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Choosing an auto transport company involves being educated on how auto transport works, knowing the service that is right for you, understanding the costs, checking the reputation of the companies you are selecting from, and preparing your vehicle once you are ready.
Suppose you just bought a new car, or going away for college. Perhaps you are moving to a new city, or making your sessonal trip for summer or winter. If that’s the case, there are various options you need to consider when looking for ways to relocate your vehicle(s).
Driving your car can be the a cheaper option. But, if you are moving the vehicle thousands of miles, you may not have the time (or patience) to DIY. Not only will this take a a considerable amount of time, you may not save much. You will need to add up things like hotel, food, and fuel. With all the logistical demands that driving to a new place requires, it can quickly turn into a massive nightmare.
You could have someone drive it for you. It means having to entrust your vehicle to a family member, a friend, or a professional driver. This option may save you time on the road, but it might be more expensive than driving yourself. Besides, having someone drive the vehicle through several states will put miles on it. There’s wear and tear associated with long trips. The potential risks of state-to-state travel are easy to see.
If want a fast and smooth option, working with an auto transport company is your best option.
This mode of car transportation is ideal for:
- Car dealerships
- College students
- Military personnel
- New car buyers
- Shipping exotic cars
- Non Running Vehicles
- State to State
Whatever your needs, there are a few things you need to know when choosing an auto transport company that fits your needs.
Common Auto Transport Terms You Should Know
Auto Transport Company
This is a company that aids people in moving their cars from one location to another. They have special, open, or closed-air trucks designed to ship different types of automobiles. They can be a carrier or a broker.
Auto Transport Broker
These are companies or individuals that coordinate shipments using a network of auto transport companies. Usually, brokers don’t have their own fleet of car-carrying trailers. They coordinate with carrier companies to fulfill car shipment orders .
Auto Car Carrier
Also known as a car hauler or car-carrying trailer, the auto transport carrier is an open or enclosed trailer. They are specially designed to transport vehicles. An auto carrier has built-in hydraulic ramps or lift for loading and offloading vehicles.
This is a service offered by most car shipping companies, allowing your car to be picked and dropped from/to your preferred location. Door to door service is not more expensive, and usually preferred.
Unlike the door-to-door service, terminal-to-terminal service was a cheaper option. It’s a lot harder to find. With the evolution of auto shipping, terminals have gone away. Nowadays ,terminal shipping can cost more because the carrier has to find a storage facility for you. That location will charge their own fees.
This is the period you are expected to drop off your car for hauling.
Open Multi-Car Hauler
This is the most common, budget-friendly option for vehicle transportation that allows for multi-vehicle transportation from state to state. While vehicles are loaded on an open carrier and are exposed to weather elements. This includes rain, hail, and snow. However a professional auto transport company takes measures to protect your car from damage.
Enclosed Car Carrier
If you have an exotic, classic vehicle, or rare car that needs extra care, and attention a “white-glove-level” service is the answer. The enclosed car carrier service is your best bet. This is a safer option that protects your car from dust, dust, grime, and other road elements. Enclosed car carriers cater to a smaller market for rare and exotic vehicles and come at premium rates of up to 40-60% more of the open carrier.
Bill of Landing
Also known as the BOL. The bill of lading is the documentation issued by the car auto transport company. It’s purpose is outlining the condition of the vehicle as well as proof of both pickup and delivery..
This is the most common and cost-effective mode of auto transportation. Co-loading allows auto transport companies to load more than one automobile in a single carrier, hence cutting the total transportation cost significantly.
This is the latest date that the hauling company needs to have delivered your car.
This is a term used to signify the changing of a route for a shipment in transit.
This is a term used to show that your shipment is on the road to your preferred pick-up point.
Auto hauling can sometimes be overwhelming and complicated. By being familiar with these terms, you’ll be able to understand what you’re dealing with. Your preferred auto transport company should provide you with these details to help you make an informed decision.
If you’re like most car owners, you might be wondering:
- Why should I choose an auto transport company?
- How do I choose an auto transport service that fits my needs?
- What should I do to prepare the car for transport?
- What’s the best car shipping company?
- What Is The Cost of Shipping My Car?
Let’s look at some of these below.
