This Car Shipping Broker Has Your Back

car carrierA car shipping customer recently described the transport process as “mysterious”. And it’s true, auto transporting does not reflect most shipper’s initial expectation of service. First time auto shippers usually expect transport service to be more like travel and are often surprised to learn that there aren’t grand schedules and regular, dependable routes with large, brand named fleets. Or sometimes folks assume service is on demand, that they can just summon a cross-country carrier the same way you call a taxi. Instead, there are brokers who contract small business carriers on a case-by-case basis, and schedules and prices may vary. It may seem like a hassle to have brokers involved in the auto transport process, but let’s cover the big reasons why they are good for you.

A good broker vets out your carrier. There are literally thousands of auto haulers across the country. There aren’t large fleets like Greyhound or JetBlue in the car shipping industry, there are dozens of independent carriers who could potentially ship your vehicle. But not all carriers are made alike. Some are stellar, but some have issues with insurance lapsing or poor scheduling, etc. A broker has access to more industry information and can be a better judge of a carrier’s worth.

A good broker will explain the process. From timing to pricing to preparing your vehicle for shipment, a good broker can educate you on the reality of the process. Drivers don’t always have time to take your call with questions when they are on the road. But brokers work in offices, so they are available to take calls and emails about your concerns.

A good broker helps smooth communication. Sometimes customers have a scheduling change or want to make a special request. Sometimes there are misunderstandings between customers and drivers, or missed calls, or other issues. Your broker can help you reach your driver with updates, changes, and address miscommunications should they arise.

We are here for you, so give a Ship a Car Direct broker a call: 866-221-1664. We are happy to answer your car shipping questions and find the perfect carrier match for you!

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Car Shipping in Winter

Car ShippingFirst time car shippers are often surprised to discover that there aren’t precise advance schedules for car hauling. Unlike trains or planes or buses that have regular schedules out of common hubs, car shipping schedules vary from week to week because every route is unique.

While car haulers serve the same general areas (some cover just the Midwest, for example), they don’t start and end at the same place. Car haulers don’t even follow the exact same route every time. They have new pick-up locations and different delivery locations for each customer. Some runs are longer than others, and sometimes the logistics allow for a quicker turn-around.

Not only are the routes different with each truckload of unique customers, car shipping drive times are always subject to the demands of weather, traffic, holidays and even maintenance issues. There are situations that arise that your driver simply cannot predict or prevent from behind the wheel, so no matter the season it’s realistic to allow for flexibility in your car shipping schedule.

That said, it should be no surprise that winter presents the most obvious challenge to predictable drive times. Obviously, the weather can be terrible – one bad snowstorm can effectively shut down in an entire region for a few days. And that slow down effects vehicles on trucks being hauled as well as vehicles waiting for transport. (In fact, there are some months when the backlog of waiting customers is so great that frustrated shippers cancel and resign with multiple haulers, as if there are some truckers not affected by the snow!)

Also important to note: drivers observe holidays just like you do! You may find that car hauler availability is limited between the weeks around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. This reality tends to push up prices around the holidays – and even through January for some markets.

We know how precious your time is and we wish we could give you timing guarantees. But the truth is that this time of year the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees. It will save you frustration in the long run if you make contingency plans with friends and neighbors should your car hauler be affected by inclement weather or other seasonal issues. If you have questions about car hauling delays – or any other car hauling questions – please call us at 866-221-1664.

Car Shipping During Snowbird Season

Car shipping in winterIf you have to ask, you probably aren’t a Snowbird. Snowbirds are folks who head South and/or Southwest for the winter, and Snowbird Season refers to the time when all of them seem to “flock”. Because there are many more shippers heading one way than there are spots on trucks, it dramatically affects car transport pricing and availability on those routes.

The most common misconception about planning auto transport is that if you plan far enough in advance, you should be guaranteed a date at a guaranteed price. But the reality is that no matter how much notice you give, carrier schedules are not rigid. Scheduling a car shipment is not like reserving a seat on a daily flight from one hub to another hub. Transport routes vary as the pick-ups and destinations are unique with every new set of customers. Drive times can vary with weather conditions and traffic – things that can’t be managed by your driver. There is no way to guarantee a specific truck will be available weeks in advance.

