Auto Transportation 101 – Questions to Ask When Shipping a Car

March 28, 2023Car Shipping Essentials
Julie Grace

Originally from The Golden City, Julie has explored the ins and outs of moving and has written all the tips down.

Shipping a car can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. With so many variables to consider, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about where to start. But fear not – arming yourself with the right questions to ask when shipping a car can make all the difference. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn everything you need to know to ship your car with peace of mind.

In this guide, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask when transporting a car to help you navigate the process with confidence and ease. From understanding pricing and insurance to delivery times and vehicle preparation, we’ve got you covered.

Why Should You Know What Questions to Ask When Shipping a Car

According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 17 million vehicles are shipped each year in the US, with the majority of shipments being for new and used vehicles purchased online or from dealerships. Shipping cars in the USA is a thriving industry that employs thousands of workers and relies on a vast network of carriers and terminals.


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So, don’t be surprised if you’ve heard someone got scammed. But don’t worry! Asking the right questions will help you to identify any red flags early on, such as unreasonably low pricing or pushy sales tactics. It will also give you a better understanding of the auto transporting process, allowing you to make informed decisions about the carrier you choose, the type of service you require, and the overall cost.

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Find the most suitable shippers for your four-wheeler

Questions to Ask Before Booking a Car Shipment

If you’re organizing a long-distance move and planning on bringing your four-wheeler, it’s important to do your due diligence and ask the right questions before booking a carrier. This can help you avoid scams, prevent damage to your vehicle, and ensure a smooth and stress-free transportation experience. So, prepare for all the questions to ask shippers before hiring them.

What Types of Transport Services Does Your Car Shipping Company Offer?

Reputable shippers generally offer two types of transport services – enclosed and open transport. Open transport involves transporting your car on an open trailer, which is typically less expensive than enclosed transport. Your car will be exposed to the elements during transport, but this is usually not a concern for most cars.

Enclosed transport, on the other hand, involves transporting your car in an enclosed trailer, providing extra protection. This service is generally more expensive than open transport and is usually recommended for high-end, luxury, or classic cars.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car?

It’s important to get quotes from multiple companies and compare their prices and services before making a decision. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best choice, and it’s worth investing in a reputable and reliable shipper to ensure the safe and timely delivery of your vehicle.

On average, vehicle transportation within the same state can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, while transporting a car across the country can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 or more. The type of vehicle also plays a role in the cost, with larger or heavier vehicles typically costing more to ship than smaller ones.

Are There Any Additional Fees or Charges I Should Be Aware Of?

Before booking a car shipment with an auto transport company, it’s important to ask about any additional fees or charges that may apply. If you’ve never done this before, be aware of possible fuel surcharges, expedited or express shipping fees, terminal-to-terminal car shipping fees, additional insurance coverage, and cancellation or rescheduling fees.

While this might seem like much to keep track of, there’s no need to be scared of possible additional fees. If you work with professional and reputable shippers, the quote you get will be completely transparent, and you can calculate auto transport costs. At USA Auto Transport, not only do you get a transparent quote, but it will be a competitive one as well.

Woman holding money
Prepare your budget accordingly after figuring out the potential additional fees and costs

How Long Does the Shipping Process Typically Take?

Discuss the estimated transportation time with the potential relocation company before actually hiring them. The distance between the pickup and delivery locations is one of the primary factors that can impact transportation time. Transporting a car across the country will generally take longer than shipping it within the same state.

The type of transport service you choose can also affect the shipping time. Expedited or express services may be faster but will usually cost more than standard options. Additionally, the time of year can impact the shipping time. During peak season (usually in the summer months), it can take longer due to higher demand and limited availability.

A woman holding car keys through the window of a car
Check with the shippers approximately how long transportation takes

What Insurance Options Does Your USA Auto Transport Company Offer?

It’s important to carefully review the insurance options offered by the auto transport company and consider purchasing additional insurance if you feel that your vehicle requires extra protection. Additionally, be sure to read and understand the insurance policy and any exclusions or limitations before booking your shipment.

How Does Your Company Handle Any Damage That Occurs During Shipping?

It’s important to ask your movers about their damage policy before booking your shipment to understand how they will handle any damage that occurs during transport. Check whether you’ll have to file a claim, how the insurance coverage works, and what the repair or replacement procedure actually entails.

Are There Any Restrictions or Requirements for the Type of Car Your Company Can Ship?

Surely, some companies may have restrictions or requirements for the type of vehicle they can ship. For example, there could be restrictions on the size and weight of the vehicle a shipper can transport. Be aware of possible limitations on the type of vehicle, such as classic or luxury cars that require enclosed auto transport for added protection.

Additionally, some auto transport companies may have restrictions based on the pickup and delivery locations. For example, certain routes may not be accessible to larger transport trailers, and door-to-door auto transport may require additional permits or fees.

man searching for a car shipping company
Get familiar with all the possible restrictions

Questions to Ask During the Car Shipping Process

Explore some of the essential questions to ask during the car shipping process. These will help you stay informed and allow you to make informed decisions at every step.

Can I Track My Car During Transit?

Working with professional movers, you’ll surely be able to contact them in the middle of the shipment and check all you want to know. Feel free to ask for regular updates throughout the transport process. This can help you stay informed and make any necessary arrangements for the pickup and delivery of your car.

