auto transport

How to Choose an Auto Transport Company | Tips and Hints


If you’re looking for an auto transport company to ship your car the most obvious starting point is to turn to Google for some inspiration. Unfortunately, a simple Google search for “Auto Transport Companies” will turn up pages of results. How do you go about picking the best one from so many? Let’s help you find the right one.  

Common auto transport terms you should learn

When you’re looking for reliable auto transport companies, you’ll need to do some research. In order to be as effective as possible, you need to understand the lingo. You’re probably familiar with some of the terms, but there are also going to be some new ones. Here is a list of the most commonly used terms in the auto transportation industry.

  • Auto transport company or carrier: This is a company that you hire to ship your vehicle. The company will own a fleet of trucks and these are what you typically see on the highway.
  • Auto transport broker: This is a company that acts as an intermediary between you and the auto transport company to coordinate how your vehicle will be shipped. 
  • Auto transport management company: This is a company, such as SGT Auto Transport, that takes care of the whole shipping process for you. 
  • Door-to-door service: Most auto transport companies offer this kind of service. Your vehicle will be picked up and dropped at your preferred location. This might be outside your front door or some other suitable location.  
  • Terminal-to-terminal service: A terminal-to-terminal auto transport service is not quite as convenient as door-to-door. It used to be a common option but many of the terminals are no longer available. A terminal is where your vehicle is stored until the carrier is ready to transport it. 
  • Open car transport: This is the most common and affordable option if you want to ship a car. Multiple vehicles are transported at the same time from state to state. Vehicles are loaded onto an open carrier which means they are exposed to the elements. That being said, it is still a very safe and secure way to transport a car. 
  • Enclosed auto transport: This is the best option if you’ve got a rare, classic, exotic, luxury, or modified car that required 100% protection from dust, grime, the weather, and other elements. This service typically costs between 30% and 40% more than open car transport. 
  • Diversion:
  • Bill of lading: Also referred to as the BOL, this is a document issued by the auto transport company outlining the condition of the vehicle and to act as proof of pick-up and delivery.  

Why you should choose an auto transport company

If you’re wondering why you might want to choose an auto transport company, there are a number of benefits that make it a worthwhile option. 

  • Reliable and professional service: Here at SGT Auto Transport, we one use carriers that are fully vetted and subject to various background checks. We make sure the carrier will ship your car safely and securely, use the right equipment, and treat your vehicle with the care it deserves. In addition, it’s always our aim to have no complications and for your car to arrive on time.  
  • Competitive rates and attractive discounts: Our rates are very competitive and in addition, we also offer attractive discounts. If you’re a member of the military, returning snowbird, or front line worker, you may be eligible for special discounts. 
  • Saves time: If you think driving your car yourself is the best option, be prepared for the journey to take several days, possibly a week, or even longer. Auto transportation companies can ship your car in a fraction of the time. 
  • Saves money: Several of your other car shipping options will cost more than auto transport. In addition, you don’t have to worry about the cost of unnecessary wear and tear or additional travel expenses. 

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  • Less planning and stress: With a car transport management company like us, you can leave all the arrangements to us. We take care of every little detail, from the moment you get in touch to request a quote to the final delivery of your vehicle. 
  • It’s safe and convenient: There’s no safer way to move a car from one location to another. 
  • Your vehicle is shipped from door-to-door: It can be arranged for the carrier to come as close as they can to your home when they pick up your vehicle. They will also drop your car off as close to your chosen destination as is safe to do so. 
  • Your vehicle is protected: Driving a car thousands of miles causes considerable wear and tear. Ultimately, this leads to additional costly repairs and a reduction of the car’s resale value. If you ship your car, you avoid all this extra mileage. 
  • You can ship more than one vehicle at the same time: According to figures gathered in 2017, 33.1% of US households owned more than one vehicle. 14.9% have more than three vehicles, 6.1% have four, and 3.4% have five vehicles. Ship your car out of state with us, and you’ll be able to include more than one vehicle in the shipment

Looking for the best auto transport companies? Here’s what to look for

If you perform a simple Google search for “auto transport company reviews”, you’ll get a long list of auto transport providers. If this is the first time you’ve needed an auto transport company, you might be wondering where to start. You want a provider that delivers quality service at a price you can afford. 

If you want to increase your chance of picking a professional, trustworthy, and reliable company, there are a few things you can do. 

