It used to be that shipping cars was purely a commercial activity conducted by car dealers, car manufacturers and others in the trade. It involved transportation companies, car carriers and brokers, and it cost a lot of money. Well, that’s all changed now. The internet has made it so that buyers and sellers are quite often hundreds, or even thousands, of miles apart. And the car transportation business has evolved along to meet the new realities of automotive sales. You can now buy a car anywhere in the world and have it shipped right to your door, and the rates are much more reasonable than before. So, have you been eyeing classic cars on eBay and wondered how you get one home? Here’s a quick guide.
Choose a carrier
Today, there are hundreds of companies that ship cars and trucks. Just type “car transport” into Google and dozens will pop up. Getting a quote to ship a car is easy. Almost all of these companies have a form that you fill out and you get an immediate quote. Generally, all they ask is where the car is now, where it’s going to and some contact information. In an hour, you can easily have a dozen or so quotes.
Don’t jump at the cheapest one
As tempting as it is, be careful of accepting the lowest price quote. There is often a reason that they are the lowest cost. The carrier may not have insurance, for example, or they use sub-standard trucks for transport. Some may not actually be professionals in the car transport business and are just filling in for a friend for the weekend. If there is any doubt in your mind, consider this story. A friend of ours works at Jaguar of Naperville, a local Jaguar dealer in Naperville, IL. Several years ago, he bought an unrestored Jaguar XK120 roadster on eBay. For shipping, he found someone on the web who quoted him a great price and he signed them up. Big mistake. During transport the car got rained on (in!) because it wasn’t “covered transport” as he had requested. The inside of the roadster was soaked. Bottom line: Get several quotes, read the terms, look at the reviews and make sure you are getting what you pay for.
Preparing your car for shipping
If you are shipping a car, you are responsible for getting it ready. This usually just means getting the proper paperwork ready. Your car transporter should be able to assist you with information and the required forms involved. You may even find many of the forms on-line on the shipper’s website.
You definitely want insurance on a vehicle when it’s shipped. It’s not uncommon for damage to occur when cars are being transported. Things like tree branches, hail storms and even other vehicles can cause damage to a car when its being transported. If it’s your car being shipped to a buyer, check with your personal auto insurance company to verify whether your car insurance applies. If it doesn’t ask what they recommend. If you are buying a car and having it shipped to you, consult your shipper and check to see whose insurance is covering the vehicle.
Door to Door Service vs. Terminal to Terminal
Automotive shipping companies typically offer several levels of service. The most common service types are door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal service. Door-to-door service will be the most convenient and the most expensive. Terminal-to-terminal means that someone must drop the car off at a shipper’s terminal and, after transport, pick it up at a terminal near your house. If the terminal is within 50-100 miles of your house, you may find it is well worth the savings to go get it there. Your shipping company will give you guidance.
Open vs Closed Transport
Open carriers are the type of car transporters you commonly see. These trailers leave the vehicle visible and open to weather and other conditions. This sort of carrier is generally the cheapest method of transportation. Some customers do not like how dirty their vehicles appear after using open carrier transporters. If that issue concerns you, then shop for a carrier offering enclosed transport.
When your car arrives
Vehicle transport companies are rarely able to provide accurate pick-up and delivery times. Things like traffic and problems with deliveries before yours can cause delays. Plan on taking the day off if you are having it delivered to your house. When the vehicle does arrive check it out carefully for any damage.
The internet has made vehicle extremely easy today but exercise common sense when dealing with shippers. Accidents and unforeseen events can occur and you should make sure you covered for any potential problems.