What Happens if the Delivery Date Is Delayed?

If the delivery date for your car shipment is delayed, the auto transport company should provide you with updates and information about the new estimated delivery date. The reasons for the delay can vary, but common causes include weather conditions, especially if a vehicle is being transported in winter, traffic, or unexpected issues with the carrier’s equipment. If the delay is significant or you have concerns about the delivery timeframe, it’s important to communicate with your movers and ask for regular updates.

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How Do I Prepare My Car for Shipment?

Preparing your car for shipment is an important step to ensure your vehicle arrives at its destination safely and in good condition. Here are some steps you can take and ensure a successful shipment:

  • Wash your carGive your car a good wash before the transport to help identify any pre-existing damage and ensure that your car is clean for inspection.
  • Remove personal belongings – Remove all personal belongings from your car before transport. This includes any loose items, such as GPS devices or toll passes, as well as any larger items, such as bike racks or car covers. Make sure to check what things you can keep in your four-wheeler with your movers.
  • Disable alarm systems – If your car has an alarm system, be sure to disable it before transport.
  • Document pre-existing damage – Take photos of any pre-existing damage to your car before transport. This can help support any claims for damage that may occur during transport.
  • Check tire pressure and battery – Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your battery is charged before transport.
  • Leave a quarter tank of gas – This will help reduce the weight of your vehicle and make it easier to load and unload.
  • Provide keys and necessary documentation – Hand the chosen shippers a set of keys to your vehicle and any necessary documentation, such as registration and insurance papers.

By following these steps and communicating with the auto transport company, you can ensure that your car is prepared for transport and that the entire process goes smoothly.

man washing the car
Ensure your four-wheeler is adequately prepared for the trip

Questions to Ask Upon Delivery of the Car

Upon delivery of your car, it’s important to thoroughly inspect your vehicle and ask the right questions to ensure that it has arrived safely and in good condition. This can help you identify any damage that may have occurred during transport, whether it’s a luxurious car transport or not, and address any issues with the auto transport company. Let’s check some questions to ask upon delivery of your car, covering everything from the condition of your vehicle to the final payment and paperwork.

What Should I Do When the Car Is Delivered?

When your car is delivered, there are several steps you should take to address any issues that may have arisen. Besides inspecting your four-wheeler, be sure to do the following as well:

  • Review the delivery paperwork – Check out this paperwork carefully, including any bills of lading, inspection reports, or other documents related to the transport of your vehicle. Be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the contract.
  • Ask questions – If you have any questions or concerns about the delivery or the condition of your vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask the carrier or the auto transport company.
  • Make final payment – If you haven’t already made the final payment, be sure to do so before taking possession of your vehicle.

How Do I Inspect the Car for Damage?

Inspecting your car for damage upon delivery is an important step to ensure that your vehicle has arrived safely and in good condition. So, the first thing to do is to check the exterior. Walk around your car and check for any scratches, dents, or other damage. Be sure to check all sides of the vehicle, including the roof, hood, and trunk, then proceed with checking the interior.

Open the doors and check the interior of your car for any damage. Look for tears or stains in the upholstery or damage to the dashboard or console. Last but not least, check the functionality. Test the functionality of your car, including the brakes, lights, and turn signals. Check the engine for any signs of damage or leaks. Here are what other components you should test:

What Is the Process for Reporting Any Damage?

When it comes to shipping a vehicle to another state, there are many myths and misconceptions, but we’re all aware that relocation mistakes can still happen. If you identify any damage to your car upon delivery, it’s important to report it to the shippers as soon as possible. Here’s the process for reporting any damage:

  • Document the damage – Take photos and note the details of the damage, including the location and extent of the damage.
  • Contact the shipper in charge – Contact the auto transport company as soon as possible to report the damage. Be sure to provide them with all relevant information, including the photos and details of the damage.
  • File a claim – If the damage is significant, you may need to file a claim with the auto transport company’s insurance provider. The company should be able to provide you with information on the claims process and any necessary forms or documentation.
  • Follow up – Follow up with your chosen shipper regularly to check on the status of your claim and ensure that the issue is being addressed.

Are There Any Follow-up Steps I Need to Take After the Delivery?

While there are already many things to do after the move, count on a few follow-up steps if you wish to ensure a successful and stress-free car transport to another state. So, after the professionals deliver the vehicle, take some time to drive your car and complete a final inspection to ensure that there are no issues or damage that may have been missed during the initial inspection.

Once that’s settled, leave a review of the shippers to share your experience with others and provide feedback to the company. It surely is one of the ways to tip movers and shippers for having helped you a lot. If you had a positive experience with the auto transport company, consider referring others who may need car transport services.

A girl sitting on the floor and working with the laptop after the terminal to terminal car shipping service is done
Don't forget to leave an honest review after the whole process

Go Over All the Questions, and You Won’t Have Any Troubles With Vehicle Transportation

Although there are many questions mentioned above, ensure you have the answer to all of them. That way, you can be completely reassured your four-wheeler is in good hands and will arrive at the new destination safely and on time.

Looking for a reliable and affordable auto transport service in the USA? Look no further than USA Auto Transport! Contact us today to learn more about our range of cross-country moving services and get a free quote for your vehicle transportation needs.

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