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Auto Transport Guide – FAQ

Moving Guide and Tips

How much will it cost to ship my vehicle?
The answer to this question is ‘it depends’. You will first need to contact several car transport companies and request quotes. Be prepared to answer several questions. Here’s a samples list of questions.

  1. What city will you be traveling from and where is your final destination?
  2. How many vehicles do you want to have transported?
  3. What dates are you looking at for departure and pick up of your vehicle? You may request guaranteed dates and will pay extra for this service.
  4. What is the make and type of vehicle being transported?
  5. Do you want door to door service or will you drop off and collect your vehicle at the terminal- the former will cost you more money.
  6. Has your vehicle been altered in any way such as addition of a 4X4 lift kit. This may affect overall size of vehicle and you may be required to pay an oversize fee.

What is an oversize fee?
An oversize fee is charged if a vehicle is larger than a traditional passenger vehicle. Most SUV’s will have an oversize fee applied to10 them. These vehicles are large in size and take up more than one space on a truck or carrier and are charged accordingly.

How far in advance should l schedule my transport?
Companies will request that you book your transport as early as possible. At least twelve to fifteen days in advance is advised and this gives the vehicle transport company time to make the necessary plans to move your vehicle. By doing so there is a greater chance your vehicle will be picked up on or close to the date you request. Most companies will have an immediate pick up option and you will pay extra form this service. It is important to remember that pick up and delivery dates are not guaranteed and if you want guaranteed pick up and delivery dates this option is available at a cost. Good planning will help prevent headaches and make the move less expensive and thus saving you money.

How long does it take to transport a vehicle?
The length of time it takes to transport your vehicle depends on many things. There is really no such thing as normal transit time as many different requests and events will determine how long it will take to transport your vehicle. If you did not choose the guaranteed pick up date option you will be give a window of time that your vehicle will be picked up in. This window of time can be up to 5 days depending on where you live although 3 days is more common. As the time comes closer you will get a specific date and time for pick up and delivery. Your car may be the first to be picked up however it could be the last to be delivered and this is dependent on where all the other vehicles on the truck are being transported to. The weather can also play havoc with pick up and delivery dates. The best advice is to talk with your auto transport company and they will give you information based on history.

What are pick up and delivery dates?
Most vehicle transport companies will give you estimated pick up and delivery dates. You will probably be given a window of time of up to 5 days although three is more common. Be skeptical of any company that promises specific precise pick up and delivery dates and get it in writing if this is offered. If a company does offer you this service get it in writing on the contract and ask that the remedy be also listed on the contract in the event the service is not preformed on the specific dates. Most carriers will be able to meet specific pick up date as they can store the vehicle at the terminal however the delivery dates can be more difficult to meet. There are a number of reasons for this including weather conditions and unforeseen events.

What to look for when selecting a company?
When choosing an auto shipper, be sure to check and see if the company is licensed and bonded. Vehicle transport companies are licensed and regulated by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Ask for and check the DOT license number. There exists an enormous amount of confusion over the role of the Interstate commerce Commission (ICC) and how it interacts with trucking companies. The Interstate Commerce Commission which once regulated many of the functions of trucking companies was terminated in 1995 and many of its functions were rolled in to the DOT.

The ICC’s safety functions were transferred to the Dept. of Transportation when that department was created in 1966; the ICC retained its rate-making and regulatory functions. However, in consonance with the deregulatory movement, the ICC’s powers over rates and routes in rails and trucking were curtailed in 1980 by the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carriers Act. Most ICC control over interstate trucking was abandoned in 1994, and the agency was terminated at the end of 1995. Many of its remaining functions were transferred to the new National Surface Transportation Board. Do your own investigation of the companies you are looking at to transport your vehicle. It is important to check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been complaints against any auto shipper you choose and how these complaints were resolved.

Where to look for auto/vehicle transport companies?
You can find vehicle transport companies advertised in many different places such as your local papers, phone book and of course the internet. VanLines.com is committed to working with industry professionals only so if you need a vehicle transport company simply submit a request for quote on this site for unmatched service. You can also get references from friends or colleagues and this is an excellent way of finding a reputable auto shipper especially if they have first hand experience of the company themselves. It is a good idea to ask your moving company if they have recommendations, as they will often have companies they have partnerships with and you may be able to get a discount by using their preferred vendor. Do not be concerned if you cannot find an auto shipper in your local area. Auto transport companies will generally have contract carriers or terminals in your area or routes that go through your local area and your vehicle can be dropped off and collected at these locations.

Is my car insured while in transit?
If you are using a reputable company your vehicles will be fully insured however you should always check with the specific vehicle transport company to ensure they have adequate insurance. Ask to see the certificate of insurance. Read the fine print. You may decide to get supplemental insurance as some coverage may be excluded, for example if you leave personal items in the car and they are stolen this may not be covered. Small scratches or dents may also not be covered. On that note it is important to point out that no personal items are allowed in the vehicle to be transported. This is the law. Inquire as to whether there is any deductible and if there is you will be required to pay the deductible amount toward any loss or damage to the vehicle before any insurance payment is made from the auto transport insurance company.

Ask your auto carrier if he is planning to use an agent to haul your vehicle. You will need to see the Certificate of Insurance for the agent also to make sure your vehicle is covered.

