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“How Much is it To Ship a Car?” and the Other Questions to Ask

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car shipping, "How Much Is It To Ship a Car?" and Other Questions to Ask

Are you moving to another state? Or perhaps you’ve bought a car online or at auction? If so, it sounds like you need the services of an auto transport company. Of course, if you’ve never used one before, you likely have many questions about how it works. How much is it to ship a car? How do you find the most reputable company? Which type of service do you need?


These are just a few of many questions you may wonder about, and we can’t blame you. After all, your car remains your most valuable asset. So, you must choose a vehicle carrier that’s reliable, reputable, and provides you with the best services possible.

How do you do this? By gaining essential knowledge about how the process works. With that in mind, let’s explore eight questions you should ask car shipping before a relocation.

1. What Are Your US DOT and MC Numbers?

The first question may sound like it’s coming out of the left field. Nevertheless, it’s a vitally important one.

Why? Because all shipping companies must be duly registered with the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCAS). To prove their registration is valid, they’ll receive these two numbers.

These numbers also provide insights into each company’s safety records. So, don’t skimp when it comes to finding a company that meets these requirements.

You’ll also need to work with a company registered with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) if you’re involved in international car shipping.

2. How Much Is It to Ship?

Once you know that companies you’re considering are properly registered, you need to find out how much they charge. Fortunately, many companies now offer free, no-obligation quotes that can be accessed after filling out a simple form on their website.

That said, a handful of companies still request customers to call them to receive a quote. We highly recommend getting any quotes that you receive in writing. It would help if you also inquired about whether or not these quotes include all possible fees.

You only want to work with a company offering fair and transparent pricing. If a shipper can’t be upfront with you about pricing, then find somebody else. In general, we suggest sticking with reputable names, as most companies offer competitive pricing.

Assume that any company offering lowball prices is trying to lure you into signing a contract. They will find ways to charge you more later, so avoid these disreputable companies.

3. What Insurance Coverage Do You Provide?

Every auto transport company offers insurance coverage on the vehicles that they move. But don’t assume that the coverage offered will cover the true value of your automobile. That’s why you need to ask your car carrier for a copy of their policy.

Because this is a common question, many companies post their policy right on their website. Whether you find it there or they email you a copy, look it over carefully. If you find gaps in coverage, inquire about purchasing supplemental insurance.

4. What Services Do You Offer?

Many different factors impact the final price you pay for auto moving services. These include the distance, how far off the main route it takes your driver, current gas prices, and which type of service you want.

For owners of high-end investment vehicles, there’s no other option but an enclosed auto carrier. Enclosed carriers have roofs and walls (either soft or hard) that protect vehicles from dirt, road hazards, street grime, the elements, and more.

For those with cars that fall into a standard price range, an open carrier usually suits them best. After all, open transport usually costs between 30 and 60 percent less than enclosed movers.

What’s more, most cars get transported this way, which means more trucks traveling these routes and greater date flexibility. If you have a fast turnaround time for an upcoming move, you may also want to consider expedited car transport.

5. How Long Will Shipping Take?

Many factors could impact the shipping time of your vehicle. They include:

  • Weather
  • Transport distance
  • Destination
  • Time of the year

Although one or more of these issues could crop up during your vehicle’s move, your carrier should still be able to provide you with a ballpark estimate.

You should also inquire into whether a service offers priority shipping or expedited shipping. Although this option costs extra money, you’ll get an actual pick up date rather than a date range. If time is of the essence for you, it may represent your best option.

6. Which Documents Should I Present to the Driver?

Are you involved in an upcoming long-distance move? If so, your driver might want to see extra documentation (e.g., insurance documents, car registration). This will also ensure they deliver to the right address upon arrival.

What each company needs in terms of documents will vary. So, it’s a good idea to ask in advance. That way, you can prepare and have the right documents on hand before your car ships.

7. How Should I Prepare My Car for Shipping?

Did you know auto carriers may delay transporting your car if you neglect to prepare it for shipping properly? To avoid this hassle, inquire ahead of time about what you need to get your car ready for its move.

What are some of the things they’ll likely request? To comply with the US DOT, they’ll likely ask you to remove all personal belongings from your vehicle. You’ll also need to be prepared to hand your key over to the mover.

Your gas tank should be filled no more than a quarter of a tank, which also reduces excess weight. There are a handful of carriers that permit customers to pack a box in their trunk. But don’t count on anything until you hear it from the horse’s mouth.

8. Is Door-to-Door Service Available?

Would you like the convenience of having the driver pick up and deliver your car to two preferred addresses? If so, door-to-door service represents the best option for you. That said, not all carriers offer this feature.

If you live in a very rural area, the price for heading so far off route might also make this option cost-prohibitive. In that case, you’ll have to drop off and pick up your car at a regional depot or terminal.

Find out what each company offers (and how much it’ll cost) so that you can make the best arrangements based on your needs. Depending on your location or carrier, door-to-door service may not be available.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to drop off and pick up your car at designated regional depots or terminals.

Get the Answers You Need Before Shipping a Vehicle

How much is it to ship a car across the country? Do you offer enclosed carrier options? What are your rates like?

Before shipping your car with an auto transport company, you need to ask plenty of questions. After all, your vehicle’s one of the most valuable things you own, and you don’t want to trust it to just anyone.

Ready to find out more about car transport services? Check out our article discussing how much is it to ship a car.