How to Choose an Auto Transport Company
Scams are abound in the auto transport industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has received a dramatic increase in complaints against auto transporters and auto transport brokers. These steps take you through how to choose an auto transport company, and more importantly, how to avoid the scams that prey on those shipping their vehicles long distances.
Find a company you are interested in and go directly to their website for a quote.One way to find a reputable firm is to use "transport" as a key word search in the online forums of collectible car owner websites. You're likely to find reputable movers but not cheap ones with this approach. (Do not put your information in a multi-quote website. You will receive unfavorable email and phones calls by 20 different companies.) Another source of rated companies is Angie's List. You must enter all information correctly to receive the most accurate rate. Most automatic quotes that you will receive are for operable, standard passenger vehicles. Cars with modifications (i.e. lift kits, lowered suspensions, bigger tires) and cars that do not run cost additional money for the size, weight and conditions for the carrier.
Do not automatically go with the lowest price.Many companies lure unsuspecting customers with the lowest bid. They then need to locate a carrier to physically move your vehicle. If the carrier does not accept the low price (and generally they don't), then your vehicle will not be moved. A lot of companies low-ball customers into using their company.
Research the transport companies you are considering.Learn from others experiences using the wealth of information available on the Internet. You can start with simply doing a search on your favorite search engine for the company's name in quotes. You can also repeat the same search along with the word "complaints". Avoid using a review website as the most popular ones are not always accurate. Call multiple companies, ask friends if they have ever used a transport company. Review quotes, terms & conditions, reviews posted on the Internet, and finally, make sure they have been in business at least a few years. This is a highly unregulated industry, and many less than desirable companies pop-up with new names every few years to strike unsuspecting customers again and again. Make sure the brokers are bonded and that the carriers they assign are licensed and insured. Whichever company you decide to go with, familiarize yourself with their dispute resolution procedures, such a delays or even damage as well.
Make a decision about which company to use and book your transport.Make sure to have a confirmation via fax or email. Read everything a company sends you before signing it. Be aware that if you place a reservation via Internet, your e-signature is binding once you click send or submit.
Prepare your vehicle for transport by removing all personal or valuable items.Don't fuel up. Auto carriers prefer you have less than a quarter tank of fuel because it greatly decreases the weight they carry and the less weight they haul the better the fuel economy while driving from point to point. The less it costs them the less it will continue to cost you!! It is a good idea to wash vehicles before the inspection report at pick up. This ensures the car’s condition and any damage can be easily identified before and after transit. It's also a good idea to disable any alarm system before transport.
Make sure the carrier inspects your vehicle.At pick-up, the driver should inspect the car for any existing damage with a form called "The Bill of Lading". They will footnote the damage on a vehicle condition report. They will ask you to sign it and will hand you a copy of the report for your records. If they do not give it to you insist on asking for a copy. Keep this with you until the car is delivered.
Inspect the car to ensure there are no additional dings, dents or scratches.This is your only opportunity to claim damage, so please take your time. If any damage is claimed, note it right on the condition report (Bill of Lading) and make sure the carrier signs the condition report and again retain a copy for your records.
QuestionIs American Auto Transport a reliable company?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTo check out the reliability of a company, check out the Better Business Bureau and other sources such as Yelp and Angieslist for feedback from consumers who have used their services in the past.Thanks!
QuestionIs it normal to give a deposit for auto transport?RadcarlCommunity AnswerYes, but the deposit should only be charged after they have assigned a truck to come get your car.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find out if a carrier is legitimate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk the carrier for their insurance provider and any numbers that you can call to verify their insurance is up to date and legal.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I find someone to pick up my car when I am stranded?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe most convenient way is to obtain an auto club membership such as CAA or AAA. They are relatively inexpensive and will bring gas or tow your car if necessary.Thanks!
QuestionI was scammed by an auto shipper who never showed up and I lost what I paid for airfare. Do I have any recourse?Enterprise Auto TransportCommunity AnswerFile a dispute with your credit card company. Most contracts state that if the driver cancels or does not show up, your deposit is refundable. Look at your contract. When you file a dispute, the credit card company will request a bill of lading from the shipper. They wont be able to provide one, so you will probably win the dispute.Thanks!
QuestionCan a broker keep my deposit if the driver cancels hauling my vehicle and insists on a non-compete relationship with me, the customer?Casey JacksonCommunity AnswerYes they can, this is likely covered in the contract that you signed when the order was booked with the broker.Thanks!
