How to find the best car transport companies: A comprehensive guide
Always consider costs and reviews
If you ever need a car shipping service, finding the best auto transport provider is crucial. You might be tempted to take a road trip in your car, however, when you factor in the extra cost and convenience suddenly it’s not so appealing. Hours stuck in traffic, busy roads, and hoards of angry drivers makes driving an even less attractive option.
A far smarter way to ship a car across the country is with a door-to-door auto transport company. We will help you make the right choice by looking at some of the things you need to consider. Most important of all, is the cost of the service and whether a company you’re considering has good reviews.
How much will it cost to ship a car across the country?
There are several different factors that come into play when calculating auto transport prices. Car transport services come in a range of shapes and sizes. However, there are common factors all companies use.
Type and size of your car
The type of car you want to transport makes a big impact on your quote. The weight and dimensions of a vehicle determine how many can be shipped at the same time. Auto transport trailers are very large, but ultimately, space is limited.
It’s also in the carrier’s best interest to fit them in as economically as possible. A carrier can fit more smaller vehicles onto the trailer which reduces the cost for individual owners.
Condition of your vehicle
You can expect to pay a little more for your service if your car isn’t running. The reason for this is that your vehicle has to be winched on and off the trailer, because it has no steering or brake power. The other option for vehicles that aren’t running is for the carrier to use a forklift.
Whichever the carrier uses, specialist equipment is required, which costs extra.
How quickly you need your car shipped
It’s always advisable to book your car shipping as far in advance as possible. This is to avoid disappointment and to allow the auto transport company to get you the best deal.
There are times, however, when relocation plans come out of the blue. This can often be the case when it comes to military car shipping. With no time to book in advance, it’s possible to ship your car using an express service. The cost of this type of car transport service is typically 30% extra.
Time of year
The most popular time for shipping a car is during the summer months. This makes the service more expensive. Unfavorable weather and the holidays can also increase the price.
Let’s not forget the time of year when snowbirds are heading south for the winter or back home in the north for the summer. The first few weeks of winter and the first few weeks of spring can also be expensive times to ship a car. This tends to apply for specific snowbird routers, for example, down to Florida, Arizona, California, and Texas.
What type of car shipping service you require
We’ve already mentioned the express auto transport service. If you’re not in a hurry, you get to choose between open car transport and enclosed auto transport.
Enclosed auto transport
Enclosed auto transport is the preferred option for owners of classic, custom, antique, and luxury cars. Vehicles transported in this way are housed in a covered trailer. The number of vehicles that can be carried tends to be smaller than open car transport.
Vehicles transported are completely protected from the elements and any traffic debris, which is why it’s so popular with owners of high value cars. If the vehicle is loaded in a clean condition, it’s delivered in exactly the same way.
You can expect to pay more for enclosed auto transport, usually around 30% to 40%.
It’s also worth mentioning that enclosed car transport is the better option if your vehicle has low ground clearance. If you chose open car transport, it’s likely your car will bottom out if the ground clearance is 4 inches or less. Enclosed car trailers come equipped with lift gates or racing ramps for easy and safe loading.
Open car transport
Open car transport is the type of car transporter you most often see on the highway. The trailer is open which means your car is exposed to the elements and traffic grime. That’s not necessarily a problem, because it’s still a safe and secure way to transport a car. So much so that most car dealerships use this method.
Open car transport is more affordable and still a very secure way to transport a vehicle from and to any point in the United States.
How far you need your car shipped
This is probably the most obvious factor for you to bear in mind. The price to transport a car is going to be higher the further you need to go. Where your car is picked up and delivered to also makes a difference. Remote areas are more expensive than urban locations.
Why customer reviews are important
Checking out a company’s reputation is the smart thing to do when looking for a reliable auto transport provider. There are several ways you can do this.
- Google It: The Google search engine is a great place to start if you want to find out about any company. Type the name of the ‘automobile transport company + reviews’ into the search bar and click enter. You’ll get thousands of hits. Now all you’ve got to do is sift through the results.
- Facebook: You might be used to checking up on your friends and family, but you can also use your social media channels to find out more about a company. A forward-thinking business is bound to have a page because it makes it easy for customers to get in touch and interact. It's also an excellent place for customers to leave their feedback on the service they received.