Your own auto insurance may also provide coverage for your vehicle so check your policy. You home insurance policy may also provide additional coverage for any personal items you leave in the vehicle.

Do I need to have/sign a contract?
Yes, you should be asked to sign a contract and be sure to read this very carefully. The contract is designed to protect both you and the auto transport company Verbal agreement cannot be relied upon. In the event you have a complaint or a dispute arises the company will refer you to the contract. It is important to check whether there is any reference to guaranteed pick up or delivery dates. Most auto transport companies will collect and deliver your vehicle within the agreed timeframe. You should request that some additional requirements be added to the contact. If your vehicle is not picked up within a set number of days from the agreed pick up day, you can request that a clause be included in the contract that allows you to cancel. You will be expected to pay a small fee if you do cancel but it gives you an out in the event your vehicle is not picked up within the agreed time period. Your cancellation clause should allow for at least one week from the scheduled pick up date.

Where will my car be picked up and delivered?
There are basically two types of service you can request:

Door-to-Door – This is where the vehicle is picked up at your home and delivered to your new home. It is by far the most convenient service however you will pay extra for the convenience. You may be asked to meet the driver of the carrier at someplace other than your home as the carrier may be too big to drive through your neighborhood and make any necessary turns.

Terminal Service, as the name suggests you drop your vehicle at the terminal, it is then hauled to your destination where you pick it up at the destination terminal.
This can be inconvenient especially if the nearest terminal is a long distance from your new home.

Can I keep personal items in my automobile or in the trunk while it is being transported?

No personal items should be left in the vehicle or in the trunk while the vehicle is being transported. It is not permitted by law for vehicle transport companies to transport personal items in vehicle they are moving and hefty fines can be imposed on violators. It is your responsibility to ensure there is nothing in the vehicle. If you do leave items in the car they will not be covered by insurance.

What types of payment are acceptable and when do I pay?
You will be asked to pay a deposit initially and the balance is usually due upon delivery of your vehicle at the prearranged location, which can be the terminal, your home or another agreed upon location. Credit cards, cashiers checks or money orders are the most widely accepted forms of payment. You should check with your auto transport company to find out what types of payment are acceptable to them.

What do I need to know about releasing my vehicle to the auto transport company at point of origin?
You will be asked to sign an ‘Original Inspection Report’ which details the condition of the vehicle at the time of pick-up. All dents, scratches, cracks to mirrors and windows will be listed as well as the overall condition. Also listed will be the actual mileage and the pick-up and delivery schedule. Ask for a copy of this report if you are not provided with one. You can use this report to determine if there are any new dents or scratches on your vehicle when it is delivered to you.

What’s the difference between an open and closed carrier?
As the name suggests, an open carrier is one where vehicles are transported in exposed trailers. The vehicles are exposed to inclement weather conditions during transit so if you do not wish your vehicle to be open to the elements while in transit this is not an option. The trailers come in all shapes and sizes and are capable of carrying from one to over 14 vehicles at once. You probably see these on the road as you drive on the on the highways.

An enclosed carrier is one where the vehicles are loaded in to an enclosed carrier and transported inside the carrier. The vehicles are therefore protected from inclement weather conditions. It is generally more expensive to choose the closed carrier option however depending on the vehicle to be transported it may be the only sensible option. An enclosed carrier may be the only option for that antique auto or custom vehicle you have in the garage.

What do I need to know about accepting my vehicle for delivery at destination?
The first and most important thing to know about vehicle delivery is that you never accept delivery at night. You need to verify the condition of your vehicle and it is next to impossible to do this at night even in a well-lit area. You can use the ‘Original Inspection Report’ as you examine the vehicle at delivery to determine if there are any new dents or scratches that may have occurred during transit. It is your responsibility to make a note of and sign for any ‘new’ damage noted and the delivery driver must sign also. Complete a thorough inspection, as it is very difficult to claim damage if you found it after the vehicle was delivered, inspected and signed for.

What should I do if there is damage to my vehicle?
It is uncommon for damage to occur to vehicles while in transit however it does happen occasionally. If damage has occurred to your vehicle during transit you must note the damage in detail on the original inspection report, obtain the drivers signature and then contact your auto transport company to resolve the matter. It is your responsibility to inspect the vehicle and to get the driver’s signature confirming damage before he leaves. Remember if the damage is a result of you leaving personal items in the vehicle or trunk the auto transport company is not responsible and will not reimburse you. The auto transport company will verify the damage and will work with you to reimburse you for the damage.

What to do if a dispute arises?
In the unlikely event a dispute arises between you and the auto transport company it is strongly recommended that you do your best to try to work with the company to resolve the matter. If you do not get satisfaction from the company you will need to file a claim with the Better Business Bureau in the city the company is listed. You can also contact the US Department of Transportation at www.dot.gov however they will be most reluctant to get involved unless you have obtained a court judgment against the company.

Can I use a moving company to transport my vehicle?
Moving companies can transport your vehicle however they will probable charge more. The advantage with using a moving company can be that your automobile can be picked up and dropped off at your home and if your household goods are also being transported at the same time it can be very convenient. Also the pick up and drop off dates can be more accurate as there will be no other automobiles on the carrier that will also need to be dropped off. Talk with your moving company to see if they offer this service and be sure to question what the level of insurance coverage.