QuestionShould I expect any additional fees besides the quote?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on the company. Some companies will quote you a low rate to get you on the phone but then increase their rate at the time of booking or after your vehicle sits for a few days. When you receive the quote, please be sure to ask the company if this includes all taxes and fees.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if the broker requests my credit card number to pay in advance before picking up the car?Enterprise Auto TransportCommunity AnswerThis is a personal preference of the owner of the company. Many customers are price shoppers and book with multiple companies at one time. This causes big problems, and many brokers like to lock in their customers so they don't do that and waste their valuable time. If they have good ratings, it shouldn't matter.Thanks!
QuestionHow many pounds of personal effects can be in a vehicle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCheck the owner's manual for the vehicle's maximum weight for content. If you don't have the manual, you can probably find the specs for that vehicle on the manufacturer's website.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to have personal vehicle insurance on the vehicle being transported?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, but it's best to have it just in case the carrier's insurance falls through.Thanks!
- Check customer services, good customer service determines how well the company communicates with its customers, and if there is good communication between customers and the company, then it is less likely that problems will occur during shipping.
- Read the contract completely before signing. Be wary of hidden fees that are listed in the small print on the contract.
- Always check and compare shipping rates, the initial quote that an auto transport company gives you is usually just a ballpark estimate of how much the entire service will cost, but some companies stick to their estimate. If you really need to know the final cost of delivery, then get a quote, and call companies that you received bids from. Some companies will tell you up front how much the entire ordeal will cost, with minimal extra charges. These rates will be higher than other initial quotes, but additional charges can severely affect the price you end up paying.
- Be honest with the company you are contacting in regards to any personal items you have in your vehicle. Trucks are weight limited and are weighed in each state they travel across. They can be charged large fines in every state for being overweight. Also, most companies will not insure any items inside the vehicle. It is usually best to send your car empty on a truck.
- Know what you're getting. A good broker gets you more than just a carrier to pick up your car. They should explain and demonstrate knowledge. The broker should understand insurance and contracts to protect you - they are supposed to be an advocate. MANY don't operate like this so beware, look for the one not afraid to say "no" and give the truth and back it up with knowledge and facts!
- Wash the car. Dirt and dust can do a good job of hiding scratches and dents.
- Disable Alarms to avoid them going off in transit
- Remove custom accessories that can break.
- All companies should do inspection reports (Bill of Lading) for the vehicle at pick up and delivery. Be sure to document the mileage on the car before and after transport. In case of damage, it is your responsibility to make sure these reports are correctly updated to prove and ensure reimbursement for the damages.
- Research a company very well, and make sure they are Members of the Better Business Bureau, Bonded, Licensed, and Insured. You can do this by going to the FMCSA website and also by going to your favorite search engine and typing in the name of the company in quotes.You will then run into their reviews, mentions, and local listings.
- Make sure you do not go with the lowest priced companies!
- Brokers known to practice unscrupulous tactics - JMAC Auto Transport (Marcus Moran), Magnum Auto Transport (tony), Transport Services, New Way Moving Services, Exceptional Auto Transport, Plaza Auto Transport, PremierAuto Shippers Coral Gables FL ( owner) .
- This is NOT a guaranteed industry. This industry has many factors that may create delays; such as, waiting for earlier customers at pick up or delivery, weather, mechanical problems, and road constrictions for multi car carriers.
- Remember to review and sign the Bill of Lading at pickup and at dropoff. This is your condition report. It reviews the condition of the vehicle when the driver first gets it and again when it is being delivered. If there is a dent or mark that was not on the car at the pickup and now appears during inspection at delivery, then you have a claim. If you let the driver leave without inspecting the car and/or notice damage afterwards it will NOT be covered.
- Be careful not to go with a low-priced company! Companies out there will give you a low price, but will not be able to find transport for your vehicle. All brokers use the same carriers. And they usually only move the highest paying bids. It's normal to see quotes within 0 of each other. Anything way lower could be a bait and switch or have hidden fees.
- When you make a reservation, do not book with another company as this will hinder your transport. When two companies are trying to move the same vehicle, some drivers will 'pass' on that vehicle and go to another. Others will wait and see who pays them more! This is because most brokers use what's called a load board. There aren't many. So when a trucker sees the same car coming and going to the same place, they know it's a double booking. They will sit and wait to see who offers them the most money for the car.
Video: Ship Your Car: The #1 Question People Don't Ask Auto Transport Companies
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