Another expectation folks have is that the price quoted them in June should work in October, and that is just not the case. Car shipping price quotes are accurate only for about a week or two at the time they are quoted, as those quotes represent the car shipping market at that time. That June price may or may not still work months later – but it is definitely not going to work during Snowbird Season if you are shipping to a Snowbird destination (like from Connecticut to Florida, or from Michigan to Arizona). Pretend you’re a truck driver and you’ve suddenly got triple the amount of customers going a certain direction – how do you pick which jobs do you take? The best paying ones, of course. During Snowbird Season, it’s not the early bird that gets the worm (or the transport) but the bird offering the best pay.

Instead of expecting a rigid plan for car shipping during Snowbird season, it’s more realistic to plan for contingencies. Keep wiggle room in your dates, enlist friends and family on either end, and allow for a possible bump in pay to meet the market. As much as we want to keep it easy for you, we prefer to be honest about how the process works. Please call us if you have any questions about that: 866-221-1664.

Car transport “mystery” fees

There are lots of “horror stories” on the internet about how car transport companies surprise unsuspecting customers with mystery fees.  But there are legitimate reasons why your driver may require extra fees on top of the basic quoted transport costs. Let us take away the mystery and give you some tips to avoid additional car transport fees.

Your car transport quote is for a fully operational vehicle. Standard car carriers are not the same as tow trucks, your vehicle must be driven on and off the truck under its own power. The battery must be good, the vehicle must start up and stay running, and all tires must be inflated. Some car carriers cannot accommodate non-operative vehicles, and for those equipped with winches additional charges will accrue for additional labor required. Make sure your vehicle is in good running order before the carrier arrives.

Your car transport quote is for an empty vehicle. If you leave personal items in the vehicle, there may be an additional weight fee. We recommend leaving your car empty and shipping your household goods separately.

Your car transport quote is for a basic stock model. Extensions, lifts, and other add-ons that increase the height, width, or weight of a vehicle will affect the cost of your transport. Inform your representative of any modifications for an adjusted quote, and forwarding pictures can be helpful too.

Your car transport quote is priced for COD (Cash on Delivery). Most carriers will not accept credit card payments, most only accept jobs for cash on delivery. In rare instances where credit is the only option, the final charge will include a transaction processing fee.

Your car transport quote is for transport only, with direct person-to-person delivery. Storage for pick-up at your convenience is not automatic with this service, you or a contact must meet the carrier when the truck arrives in your area. If you aren’t available to accept delivery when your carrier arrives, you may be responsible for storage fees and/or re-delivery fees.

No driver wants to surprise a customer with mystery fees on delivery. Talk to your representative in advance about what exactly is included in the service. If you have any questions about car transport fees, please give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Auto Transport Transit Times – Why are they “Estimates”?

Car Shipping EstimatesPlanning an auto transport can be a real learning experience. It’s not like the travel industry or other delivery services, as many folks assume it might be. When we speak to customers researching their transport options, we have to tackle common expectations around scheduling a long-distance hauler.

As much as we would like to accommodate each customer’s specific timing requests, the truth is that it’s tough to guarantee pick-up or delivery dates.

All dates provided for your auto transport are estimates and projections.Most car carriers will hit those estimates, but you still want to build in some flexibility.

Auto haulers have to schedule a full truckload, picking up and delivering to multiple customers in a given week. They are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can (and do) throw off their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.

For this reason we ask that you give us the earliest possible date you would be willing to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.

Once your move is contracted, we put you in direct contact with your carrier and the carrier will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick-up and delivery. (They won’t just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it.)

Your driver will also provide an arrival estimate so you have an idea when to expect delivery, but the schedule is not “locked” in advance. Because your driver can’t control issues like traffic, it is best to leave your schedule open around your auto hauler’s arrival.

We recommend getting a friend or a family member to help cover if you have to work or have to schedule an appointment. (And we advise against making a flight on the same day the carrier arrives.)

To be really prepared for your auto transport, it is most realistic to accept the timing as a projection, not a guaranteed appointment. If you have any questions about that, feel free to give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Lower Car Shipping Costs Coming Soon!

