Smart things to consider when shipping a car

How to ship a car

Have you just bought or sold a home and are you moving far away? Do you need to ship your cars? Are you looking for a reliable car carrier?

When preparing for a major move across the country, you may be thinking about what you plan to do with your vehicles. Car shipping is a great way to ensure your car is safely transported to your new home without having to drive it across multiple states.

Let’s take a closer look at the things to keep in mind when shipping cars. Being prepared when it comes to something as expensive as your cars is vital. Our tips for shipping cars should help.

A safer option

Transporting a car over a long distance is safer for both you and the car. While there are plenty of do-it-yourself moving tasks you can do, such as renting a moving van, driving across the country will be exhausting. In each state you visit, you will have to deal with slightly different traffic laws. There are also highways, with a higher accident rate than normal.

When you choose to transport cars instead of driving, you are handing over your vehicle to professionals who have experience in car transport.

Protect your car

While this may not be much of a problem if you have a new vehicle, the extra miles associated with traveling across the country will cause a lot of wear and tear. This will be a bigger concern if you own a classic or older car.

Even if you don’t have a beloved vehicle to move, a long journey can put your car at greater risk of breakdown. While road trips can be fun, with the pressures of moving house, adding more stress isn’t going to be fun.

Compare the cost of shipping a car

While the cost of shipping a car may seem high, it can actually be cheaper than driving a car. If you choose to drive, you have the gas and accommodation, dining out, tolls and the cost of wear and tear on the vehicle.

If you add up all the driving costs, you might find that it’s going to cost a lot more than you thought. A common moving mistake is underestimating the costs.

Shipping costs may vary

The price you pay for shipping a car depends on the vehicle. Cars that don’t drive or have lowered suspensions and other modifications can cost more to transport. If you want to transport your car in a closed trailer, this is also more expensive. But of course the biggest factor will be the distance you need to transport it.

If you want to save some money, it may be possible to have your car picked up at a location in the city. Since the truck is more likely to visit a city to pick up cars to load onto their trailer, it may be cheaper.

If you can be more flexible with your shipping dates, you can often save too. The time of year can also be a factor in the cost.

Choosing a car transport company

Choosing the right car company is crucial
Choosing the right car company is crucial

If you care about your car, you want to make sure it’s in good hands for the journey to your new home. Doing some research on car carriers will help you remove those options that may not be as reliable.

Check the websites of car transport companies to see if they offer you clear prices and online quotes. Once you’ve found a few companies that seem to offer a good service at a good price, do further checks. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has done a great job of reviewing some of the top auto companies in the reference above.

Besides reading their reviews, you can look at the experiences of other customers. This would show you if most people have experienced the kind of service you expect for your vehicle. There are independent review sites where you can read feedback, and you should also check sites like the Better Business Bureau.

Call the car company

If you have any questions about the services of one or more car shippers, you can call them. If their representative cannot answer all your questions satisfactorily, you can switch to another company.

Don’t make your choice completely on price

While it may be tempting to go for the lowest quote you can get, it may not be the best choice. The cheapest option may have cut back somewhere to lower costs, and this could mean putting your vehicle at greater risk, or not being able to have your car transported when you want to.

A company with a lower price is less likely to also have the best customer service. So if you want less hassle shipping your car, you may have to spend a little more on it.

Don’t leave car shipping until the last minute!

Choosing your carrier can take a while, and after you choose, they need some time to ship your car. It may take more than a week to ship your car across the country, but the pick-up date may not be exactly when you want it.

Normally transport companies will not be able to pick up your vehicle on the exact date you choose, which may give you a 3 or 5 day window. Since the truck will be picking up many other cars, you can’t expect this to fit in perfectly with your plans.

Therefore, you must consider the shipping time when selecting the pick-up date. You want your car to be collected before your move and arrive after your move.

Prepare your vehicle for transport

The car must be in good mechanical condition, leak-free and have a reliable battery. Make sure the fluids are topped up and the tire pressure is correct. If the car cannot be driven off the trailer, an additional fee will be charged.

It would be best if you didn’t have a full tank of gas. Less than a quarter is about right. A full tank is not only unnecessarily heavy, but also dangerous.

Also remove personal items and toll labels. If you only have one set of keys, have another set made.

Pick up and delivery

Your car will be checked by the driver for existing scratches and dents when you pick it up and you should inspect it for new damage on delivery. When you are satisfied, you can drive off.

There probably isn’t much paperwork involved, just a bill of lading. This acts as a receipt for the vehicle and contains the terms of the shipment.

When you move to a new home, shipping cars can make some things easier. If you do a little preparation before you send a car, you will have less to worry about on moving day.

Final Thoughts

As with any other business, it is essential to carefully review the car carrier you hire. The moving industry is full of “fly-by-nighters” looking to take advantage of unsuspecting companies. Due diligence should never be left to chance when transporting one of your most valuable assets.

About the author: The above article about “Things to Consider When Shipping a Car” was written by Bill Gassett. Bill has been working in the real estate industry for thirty-three years. He works for RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton Massachusetts. Bill likes to provide reliable information to buyers, sellers and fellow brokers to make the best possible decisions. His writing has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester,, Credit Sesame, and others.

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