|Years of Experience||Trusted car shipping companies will usually survive the test of time. A company can leverage years of experience to negotiate lower shipping rates and pass the savings on to you.|
|Industry Reputation||Just because a car shipping company has been in business for several years does not always mean it is reputable. Reputable brokers are trusted by customers and carriers. Take the time to read about customers’ experiences on review sites to get a feel for how the company operates.|
|Customer Service Ratings and Reviews||Companies with consistently high ratings and customer reviews on trusted sites like Trustpilot and Google are generally good companies to work with. On the other hand, low ratings and negative reviews are often signs of poor customer service or non-transparent pricing.|
|Guaranteed Quotes||Car shipping quotes are estimates based on shipping companies' previous experiences with the market volatility of the industry. It is not unusual for shipping quotes to be lower than the final price by as much as 25% due to supply and demand and the fluctuation of gas prices. Some of the best car shipping companies will guarantee all or a portion of your quote. This is especially useful if you are on a strict budget and can’t afford to pay any hidden fees.|
|Transparent Pricing||The best and most reputable car transport companies are upfront and honest about their rates and possible additional charges. Knowing you can trust the quote you received and that there won’t be any surprise charges when you pick up your vehicle allows you to budget your move more accurately.|
|Above Average Auto Transport Insurance||Reputable carriers are not commonly involved in accidents, but the chances of an accident happening is never zero. Look for an auto transporter with robust insurance coverage and an easy claims filing process. Additionally, some companies offer add-on insurance coverage you can purchase if you want more coverage than the company’s standard insurance offers.|
What To Know When Working With a Car Shipping Company
Before you ship your vehicle, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common shipping industry jargon and understand how the quote, shipping, and pickup and drop-off processes work to ensure a smooth experience.
Quotes Can Change
Quotes are estimates and do not guarantee your final price unless you use a company that offers locked-in pricing. This is because when you get a quote from an auto shipping broker, that broker doesn’t have a carrier lined up for the shipment right away. Instead, the broker gives you an estimate and then attempts to secure a carrier for that price.
The estimates you receive may increase due to carrier availability, fuel prices and market demands. To prevent receiving any unexpected price increases, provide your carrier with as much information about your car and shipment details as possible during the quote process.
Quotes Should Be Free, but You’ll Pay a Deposit
You can get a free quote from any reputable auto shipping company. You shouldn’t have to pay until the broker has secured a carrier, which could be a few days after you get a quote. At that point, you’ll either pay a deposit and elect to pay the rest in cash upon delivery or pay for the whole shipment up front.
Shipping Dates Aren’t Set in Stone
Shipping dates can fluctuate — even among the best auto transport companies. Unless you get expedited transport or the company agrees to a guaranteed pickup date, your pickup window can be up to five days or more. The pickup window provided to you is the earliest and latest pickup date. However, carriers may experience delays on the road, so it’s a good idea to be flexible beyond the pickup window, too. The same goes for delivery times. Staying flexible with your shipping dates is also a good way to save some money on car shipping.?
Know What Is Covered by Your Insurance Policy
Your car insurance company may cover some but not all damage caused during transit, so it is crucial to understand what insurance car shipping companies carry and what, if any, liability your car insurance company covers.
Know What Is Covered by the Carrier’s Insurance Policy
It is essential to precisely understand what is covered before you choose a carrier in case your shipment is delayed by weather or damaged by road debris, theft or a traffic accident.
As for your belongings, most car movers prohibit the transport of personal items in vehicles. So if you do choose to leave any personal belongings in your vehicle, the shipping company’s insurance will likely not cover any instances of damages or theft.?
You can purchase supplemental coverage from most shipping companies. However, before purchasing extra insurance, you should review your insurance policy to know if the extra coverage is needed.
The Bill of Lading Is Important
You and the truck driver will inspect your vehicle and sign a bill of lading at pickup and delivery. At pickup, make sure this document accurately describes the condition of your vehicle. We recommend taking photos of your vehicle at this time to have visual evidence of its condition in case of an incident while it is being transported.
Car Shipping Customer Satisfaction
Our team of experts surveyed 1,000 people who had used a car shipping company during a move. Most of the survey’s participants used one of the car shipping companies in this article.
According to our survey results, most car shipping customers reported being satisfied with their service. Among respondents, 69% said that they were at least “somewhat satisfied” with their shipping experience. Only 21% reported that they were either “somewhat” or “very unsatisfied.”