Car Shipping CostsThe U.S. Transportation Secretary made the announcement last week that a proposal has been made that, if accepted, will eliminate a hefty amount of paperwork that burdens truck drivers. Professional truck drivers are currently required to fill out lengthy stacks of documents both before and after taking a shipment on their vehicles. The federal regulations are designed to protect the safety of the public, but some of the paperwork requirements are unnecessarily burdensome, time consuming, and costly. Costs in the industry could be cut down by as much as a billion dollars a year if the proposal is accepted. (See the official Press Release Here)

The announcement is great news for consumers who may be looking into having a car shipped. Drivers of commercial trucks have to perform pre and post trip inspections of their vehicles and equipment. The paperwork that is proposed to be eliminated is what is known as the Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports, or DVIRs. Currently, the DVRIs must be filled out whether an issue is present or not. Only 5% of the reports that are filed contain cases where repairs are needed. By changing the paperwork requirements to include only reports when issues are present, both time and money can be saved.

Anne S. Ferro, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, supported the proposal, stating that the agency will be able to better focus on the reports that include problematic issues. Safety will not be compromised, since trucks and equipment that are in need of any repairs will receive the attention that they need. Trucks and equipment that are not found to have any problems during the inspections can continue to operate, and drivers will not have to take the time to fill in the paperwork.

President Obama has encouraged his administration to seek out viable ways to reduce burdensome paperwork regulations. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox announced the proposal on August 1st, and quickly garnered a positive response. It is positive news for the administration, for commercial truck drivers, and for consumers who use the services of the trucking industry. The savings of time and costs should be passed onto the consumers, making it beneficial for the professional drivers and those looking to have cargo shipped. Consumers who need or want to have a vehicle shipped anywhere in the United States will benefit from savings on the cost if the proposal is accepted and the changes are implemented across the industry.

Red Flags For Car Shipping Fraud

Car ShippingIn spite of improved customer awareness and the availability of information to protect consumers, fraud still exists. Each year, consumers pay billions of dollars for commercial fraud, most of which were avoidable had they considered the most commonly used fraudulent practices. Although fraud in the auto transport industry is rare, it is best not to take any chances, especially considering that cars are high-value assets. To avoid loss, theft, damage and unnecessary expense associated with scams, keep these red flags of car shipping fraud in mind:

No Business Address, License, Or Established Identity
One of the most common red flags of car shipping fraud is the lack of an established identity.  A simple online search for the business name should identify the business on various listing and review sites.  An established website filled with helpful content, FAQ’s, Videos, and contact info, is a solid indication that you are dealing with an established business.  You should also verify the business with reputable business review sites like the Better Business Bureau, and Transport Reviews.com.

Unable To Reach Customer Service Or Get Answers
Any reputable car shipping company will be immediately accessible to its clients. If you dial the company phone number and your call is rejected, ignored or if the person on the other end of the line fails to answer your questions about how the auto transport process works, you should avoid this company. A reliable company should be able to provide you with all the necessary information you need regarding any transaction you may make with them.

Payment Upfront Prior to Providing the Service.
Beware of car moving companies that require a significant amount as a deposit for their service. You may also want to avoid companies that require payments to be made through Western Union and other money transfer services that make the recipient hard to trace.

The Car Shipping Company Fails to Provide A Detailed Agreement.
Another way to spot a red flag of car shipping fraud is the company’s refusal or failure to provide a quote or a detailed agreement. The quote should include the type of vehicle being shipped, the origin and destination of the shipment, the type of carrier (open or closed) that will be used, and other related details.

No Inspection or “bill of lading”
Another red flag is if the driver does not require or initiate an inspection of your vehicle.   When the carrier arrives for pickup, they should initiate a vehicle inspection and fill out a report called a “bill of lading”.  They take note of any existing damage to the vehicle before shipment.  You will inspect your vehicle upon delivery, and if all is well, you sign that bill of lading to release the truck from any liability.

Car Transport To A Large Metropolitan City

Car TransportDoor-to-door car transport by open carrier is the most common method of transporting a vehicle across the country. And often the service is exactly that: door-to-door. The car carrier will load up a vehicle at one home address (or place of business) and deliver right to another home address (or place of business), as requested by the customer. But there are times when that convenience is not logistically possible. Especially for cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, or Washington DC, it is realistic to plan to meet your carrier outside of the tight metropolitan area.

