Auto transport companies ship vehicles from one city to another, one state to another and even one country to another. No matter your reason for having your vehicle shipped, you want to find the best deal for the shipment while guaranteeing your vehicle is delivered safely and on time. This guide will help you figure out how to find the best shipping carrier based on the vehicle being shipped and your budget.
I consulted with over a dozen auto transport websites to get some general information about auto transport. To get an unbiased opinion on what consumers need to know before they book their auto transport, I consulted with Troy Green, who is a representative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). To get some background on auto transport for classic cars, I consulted with Jim McCabe, who is the Special Projects Manager of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Who it’s for
This guide will be particularly useful for consumers who are considering hiring an auto transport broker or auto transport carrier for a cross-country move. Classic car owners who want to take their cars to a different state without adding unnecessary miles will also find this guide helpful. Finally, this guide will be useful for anyone shipping a car between the United States and Europe….
Find the right company
There are a lot of options out there for shipping your car, so how do you choose who to entrust with your vehicle? Let’s start by taking a look at the two main types of vehicle transporters: auto transport brokers and auto transport carriers:
Auto transport brokers: Auto transport brokers do not actually ship your vehicle. Instead, they charge you a fee for shipping your vehicle, then find a shipper for you. The benefit to using a broker is selection: brokers have access to a wide range of vehicle transporters and can often get you a better rate than you could find on your own. Because of their flexibility in choosing from several carriers, going with an auto transport broker also tends to result in a quicker pick up than you could get when calling an individual carrier. One downside is that you communicate with the broker, not the carrier, so you might not have the most accurate information when it comes to scheduling and the time in between pickup and delivery
Auto transport carriers: Auto transport carriers do the heavy lifting of loading, transporting and delivering your vehicle to its final destination. When you work with an auto transport carrier, you have direct contact with the carrier. This means that you will have a more accurate idea of pickup and delivery times, overall costs and insurance information. The downside to going with auto transport carriers instead of a broker is that you need to do all the work when it comes to nailing down pricing information and availability. Depending on the urgency of the situation and what else you have going on, it might be worth it in the end to use a broker who will take care of these details for you.
Avoid being scammed
Shipping a car is a major undertaking, so you want to take your time selecting a legitimate business. Don’t trust your vehicle to just anyone who claims to be an auto transporter. “Be suspicious of any Web site where it is not clear whether the company is a broker or a transporter,” advises FMCSA.dot.gov. This is a sign that the company might be committing fraud
In addition, make sure that either the broker or the carrier is registered with the FMCSA, which is required by federal law. Registered brokers and carriers are given a six-digit number called their MC Docket number, which should be prominently displayed on their website. FMCSA recommends that consumers actively avoid doing business with any auto broker or auto carrier company that does not have their MC Docket number prominently displayed online as there is no way to guarantee they are legitimate.
Additionally, checking online reviews, such as those submitted on ConsumerAffairs, can be extremely helpful in weeding out the good from the bad brokers and carriers. FMCSA has a database which consumers can refer to, they can determine whether a selected company is registered with the FMCSA and view complaint records and history.