Vehicle Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re moving across the country, you may be considering shipping your vehicle. However, this process can be intimidating and confusing for first-timers but with the right research and information, it can be simple and successful. You'll need to find a car carrier or transportation company, get a car shipping quote, determine the pickup and drop-off points, decide on whether you need cargo insurance, watch for hidden fees, and a number of other small decisions.

To help, here’s everything you'll need to know about vehicle shipping:

What Is Vehicle Shipping?

Vehicle shipping is used when you’re unable to physically drive your car somewhere. Most of the time, cars are shipped by truck -- although they can also be shipped by train, plane, or boat. Obviously, shipping by plane or boat is an ideal option if you need your car shipped overseas.

When shipped via truck, there are both open and closed carriers. Open carriers are by far the most common and the most economical option. Enclosed carriers are generally reserved for high-end cars that require extra protection.

How Does Vehicle Shipping Work?

Shipping your car for the first time can be confusing if you don’t know what to expect. We’ll guide you through the process so that you can gain a complete understanding of how it works.

You need to find a transport service to transport your vehicle. Many specialized auto transport companies offer this service to help you on your long-distance move. The car transport company will have the trucks and the drivers necessary to get your car from point A to point B. Once you made a list of the best car shipping companies for your purposes, you can reach out to them for a quote.

You should include relevant information including the type of car, origin, destination, and timeframe. Check the online marketplace for car transportation services that provide an average cost, car shipping calculator, or other methods of obtaining a transparent car shipping cost.

After gathering your quotes, you can make your final decision on which of the car shipping services to use to ship your car. From there, you will sign the paperwork and make your final arrangements. On shipping day, the driver will meet you at the agreed-upon location, load your car onto the truck, and hit the road.

Depending on your contract, your car will arrive anytime within a few days to a week or two. When it arrives, make sure to check it over for any damage that may have occurred during transit. If everything looks good, you’re now free to use and enjoy your car in your new destination.

How Much Does Vehicle Shipping Cost?

The cost of shipping your vehicle depends on a variety of different factors so it can be difficult to provide a rough estimate. 

Here are some of the different factors that will determine how much it will cost for you to ship your vehicle:

  • Method of shipment: Shipping your car by truck is usually the cheapest option, followed by train. Shipping your car by boat or plane will cost you a pretty penny but could be your only option if you’re moving overseas.
  • Size and weight of the vehicle: Bigger and heavier cars like trucks and SUVs will be more expensive to ship compared to smaller and lighter ones like sedans.
  • Season: Peak moving season occurs during the summer, so you can expect to pay more to ship your car during this time of year. Additionally, you may be charged higher prices to ship your car during the holidays.
  • Distance: Most companies charge different amounts based on how many miles your car needs to travel. For instance, you may be charged around $1.96 per mile for trips under 500 miles, $0.93 per mile for trips between 500 and 1,500 miles, or $0.58 per mile for trips over 1,500 miles.
  • Location: Where your car needs to be picked up and dropped off may impact your shipping costs. If you’re shipping between two major cities, you may end up paying less than you would if you were shipping between more rural areas.
  • Extra fees: Depending on the company, you may be charged more for fuel costs, insurance coverage, rushed delivery, or door-to-door service. Make sure to understand any extra fees involved in the shipping process before signing the paperwork.
  • Tip: While tips aren’t required, they are definitely appreciated especially if the driver is covering thousands of miles with your precious cargo.

How to Find the Right Vehicle Shipping Company?

Your pricing will definitely depend on the vehicle shipping company you use. And just because you find one that offers you a cheap price doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be the best option.

Instead, you need to do your due diligence to ensure that you’re entrusting a reputable and experienced vehicle shipping company with your car.

The easiest way to find a vehicle shipping company is online. You can do a quick internet search for companies that offer the type of shipping services you’re looking for. Once you have identified a few contenders, you can visit their websites to gather more information.

For starters, you want to check that they’re licensed and insured with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. From there, you should check out their reviews and testimonials from a variety of different sources. You need to go beyond just reading the reviews that they have posted on their website. Instead, you also need to check Google as well as the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have checked their credibility, you can reach out for more information. Many companies allow you to receive a quote totally online. Others may allow you to submit your information before getting back to you with an exact quote. In any case, make sure that you speak with an actual human being before confirming your booking.

In this discussion, be sure to bring up any additional questions you have about the process in general or their services specifically. For instance, you may want to ask about insurance coverage to ensure that your vehicle is protected throughout its journey. Most of the time, companies offer some level of insurance but you may want to purchase supplemental coverage depending on the value of your vehicle.

You should also ask questions about the shipping timeline, any extra fees involved in the process, and what types of payments they accept, and when you’re required to make your payment(s).

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Shipping?

After you have chosen your shipping company, signed the paperwork, and scheduled your vehicle pick-up, you need to prepare your vehicle for shipping. Here are the things that you need to do before your car goes onto the truck to make its journey:

  • Clean your car inside and out
  • Remove all of your personal belongings from the inside of your car and any removable attachments on the outside of your car
  • Thoroughly inspect your vehicle for any existing damage and take photographs of both the inside and the outside
  • Have about a quarter tank of gas so that it’s not adding weight but you’re also not going to be driving on empty once it’s delivered
  • Provide the driver of the truck with an extra set of keys

The Rundown on Vehicle Shipping

And there you have it -- everything you need to know about vehicle shipping. So instead of stressing about how you’re getting your car to your new home, trust Carvaygo. Carvaygo has a network of 40,000+ independent car haulers across the country who provide fast, safe and effective transport of personally owned vehicles. A wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM, an award-winning vehicle logistics provider trusted by some of the world's largest automotive manufacturers around the world, Carvaygo was designed to be a technologically advanced vehicle shipping operation. Carvaygo's relationship with RPM lets our customers benefit from RPM's strength and experience.

Carvaygo was built from the ground up using the latest technology to make your experience fast and frictionless. Carvaygo is an easy and reliable way to have your vehicle shipped affordably anywhere in the continental U.S.

Sources:
Car Shipping: How It Works | NerdWallet
7 Things You Should Know About Auto Transport Insurance | Moving.com
How to Prepare Your Car for Shipment | Move.org

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