Top 15 questions to ask when shipping a car across country

Top 15 questions to ask when shipping a car across country

Are you thinking about shipping a car across country? You might be moving for work or relocating your family. Perhaps you’re buying or selling a car. Whatever the reason, finding an auto transport company you can rely on is essential. 

Thanks to Google and a wealth of other search engines, doing the research is simple. However, there’s more involved than putting your faith in Google. There are many important decisions in life that you’re not going to make without asking some pertinent questions. If you want to ship a car across country, it’s no different. 

Here at SGT Auto Transport, we firmly believe you should ask questions before booking a car shipping service. This is why we’ve compiled this list for you. Make sure you ask all 15 of these questions before you book your cross country car shipping service. 

What is cross country car shipping?

Door-to-door cross country car shipping

Cross country car shipping is an auto transport service that moves people’s cars from state to state, city to city, or coast to coast. An auto transport company picks up your vehicle, loads it onto a trailer, transports it across the country, and delivers it to a location chosen by you.   

How does cross country car shipping work?

The cross country car shipping process is a straightforward one. You can ship a vehicle across country in 3 easy steps. 

Step 1: Get a quote and book your order

You can typically get a free instant quote using an online calculator. Simply input a few necessary details, and you’ll find out the cost of shipping a car across country with just a few clicks. You have to enter the pick-up city and state, delivery city and state, vehicle year, make and model, condition of the vehicle, transport type, and first available pick-up date (you’ll find an explanation of this term further down the list).  You should also be able to speak with a representative of the shipping company, by telephone or Live Chat.  

Step 2: Your vehicle is picked up

A few hours before the pre-arranged pick-up time, your assigned carrier will contact you to confirm your pick-up information. They’ll also clarify the location is accessible for large commercial vehicles. If the location is not safe and legal, you can arrange an alternative. The carrier also wants to confirm you’ll be available to release your vehicle. If you can’t be there, you can nominate a third party to act on your behalf. 

Before the carrier can load your vehicle onto the trailer, you both have to inspect it for any existing damage. Record any you find on the Bill of Lading. We’ll explain what a Bill of Lading is later.  

Once the paperwork is complete and signed, the driver can load your car onto the trailer, and it’ll be on its way. You can keep yourself informed of its progress by checking in regularly with the driver. You will also receive regular updates by email, Live Chat, or by telephone. 

Step 3: You receive your vehicle

Just before your vehicle reaches its final destination, the carrier will give you a call to let you know they are not very far away. If you’re not available to receive your car, you can nominate a third party to act on your behalf. 

When the carrier delivers your car, you have the opportunity to inspect it closely to make sure everything is in order. If you’re happy, you sign the Bill of Lading to accept delivery of your car. 

How much does it cost to ship a car across country?

Several factors affect the cost of shipping a car across country. They include:

  • Make and model: Smaller vehicles cost less to transport than larger vehicles.
  • Distance traveled: It will cost less to ship a vehicle from Las Vegas to Oklahoma than from  San Francisco to New York. 
  • Delivery time frame: A more expedited car shipping service is typically available; however, it does cost more. 
  • Transport type: If you’re the owner of a classic, luxury, vintage, antique, expensive, or modified car, enclosed transport is a better option. It generally costs 30% to 40% more than standard auto transport. 
  • Vehicle condition: A vehicle that is operable costs less than one that is inoperable. If your vehicle can’t be moved or is modified, specialist loading and unloading equipment are necessary, which increases the cost. 
  • Location: Vehicles being shipped between major cities cost less than more remote places.
  • Time of the year: Shipping a car across country will cost much less during the summer.

Here is a table showing you some examples of average prices. 

How much does it cost to ship a car across country

These rates are a reflection of current market conditions as of January 2020. They are subject to change due to seasonal fluctuations, price of gas, pick-up/delivery location, and more. 

How long does it take to ship a car across country?

The time it takes to ship a car across country is determined by several things. The distance your vehicle has to travel is the most obvious. Shipping a car across country from Oregon to Georgia will take longer than from New Mexico to Alabama. It also takes much longer if the pick-up or delivery locations are remote, rather than a city. 

Other factors that affect the time frame include:

  • Number of stops
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic flow
  • Road constructions
  • Detours
  • Heavy traffic

To ensure drivers are well-rested and safe to drive, the Department of Transportation mandates that a truck driver can only be legally on the road for 70 hours each week. This is something else that affects the time it takes to ship a car. 

How long does it take to ship a car across country

The times shown above can be affected by weather and road conditions, traffic, etc.   

How do you pay for cross country car shipping?

You can pay for cross country car shipping using a credit or debit card, certified funds, or via PayPal. There are two payment options. 

Normally, customers can pay in one of two ways. The first is the Cash on Delivery (COD), or Discounted Price. The company takes a small partial payment from your credit or debit card once they’ve assigned a carrier to pick up your vehicle. You pay the balance when the carrier delivers your car. You pay the balance directly to the driver, either in cash, with a cashier's check, or money order. You make no upfront payment when you complete your booking. 