Make sure the company is registered

This is something that too few people think about before they book an auto transport service. The industry is highly regulated and the Department of Transport (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) make sure auto transport companies follow the strict guidelines. 

Ask any company you contact for their DOT number and MC number, as this is proof of their registration. If a company can’t or won’t provide it, give the company a wide berth. You should also check the validity of the MC number with the FMCSA. You can do so online. If the number comes up as “Not Authorized” don’t book with them. It’s also important that you check the license and insurance details are valid.  

Make sure the provider is bonded and insured

A company should be more than just registered. It should also be bonded and insured. This means you won’t be liable should anything happen during shipping. 

Choose a company that meets your needs and budget

When you’re looking for auto transportation companies, it’s important that you narrow down your search to companies that meet your needs. If you’re the owner of a luxury or classic car, for example, you should only choose a company that offers enclosed auto transport. Other features to look for include door-to-door services, digital tracking, delivery times, and discounts. 

Pick a company with the relevant experience

For an auto transport company to be successful requires considerable resources, investment, and experienced personnel. When you’re looking into the background of different companies, remember to check out their experience and expertise. Don’t make the mistake of trusting your car to an average company with no track record of successful order fulfillment and deliveries, just because the price is low. 

Consider the possible payment options

A professional auto transport company will offer several payment options to cater to different customer needs. A red flag of an untrustworthy business is that they only accept payments through wire transfer. 

Avoid deals that are too good to be true

If a deal seems to be too good to be true, the likelihood is that it is. Moving a vehicle from one location to another takes time, resources, and expertise. These things tend not to be cheap. A company that offers the cheapest option may cut corners along the way which will cost you more in the long run. 

A company offering you a too good to be true offer may also take longer, use low quality equipment and not have the infrastructure or sufficient insurance cover to fulfill your shipping order safely. 

See what other customers are saying about the service

Before you choose an auto transport company, spend some time reading their online reviews. There are plenty of review websites where you can look for customer reviews and it’s one of the best ways to check a company’s reputation and level of service.  

Narrowing down your search

Now you know what to look for, it’s time to narrow down your search. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

Make a list of companies that meet your needs

Some of the companies you’ve found during your research might not offer services that you need. Therefore, it makes sense to only consider those that offer your preferred services. 

Request an auto transport quote

Always request a free, no-obligation quote from any auto transport companies that meet your needs. See what they are offering and how much it will cost. If a company doesn’t offer free quotes, move onto the next company in your list.

However, don’t forget you shouldn’t base your decision on price alone. Consider factors such as the quality of service and make sure you make a comparison to find the company that offers the best value for money.

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Speak to a shipping advisor by phone

You’ll find it very useful if you work with a company that you can reach at any time should you have questions or need clarification. If you call a company and their representative is not very friendly, well-informed, or polite, perhaps you should consider taking your business elsewhere.

What you can expect from the best auto transportation companies

You’ve got a price you like, you’ve completed your research, and now it’s time to make your auto transport booking. What can you expect from now on?  

There’s nothing to pay upfront

Make sure the company you pick requires no money upfront. It’s only when a carrier has accepted the booking that you’ll need to pay.

Also, remember to read your contract of service carefully before you sign it. Question anything you don’t understand, don’t accept vague answers and ask for important questions to be answered in writing. 

You’re not being given false promises

There are various wheels that have to move together for an auto transport service to go smoothly. A company that promises an exact day for delivery is overselling their service. With short distances, it’s possible to be a little more accurate but there are still many factors that can affect the final delivery date. 

Make sure to leave room for error

An experienced company will make sure you leave room for error when you make your booking. This is because they want to make sure they don’t miss you at the pick-up location. Typically, they will suggest your auto transport is scheduled 2-3 days before to allow room for delays. 

You’ll get a Bill of Lading or inspection report

You’ll be given a copy of the Bill of Lading at both the pick-up and delivery. You and the driver will do a walk-around of the vehicle and note any existing damage on the documentation. The same happens when your vehicle is delivered. 

You’ll be given the driver’s contact info

It will put your mind at rest if you’ve got the option of speaking to the driver during the transportation service. SGT Auto Transport also makes sure you’re kept up to date with your vehicle’s progress by email or Live Chat. 

If you haven’t booked your auto transport yet, get in touch with us here at SGT Auto Transport. Use our Live Chat or speak directly with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038.

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