At around 56%, a small majority of respondents said that they would recommend their provider to a friend or family member looking to ship a car. Only 16% said that they wouldn’t recommend their provider, while 15% said that they would use a car shipping service again, but would use a different company.
According to our survey, most customers experienced some issues during the car shipping process. The most common issues from the survey included:?
- Vehicle damage upon delivery
- Carrier’s insurance not covering damage
- Price increases after booking
- Shipment dates extending a week or more beyond the delivery date
No matter which car shipping company you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind.?
The complaints mentioned above are easy to avoid by choosing a reputable shipping company, understanding shipping methods, and knowing the precise steps customers need to take to ship a vehicle. Knowing these ahead of time can give you realistic expectations for the shipping process.
|Lowest Price||$0.43 per mile|
|Average Price||$1.09 per mile|
|Highest Price||$5.45 per mile|
|Shop Around||You can save hundreds of dollars by shopping around, since some auto transport companies offer specific services in certain locations at rates that are cheaper than their competition. You should always disclose to the shipping agent that you are getting quotes from multiple shippers to find the most affordable rate; by doing so, the agent may disclose that the company offers price matching, discounts, or a price match guarantee to retain your booking.|
|Be Flexible With Your Shipping Dates||Being flexible allows the carrier to transport your vehicle with other cars going to the same destination into one shipment. Some shipping companies even offer discounts if you are willing to allow the company more flexibility as to when your vehicle is picked up and dropped off.|
|Book in Advance||You don't have to plan months in advance. Plan at least two weeks ahead, and you will allow enough time for carriers to bid on the shipment you booked.|
|Choose Open Carrier Shipping||The easiest way to lower shipping costs is to transport your car on an open carrier, which could save you up to 25%.|
|Opt For Terminal-To-Terminal Services||Have your vehicle picked up and dropped off at a shipping terminal. Door-to-door shipping is a premium service that significantly raises the cost of shipping a vehicle.|
|Meet Your Carrier at a Convenient Location||Shipping companies charge more if they have to deliver vehicles to remote areas or along less popular shipping routes. You can save money by meeting your carrier at a nearby interstate or city along a common shipping route.|
|Ship Your Car During the Off-Season||Peak season in the car shipping industry generally lasts during the summer months and in January, when people often move or snowbirds are traveling south. If you can ship your car during the autumn or spring, you can save money because there are more available carriers with open spots on their trailers that will bid on your shipment and drive the price down.|
Car Shipping Cost Factors
Aside from the company you choose, several factors affect the cost of shipping a vehicle, including:
- Distance: How far you ship your car directly affects the cost, but you’ll also pay a lower per-mile rate with long-distance shipping.
- Transport type: Open car shipping service is usually several hundred dollars cheaper than enclosed shipping. Door-to-door shipping affords you more convenience, but it increases the total cost of shipping a vehicle.
- Vehicle size and additional features: Small cars are less expensive to transport compared to larger vehicles like SUVs or trucks. Also, cars with additional features like luggage carriers and roof racks are more expensive to ship than stock automobiles.
- Vehicle operability: Carriers charge between $100 to $150 to winch an inoperable vehicle onto a trailer. Not all carriers have winching capabilities, which limits your options.?
- Seasonality: Shipping prices vary based on supply and demand, so you’ll pay more for vehicle shipping when many families move in the summer. Demand is also high when snowbirds travel south in the winter and return home in the spring, which increases the prices of common shipping routes.
- Pickup and drop-off dates: If you are flexible with your pickup and drop-off dates, you can save money, since the shipping company has more time to schedule your shipment on a trailer with other cars traveling to the same location.
- Pickup and delivery locations: In addition to the distance between pickup and delivery locations impacting rates, the population density of a location, popularity and difficulty of delivering are also important. Shippers often charge more to ship vehicles to rural areas — since more companies compete for your business in large cities, you can lower costs by meeting the carrier in a nearby urban area or town.
Ways You Can Ship a Car
There are several ways to ship a car, including truck, train, ship and airplane. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why our team has reviewed the pros and cons of each to create a car shipping method guide for those needing auto transport services.
Shipping a Car by Truck
Due to its affordability, simplicity, and availability, the most common ground shipping method for cars utilizes tractor-trailers or trucks with modified beds specifically made to transport vehicles.?
Open Vs. Enclosed Car Shipping
When you ship your car with a truck, carriers offer open or enclosed shipping.?
Open Transport Car Shipping
Open car transport is the most common and cheapest way to ship a vehicle. With this service, the carrier loads your car onto a two-level trailer with up to 10 other vehicles on a modified truck bed or trailer.?