The second payment option is the Regular Price. You pay everything in full when the company assigns a carrier to pick up your vehicle. No balance is due at the delivery because you’ve already paid in full.

When contacting various companies, check for one that requires $0 upfront payment as this is a big benefit you should take advantage of.   

Can you ship personal items in your car?

Can you ship personal items in your car

Yes, you can. You can have up to 100 lbs in the trunk or cargo area of the vehicle. You must place the items in a single box or suitcase. There are, however, certain items that are prohibited, for example:

  • Explosives
  • Guns and ammunition
  • Flammable products
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Live plants
  • Pets
  • Furs
  • Jewelry
  • Any unlawful contraband 

It is possible to load more personal items, but you’ll need to speak with the company’s customer service, an all-inclusive price can be calculated. Inside your vehicle, you must keep both front seats empty and free of any personal items. Everything you want to ship must be on the back seat, below the window level. 

You’re not allowed to ship anything outside the vehicle. Items such as transmission, additional engine, etc., can be shipped outside the vehicle. But, you must crate them, and you can only ship them with enclosed auto transport.

If you ship a vehicle to or from Hawaii, you’re not allowed to ship any personal items inside the vehicle. If the authorities find any at the port, they will refuse your shipment.  

Is your car fully insured during cross country car shipping?

Yes, your vehicle is fully insured from the time of pick-up to the time of delivery. Here at SGT Auto Transport, we always pre-screen the carrier to ensure they have the proper insurance, following the Department of Transport (DOT) regulations. How much your vehicle is insured depends on the type of trailer, the carrier, and your vehicle’s cost. 

Generally, open car carriers have cargo insurance coverage between $50,000 and $100,000. Enclosed transport carriers, on the other hand, offer cargo insurance between $250,000 and $3,000,000. 

What does First Available Pick-up Date mean?

The First Available Pick-up Date is the exact date when your vehicle is ready to be picked up. It doesn’t need to be the exact pick-up date. Once we have assigned a carrier for your shipment, we will specify the exact pick-up date. 

What does Guaranteed Pick-up Date mean?

The standard car shipping pick-up window is within 1 to 4 business days from the first available pick-up date. For guaranteed pick-up, you can make your booking with a 24-hour window. This service is perfect if you’re pushed for time and need to make specific arrangements for transporting your car. 

What is a door-to-door car shipping service?

What is door-to-door auto transport

Door-to-door shipping is a very convenient way to ship a car across country. You let the transportation company know the exact address for the pick-up and delivery of your vehicle. The company then picks up and delivers your vehicle as close as possible to your preferred address. 

The locations that you choose have to be accessible to large commercial vehicles. This means there must be no parking restrictions, low power lines, or trees that overhang the road. The street also has to be wide enough to accommodate a large truck and trailer. 

Don’t worry if your chosen location is unsuitable. You can arrange to meet the carrier nearby, for example, at a parking lot, where you work, or in a wider street with no restrictions.  

How far in advance should you book your car shipping?

It is usual for people to book their car shipping between 1 and 2 weeks in advance. This allows us to find and secure your booking promptly. If, however, you’re in a hurry, we can offer a guaranteed pick-up service. This is great if you’ve only got a day or two before your desired pick-up date. 

What is a Bill of Lading (BOL)?

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is a document that serves as a receipt for freight service. It is also called a Condition Report because it details your vehicle’s condition when the carrier picks it up. 

The carrier who picks up your vehicle will give you this document to complete. You fill out the pick-up and delivery location details, the year/make/model of the vehicle you want to ship, and the freight amount you’re paying for the service. You also mark any damages before the pick-up and sign it.

When the document is complete, and you’ve signed it, the carrier will give you a copy. You can use this copy to compare the condition of your vehicle upon delivery.  

What is a Bill of Lading (BOL)  

What is the difference between open and enclosed auto transport?

With open car transport, a carrier transports your vehicle, along with several others, using a truck and trailer. The trailer is exposed on all sides to the elements, traffic grime, and road debris. That doesn’t mean, however, that your vehicle won’t be safe and secure. On the contrary, open car transport is one of the most popular, safest, and secure ways to ship a car. It is the service of choice for many car dealerships. 

There are many benefits to using open car transport:

  • It’s fast and efficient
  • Insurance is included
  • Popular with car dealerships
  • Topload placement is an option for increased protection
  • It’s affordable
  • Suits many types of vehicle
  • Better for the environment because the carrier can transport more cars at the same time

Enclosed, or covered car transport, is slightly different. The carrier transports your vehicle in a trailer that’s completely enclosed. Enclosed trailers can be used to transport one or a few vehicles, but not as many as an open trailer. The service provides complete protection and security for your vehicle. It is the preferred auto transport service for owners of high-value vehicles. 

