Like most people, when visiting distant locales, you need a car to get around. For most of us, the solution is to simply rent one. This is especially true when you are gone for just a week or so, such as on a vacation or business trip.
There are times, however, when it makes more sense to have your own car. Picture “Snowbirds,” those that escape the frozen north by heading south for the winter. For these folks, using their own car would be far cheaper than renting. The problem is keeping your car with you without physically taking it on a long road trip.
The solution? Have your car shipped to your distant destination by a shipping company. These businesses offer safe, reliable ways of getting a vehicle from Point A to Point B. As with anything, though, it’s good to know the fundamentals before you jump in. Here are some insider tips from some people who have been through it.
Do Your Research
First and foremost, do your homework. Most people aren’t familiar with the process of shipping a car and with so much to consider, the process can get confusing quickly. Start with Google and find articles and websites that cover the basics. Here’s a few a few important factors to keep in mind as you research.
Open vs. Closed Transport
An open transport is by far the most common way to move a vehicle. It involves putting your car on a open, multi-level, car transport trailer. But, as is true with most things, you get what you pay for; open transport means your vehicle will be subjected to road dust, debris, and the elements during the trip. For your average car, this option is just fine however. Closed transport is the high-priced spread. It involves a smaller trailer, with walls and a roof. For many people, this is exactly what they want because it will ensure their vehicle isn’t exposed to the hazards of the road. However, it also means more money is involved. Still, for those transporting expensive cars, the extra money spent may be worthwhile.
Carriers vs. Brokers
Perhaps the biggest distinction in the car transportation business —and one many don’t know about—is whether a shipping company is a Carrier or a Broker. If a business is a Carrier, it means they own their own trucks and driver. This vertical business approach means the company has complete control over the moving process. Brokers are a form of middlemen. They do not own their own trucks, but act as the interface between customer and carrier. Shipments are usually arranged using carriers they know or have dealt with in the past. Each type of business has its own benefits: working with carriers is more streamlined and direct, while brokers may have connections across the country that could help with long-distance trips.
Proof of insurance
Needless to say, you want to work with a shipper that has comprehensive insurance. In fact, suggests , when you find a shipper, ask to see a copy of the insurance policy in writing. And if you’re using a broker, ask to see insurance credentials from the carrier they hire as well.
But be warned: the cost of shipping a car varies widely and depends on any number of factors, including whether you want an open or closed transport, whether or not the vehicle itself can run, and the distance the car is being shipped. A major determinant in the pricing you will be quoted is timing involved. If you need your car delivered quickly, it will cost much more than when a shipper can fit you into a trucks normal schedule. Think about it; they’re not going to go cross-country for just one car. It’s also a reason why it may take longer for them to pick up the car—they have to wait until they have enough in line to make the trip profitable. By the way, be wary of really low estimates, especially from brokers. You know why.
Prepare for Departure
Once the pick-up date has arrived, you should be ready before the carrier gets there. Make sure that you have taken all personal items out of the car. Another thing to do is to take pictures all around the car before it leaves. Although it is rare, sometimes cars get damaged while being transported and insurances claims need to be filed. A few other things to do are to make sure the odometer reading is recorded at both pick-up and delivery and the car alarm system is disabled.