Reasons to Choose an Auto Transport Company
It Is Cheaper Than Other Interstate Auto Transportation Options
Driving your car across the country will cost you a lot of money on fuel, food, and accommodation. You’ll also have to spend long hours on the road that you could have spent with your loved ones. Think about it – driving such long distances is tiring, stressful, and potentially dangerous.
Instead, you can save yourself from all these hassles. Have your car loaded on an auto hauling trailer while you catch a flight to your new state. This way, you can have the peace of mind knowing that professionals are transporting your car. You’ll be able to resume work, college, or use your invaluable vacation days. All while waiting for your vehicle to be delivered.
Maintains The Value Of Your Car
Driving your car across the country adds miles to your odometer. Your vehicle’s mileage will affect its market value as many buyers prefer cars with lower mileages. When you choose an auto transport company, you don’t have to worry about your vehicle’s mileage. The car will be loaded on a hauling truck and delivered in as-is condition to your preferred drop-off point.
Protects Your Vehicle From Wear And Tear
Driving thousands of miles adds unnecessary wear and tear to your vehicle’s engine and tires. If you’ve not had a long-distance trip with your car, your risk experiencing mechanical breakdowns. This could lead to costly repair and maintenance procedures along the way.
If you choose an auto transport company to do the legwork, you don’t have to worry about your vehicle’s condition. Auto haulers help to keep your engine, paint, and tires in shape. It eliminates the stress of dealing with expensive repairs.
If you’re on a tight schedule, driving the car across the country is really not an option. An auto transport company allows you to plan your schedule without worrying about long travel hours on the road.
Ensure Safety And Reliability
Traveling from one state to another can take a toll on you. This is most true if you’re not used to the long distances and odd travel hours. If you’re traveling with your loved ones, you risk putting them in danger from accidents, bad weather, and mechanical failures.
Instead of risking it, you should let professional auto haulers transport your car. This is done all while you relax, having the confidence that your vehicle will be delivered safely and on time.
Guaranteed Protection For Your Luxury Or Classic Car
If you’re shipping an expensive classic or exotic vehicle, enclosed auto hauling services is an excellent option to ensure the safety of one of your most valued possessions. A reliable auto transport company has the means, equipment, and expertise to safely and securely handle your vehicle. You can also rest easy knowing that your car is protected from weather and road elements.
Transport Several Cars At Once
Choosing an auto transport company allows you to transport several vehicles at a go. Most companies will give you great pricing depending on the number of cars that need hauling. This saves you money. You are not hiring your own car carrier for just your car. Many people like you have come to the broker with cars in your area. It also reduces the carbon footprint. That trailer would be heading in that direction whether you ship your car with it on or not.
They Know The Legal Stuff
Moving your car across the country requires a ton of documentation. You need to abide by different state laws and regulations. A professional auto transport company has hauling experts with the knowledge of the industry’s best practices. Driving yourself, finding a carrier directly yourself can lead to problems. Once you drop off your vehicle, you don’t have to worry about the legal requirements.
What to Look For In an Auto Transport Company
A simple Google search for “auto transport company reviews” will give you an endless list of auto transport providers. If you’re a first-timer, it may be challenging to choose a reliable company. You want quality and one that will haul your car(s) at a competitive rate. The auto transport industry is awash with scammers. Many companies are promising the best and the cheapest services, yet only a few can hold up to their word!
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to increase your chance of picking a reliable and professional auto transport company. One that fits your needs and budget. These include:
1. Make Sure They Are Registered
This seems simple but many don’t check. The auto transport industry is highly regulated. Done so by the Department of Transport (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Any auto transport company should have a DOT number and an MC number as proof of their registration. If they don’t, they could be a lead farming company. Check the validity of their MC number with the FMCSA. If their MC number is “Not Authorized,” do not engage them at all. To weed out scammers, it is also important to check that their license and insurance details are valid.
2. Make Sure They Are Bonded And Insured
It is not just enough to choose a registered company; they should also be bonded and insured. That way you won’t carry any liabilities if anything happens during shipping. You should understand the level of coverage provided by the auto transport company. A professional auto hauling company should be adaptable and open to offer you additional coverage, even if it means costing you a little more. The peace of mind will be worth it.
3. Choose A Company That Meets Your Needs And Budget
When shipping your vehicle, it is crucial to narrow down your search to companies that meet your needs. If you have a luxury car or classic vehicle that needs extra care, you should only choose a company that offers bespoke services to cater to those needs. Other benefits to look for include digital tracking, door-to-door services, terminal-to-terminal services, and delivery times.
