Ship my car or drive it myself

by | Feb 13, 2017 | Transport Tips

Deciding “Do I want to ship my car or drive it myself?” is a big decision. You have to ask yourself, “What is my time worth?” For many people the most important question is “How much will it cost to ship my car versus driving it myself?” At first glance, it may appear to be less expensive to drive your car yourself, but is it really?

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Is it worth it to ship my car versus driving it myself?

Most folks are busy and don’t have the time to take off 3-5 days to drive a car cross country. Not to mention the hidden cost of a road trip. Let’s take a look at a possible shipping a car cost breakdown if you decide to drive the car yourself:

  • Fuel: Fuel prices are constantly changing and can range upwards of $4.50 a gallon
  • Preparing car for road trip: an oil change can run upwards of $25
  • Food: Two to three meals a day at a restaurants plus snacks can cost more than $30 a day
  • Hotel accommodations: Hotels can cost between $70 to $150 per night
  • Missed work: The median average daily income was recently calculated at $158 a day. Whether your income is above or below that, no one likes to be out a few days’ pay
  • Air travel: Plane tickets are expensive

These items can really add up in a hurry. Then there’s the cost wear and tear on your car plus the unforeseen hazards of long distance road travel, such as a breakdown, other drivers, hitting a deer or other animal, and the possibility of a car wreck.

If you’ve decided to ship your car versus driving it yourself, what can you do find a good car carrier service to transport your vehicle safely and quickly? The following list is a good overview of how to find a reputable vehicle hauling company:

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Tips for shipping a car

  • Compare companies:Make sure that you compare different shipping companies. There are a lot of auto delivery companies out there and it may be difficult to tell the good from the bad. Use online resources like third party review sites, customer testimonials or organizations like the Better Business Bureau to help you determine the best choice of an auto transporter for you.
  • Get multiple interstate auto transport quotes: There can be a big disparity between auto transport quotes from company to company. Do some research. Some quotes don’t disclose all the fees associated with auto transport, such as whether the quote is for door-to-door service or just terminal-to-terminal. And remember, the cheapest quote is not always the best way to go.
  • Ask Uncle Sam: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Association is part of the Department of Transportation that allows consumers to find information about a shipping company’s information and accident history. The FMCSA maintains a hotline (888) 368-7238 for consumers to check on a shipper’s license and insurance record as well as whether any complaints have been made about the company.
  • Size matters: Bigger cars take up more space in the carrier and heavier cars add more cargo weight, making them more expensive to ship.
  • Broker or Transport Company: When looking to ship a car you bought online decide if you want to use an auto transport broker or an auto transport company. There are pros and cons to each. The qualities you are looking for in a company will help determine which will work best for your needs.
  • Door-To-Door or Terminal-To-Terminal: Make sure when you get a quote from a car transport service you determine if the price is for door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal transport. Door-to-door means your vehicle will be delivered from the dealership to your address if at all possible, but sometimes residential zoning laws prohibit big trucks from entering neighborhoods in which case the delivery will take place at a mutually-agreed upon nearby location. Terminal-to-terminal may mean you will have to travel (in some cases hundreds of miles if you live in a rural location) to the nearest terminal storage yard used by the auto transporter.
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Preparing to ship your car

Once you’ve chosen a car transport company and booked your auto transport order, what can you do to prepare your car for transport to help ensure an easy and stress-free experience?

Here’s a short list of steps you can take to make your life a little easier and make your vehicle hauling experience a hassle-free one.

  • Make sure you have insurance. Your car insurance company may cover your car while in transit. Check with your auto insurance company to verify whether your car insurance applies during auto transport or not. Any damage caused by the transporter is covered by their insurance. Acts of god or nature such as hail damage will need to be covered by your insurance company.
  • Wash the car. This makes doing a condition report much easier. You may also want to take pictures (and date them) of the vehicle before shipping it.
  • Make sure to give a set of keys to the car delivery service. They’ll need them to get your car on and off the auto hauler. It’s always good to keep a set and give a spare key to the car shipping company.
  • Remove any personal items from your car. You can leave personal items in the vehicle, but we don’t recommend it. Shut off or disable the car alarm and give alarm instructions to the vehicle shipping company. You don’t want to 1) have a driver have to deal with a screaming car with no way to shut it off and 2) have a dead battery when your car is delivered to you. Also, if you have a radar detector or an automatic toll reader, turn them off as well.
  • Leave only about 1/8th tank of gas or less in the vehicle. This will save quite a bit of weight for the transporter.
  • Make sure the battery is charged, the tires are inflated properly, top off all fluids in the vehicle and let the driver know if there are any leaks. If there are leaks, the driver needs to know so he places the car on the bottom row of the auto hauler.
  • Secure or remove any loose parts or specialty items from your car such as ground effects, spoilers, fog lights, racks (luggage, bike, ski), etc. If you have wide mirrors, fold them back and lower or remove/retract the antennae.
  • If your car is a convertible, make sure the top is up. Seal any holes or tears to prevent damage from the wind. If you can’t raise the top, you should cover it with a secure fitting tarp that can resist high winds.
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