Generally, open car shipping provides the most flexible scheduling options of all the car shipping methods. However, cars on an open trailer are exposed to the elements and other hazards, such as upper cars dripping fluids onto lower cars during the trip. That said, open carrier shipping is a safe and cost-effective way to transport your vehicle.
Below are the pros and cons of open carrier shipping:
Enclosed Auto Transport
Enclosed shipping moves your vehicle on a trailer with sides and a roof that protects your car from the elements, road debris and other hazards. You may want to book an enclosed carrier if you have a luxury or classic car because it is less probable that your vehicle will arrive with dents, dings, scratches or a broken windshield. However, shipping a vehicle on an enclosed trailer takes longer because the carrier can only fit two to three cars at a time, and fewer companies offer this service.
There are also situations in which enclosed transport might be the only choice. For example, the ramps on an auto transport trailer can damage vehicles with fewer than five inches of clearance. If you have a lifted truck or a very large vehicle, you may also need to select enclosed auto transport, as it might not fit on an open trailer.
Below are the pros and cons of choosing enclosed auto transport for your car shipping needs:
Door-To-Door vs. Terminal-To-Terminal Car Shipping
Depending on your car moving company, you may also be able to choose between door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping.
Door-To-Door Vehicle Shipping
Door-to-door service is standard in the auto transport industry and allows you and the carrier to meet at an agreed-upon address to pick up and drop off your vehicle. However, door-to-door service doesn’t always start or end on your exact doorstep. Imagine a 45-foot truck driving up to your house. Meeting at a nearby parking lot or along a wide road is best if the carrier has trouble navigating the area.
Below are the pros and cons of door-to-door service:
Terminal-to-Terminal Auto Shipping
Terminal-to-terminal shipping is exactly what it sounds like. You will drop off and pick up your vehicle at a shipping terminal. Terminal-to-terminal shipping is an excellent option for people who live in rural areas or not along common shipping routes. Even if you cannot personally take your car to the terminal or pick it up, you can designate someone to do it for you.?
Below are the pros and cons of terminal-to-terminal shipping:
Shipping a Car by Train
Utilizing a train to ship a car is only advantageous for people moving up or down the East Coast. Amtrak’s Auto Train is the only rail freight company providing non-commercial car shipping, and it only offers one route between the Washington, D.C. area and Sanford, Florida. Along with the cost of shipping your vehicle, you must purchase a passenger ticket for this vehicle transport service. While that means you can skip I-95 traffic jams, keep in mind that the journey takes an average of 17 hours.
Below are the pros and cons of using a train to ship your vehicle:
Shipping a Car by Boat
When you use a boat to transport your car, you can choose from roll on/roll off (RORO) service and enclosed containers.?
RORO is similar to open car shipping in that your vehicle is driven onto the cargo deck of a ship and is exposed to the elements during transport.?
Enclosed cargo ship containers protect your vehicle from the elements, and you can choose an individual container — which costs more — or a shared container that offers better value. Shipping a car by boat is the most common service used to transport cars internationally due to its affordability compared to using an airplane.
Below are the pros and cons of using a cargo ship to transport your car overseas:
Shipping a Car by Airplane
Vehicles are not usually shipped in an airplane due to the substantial costs associated with this method, which often exceed the value of most cars. This service is excellent for transporting exotic vehicles quickly and safely.
Below are the pros and cons of sending a car with an airplane:
Why Shipping Your Car Is Better Than Buying New or Driving It
Shipping a car might seem like a big hassle and major expense. When moving, whether across the country or from one state to another, shipping your vehicle instead of driving prevents adding additional mileage to your vehicle. It could even save you money, since you won’t have to pay for expenses along the way, like hotels, gas, and food.
You may be wondering whether it makes more sense to purchase a new car instead of shipping your current vehicle. But there are a few reasons it can be worth it to use an auto transport service:
- Cost: The majority of car shipments with standard shipping options cost less than $2,000. When you add up the purchase price of a new vehicle as well as what you’ll spend on taxes and fees that aren’t part of a car’s value, it can be worth the money to transport your current car.
- Time: With the right planning and foresight, your car shipping experience can be efficient — especially compared to how long you might spend researching new vehicles and visiting car dealerships.
- Convenience: Shipping a car takes some effort and coordination. However, the best car shipping companies offer a smooth and hassle-free shipping process, from instant quotes to coordinating pickup and delivery dates. This can be less stressful than purchasing a new vehicle and all the finance, tax and title paperwork that comes with it.