Automotive Shipping
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Car Shipping Tips

Scheduling: Having Realistic Expectations

The most important issue for people to understand about the process of Auto Shipping is that this industry is not like UPS, Fed-Ex or even the Postal Service. Pick-up and delivery dates are estimates, typically not guarantees of pick-up or delivery dates. Unforeseen problems from mechanical break downs, traffic, and weather all contribute to delays. Ironically, the biggest delays for vehicle shipping companies are typically caused by their own customers. Customers fail to show up on time, try to change pick-up or drop off locations at the last minute etc. Patience is required, and most companies want to get your vehicle to you as soon as you do. Make sure you have realistic expectations about when your vehicle will be picked up and delivered.

Selecting an Auto Shipping Method: Open or Enclosed

Open trailers are either partially or fully exposed to the elements. There are many different types of open trailers, ranging from small three car carriers to the large 11 car carriers that you often see on the Interstate. Enclosed trailers are protected from the elements, and your vehicle is basically shipped in a mobile garage. Having your vehicle shipped enclosed is typically a 25-50% premium over having it shipped on an open trailer. Most cars can be shipped either on an open trailer or in an enclosed trailer. It all depends on what you want to spend.

Door-to-door Auto Shipping: What it Means

All of the quotes provided by Automotive Shipping .com are for door-to-door auto shipping. Door-to-door should have an asterisk after it, as it does not always mean a truck will be able to pull up to your front door. Door-to-door means that the truck driver will get as close to your specified pick-up or delivery spot as he can legally and safely get. Large towns and cities often restrict large trucks and prohibit them from entering into some residential areas. Auto shipping trucks can be up to 75 foot long, and drivers will need lots of room to maneuver and turn around. When access to your residence is restricted by narrow streets, low-hanging trees, speed bumps or tight turns, the driver may ask that you meet the truck at a large parking lot nearby, such as a grocery store, school, or shopping mall.

Payment Methods: Be Ready

While some car transport companies may not require payment in advance, others require a deposit (10-25% of the total cost) prior to shipping. If a deposit is given, the balance remaining is always required at time of delivery. You will need to have a CASHIERS CHECK or CASH ready when the truck arrives. Some vehicle shipping companies may allow you to pay with a credit card upon delivery, but this is not common.

Make Sure You Are Properly Insured

Your car should be insured against damage and theft by your auto shipping company. Make sure you request a copy of the Auto Shipping company's insurance coverage before you finalize auto shipping and check to see if there is any deductible you will be required to pay if damage should occur. Everything pertaining to the car shipment should be in writing. It is likely that your personal car insurance policy may cover your vehicle in transit; and we recommend that you contact your insurance company to verify this coverage. Move Vehicles .com highly recommends that you remove any personal items from your car when it is shipped as they will not be covered by the Auto Shipping company's insurance, and may not be covered by your auto policy or your home owners insurance.

Before Pick-up

Steps to Prepare your Car for Shipping Wash your car thoroughly even if will be shipped on an open trailer. You want to be able to note any chips, dings, nicks or other cosmetic damage accurately.

Remove any personal items from your car. Most vehicle shipping companies are not licensed and thus cannot legally carry any personal items in vehicles they transport. It will also not likely be covered by insurance.

Shut off and or disable the car alarm. It is impossible to be well versed in all of the alarm systems available today, make it easy on the company and disable it.

Don't top off your gas tank, keep it low, in between 1/8th to 1/4th of a tank as this saves quite a bit of weight which the Car Transporters appreciate.

Please make sure to secure or remove any loose parts or specialty items from your car such as ground effects, spoilers, fog lights. If you have wide mirrors fold them back and lower and remove/retract the antennae if possible.

If possible, always ship convertibles with the top and secured properly. Try to seal any holes or open seams in the top to prevent air or moisture from causing damage. If you cannot raise the top, you should attempt to cover it with a secure fitting tarp that can resist high winds.

Make sure the battery is charged, that the tires have proper inflation and top off all of the fluids on the vehicle and let the drive know if there are ANY leaks. Cars leaking oil and especially brake or transmission fluid should NEVER be on the top of a two deck open trailer. This is to prevent leaks onto the paint of vehicles below.

Prepare a careful list of any operational problems or steps necessary to start, stop, or drive your vehicle on and off of the trailer.

Do a Thorough Vehicle Inspection: Document Its Condition

In order to ensure any claims of vehicle damage are accurate and enforceable, make a complete report of any pre-existing damage your vehicle may have. You may want to go as far as taking pictures (and dating them) of the vehicle prior to shipping it.


Meeting The Truck: Be On Time

Make sure you are on time to meet the driver and that your meeting spot is clearly defined and easy to get to for both parties. Remember the size and maneuvering restrictions for the truck. Not meeting the truck can delay delivery for not only your vehicle, but also all of the other customers whose cars are sitting on the trailer.

Releasing Your Car: Do the Paperwork

Prior to leaving your car with the auto shipping company, be sure you receive an original inspection report. This report provides pick-up and delivery information, the car's current mileage, and most importantly documents the condition of your car at time of pick-up - pre-existing scratches and dents, cracked glass/mirrors, general paint condition, etc. Keep this report and use it when you receive your vehicle. If you will not be receiving the car, you should send a copy of this report to the person who will be.


Meeting The Truck: Be On Time

Make sure you are on time to meet the driver and that your meeting spot is clearly defined and easy to get to for both parties. Remember the size and maneuvering restrictions for the truck. Not meeting the truck can delay delivery for not only your vehicle, but also all of the other customers whose cars are sitting on the trailer.

Accepting The Car: What to Look For On Delivery

When your car arrives, make sure that you do a slow, methodical inspection of the vehicle with a copy of the original inspection report in hand. Look for any cosmetic or discernable mechanical damage that was not noted in the original report. Make sure you look underneath the vehicle as well. If there is any damage not on the original inspection report, note each incident of damage as exceptions and be sure the driver signs it. Move suggests never accepting a vehicle if you cannot clearly inspect it. Avoid accepting your vehicle at night, unless you can view it under good lights.

Should Damage Occur: Steps to Take

Auto shipping is typically worry free, and the vast majority of vehicles are shipped with out incident or damage. However, damage does sometimes occur and it is important to understand that process of receiving compensation for the damage. If damage occurs, and you feel it is directly attributable to the shipping process, note all damage on your inspection report (see item above), obtain the driver's signature, and contact your auto shipping company. The auto transport company should then work with you to reimburse you for verifiable damage done to your car.

Dealing With Disputes: Who to Contact, What to Do

If for some reason you feel that you were not treated properly by your car shipping company, Automotive Shipping .com recommends that you first try to work it out with the company directly. Most companies should work quickly to help resolve any issues. State your case politely, yet firmly as they will likely respond much more quickly if they feel you are reasonable and would like to resolve the issue with minimal fuss. If this tactic does not produce results, you may opt to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau ( You may also wish to contact The U.S. Dept. of Transportation ( The DOT is the regulatory body that governs Car Shipping companies, but will rarely get involved unless you have a court ruling against the company in question. Automotive Shipping .com is not responsible for, nor do we get involved in disputes between our customers (consumers, vehicle dealers, and vehicle shippers). However, please make sure you rate the Car Transporter using our Automotive Shipping .com rankings and explain what happened in the comments box.

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