, including distance, route, and the company’s transit times. Generally, it can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Q: Can I ship a non-running vehicle?
Yes, many vehicle transport companies can transport non-running vehicles. However, it’s essential to inform the company beforehand, as special arrangements may be required.
Q: How do I decide between door-to-door car shipping or terminal-to-terminal shipping?
In some cases, customers don’t get the option of choosing door-to-door auto shipping because of either the location of their pickup point or drop-off point. Some residential or urban areas are restricted to cars and trucks. Therefore, in such cases, customers will have to opt for terminal-to-terminal car shipping.
Otherwise, it’s quite obvious that most customers would opt for door-to-door car shipping.
Is open-carrier shipping safe?
Yes, for the most part, open-car shipping is safe. Open car shipping carriers are designed to keep the car safe. A vehicle’s tires are perfectly locked in place and don’t move an inch while traveling.
Besides this, dust usually settles on a car during its journey, and you’ll probably need a wash afterward.