4. Go For An Experienced Company
Auto transportation requires extensive resources and experienced personnel that only a company with outstanding industry experience can offer. When conducting a background check on various companies, be sure to look into their experience and expertise. You should never trust your car to an average company that has no track record of successful order fulfillment and deliveries.
5. What Are Their Payment Options
A professional auto transport company should have several payment options to cater to different customer needs. The company should have options for the customer to pay through cash, credit cards, or checks. One of the main red flags of an untrustworthy business is that it only prefers payments through wire transfer since its not as traceable as a credit card, debit card, or cashier’s check.
6. Refrain Dealing with A Company That Offers A Too-Go-To-Be-True Deal
Moving a vehicle from one destination to another takes time, resources, and expertise that don’t come cheap. If a company is offering the cheapest option, you should avoid from working with them. The chances are that they will cut corners along the way that may cost you loads down the line.
In most cases, the company offering you a too good to be true offer may take longer. They may also use low quality carriers that are slow and unreliable. In some instances, the cheapest option may not have the infrastructure. They may also not have sufficient insurance coverage to fulfill your shipping order safely and adequately.
7. What Are Other Customers Saying About Their Services
Before choosing an auto transport company, you should first look at their online reviews. Fortunately, tons of online review sites such as Google, Facebook,, BBB, can tell you. This is the best way to see the reputation of a company and the level of their services.
Look at the negative and critical reviews and see how the company responded to them. If the company doesn’t respond to negative and critical reviews, they are likely not worth your business. You should also be wary of a highly rated shipping company with few or no negative reviews.
How to Narrow Down Your Search
If you still have a number of companies that have passed the above checklists, you can narrow down your choices by:
Making A List Of The Companies That Meets Your Needs
Some companies may not offer some services such as enclosed transportation, door-to-door services, exotic/luxury auto transportation, or interstate transportation from the onset. It is, therefore, makes sense to only consider those that offer your preferred services for consideration.
Requesting For A Quote
Request a free, non-committal quote from the pre-qualified companies to see what they are offering and their costs. If a company doesn’t offer free price estimates, move on to the next company. Remember, you should not base your decision solely on the cost. Instead, consider the quality of services being offered and do a comparative analysis to find which company offers better value for your money.
Speak To A Representative Through The Phone
You want to work with a company you can reach anytime for questions and clarifications. If you call a company and their sales rep is not friendly or well-informed, you should perhaps consider taking your business elsewhere.
Factors Affecting the Transportation Cost for Your Vehicle
When looking at the price quotes from different companies, there are few price factors that you should keep in mind. These include:
Distance and Location
One of the main factors that affect auto transportation cost is the hauling distance and the delivery location. Most haulers will base their prices per mile covered. So if you’re shipping your car for a long distance, then naturally, the price may be higher. That notwithstanding, the cost of hauling your vehicle between major cities may be cheaper than shipping between smaller towns since more carriers cover these routes hence more competitive pricing.
Open Vs. Enclosed Car Delivery
Open delivery is the most common and cost-effective shipping option offered by many companies. It allows for more cars to be loaded on a single trailer during transportation. If you’re looking for a more premium service for your exotic or luxury vehicle, the enclosed car delivery is probably the most suitable option for you. However, this option is usually more expensive due to the level of care and attention required when handling and transporting your car.
Vehicle size and weight
The cost of shipping a saloon may be different from shipping an SUV or a Humvee since the bigger cars will take up more space in the carrier. Heavier automobiles may also require special trailers and (off) loading equipment that may jack up the total transportation cost.
The auto transport industry is a year-long business. However, some seasons tend to be busier than others. As vehicle hauling demand increases, many companies tend to raise their rates to pay for the increased overheads. You are likely to pay lower rates in winter than in summer when there is a spike in demand. However, you should also be cognizant of the likelihood of having your car delivery delayed during winter due to bad weather and diversions during shipment.
Delivery Time Frame
If you need your car delivered on a tight time frame, you may need to pay more expedite the delivery process. A quick pick up and delivery require extra planning and coordination that ultimately costs more.
If you need additional insurance coverage for your car, the total shipping cost may go up significantly. Some companies also tend to charge more to customers preferring to have their vehicles loaded on the top-most deck. In multi-level auto transport carriers, the top load is usually safer and more protected from road debris hence the higher cost.
