Car Transport Review

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2024 Best and Worst Car Transport Companies [Reviews]

Our site connects customers with the leading providers to ship a car across the country. We help you choose reliable service from the top rated national car transport companies in the industry.

Table of Contents

How to Choose The Best Company

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See The 10 Best Car Shipping Companies of May 2024

What's Included in Every Quote

What is Car Transport?

Simply relocating a vehicle from one city to another. People that purchased their car online, are moving to a new city perhaps for a new career, or dealerships that are adding vehicles to their inventory often hire a service to move their vehicles. Vehicles are most commonly transported by specialized vehicle carriers across the country.

How are Vehicles Transported?

open car transport

Open Car Carriers
Open is the most common and economical choice for moving vehicles. It's the industry standard. It's hard not to notice open car carriers on the highways and roads in general daily.

enclosed car transport

Enclosed Car Carriers
Enclosed is for added protection from the elements (dust, pollution, weather, debris etc.) during transit. Vehicles are loaded onto enclosed hard or soft sided trailers. That added protection comes at an additional cost typically starting around $200 extra. So this option is usually reserved for luxury, exotic, or classic collector vehicles.

An individual is hired to drive your vehicle to the destination. Most people don't want the extra mileage put on their vehicle so this option isn't common.

This is the most uncommon option. It's expensive, and just not practical for most customers.

Read more information on how to ship a car.

About Insurance and Licenses

All car transport conpanies are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to carry $100,000 in insurance to protect your vehicle should any damage occur. Companies cannot operate, or access the central online load board without insurance. This is signified by an active MC Number. You can verify a companies insurance status by looking up their details by Company Name or MC Number by visiting the FMCSA Safer Web - Company Snapshot Search Tool. Beware of companies that display a "pending insurance cancellation," or "NOT AUTHORIZED" Operating Status.

How does the Car Shipping Industry Work?

There's a few moving parts in the industry. Mainly there's brokers and carriers. Here's a breakdown for Car Shipping: How it Works.

Auto Transport Broker
99% of companies you initially deal with are Brokerages/Phone rooms. They handle customer service answering any questions or concerns you may have. Brokers connect you with carriers to pickup your vehicle via an online dispatch board which is only accessible to licensed and insured brokers, carriers, and dealerships. They also negotiate with carriers to get the best price to move your vehicle.

Nearly 50% of Auto Transport Brokers Are Based Outside The U.S.
That's right. Yet another industry that outsources jobs, and/or operates overseas. Approximately 40% of brokerages are call centers operating in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and India.

auto transport brokers

99% of carriers are independently owned and operated. They are small mom and pop operations that physically haul vehicles. Most carriers operate specific routes so they can't effectively target advertise to customers that need to move vehicles along their routes. Furthermore drivers don't have time to handle customer service, nor do they have the required time or experience for sales. At most they have a dispatch agent to coordinate your pickup and delivery with their truck driver(s). So they rely on third party brokers to get customers and manage customer service.

The few large all-in-one broker/carrier operations that do operate a fleet still don't service every location, and rely on independent carriers thus end up brokering shipments as well. Furthermore they are the highest priced.

How Rates are Determined

The way rates are determined is similar to an auction in a lot of ways. Often times the car that gets moved first is "the highest bidder." So How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Car?

Overall, rates vary and fluctuate based on factors such as:

  • Distance
  • Weight of vehicle
  • Length of vehicle
  • Current fuel rates
  • Season (Winter is typically highest)
  • If vehicle is operational or not
  • What other customers are willing to pay.

A carrier has room for one more vehicle on their route. For the next pickup on the way they have (2) vehicles waiting. They more often than not will choose the customer that posted their vehicle for the highest amount. The customer that posted their vehicle for less will have to wait for the next trucker, and so on. It's a game of cat and mouse in that regard. An experienced broker that has built strong partnerships within their carrier network can negotiate the best price for shipping your vehicle.

How to Prepare a Vehicle for Shipment

Here's several useful tips for shipping a car.

Take photos of your vehicle to use as evidence should any damage occur during transit.

Items in the vehicle
Items may shift during transit and result in damage. The carrier will not be liable for any such damages. It's best to clear out or secure any loose items in the vehicle.

Alarm systems
Disable any alarm systems and provide instructions to the carrier for operation if needed.

Tire pressure
Inflate tires to recommended pressure levels for safe loading and unloading.

1/4 tank is recommended for transit. Don't fill the tank.

For protection, nake sure the vehicle has enough antifreeze if you are relocating the vehicle from a warm to cold climate.

Be flexible when it comes to scheduling

Avoid planning important life events or anything with tight time constraints around your pickup and delivery times, such as weddings, flights, or closing on a home.

Truckers are flaky, and oftentimes pickup/deliver later than scheduled. Truckers are notorious for being a week or 2 late. "The truck broke down" is a common excuse, and more often than not, a lie.

How to Deal With Scams

You book a transport company after they convinced you they were the best choice to move your vehicle. They charge your credit card a deposit of around $150+. Deposits are often disguised as a "fuel surcharge fee." This is actually the brokers commission. Then the day has come to pick up your vehicle. However your vehicle never gets picked up. So you call the transport company several times, and no one picks up the phone. You e-mail several times, and still no response. Sooner than later you realize you've been scammed. This is unfortunately an all too common scenario in the industry.

The industry has a well deserved reputation for fraud. It's not uncommon for a shady company to charge customers to move their vehicle, not move the vehicle, refuse to refund the customers money, and stop responding to calls and/or e-mails.

Bait and switch scams are common as well.

Scammy Brokers quote you a low price. You pay the deposit. The day your vehicle is being picked up they tell you "the trucker wants more money." It's not unheard of for brokers to bump up the price last minute $200 to well over triple the original quoted price. Scammers love to bump up the price upon delivery as well so they can hold your vehicle hostage leaving customers with little choice but to pay their ransom. Typically most contracts state you may be subject to maximum price increase of $50. However greedy brokers love to ignore the fine print, and prey on customers that are under strict time contraints to move their vehicle.

Lucky for you there's a simple solution.

What To Do When a Car Shipping Company Won't Refund Your Money...

File a Dispute With Your Credit Card Company or Bank

If you paid by credit card, bank card, or paypal, you should dispute the charge thru your bank/credit card company/paypal. Typically you have (60) days to file a claim. Make it clear that the "service was not received," and the charge was "unauthorized" and/or "fraudulent." Most credit card companies will issue a temporary credit for the amount disputed right away. From there they will investigate your claim typically within 60 days. They may request more details from you should the company try to fight the dispute (This is highly unlikely). More often than not you'll just receive a letter in the mail from your credit card company stating that they decided in your favor and the matter is closed. So in general for this type of case, you'll win your money back every time.

If you paid by check you should contact your bank or financial institution immediately, and report fraud. The sooner the better.

It only takes a few chargebacks to put a shady company out of business. Dishonest companies often lose their merchant account due to fraudulent activity. Without a merchant account, they cannot charge anyone forcing them to shut down their business entirely.

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File a Moving Fraud Complaint with the FMCSA

Some examples of Moving Fraud

  • deliberately low-balling an estimate to later ask for more money (bait & switch)
  • withholding customer belongings unless they pay significantly more than the quoted price

File a Moving Fraud Complaint with the FMCSA

Additionally you should file a complaint with the following agencies

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