How-To Prepare To Ship Your Car

There are several things to take into account before shipping your car.

August 2021

Prepare Your Car for Shipping
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Are you moving and considering shipping your car to your new location? There is so much planning that goes into a move and into shipping a car. If you are relocating or a snowbird, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to ship your car.

As we discussed in, How Long Does it Take to Ship a Car?, there are four stages to the car shipping process. Today, we are going to focus on the pre-trip planning process from a customer’s perspective. This stage has 5 steps an individual should take to prepare the car for shipping.

  1. Define a time frame for pickup & delivery.
  2. Define whether the vehicle should be shipped on an open or enclosed trailer.
  3. Research vehicle transport providers.
  4. Get shipping quotes from multiple providers and compare overall value.
  5. Prepare the vehicle for pickup.

Shipping & Delivery Timeframe

The first step is to define available dates for shipping. Generally, car transport companies are looking for a 2-5 day window to schedule vehicle pickup.

Expedited services are available if you don’t have time for a pickup window. However, that does increase the transport price. When a shipment is expedited it generally reduces flexibility to pool vehicles causing the cost to increase.

You should define the pickup and delivery window so the transporter can plan accordingly. You will need to specify four dates, for example:

  • Pickup Ready Date: 9/1/2021
  • Pickup By Date: 9/4/2021
  • Delivery Ready Date: 9/7/2021
  • Delivery By Date: 9/9/2021

Open vs. Enclosed Trailer

Car shipping services offer open or enclosed transport. Both are good options but depend on your requirements. Most vehicles are shipped in open trailers, the traditional car carriers you see on the highway. Open trailer equipment is more readily available so you might receive your car faster.

Enclosed equipment is considered to be specialized, therefore it tends to be more expensive. In addition, enclosed equipment may require a longer pickup and delivery window. It is preferable to ship luxury or exotic vehicles in an enclosed trailer since it provides better protection from road debris.

Research Vehicle Transport Providers

There are plenty of options for vehicle transport providers but be aware of a few key differentiators.

When researching vehicle transport providers pay close attention to their website. You are transporting one of the largest assets you own so it is important you work with a professional company. Their website (or any communications for that matter) should be very clear about the services they offer. Look for FAQs outlining the entire transportation process.

The rate quote is definitely important, but you should consider several other factors. Be clear about whether the vehicle is insured while in transit. Also, be sure to understand whether the transport provider will take claim ownership in case there is damage. It is important to pay attention to the fine print in terms & conditions, which should also be listed on the website.

Compare Quotes

Once your research is complete and you find a few companies that look trustworthy, get two to three different quotes for comparison. The cheapest rate is not always the best value, so it is important to take other factors into consideration.

Pay close attention throughout the quote process, it is a preview to working with that company. Be mindful about the steps it takes to work with them. Especially pay attention to the following stages: ease of getting a quote, speed of response, ease of reaching personnel on the phone, follow up after the quote was provided, insurance coverage for the vehicle in transit and ability to track a shipment in transit.

Clear communication and transparency are going to play a critical role during the transportation process. Here is a rating system to help you make your decision with 40 as the highest score.

Rating System

Prepare Vehicle for Shipping

You’ve completed your homework and picked your auto shipping company, now it is time to prepare to ship your car. Generally, including personal items is not advisable as personal items are not covered by insurance. However, a small suitcase or a box with less than 100 lbs, can be included in the trunk.

Make sure the vehicle keys are available and the driver seat has no obstructions. Someone has to drive it onto the trailer.

Please ensure the origin and destination are both accessible for a car hauler truck to load the vehicle. If there is limited access, it is important to arrange a different pickup or delivery location. The vehicle owner (or designated individual) must be present at pickup and delivery. Someone needs to be there to confirm identity and to provide access to the vehicle.

Before you ship your car, make sure to document any vehicle imperfections (scratches, dents, etc.). Take pictures of the exterior AND interior of the vehicle. When the driver arrives, document any imperfections on the Bill of Lading (BOL). This is a legal contract for transporting goods, and it will need to be signed at the origin and destination.

If your vehicle arrives at the destination in a different condition than at the origin, you will need documentation. The BOL and photos will play a critical role as proof that damages occurred during transit and should be covered by the car transport service’s insurance.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Don’t take chances when shipping your car. Be prepared, do your homework and set your expectations. If you want help or have questions contact us or check out our process.

Learn more about Carpool Logistics here.