1. PRICE. The first question you’ll want answered is “What is the total cost?”. Obtain quotes from several auto transport companies and be prepared to provide:
· approximate departure date
· type of vehicle(s)
· type of auto transport service desired (e.g., door-to-door car transport vs. terminal-to-terminal)
· special car transport services (e.g., enclosed car transport)
2. PAYMENT METHOD. While some car transport companies may not require payment in advance, others require a deposit (10-25% of the total cost), or full payment in advance. If a deposit is given, amount due is always required at time of delivery – often times with a cashiers check or cash. Sometimes a surcharge of 2-3% is required when using a credit card with a car transport company.
3. CONTRACT. READ YOUR CONTRACT CAREFULLY!!! IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Do not rely on any verbal promises from your car transport company. After you sign your contract, your car transport company will ALWAYS refer you to the contract for any complaints you may have, including cost to cancel your shipment. The main thing to look for is a clause that says there is no guaranteed pickup or delivery date. Even though most cars are delivered by car transport companies within the expected timeframe, most will not guarantee a delivery date. You can ask for the following things to protect yourself against verbal promises that you would have otherwise relied upon (also see #5 below):
Ask for a contract clause (in writing) that waives the cancellation fee if the car is not picked up by your car transport company within some number of days of the scheduled pickup date. If you cancel within the allotted window, expect to pay some fee, which may vary from $50 to $250. Although most cars are picked up on the scheduled date or within a few days of that date, a 1 or 2 week delay may occasionally happen. Your cancellation clause should allow for at least a week beyond scheduled pickup date. It is difficult for any car transport company to promise a delivery date, however, if your car transport company offers a guarantee that covers a rental car, find out the cost of the guarantee (if any) and the maximum dollars per day covered.
4. INSURANCE. Your vehicle(s) should be insured against damage and theft by your car transport company. ASK FOR A COPY OF INSURANCE COVERAGE. Ask if the carrier’s insurance is PRIMARY or SECONDARY to your own insurance in the event of damage during car transport. Also ask if there is a damage deductible – VERIFY ALL IN WRITING. In addition, your own car insurance may cover your vehicle in transit – check with your car insurance company to verify. Keep in mind that many auto transport companies may discourage or prohibit you from leaving personal articles in your vehicle. Any personal articles left in the car are not insured – your home policy may cover these articles, but you should check with your home insurance agent to verify. ALSO NOTE THAT OVERLOADING YOUR TRUNK WITH HEAVY ITEMS MAY RESULT IN DAMAGE TO YOUR CAR’S UNDERCARRIAGE. Your car transport company may not cover damage in that instance.
5. PICK-UP AND DELIVERY DATES. Ask for estimated pick-up and delivery times from your car transport company. You should be able to get a 3-day window for pick-up – during the busy summer or snow bird season the window may be larger, but the car transport company should warn you of possible delays ahead of time. BE SKEPTICAL OF EXACT PICK-UP AND DELIVERY DATES PROMISED BY CAR TRANSPORT AND AUTO DRIVEAWAY COMPANIES – IF YOU ARE PROMISED EXACT DATES, GET IT IN WRITING AND STATE THE REMEDY IF SERVICE IS NOT PERFORMED ON PROMISED DATES ($50 discount, no fee to cancel, reimbursement for rental car, etc.) . Once pick-up is made, your car transport company should provide you with a fairly precise delivery date. If you need an exact date for pick-up, most auto shipping services can pick-up your car and hold it at a terminal for an additional charge.
6. REFERENCES. While we do our best to exclude poor-quality car transport, we unfortunately cannot guarantee quality of performance of those companies listed. BEFORE SELECTING A COMPANY, we recommend that you contact the Better Business Bureau in the city in which the car transport company is listed to inquire about the company’s service history. Also, many car transport companies are referred by van line companies. Ask for several references, if possible.
7. SAYING GOODBYE TO YOUR CAR. Prior to leaving your car with a driver or car transport company, be sure you receive an “Original Inspection Report.” This report provides pick-up and delivery information, current mileage, and MOST IMPORTANTLY shows the condition of your car at time of pick-up – pre-existing scratches and dents, cracked glass/mirrors, general paint condition, etc. Keep this report and use it when you receive your vehicle.
8. ACCEPTING YOUR VEHICLE FOR DELIVERY. At the time of delivery, inspect your vehicle SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY and compare the condition and mileage against the “Original Inspection Report” provided by your car transport company at origination (ALSO INSPECT THE ROOF AND UNDER FRONT AND REAR BUMPERS). If there are inconsistencies, note them as exceptions and be sure the driver signs it. NEVER ACCEPT YOUR VEHICLE AT NIGHT IF YOU CANNOT VERIFY ITS CONDITION – without being viewed and signed by the driver, you have little recourse if damage had occurred during transit.
9. IF DAMAGE SHOULD OCCUR. The majority of car transport experiences are worry-free, with your damage-free vehicle arriving at the estimated time. On occasion, a vehicle may become damaged in transit. If this should happen, note all damage on your inspection report (see item above), obtain the driver’s signature, and contact your car transport company. The car transport company should then work with you to reimburse you for verifiable damage done to your car.
10. DISPUTES. If you believe that a car transport company has not treated you fairly, first try to work it out with the company. Car transport companies are more likely to cooperate with you if they believe you are trying to work fairly with them. Be reasonable, but firm. If all else fails, you may consider filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in the city in which the car transport company is listed. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation – http://www.dot.gov – regulates car transport companies – however they will usually not get involved until after you have a court judgment against a car transport company (in small claims court, for example).