Shopping for the Best Auto Transport Company

If you’ve done an internet search for “Auto Shipping” or “Auto Transport,” chances are you were probably pretty overwhelmed with the vast number of companies out there competing for your business.  So, how do you go about choosing the best company for you and your vehicle?  Well, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you are truly getting the best value for your personal requirements.

  1. Make a List.  First, you’ll want to comprise a list of your specific needs and desires.  Needs are the essentials, the things you cannot live without.  These are the things you will not compromise on, no matter what.  Your desires are things that you want, but know you may not be able to obtain.  You may need to give up on some of these options, if, for example, they do not fit into your budget.  This list will be your benchmark throughout the entire comparison shopping phase.  It is much easier to compare apples to apples, as opposed to apples to oranges, and this list will help you do precisely that.
  2. Review the Company’s Website.  You can learn a lot about the services offered, just by reviewing the website directly.  If you notice they don’t offer one of your essential requirements, cross the company off the list immediately.  This will be an easy way to narrow down the list prior to contacting each company.  Keep in mind that not every company will list EVERY service they offer online, so if it is unclear, do not be hasty and make an immediate judgment call, until you can verify that they will not accommodate you.
  3. Read the Reviews.  Often other companies will write negative reviews to bring down a competitor’s ratings, but consistently good reviews or consistently bad reviews should provide you with at least an idea of previous customers’ complaints and/or praises.  A very good source to check the history and rating of companies is to go directly to the Better Business Bureau.  The BBB monitors all escalated complaints and you will be able to see if the company made an effort to resolve the issue at hand, which is a great indicator of professionalism.
  4. Use Your Own Best Judgment.  Did the company promptly respond to your online inquiry and answer any questions you may have had?  If you called, did the representative sound professional and competent?  Oftentimes, your gut feeling may be the best indicator of how your relationship with the company will work.  If they answered the phone, “Luigi’s Auto Transport and Italian Subs,” would you feel comfortable turning over your keys?  If they avoided questions or were very unclear in their responses, how much would you be able to trust them?

Take your time and plan in advance of when you need your vehicle shipped to allow yourself the most time possible to do your research.  This will alleviate a lot of stress for you, and more advanced notice will also get you the best available deal.  Finally, make sure you study the contract and if you have any questions, ask away.  A reputable, reliable, and service-oriented auto transport company should be willing to go above the call of duty to ensure you are comfortable and satisfied with the process before your vehicle is even picked-up.

Documents Required to Ship Vehicle

If you are considering shipping your car with a reputable auto transport company, you may be wondering what you need to provide prior to vehicle pick-up.  Because all auto transport companies vary to some degree, it is best to ask your company directly what needs to be submitted.  However, there are some items/documentation that will be universal no matter which company you select.

Domestic Shipping

  • Original Registration- this document shows proof of ownership and is absolutely indispensable.
  • Certificate of Title- if the vehicle still has a lienholder, you may still be able to ship your vehicle.  However, you will need a notarized letter from the lienholder stating that they are aware of and allowing for the transport of the vehicle.
  • Current and Valid Insurance- expired insurance WILL NOT be accepted
  • Photo Identification- Driver’s License or Passport will both work

Sometimes, you may need to ship a vehicle that is not in your name.  If that is the case, you will need to provide a notarized letter signed by the vehicle’s owner allowing for transport.  To avoid any confusion, please include the VIN of the vehicle being shipped in the letter.

International Shipping

In addition to the above mandatory documents, every destination for international shipping has a list of additional requirements dependent on import and customs policies for that specific country.  More often than not, you will need to include:

  • Commercial Invoice or Bill of Sale (notating vehicle’s value)
  • Power of Attorney, if vehicle is not in your name
  • Any other paperwork as required by the destination country

Please also be prepared to pay import duty and customs fees which vary from country to country.  It is in your best interest to first contact the destination country’s Customs department prior to making arrangements for the shipment of your vehicle.  You can also direct additional questions directly to your auto transport company as they will often have more knowledge of specific import procedures.

In order to ensure a smooth shipping process, make sure you verify and gather the above required documents prior to scheduling a pick-up of your vehicle.  The more you do in advance, the less your stress will be when it comes time to complete the actual process and receive your vehicle at your final destination.

Buying a Car Online

With the current popularity of a variety of reputable, internet-based retailers, such as Amazon, Ebay, and even Craigslist, it is possible to buy almost ANYTHING online.  While proper precautions should be taken to first verify safety and dependability, you can score a great deal on a vehicle with one of these many online merchants.  The next step, however, requires getting your new purchase to your current location in a cost-efficient and timely manner.  By remembering a few key pieces of information about shipping, you can be driving your new vehicle in no time at all.

Location, location, location:  Auto transport costs are partially based on the starting and ending locations, in addition to distance travelled.  You can actually save money by picking up a vehicle in a major city, as opposed to having it delivered to your home on a rural route.  You should also be aware that although a vehicle from a small-town dealership may seem like a much better deal, the difference in price from a big city dealership could be offset by an increase in shipping.

Size Differential:  If you are trying to decide between a larger or a smaller vehicle, remember that larger vehicles will cost more to ship.  The weight will increase the transport truck’s load, and the size will not allow for as many vehicles to travel simultaneously.  A smaller vehicle will most likely also reward you with better gas mileage in the long run anyway.

The “When” Matters Too:  Transport trucks tend to be emptier during the winter months, so shipping your car during these off-peak times will most likely cost you less.  Also, shipping opposite directions of the “snowbirds” (who tend to ship South-North in March/April, and North-South in September/October) can allow you to negotiate a discount on a return trip.

Car Condition:  The most popular and cost-efficient way to ship a vehicle is in an open container, which allows for exposure to the elements, but still allows for little chance of damage.  However, if your car is a luxury vehicle or something very high-end, you may consider paying 25-40% more and opting for closed container shipping.  This is really dependent on the quality of your vehicle and is a decision you must make for yourself.

When dealing with reputable online car purveyors, such as eBay Motors, be sure to be aware of the website’s buyer protection policy prior to making a purchasing decision.  If you are dealing with Craigslist or another less than respectable website, please be wary of scams and protect yourself first, above all else.  These simple tips can help aid you in the post-purchase confusion that comes standard with making your first internet-based vehicle purchase.

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