Car transporter: Know before you ship

by | Mar 12, 2016 | Transport Tips

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Your car is one of the biggest investments you have and is an integral part of most people’s daily lives. That’s why when looking for auto shippers to haul your car it is important to not only do some research on the companies, but also to know what questions you should ask.

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Questions to ask a car transporter before you ship a car

There are a lot of auto transporters out there and sometimes it can be hard to tell the good from the bad. Remember, knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have about an auto transport company, the better your chances of having a positive car hauling experience.

Below is a list of some good questions to ask car carriers prior to accepting a bid:

    All carriers must be fully insured to meet all State and Federal requirements. Your auto truck transport carrier is required by law to carry liability and cargo insurance to cover your vehicle while it is being shipped.

    What is the auto transport company’s on-time record?

    See what other customers are saying about the company and their delivery history. Third party review sites and customer testimonials are good to research. Most transporters will give pickup and delivery windows, not exact dates. If an auto transport company guarantees delivery dates or times be sure to get it in writing. Verbal agreements mean nothing without a written contract.

    How and where will my vehicle be picked up and delivered?

    Is the quote you got for door-to-door service or terminal-to-terminal service? Make sure you know before you book your transport order with an auto transport company. Terminals may be hundreds of miles away from either your origin or destination point, which means you would have to arrange to either drive the vehicle to the terminal or arrange to get it to the the terminal.

    Will there be any excess fees for my SUV, truck, or minivan?

    Car hauling charges are usually a combination of size & weight of the vehicle and the distance of transport. When you get a quote for interstate car transport those factors should be included in the quote you receive. If your car has modifications that affect the profile or weight, you need to let the transporter know so they can factor that into the quote.

    What methods of payment do you accept?

    Most companies accept all major credit cards. Cash and checks are less accepted, so you should ask the auto transport company what their preferred method of payment is either via phone or email.

    How long will it take to transport my vehicle?

    The major determining factor in how long auto transport takes is distance of the transport. Also, if either the pick-up or delivery point is not along a major shipping route it can affect how long transport will take. When you get an auto transport quote it should include a forecasted time of delivery as well.

    Who will be present at pickup and/or delivery?

    You or your representative will have to be present at the pick-up and delivery of you vehicle if you’re getting door-to-door service. This is in order to do a vehicle condition report when the vehicle is picked up by the transport driver and dropped off at its destination. This will protect you and the auto transporter in case there is damage to the vehicle during transport.

    If you’re shipping terminal-to-terminal, you or your representative will have to be present to drop off the vehicle at the origin terminal and pick up the vehicle at the destination terminal after the vehicle is dropped off, at which point the vehicle condition report will be done.

    Do you carry a DOT license?

    Verify that the car shipping company is USDOT licensed and properly insured. A good and reputable company will have their licenses posted on their website or be directly linked to USDOT / FMCSA. You should also check the carrier’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. Look for third party reviews from independent sources such as The easiest way to make sure that your company is on the up and up is to check them out with the FMCSA. Simply ask for their MC# and make a phone call.

    Can I ship personal or household goods inside the vehicle?

    This is usually at the discretion of the transport company, but to make your life easier we would suggest you remove all personal items from the vehicle prior to transport and do not ship household goods inside the car. Most auto transport companies prohibit shipping personal items or household goods in the vehicle during transport.

    What happens if my vehicle is damaged upon arrival?

    A reputable company’s damage policy will be easily accessible on their website, usually in the FAQ area. Before your car is picked up, a condition report will be filled out by you and the auto transport driver verifying the condition of the vehicle.

    If damage has occurred during transit, you will need to call the company promptly.

    If you notice damage at the time of delivery make sure you document this on your condition report. You and the driver will have to sign the condition report, noting where the damage has occurred on your vehicle. These signatures acknowledge the actual condition at pickup and at delivery. If there happens to be damage, take pictures that clearly show the damage and submit them to the company who transported your vehicle.

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A J&S truck ready to transport a load of cars to their new owners!

By asking these simple questions before you ship your vehicle you will be well on your way to having a successful and stress free auto shipping experience. Check the facts before choosing an auto transporter, if something seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is!