Activities Before Your Car Is Transported
Once you have settled on a preferred auto transport company, you need to take some measures to ensure that your car is ready by preparing for transportation across the country or the state. If you are a first-time shipper, you may find these actions tedious, but we consider them important to ensure that your car is delivered safely and in a pristine condition. There are other things you may have not though of :
1. Check The Fluids Levels And Fix Any Leaks
Before handing the keys to the auto transport company, it is vital to ensure that the brake fluid, engine oil, coolant, and battery fluid are sufficient. Shipping your car with below-level fluids can lead to mechanical problems upon delivery. You should also ensure that your gas tank is half full to allow the air and antifreeze system to work properly throughout the journey.
2. Disable Your Car Antitheft And Alarm Systems
Your car alarm and the anti-theft system can be triggered easily, especially when the car is not in use. Ensure that you disable these safety systems to prevent unnecessary discomfort and disruptions to the transportation crew. You should give unrestricted access to the company transporting your car for smooth and seamless loading and offloading. This further emphasizes the need to entrust your vehicle only to people you can trust.
3. Check Your Car’s Battery Charge
Most interstate transport companies will need to drive your car onto the deck during loading and off the deck after delivery. If your car doesn’t start up due to low battery levels, you risk incurring additional towing charges.
4. Don’t Pack Too Many Personal Belongings In The Car
When shipping your vehicle, you should not overpack the vehicle with personal items and all valuables. Most auto transport companies won’t guarantee their safety. In fact, nearly all companies will surcharge you if you leave over 100 pounds of items in the vehicle.
5. Inspect Your Vehicle For Any Damages Before Shipping
You should insist on having your car inspected for any damages before transportation so you can keep track of its condition. Take interior and exterior photos of the vehicle and ensure they have timestamps to prove their validity. If any damages occur during shipping, you can easily pick it up with the shipping company for repairs or compensation.
6. Keep Extra Keys With You
Ensure that you have an extra set of keys. You’ll need to give the transport crew a set of your car keys and remain with a spare just in case one set gets misplaced or lost along the way.
7. Confirm The Bill Of Landing
The shipping company usually sends a representative to inspect your car for dings, dents, scratches, and other damages and record them in the bill of landing. After you sign, the bill of landing becomes your official shipping receipt indicating the condition of your vehicle. Ensure that you confirm the document’s accuracy and keep a copy safely for confirmation on vehicle delivery.
Inspecting Your Car after Shipment
1. Check for damages
Inspect the car interior and exterior to check for any damages. Check the locks and other electronic systems. It will ensure that everything is in the same condition as it was before shipping. Compare the Bills of Lading
2. Compare with your photos
If you notice any damages that might not have been there previously, compare with your photos. This is for confirmation and to let the company know if anything doesn’t check out.
3. Test drive
Ensure that the vehicle’s fluids and other vitals are okay and give it a quick test drive to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
4. If you find any damage:
– Take a photo of the damage
– Ensure that the company’s representative documents the damage on the bill of lading
– The driver or company rep should sign the inspection documents before you leave with the car
– Get a written quotation from a reputable mechanic and share it with the shipping company for repairs
– Provide other relevant documents such as photos to allow them to make a claim to their insurance company.
Choose A Reliable Auto Transport Company for All Your Car Shipping Needs
If you’re looking for a reliable interstate car shipping company, National Express is a top choice for most shippers. We are a team of professionals. National Express has the skills, equipment, and expertise to handle any shipping need.
We offer cross-country auto shipping, state-to-state auto transport, long-distance towing, and expedited services throughout the country and beyond. Here are just a few reasons why national express is widely considered to be the best auto transport company:
- Instant car shipping quote
- Personalized, hassle-free service
- Amazing discounts for our service members and other individuals to trim costs where possible.
- Zero upfront costs
- No hidden fees
- Insured carriers
- Dedicated agents
- Variety of shipping solutions and secure carrier methods
- Extended hours throughout the year
- A large pool of carriers to ensure swift delivery for your vehicle across the country
Call Us Today for a Free Price Quote
If you are looking for a cost-effective way to ship your car, our auto shipping solutions are an excellent option for you. Call us today to discuss with one of our professionals and get a free, non-obligatory quote.