How to Ship a Vehicle Across the Country

There are times when you need to transport a car from one part of the country to another. Maybe you've purchased a car online from a private party or a dealership in another state, or perhaps you're relocating for a new job. Maybe you want to send a car to a relative. Shipping a vehicle across the country can be costly, but if you weigh that against flying to pick up a car and the time and expense involved in driving it home, it is often worth it.

Here are some Tips to Ship a Vehicle Across the Country:

1- Create a checklist
There are a few major things to do before handing over the keys of your car to a vehicle transport company. Thus, it is good to create a checklist first and then move down every step, especially when you are moving your car across the country.

2- Search for car transport companies
Since you will be moving your car across the country you will need a shipping company that can deliver nationwide. It is a good idea to choose a company that is both a carrier and a broker. As a carrier the company has trucks traveling certain roads all the time which often means a quicker delivery of your vehicle across the country. If they don't serve the route you need, then they will find a carrier from their network to pick up your vehicle.

3- Contact a few car shipping companies
Research and contact a few companies. Ask them questions regarding their services and rates. Obtain quotes from all of them. Compare the services they offer and the prices they are asking you to pay. If there is a big difference in some rates, consider this a red flag. Car shipping rates are affected by many variables and they can fluctuate often, yet they should be close when it is for the same vehicle and route. Rates vary based on gas prices, miles, make and model of the vehicle, modifications to the vehicle and seasonal changes.

4- Choose a company and verify its legitimacy
Make sure you are safe when you are transporting your car across the country. Verify the company's licenses, ratings and insurance policy. Check their USDOT number and BBB rating. It is a good practice to also read reviews of what other customers are saying about the company policies and practices. This is the best way to make sure the company you have chosen is going to deliver what they have promised, and most importantly your car in the same condition it was picked up.

5- Prepare your car for shipping
It is important to have your car's interior and exterior cleaned before pick up to make the inspection easier. The truckers always inspect a car before loading it onto the trailer and mark down any scratches and damages your car has. You should also go over the inspection with the trucker. This way you will be sure that everything is marked correctly when you sign the Bill of Lading and the inspection report. Preparing your car for shipping across the country also means removing any loose parts such as ski and bike racks, rear spoilers, spare tire and all other covers and modifications you can remove.

Some questions to ask and things to keep in mind when planning to ship a car.

Be Prepared To Wait
Shipping a vehicle isn't like shipping a package: It won't happen overnight. Deliveries in the U.S. have roughly a four-week window from when the car is picked up to when it will arrive at its destination. International deliveries will take six to eight weeks.

Covered or Uncovered Carrier?
An uncovered car carrier will often be the less expensive option, but your vehicle will be susceptible to the elements and any debris that may fly in the path of the truck. A covered or enclosed carrier gives you the most protection, but it can cost roughly 60 percent more.

Scheduled Pickup or Open Transport?
In most cases, the shipping company will contact you when it has a truck with an open slot that's heading in the direction of your destination. If you prefer an exact pick-up date, it will cost extra.

Door to Door or Terminal to Terminal?
Door-to-door service is the most convenient method of shipping a vehicle, but if you're looking to keep costs low, ask if the company has terminal-to-terminal service. This means that the sender drops off the car at a predetermined terminal and the recipient picks it up at a terminal in the destination city.

Check Your Insurance Coverage
It is important to ask about the company's liability insurance coverage, in case anything happens to your vehicle during transport. Most reputable carriers will have $50,000-$100,000 in coverage according to Paysafe Escrow, a third-party escrow service. Additionally, you'll want to check with your own insurance to see what coverage you have in the event of an accident along the way.

Inspect the Vehicle for Damage
The shipping company usually does a thorough walk-around of the vehicle before it is loaded onto the truck. The shipping company is looking for any scratches or dents and will make a note of them. This will be an important piece of evidence in case something gets damaged, so make sure you inspect the car and agree with the report. Similarly, you'll want to inspect an arriving vehicle for any damage that might have occurred during transport. Taking a few pre- and post-shipment photos is a good idea, in case you need to support a damage claim.