Car Shipping Tips
1. PRICE. The first question you'll want answered is "what
is the total cost?". Obtain quotes from several car transport
and auto driveaway companies and be prepared to provide:
approximate departure date
type of vehicle(s)
type of car transport service desired (e.g., door-to-door
car transport vs. terminal-to-terminal)
special car transport services (e.g., enclosed car transport)
2. PAYMENT METHOD. While some car transport and auto driveaway
companies may not require payment in advance, others require
a deposit (10-25% of the total cost), or full payment in advance.
If a deposit is given, amount due is always required at time
of delivery – oftentimes with a cashiers check or cash. Sometimes
a surcharge of 2-3% is required when using a credit card with
a car transport or auto driveaway company.
3. CONTRACT. READ YOUR CONTRACT CAREFULLY!!! IMPORTANT NOTE!!!
Do not rely on any verbal promises from your car transport
company. After you sign your contract, your car transport
company will ALWAYS refer you to the contract for any complaints
you may have, including cost to cancel your shipment. The
main thing to look for is a clause that says there is no guaranteed
pickup or delivery date. Even though most cars are delivered
by car transport companies within the expected timeframe,
most will not guarantee a delivery date. You can ask for the
following things to protect yourself against verbal promises
that you would have otherwise relied upon (also see #5 below):
Ask for a contract clause (in writing) that waives the cancellation
fee if the car is not picked up by your car transport company
within some number of days of the scheduled pickup date. If
you cancel within the alloted window, expect to pay some fee,
which may vary from $50 to $250. Although most cars are picked
up on the scheduled date or within a few days of that date,
a 1 or 2 week delay may occassionally happen. Your cancellation
clause should allow for at least a week beyond scheduled pickup
date. It is difficult for any car transport company to promise
a delivery date, however, if your car transport company offers
a guarantee that covers a rental car, find out the cost of
the guarantee (if any) and the maximum dollars per day covered.
4. INSURANCE. Your vehicle(s) should be insured against
damage and theft by your car transport company or auto driveaway.
ASK FOR A COPY OF INSURANCE COVERAGE. Ask if the carrier's
insurance is PRIMARY or SECONDARY to your own insurance in
the event of damage during car transport. Also ask if there
is a damage deductible – VERIFY ALL IN WRITING. In addition,
your own car insurance may cover your vehicle in transit –
check with your car insurance company to verify. Keep in mind
that many car transport and auto driveaway companies may discourage
or prohibit you from leaving personal articles in your vehicle.
Any personal articles left in the car are not insured – your
home policy may cover these articles, but you should check
with your home insurance agent to verify. ALSO NOTE THAT OVERLOADING
YOUR TRUNK WITH HEAVY ITEMS MAY RESULT IN DAMAGE TO YOUR CAR'S
UNDERCARRIAGE. Your car transport or auto driveaway company
may not cover damage in that instance.
5. PICK-UP AND DELIVERY DATES. Ask for estimated pick-up
and delivery times from your car transport or auto driveaway
company. You should be able to get a 3-day window for pick-up
– during the busy summer or snow bird season the window may
be larger, but the car transport or auto driveaway company
should warn you of possible delays ahead of time. BE SKEPTICAL
OF EXACT PICK-UP AND DELIVERY DATES PROMISED BY CAR TRANSPORT
AND AUTO DRIVEAWAY COMPANIES – IF YOU ARE PROMISED EXACT DATES,
GET IT IN WRITING AND STATE THE REMEDY IF SERVICE IS NOT PERFORMED
ON PROMISED DATES ($50 discount, no fee to cancel, reimbursement
for rental car, etc.) . Once pick-up is made, your car transport
or auto driveaway company should provide you with a fairly
precise delivery date. If you need an exact date for pick-up,
most car transport and auto driveaway services can pick-up
your car and hold it at a terminal for an additional charge.
6. REFERENCES. While we do our best to exclude poor-quality
car transport and auto driveaway companies, we unfortunately
cannot guarantee quality of performance of those companies
listed. BEFORE SELECTING A COMPANY, we recommend that you
contact the Better Business Bureau in the city in which the
car transport or auto driveaway company is listed to inquire
about the company's service history. Also, many car transport
and auto driveaway companies are referred by van line companies.
Ask for several references, if possible.
7. SAYING GOODBYE TO YOUR CAR. Prior to leaving your car
with a driver or car transport company, be sure you receive
an "Original Inspection Report." This report provides
pick-up and delivery information, current mileage, and MOST
IMPORTANTLY shows 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.
8. ACCEPTING YOUR VEHICLE FOR DELIVERY. At the time of delivery,
inspect your vehicle SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY and compare the
condition and mileage against the "Original Inspection
Report" provided by your car transport company at origination
(ALSO INSPECT THE ROOF AND UNDER FRONT AND REAR BUMPERS).
If there are inconsistencies, note them as exceptions and
be sure the driver signs it. NEVER ACCEPT YOUR VEHICLE AT
NIGHT IF YOU CANNOT VERIFY ITS CONDITION – without being viewed
and signed by the driver, you have little recourse if damage
had occurred during transit.
9. IF DAMAGE SHOULD OCCUR. The majority of car transport
experiences are worry-free, with your damage-free vehicle
arriving at the estimated time. On occassion, a vehicle may
become damaged in transit. If this should happen, note all
damage on your inspection report (see item above), obtain
the driver's signature, and contact your car transport company.
The car transport company should then work with you to reimburse
you for verifiable damage done to your car.
10. DISPUTES. If you believe that a car transport or auto
driveaway company has not treated you fairly, first try to
work it out with the company. Car transport and auto driveaway
companies are more likely to cooperate with you if they believe
you are trying to work fairly with them. Be reasonable, but
firm. If all else fails, you may consider filing a complaint
with the Better Business Bureau in the city in which the car
transport or auto driveaway company is listed. The U.S. Dept.
of Transportation – http://www.dot.gov – regulates car transport
companies – however they will usually not get involved until
after you have a court judgement against a car transport company
(in small claims court, for example).