When it comes to car transportation services, considerations of price and quality are key. No one wants a car with scratches, paint chips and dents when it arrives. So here is a checklist of questions to consider before hiring a logistics company to move your car.
What kind of car-shipping company you are dealing with? It’s important to understand the different players in the industry. There are:
- Car carriers. These are the truck drivers who collect and deliver your vehicle. It’s great to deal directly with the person responsible, but consider that they are always on the road with precious little time to handle calls and customer service.
- Lead providers. Have you seen websites that promise “six quotes in just one click”? They are car-shipping lead providers. They collect email addresses and sell them to the highest bidder. They may also pass your details on to third parties.
- Auto-shipping brokers. They work as intermediaries between you, the customer, and car transportation carriers. They don’t sell your information – instead, they liaise with the carriers on your behalf, handling all the administrative information and ensuring that the shipment goes off smoothly.
Does it offer legitimate car-transport services? You will need to investigate the company's credentials through the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records site. A legitimate car shipping company will include both an e-mail address and toll-free or local phone number on its site.
Car-transportation services must have an MC number (interstate operating authority) from FMCSA, and a USDOT number from the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, if they work with auto-shipping brokers, they will need to meet the requirements laid out by those entities.
Is your car covered in case of transport damage? By law, all car-transportation providers should carry a minimum of $150,000 (for open car carriers) or $250,000 (for enclosed car carriers) in liability cover, to pay for damages in the event your car is damaged during transit. Check on this, and also consider getting additional gap cover.
How will your car be shipped? Understanding how your car will be moved between two points is very important. If you’re unsure, check with the company’s logistics experts. You can usually choose between open or enclosed car shipping. Enclosed car shipping is facilitated using trucks with walls and roofs or containers. Cars transported by this method are protected against the elements, road debris and prying eyes. This is why enclosed car shipping often proves to be the better option for shipping vintage or luxury vehicles.
Open car carriers, employing haulers with open trailers, are also safe, and the risk of damage minimal. The trucks usually are equipped with one or two racks on which cars are secured, to prevent movement or shifting. Usually up to 10 vehicles can be transported on these trailers, versus a maximum of four for enclosed shipping. Open car shipping is therefore a little cheaper than the enclosed option, although the latter might provide additional peace of mind.
What are the fees? Car shipping fees vary, depending on several factors. An online car-shipping calculator can determine the right rate based on fuel prices, fuel rates, seasons, and supply and demand. Some fees fluctuate, so it’s important to find a company with a regular update function to ensure that fees are current.
There are many providers of professional car-transportation services in the U.S., although not all have the required expertise, qualifications and licensing. Doing your research prior to hiring a car-shipping company will ensure that you know as much as possible about the provider before you hire it to transport your precious car.
Zoki Naumoski is head of content at Nationwide Auto Transportation.