Shipping a Car During a Move
By Laurel Brown
If you are not driving to your new home, the most difficult part of moving day may be shipping your car. Cars and other large motor vehicles do not fit easily into a moving van and therefore need to be shipped by auto transport companies. It is important to choose the right transport company, to prepare your car for shipment and to ensure that your vehicle arrives at its destination in good shape.
Choose an Auto Transport Company:
Your first task is to choose auto transport vendors. First, make sure that the company covers both your origin and destination cities. Transport companies operate nationally (and occasionally internationally), regionally and locally. When you have identified possible carriers, compare services and prices. Many auto transport companies have websites, and you can also call customer service to find out how each compares.
Be sure to ask each transport company about auto insurance, pick-up and drop-off procedures and any special care that your car will need. The company should have sufficient insurance to cover the vehicle up to its wholesale value. Some companies will pick up and drop off your car at a home or other location of your choosing, while others only ship to central terminals. Special services, like enclosed transport for luxury or antique vehicles, are commonly available for an extra charge.
Get a Contract:
Once you choose your auto transportation company, you need to hammer out the details and be sure to get everything in writing. Ask the company for the full shipping cost to avoid unexpected charges down the road. Check to see if you can get a guarantee of pick-up and delivery on a specific date or if the company only guarantees service within a several-day window. For many companies, a three-day window on each end of transport is standard. During the busy auto shipping seasons (the summer and snow-bird season), that window may stretch to almost a week. To schedule a specific day, you may need to pay an extra fee. Before you sign any contracts with an auto transport company, contact the local Better Business Bureau to double-check their reliability.
Carefully Prepare your Car:
Prepare your car for shipping. Most auto transporters will not allow you to pack belongings in the car, although some allow a limited amount of low-weight luggage inside the passenger compartment. You cannot, by national law, ship any hazardous or biological products. Remove any accessories that are not directly attached to the vehicle itself, including peripheral music players and garage door openers. If you have an exterior radio antenna, you need to either retract or remove it to avoid breakage during transport.
Last Minute Checks:
When it is time to send your car on the auto transport truck, check the amount of gas in your tank. Most transport companies ask for between 1/8 and 1/4 of a tank at the time of pick-up and may charge you an overweight fee for fuller tanks. Make sure that the truck driver can reach your pick-up point, as any low overpasses, narrow streets or low-hanging trees could prohibit the truck's arrival. Before you allow the truck to leave with your car, do a thorough vehicle inspection with the driver. Note all scratches, dents and cracks present on the car before shipping and get the official inspection report from the driver.
You will use your inspection report again when the transport company delivers your car to its destination. Compare your report to the condition of the car, and make sure the truck driver signs the final condition report before departing. Most of the time, your car will be in good condition, having made the journey safely and quickly with the auto transport company.