The benefits of enclosed auto transport include:

  • Peace of mind protection
  • Multiple vehicle shipping is an option
  • Increased insurance coverage
  • Suitable for vehicles with low ground clearance

Covered or enclosed car transport is slightly more expensive than open auto transport. Typically, you can expect to pay around 30% to 40% more. The cost is higher because the demand is higher. Fewer companies offer this kind of service. Enclosed trailers can transport fewer cars, which also affects the overall cost. Enclosed trailers are also much heavier, which means they are less fuel-efficient. 

How to find a reliable car shipping company?

How to find a reliable car shipping company

If you ever need a car shipping service, finding the best auto transport provider is crucial. You need to be prepared to do some research, and here are the factors you must bear in mind when making your decision. 

Make sure they’re registered

Companies that provide auto transport have to register with the Department of Transport (DOT). When contacting different companies, always ask for their DOT number. If they provide a service that crosses state lines and are an interstate company, they should also have a Motor Carrier Number. You can check the number using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You’ll also be able to check whether the company has a safe driving record. 

Make sure they’re bonded and insured

As well as being registered, a reliable auto transport provider should also be bonded and insured. Should anything happen to your car, and it’s the company’s fault, you’ll be protected

It’s not usual for a personal car Insurance company to cover your car when it’s being transported. This is why you should always ask what insurance coverage the transport company is offering. 

Take a close look at their website

You can tell a lot about a company from their website. Does it look professional, for example? What type of information are they sharing with prospective customers. Are there different ways for you to get in touch? Is there a frequently asked questions sections? 

What type of service is on offer?

Companies can differ considerably in the services that they offer. Some companies might only offer transport services regionally, whereas others offer nationwide transport services. You might also encounter companies that restrict the size or type of vehicle they transport. 

Some companies specialize in enclosed auto transport services, and others offer a wide range of services. You need to look for the most reliable auto transport company that meets your needs.  

Look for round the clock customer service

It helps to put your mind at ease if you know there is always someone on hand to talk to. Choose a company with a customer service team that is available around the clock. There should also be several ways to contact them. You might want to check on your vehicle during the auto transport service, clarify your service details, or simply ask a few questions.  

How to research and find the best cross country car shipping deal (price and quality-wise)?

Find reliable auto transport company

Auto transport companies can vary considerably when it comes to the quality of service and price. These are also the areas where research is vital.  

How to check out prices

When you’re doing your research, aim to compare at least three different auto transport providers’ prices. Request a quote from each of them and make sure you understand what they include in the price. You don’t want to get caught out and have to pay extra or hidden charges. 

You’ll find most companies are more than happy to provide a free estimate. You can use our online calculator or speak directly with our shipping advisors. All you need to provide are a few simple details, such as the type of car you want to ship, pick-up and delivery locations, the first available date for shipping, whether the car is operable, and what kind of service you require.

When it comes to making a decision, don’t base it on price alone. If you do your research carefully, you’ll be able to find the best overall deal.  

Search online for testimonials and reviews

When you’re looking at different websites, you might also notice a page set aside for customer reviews and testimonials. This is an excellent place to start researching a company’s reputation. It’s also a good indicator of the quality of the service. But don’t let your research stop with the company website. 

Check out the other reviews that are being left online. You should be looking for any negative comments that have been made and whether the company responds promptly and corrects any mistakes. Visit several auto transport review sites such as Google, Yelp, Transport Reviews, Facebook, Trustpilot, and uShip.

  • Google It: The Google search engine is a great place to start looking if you want to find out about any company. In the search bar, type the name of the particular auto transport company you’re interested in plus the word reviews. You’ll get thousands of hits, and all you’ve got to do is work your way through the results.
  • Facebook and other social media sites: A forward-thinking business will have its page on Facebook and possibly other social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter. These pages are great for customers to get in touch and interact with their favorite businesses. Customers are also able to leave their feedback on any services they’ve received. 
  • This is a site where you’ll find lots of reviews about different auto transport carriers. They’ve got details of hundreds of companies. All you have to do is enter the name of a company you’re interested in and click enter.
  • Trustpilot: This is a consumer review site that has been going for more than ten years. You’ll find reviews of thousands of different businesses worldwide, including car shipping companies.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB has a vast database of reports relating to companies’ management, complaints, and how they resolved any complaints. 

Another option is to ask a company to provide references and to ask around for recommendations.

Ask about the car shipping process

When you get in touch with an auto transport company, you’ll feel more confident in the quality of their service if they’re happy to run through the car shipping process with you. For example, a reputable company will recommend you take photos of any damage to your car, whether it’s inside or outside. They’ll inform you that you must record the damage on a Bill of Lading.  

Determine what happens if damage occurs

There is the smallest chance that damage could occur during the shipping process. It’s therefore essential that you find out what your responsibilities are should it happen. It’s always better to know what you’ve got to deal with before it happens. 

If you need to claim for any damage, knowing the right procedure and protocols are in place means your claim is more likely to be successful. 

When you want to ship a car across country, get in touch with us here at SGT Auto Transport, and we’ll provide a quality service at the best possible price. You can speak directly with our shipping advisors on (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 

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