The open carriers that ship vehicles across the country are large, multi-vehicle haulers. For standard door-to-door service, you are contracting transport on just one truck and usually just one driver. That one large truck has to have enough space to easily access each address and load or unload vehicles safely. Such loading is not possible in tight downtown areas, especially with one way streets and congested traffic, steep hills or security restrictions. These are all challenges that your driver simply can’t negotiate.

For car transport to or from major cities, it is realistic to plan to meet the carrier outside of the urban area. Because the carrier needs a wide, open space away from traffic, a meeting location in a nearby shopping mall parking lot is a popular option. If you don’t know the city very well, your driver may have a suggestion too. Either way, it’s best to allow for a little flexibility when coordinating carrier arrival. It may mean that you have to rely on a friend to drive you or public transportation to get to/from the meeting location. And to spare yourself some angst, don’t schedule other important activities on the day of the meet.

Your driver would prefer to make car transport completely convenient for you. But for major metropolitan areas, it is more realistic to think of the service as person-to-person rather than door-to-door. If you have any questions about that, feel free to give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Don’t Ship A Car When It Is Full Of Stuff

car shippingWe know you want to pack your car before shipping it. Everyone planning to ship a car across country full of stuff assumes it would be an easy way to save costs on moving. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend loading your car with stuff before shipping it on an open carrier. We occasionally receive pictures from our drivers of what customers want to include during their transport. Don’t be like these folks. It will actually cost you more in the long run: in funds, in drama, and/or delays.

Your car shipping quote is priced for an empty vehicle. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the weight of a vehicle effects how much gas is required to transport it. Even if you only want to include a few bulky items, it adds up.  If every vehicle on the auto hauler has a few items, the total weight load is significantly increased throughout the transport. A driver may be willing to transport your vehicle with some items in it for an additional fee, but we can’t negotiate or guarantee the charge in advance for you.

But let’s be practical, leaving items in the car may increase the risk of theft. When your car is on the open carrier, anything visible in your vehicle is visible to every vehicle the truck passes. While your vehicle is insured during transport, items left in the vehicle are not covered. You may be willing to risk theft, but your driver may not want to take the gamble on your behalf – and he’d be most affected by any incident.

Most importantly, though, your driver has to be able to load your car safely on and off the hauler. When a car is packed, luggage obstructs his view. If the truck arrives to the pick-up location and finds your car packed to the ceiling, your driver will ask you to remove items or he will have to refuse to load your vehicle. (And even if he doesn’t load your vehicle, he is entitled to compensation for making the trip to your location.)

It’s less hassle to leave your vehicle empty of belongings. Leaving stuff in your car may accrue additional surcharges, or it may invite theft, or it may cause your driver to refuse your load. If you have any follow-up questions about leaving stuff in your car for car shipping, give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Will you ship my car if it is full of stuff?

Car Transport The most common request in the car shipping industry is the request to pack the car during transport. Many people shipping a car are doing so to start a new life in a new city, and it seems easier to just load the car with household belongings before hauling it. Unfortunately, that is not really the best way to save money on your move. Car haulers can’t always accommodate additional weight, and certainly not for the same price as quoted for shipping an empty car.

The truth is that the more weight you are hauling, the more gas it takes to move it. The more gas a hauler requires to get the job done, the more it costs. Here is a great article that explains fuel economy and how even 100 additional pounds in your personal vehicle can cost you. Now, if you imagine a multi-vehicle hauler carrying 6 to 8 vehicles, you can see how even a few additional belongings left in each of the vehicles add up and increase the weight (and therefore the cost) of the entire load.

Car shipping quotes are recommended for standard, empty vehicles. If your hauler accommodates any additional weight in your vehicle, you will be charged an additional weight fee to make up for the additional gas required for the load. And honestly, the additional fees are equivalent to shipping your belongings through the mail or other delivery service. Even if what you want to pack in your car doesn’t seem like a lot to you, it adds up. Ultimately, leaving additional items in your vehicle during transport is up to the discretion of the driver.

Of course we completely understand why you want to leave some stuff in your car. Sometimes, it’s not a problem. But it’s best if you are aware of the limitations and/or additional fees so that you don’t make assumptions that cost you later. If you have any questions about car shipping or what you can leave in your vehicle during transport, please give us a call! One of our friendly sales representatives will be happy to help: 866-221-1664.