Whether you are moving to a different state or buying a car online, shipping your car is much easier than trying to drive it across the country yourself. However, if you are a first-time car shipper, there are some important things to consider before handing over your keys. Your car is a valuable possession so you want to make sure you are working with a trusted and reliable shipping company. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you understand the process so your experience is stress-free. Here are a few of the most important things to consider before selecting a car transport service.

How Much Will it Cost?

This is probably the first question in peoples’ minds when it comes to auto shipment. The answer, however, is dependent on a number of factors. Here are some of the factors that can impact the cost of car shipment:

  • Make, model, and size of your vehicle
  • The exact distance of transport
  • Open vs. enclosed carrier
  • Time of year (some seasons are busier than others)
  • Fuel costs at the time of shipment
  • Special services such as transporting a vehicle that is oversized or inoperable

The best way to get an accurate estimate is to call several auto shipping companies to request a quote.

How Long Will it Take?

The next thing to consider is how quickly you will need your vehicle. Auto shippers will do their best to give you an estimated delivery date but keep in mind that this is only an estimate. It is nearly impossible to guarantee delivery dates with auto-shipment and you should be wary of any company that claims they can guarantee delivery. That’s because there are a number of factors that are out of the company’s control that can impact delivery time. For instance, bad weather, traffic jams, or mechanical issues with the carrier can all be potential reasons for delays. If you require your vehicle in a certain amount of time, be sure to discuss expedited shipping options with your transport company.

Know Who You Are Working With

Finding an auto shipping company usually starts with an online search but bear in mind that not all companies are created equal. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there and businesses who claim to be something they are not. Therefore, you should be prepared to do adequate research before choosing a car shipping company. Start by verifying the company’s licensing, registration, and insurance by using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. This website can also provide you with a safety record for the company. Next, spend time reading reviews, asking friends, and even contacting the Better Business Bureau. Finally, be sure to ask plenty of questions. If the company isn’t willing or able to answer your questions, this could be a red flag that something is off.

What Type of Transport Will You Need?

When it comes to auto shipping, you will have the choice between using an open or enclosed carrier to transport your vehicle. Open carriers are the cheapest and most popular choice. However, your car will be exposed to the outdoor elements which could present a greater risk for unexpected damage. The other option would be an enclosed carrier, which provides maximum protection for your vehicle from the outdoor elements. This option is more expensive, however, and is generally used for brand new, luxury, antique, or exotic vehicles.

You Will Need to Prepare Your Car for Shipment

You also need to bear in mind that there are a few things you will need to do to prepare your vehicle for shipment. These include:

  • Top off all fluids and leave no more than a quarter tank of gas in the car
  • Wash the exterior of your car so any scratches, dents, or dings are easily visible
  • Take photos of the car’s exterior and make note of any scratches or dents. This will serve as proof of your vehicle’s condition prior to shipment
  • Remove all personal items from inside the vehicle
  • Remove all exterior accessories such as bike racks, luggage racks, spoilers, etc.