- Transportreviews.com: If you want to find reviews about particular auto transport carriers, pay this website a visit. There are hundreds of companies on file, and we happen to be one of them. It's a simple case of visiting the homepage and entering the name of the company in which you're interested.
- Trustpilot: Trustpilot is a consumer review website founded in Denmark for than a decade ago. It's the place where you can find reviews of thousands of businesses worldwide.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB has a database of reports relating to a company's management, complaints, and how any complaints were resolved. There’s nothing necessarily bad about a company receiving complaints. After all, even the most successful companies are going to have a few disgruntled customers. What's more important is whether the complaints were resolved satisfactorily and promptly.
- Ask for References: You have every right to ask a company to provide references. At the very least, there should be customer reviews available for you to read. When you’re looking at reviews, look for those written by people who wanted the same or a similar service as you. For example, if you need to ship a car using enclosed transport, look for reviews written by people shipping exotic, luxury, or classic cars.
- Ask Around for Recommendations: Have you got a family member, friend, neighbor, or colleague who has used a reliable car transport service? Ask them about their experience and whether they would recommend the company they used.
The cost of service and the reputation of a company are the two most important factors to consider when choosing car transport services. They’re not, however, the only ones.
Other factors to consider when choosing an auto transport company
Don’t base your decision on reputation and cost alone. While these may be very good indicators of a company's reliability, there are other things to consider.
Licensed and authorized
Carriers and brokers have to be licensed by the FMCSA before they can transport vehicles. You can check a company’s authorization by asking for their DOT (MC number). Visit the FMCSA website and enter the company’s DOT number. It will tell you whether the company is authorized or not.
Years of experience
It’s not uncommon for carriers and brokers to set up their business and then to be gone within a short period of time. Bad companies tend not to stick around for long, whereas a reputable company will stand the test of time. Be very wary of companies that have not been in business for long. It’s common practice for bad operators to start a new company under a different name.
Shipping options available
The most common car shipping options are open car transport and enclosed auto transport. However, also keep an eye out for companies that offer luxury car transportation, military discounts, motorcycle transport, Hawaii car transport, and guaranteed pick-up service.
All auto transport companies must provide cargo insurance. To make sure the company you choose has valid insurance cover ask for a copy of their cargo insurance policy. It’s also important you check whether the cost of the insurance is included in your quote.
You don’t want to find you’ve got to pay extra when the time comes to ship your car.
Door-to-door car transport
Door-to-door car transport is a more convenient option, compared with terminal to terminal shipping. You don’t have the stress of getting your car to a terminal and traveling to pick it up again at the end of its journey. With door-to-door transport you can arrange for your car to be picked up as close to your home as is safe and legal to do so.
Make sure you read the small print
An honest and reliable carrier is one that is also transparent. They should be willing to tell you that there are no certainties in the auto transport industry. Delays can happen at any time, and while they might do everything they can to prevent them, trucks still break down and bad weather still happens.
Read the small print in the contract before you sign on the dotted line. Check whether there’s any mention about expected delays. You don’t want to be left waiting for weeks for your car to be delivered.
Shipping personal items
Some but not all auto transport carriers allow you to ship personal items in your car. This can be a very useful option because it means you can pack items you want to keep safe and reduce the risk of them being damaged when being loaded and unloaded from the movers truck. It also allows you to have some items close to hand when you arrive. This might be a clean set of clothes, some cups and plates, knives and forks, and personal hygiene items.
There is usually a limit, for example, 100 lbs, and they have to be packed in a suitcase or box and locked in the trunk.
It’s worth mentioning that there is a risk of theft and damage, but these can be minimized by taking certain precautions. Securing your belongings in your trunk is one of them, together with properly packaging fragile items, and not shipping items of high value.
Cheapest is not always the best
We’re not saying you should avoid a car transport company offering the cheapest rates or that it’s mandatory for you to choose the most expensive option. What we’re saying here is that you shouldn’t base your decision on price alone.
Make sure you do your research and shop around for the best overall deal.
If you want a reliable and experienced auto shipping company to transport your car why not use our instant online quote calculator and find out how much it would cost to ship a car with us? You can also speak with our professional shipping advisors by calling (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat.