The auto transport industry is a pretty large and complex industry, all things considered, and it can be overwhelming for first-time shippers to navigate through the industry. Many first-time customers don’t even know how vehicles are shipped – a key piece of information that every customer should have. So, we’ve compiled this list of frequently asked questions for your convenience; please, read through this before committing to anything, because knowledge truly is power.
Q: How far in advance should I book my transport?
A: Typically it depends on the company you’ve booked with, but we at Motor Movers Auto Transport recommend booking your shipment with us at least a week out. It takes time to book a carrier in your area, and while our customer service agents work tirelessly to ship your vehicle, every order that we book is unique. This means that not all conditions are the same; for instance, if you’re shipping during the winter months and you’re looking to ship into the northeast, you may end up having to pay a bit more than usual on that route because of the increased chance of snow. Your auto transport representative will explain any external factors that will impact your quote as well.
Q: What if I need to change my shipping date or other parts of my order after I’ve booked?
A: We understand that plans can change, and as such we don’t charge anything for having to change your first available ready date after you’ve booked an order. If you need to change anything regarding your order – whether it’s your shipping date, your pickup or delivery information, or what type of vehicle you’re shipping – we do ask that you give us at least three days’ notice, as we may not be able to do anything with a shorter turnaround time.
Q: How much will it cost to ship a car?
A: You don’t know how many times we get this question, and the truthful answer is…it all depends! Seriously, there are a lot of factors that go into your final auto transport price. Where are you shipping from and to? When are you shipping? What type of vehicle are you shipping? An SUV, a small car, an RV? Further moves will typically cost more, and larger vehicles typically will cost a bit more as well – these are called oversize vehicle fees, and they apply not just to the overall size of the vehicle, but the weight of it as well.
Q: Can I put personal belongings in my vehicle?
A: In a word, no. But that’s the official ruling. Unofficially, you can have up to 50 pounds in the trunk of the vehicle only. Hatchbacks, pickup trucks, minivans and SUV’s need not apply here, because there’s really nowhere to store anything that would be out of plain sight. By law, auto transport carriers are not allowed to transport household goods. However, they aren’t allowed to look in the trunk of the vehicle, so you can get away with putting some blankets or pillows or light clothes in the trunk. Too much weight can cause serious delays if it’s excessive, so limit how much you put in there. And remember: any “junk” you leave in your trunk is NOT insured, so if anything happens to it it’s on you. As far as your driver knows, it isn’t there. Drivers can also refuse to haul your vehicle if there are personal items within view.
Q: Can I put personal items in my vehicle if I’m shipping overseas?
A: No. The US Customs and Port Authorities don’t allow for any personal belongings in vehicles being transported across international waters. If personal belongings are found on a vehicle queued to enter or leave a U.S. port, all belongings can and will be removed prior to import or export.
Q: Do I need to be present when my vehicle is picked up?
A: Not necessarily, though if you need someone else to sign off on the vehicle, you need to let your auto transport agent know ahead of time so they can alert the driver. Regardless, someone needs to be present when the vehicle is picked up, because they’ll need to do a preliminary inspection with the driver to note any preexisting damages on the Bill of Lading and sign some paperwork. Make sure that whoever is going to be there knows they’re supposed to be there and that your auto transport agent has their contact information as well as yours, so they can coordinate together more efficiently, and ALWAYS make sure that they keep your copy of the Bill of Lading.
Q: How long will my vehicle be in transit?
A: Another question we often get, but again, the answer is it depends. This time, though, it just depends on where you’re shipping from and to. On the whole, car transporters can only travel so many miles per day, and they’re limited by federal regulations regarding how far and how fast they travel in a given day. Typically, though, auto transporters can travel from Los Angeles to New York city in about ten to fourteen days, depending on the route they take and how many stops they make. You should probably talk to your car transport representative about the specific transit time for your specific route, but a good rule of thumb is 250 – 350 miles per day.
Q: Do you offer terminal-to-terminal transport?
A: Terminal services allow for you to ship your vehicle directly to a storage facility, and while we can arrange terminal-to-terminal transport, additional fees are typically applied. This is why we prefer to give our customers Door-to-Door Service whenever possible, as we like to help you avoid unnecessary charges. If you need your vehicle stored before pickup or delivery, please talk to your agent at the time your order is placed, as we will be able to arrange storage for you (for an additional cost).
Q: How long are my quotes good for?
A: On the whole, your quotes are good for anywhere from one to two weeks. Prices change rapidly in the auto transport industry; you wouldn’t really think it, but many external factors have an impact on how much it’ll cost you to ship your car. Two weeks is pretty much the limit in terms of viability of quotes; after that, it’s up in the air, because by the time two weeks go by gas prices could have jumped up, or availability on a route goes down, which would shoot prices up for customers. Each company has its own limit on how long their quotes are good for, but a general rule of thumb is two weeks.
Q: What happens if my vehicle is damaged during transport?
A: When it comes to filing an insurance claim, so long as the damage occurred during transport, you can actually file against the carriers’ insurance. All auto transport carriers are federally mandated to carry a minimum of $750,000 worth of cargo insurance for the vehicles they’re hauling, so your vehicle is fully insured as long as it is on the carrier. Your insurance will be considered “secondary” and all claims in terms of damages will go through the carriers’ insurance provider.
Q: Will my vehicle be posted on a giant load board?
A: Yes, but it’s actually a good thing! Seriously, hear us out. By posting your vehicle on a national board, carriers can peruse all the listings and find loads to ship based on their geographical location and where they’re heading to in the near future. This makes it easier for us to find a carrier for you because there are literally thousands out there on the road, and most cities we ship from or to always have a carrier in the area.
Q: Can I travel with the driver in the cab of the auto transport truck?
A: Never. Auto transport carriers run on strict schedules and coordinate pickup and delivery times pretty much on the fly. Plus, it’s not allowed by federal law. You can, however, request the driver’s contact information, should you have questions while your vehicle is in transit.
Q: Can I pay the carrier with a personal check?
A: No. Carriers will only accept cash, cashier’s check or money orders. They operate on a day-to-day basis, and cash is what keeps their trucks fueled and maintained, not to mention the fact that many carriers use banks that may not operate in all states, and should a check they deposit from a customer bounce, they’re already a few hundred miles away by the time they figure out that the check was bad. Cash, cashier’s checks and money orders are treated as cash by financial institutions and are simply easier and more efficient for carriers to accept as payment.
Q: Are there any fees associated with canceling an order?
A: We charge no cancellation fees until your vehicle is dispatched to a carrier. You can fax or e-mail us your cancellation request and we will take care of the rest free of charge, so long as we haven’t found a carrier for your vehicle yet.
Hopefully some of your questions were answered, but we know that every customer is different, and every auto transport order unique. So if you have any questions that weren’t answered in this helpful FAQ article, feel free to contact us and ask us your questions – we’ll be happy to answer them for you.