Car Transport Quotes and Services Guide
Table of Contents
How to Choose The Best Auto Transport Company
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Both Local and National car shipping companies that service any area within the Continental United States.
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How are Vehicles Transported?
Here's how to ship a car.
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 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.
About Insurance and Licenses
All car shipping 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#. You can verify a companies insurance status by looking up their Docket Number (MC#) here. Beware of companies that display a "pending insurance cancellation."
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.
99% of carriers are independently owned and operated. They are small mom and pop operations that physically haul vehicles. They don't have time to handle customer service. So they rely on third party brokers to handle customer service. At most they have a dispatch agent to coordinate your pickup and delivery with their truck driver(s).
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 deals 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:
- 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. A good broker will get you the best deal effectively.
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.
Disable any alarm systems and provide instructions to the carrier for operation if needed.
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.
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