Less Stress: Auto Transport Strategies
Many times when you accept a temporary assignment or relocation you don’t realize all the details that will be involved in your move. Most families own two autos; if you are flying to your new city of residence, not driving, there will be two autos to transport to your new residence. The mechanics of auto shipping are foreign to most people. It is not as easy as shipping a package. The process is simple, but not always easy.
Shipping an auto cross-country can seem like a daunting undertaking. We would like to offer some tips that can help reduce the stress and possible complications of shipping your auto to your new city of residence.
Try to keep your expectations realistic: Generally you will be provided with estimates for both pick-up and drop-off dates. You might not have considered the possibility of a delay due to weather, breakdown, road construction, or traffic. The auto transport company you choose will be working diligently to ensure your vehicle arrives at your home or terminal safely and in a timely manner.
Read your contract thoroughly. You can ask for a contract clause in writing, stating the company waives the cancellation fee if the car is not picked up by the auto transport company within a given parameter of days of the scheduled pickup date. Although most cars are picked up within the scheduled time, delays of a couple of days to 1-2 weeks can happen. Check to see if there is a rental car clause in your contract giving you a transportation alternative until your vehicle arrives.
Open or Enclosed Auto Transport: Most often people choose open trailers for auto shipping. When receiving a quote the default is usually for open shipping. The truck trailer can haul up to 12 vehicles and your vehicle will be subjected to weather. Enclosed transport can cost 25-100% more than open shipping and is usually reserved for premium vehicles, convertibles, and vintage cars. Enclosed shipping has the benefit of protecting your vehicle and your vehicle is usually shipped with only two other vehicles. Either method your vehicle will be in secured until delivery.
Payment for auto transport: When asking about pricing, be sure to ask for the total cost of transport. Obtain quotes from several vehicle transport companies. Some auto transport companies do not require payment in advance; others require a deposit of 10-25% of the total cost or full payment in advance. To safeguard yourself, ask if the company accepts credit cards, it gives you another recourse, because payment many times is limited to cash or cashiers check. If you cancel within a typical window period, still expect to pay some fee, usually $100 or more.
Auto Insurance: The auto transport company should cover your vehicle for theft and damage; ask for a copy of their insurance policy. Ask if the carrier’s insurance is primary or secondary to your own insurance. Be sure to ask if there is damage deductible and verify the insurance in writing. Take photos of the your vehicle; sides, front, rear and interior. Taking photos of your vehicle’s condition is your best insurance of getting a claim settled if damage occurs.
Door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal delivery: Auto transport companies have options to fit your shipping needs. Door to door delivery means the vehicle is picked up at your home and delivered to your home in your new city of residence. Transport trucks are usually 75 feet long and difficult for some urban and suburban neighborhoods to accommodate; you might have to set up alternative drop-off and pick-up locations depending on your neighborhood. Terminal-to-terminal service entails you delivering your vehicle to the shipping terminal and then picking up your vehicles at an agreed upon time at the terminal in the shipped to city.
Prepare for transport: Take all personal belongings from the interior and trunk of your vehicle prior to shipping. Do not pack the trunk to get a few extra things shipped, it could make your vehicle over weight and delay shipping or increase costs. The auto shipping company is not responsible for personal property left in your vehicle. Wash your car and take photos as suggested. Turn off your car alarm; you don’t want your vehicle arriving with a dead battery. Use up the gas in your vehicle; this is both a safety and weight issue.
Remove or secure any special equipment from your vehicle; spoilers, fog lights, antennas, or removable stereo systems. If you have a convertible it is best to ship with the top up. If you can’t raise the top consider enclosed shipping. Check the tire pressure, battery is fully charged, and you have no fluids leaking from your vehicle. You wouldn’t want your vehicle exposed to dripping fluids, so double check and be considerate to others. Be sure to receive an inspection report on the condition of your vehicle prior to shipping, this combined with your photos will help document the condition of your vehicle prior to shipping.
Taking delivery: Be sure to take delivery of your vehicles only during daylight hours, you want to be able to fully examine the vehicle. At the time of delivery compare the original inspection report with the current condition and mileage. If there are any inconsistencies, note the exceptions and be sure to get the signature of the driver or terminal manager.
Most vehicles that are shipped by auto transport companies arrive on time and in the condition they were shipped, but if there is a problem be sure to act on it promptly. The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates auto transport companies, their website is http://www.dot.gov , but they usually don’t get involved until after a court judgment. Be reasonable, but firm.
SuiteAmerica’s personal trasition services help with many details of your move including suggestions on auto transport. Auto transport companies can take the stress out of getting your vehicles to your new city of residence for a temporary assignment or relocation. Asking a company for references, checking with the Better Business Bureau, and asking family and friends whom they would recommend are some of your best safeguards in insuring that your auto transport experience is a positive one.