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Auto Transport: The Nuts and Bolts

HomeMoving TipsAuto Transport: The Nuts and Bolts
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Schedule your auto shipping at least 4 weeks before you move, giving enough time to arrange for a car mover carrier to pick up your vehicle. Basically, the more advance time the better. If you are not available, please arrange an alternative authorized party such as a neighbor, friend or relative you can trust to transfer the car to the car mover. Most automobile shippers offer door-to-door service. However, in many residential neighborhoods it may be difficult to drive in a large truck carrying your vehicle. Because of potential difficulty in getting the truck into your neighborhood, the car mover may ask you to meet them at a nearby local shopping center or garage for pick up of your vehicle. The same will apply for the delivery.

Make sure your car is adequately insured by the car mover for relocation. Upon pick-up, the driver will do a condition report (bill of lading) for any scratches or damages on the vehicle which should be signed by both parties. The same will occur upon delivery; make sure you check vehicle before signing. Reporting any damages or claims at a later time is not advisable.
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Personal Items
Do not leave personal possessions of any kind in your car. Of course spare tires, car jacks, and other standard items that can be found in a trunk of a new car are not a problem. Make sure anything left in the car is tied down securely.

Make sure that if you or an authorized party is not available to receive your car, that it will be stored in a secure storage facility where you will be able to pick it up at a more convenient time. This may be subject to additional charges.


When working with a Car Mover, confirm what the total cost of the shipping will be. As you obtain quotes from several car transport and auto shipping companies, be prepared to provide:

  • origination/destination
  • approximate departure date
  • type of vehicle(s)
  • type of car transport service desired (e.g., door-to-door car transport vs. terminal-to-terminal)
  • special car mover or auto shipping requests (e.g., deliver at a location other than your home vs. at your home)

Paying For Shipping Your Vehicle
While some car movers and auto shippers may not require payment in advance, others require a deposit, or full payment in advance. If a deposit is given, amount due is always required at time of delivery - oftentimes with a cashier's check or cash. If full payment is required prior to car transport or auto shipping service, consider using a credit card so that charges may be disputed if circumstances warrant such actions.

Make Sure You Are Properly Insured
Your vehicle should be insured against damage and theft by your car transport or auto shipping company. Ask for a copy of the car mover's insurance coverage. Find out how the car mover's insurance works with your own insurance in the event of damage during car transport. Additionally, find out if there is any kind of damage deductible and the amount. Everything pertaining to the car move should be in writing. Your own car insurance policy may cover your vehicle in transit; make sure to contact your insurance company to find out. It is advisable that you do not leave any personal items in your car when it is shipped; items left in the car may not be covered by your homeowner's insurance policy.

Get Dates - Pick Up and Delivery
Get the estimated pick-up and delivery dates and times from your car mover or auto shipping company. Make sure to get a 3 day guaranteed window for the pick-up and delivery dates of your car, as suggested earlier get everything in writing. Once pick-up is made, your car mover or auto shipping company should be able to provide you with a specific delivery date. If you require a specific date for pick-up, many car moving and auto shipping companies can accommodate you and store your car at a terminal for an additional charge.

Check References
It is important to verify the good standing and valid licensing of any car moving company or auto shipping service. We urge you to contact your local Better Business Bureau as well as to verify that the shipper's license is valid and active with the appropriate transportation agency (such as the state or federal Department Of Transportation). does its best to make sure that we list only quality service providers. However, we cannot guarantee the quality of service of any car moving or auto shipping company. It is important that you take the time to check references and get all services agreed to by the company in writing.

Inspect Your Car Before Shipping
It is advisable that in addition to receiving a condition report document from your car mover detailing any pre-existing damage to your car, that you take photographs of the car, date the photos, and attach them to the condition report provided by the car mover for your records. You must have a detailed description of the condition of your car prior to shipping. The condition report or other document used by the car mover should include: current mileage, pre-existing damage of any type including: glass, scratches, paint, dents, and so on. This report is important in case any disputes arise.

Vehicle Delivery Inspection and Acceptance
When your car is delivered, make sure to methodically inspect your car. Use the condition report given to you at pick up and go over all of the details. Look for damage not on the original report. Check for changes in mileage and check every part of your car carefully including the roof and under your car. Look for obvious damage or changes to the car's condition that may have occurred during the shipping. If there are any discrepancies, make sure to note them on the condition report you received on pick-up of the car, and have the driver sign the document. Please be advised that you should avoid accepting your vehicle at night or at a location that does not permit you easy access to inspecting all parts of your car. It is absolutely essential that you perform a thorough examination of your car as described above. Remember that once you have accepted your car, your signed documentation is what protects you. If problems arise, reputable car moving and auto shipping companies will work out disputes with you in an amicable fashion, but you must have documentation.

Unresolved Disputes
Always try to work out your dispute with the car mover or auto shipping company first. They often work on a referral basis and are motivated to working out problems. However, if you feel you have reached a dead end or that you have not been treated reasonably, you have the option of filing complaints with multiple agencies (BBB, State and or Federal Department Of Transportation, Interstate Commerce Commission) as well as seeking legal counsel.

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