Shipping a Car

Shipping a Car in the USA: What You Need to Know

Why Ship a Car for Vacation?

With new and used vehicle prices hitting historic highs, it makes sense to preserve your current car for as long as possible. That means thinking twice before putting it through the wear and tear of a long-distance trip. If you’re a snowbird or extended vacationer, and require your own transportation once you reach your destination, you should consider having your car shipped. By shipping a car to your US vacation destination you’ll keep thousands of miles off your odometer, increase the life of your vehicle, and save money on costly maintenance and repair bills.

Gas isn’t cheap, either. According to AAA’s Gas Cost Calculator, a long-distance road trip driving from New York City to Los Angeles in a 2015 Ford Fusion (36 miles per gallon) would run you around $300 at current rates. If your car is a gas-guzzler it will be even more painful.

Aside from the obvious danger of getting in a wreck, driving is time-consuming, stressful, and physically and mentally fatiguing. Why not leave it to the pros?

How Much will Shipping a Car to Your Destination Cost?

The price of shipment will depend on the weight, size and type of vehicle (classic and luxury cars require special handling). Other factors are: distance to be transported, time of year (peak seasons like summer and holidays are more expensive), and whether you want to ship on an open or enclosed carrier. Open carriers are cheaper, but your car will not be protected from the weather.

Shipping companies offer individualized quotes and prices will vary, so it pays to compare. Don’t just jump at the lowest price, though. Research the company to make sure they’re reputable. They should have good online reviews and a valid USDOT number. A DOT number is assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. You can call them (or do an online search at their website) to check a commercial carrier’s safety record.

RoadRunner Auto Transport has been shipping vehicles for over 30 years. They typically charge between $500 and $1500 to ship a car across the US in 7 to 10 days.

How to Prepare for Shipping Your Car

Most auto carriers are required to have insurance. Find out what’s covered, how much the deductible will be, and what you’ll have to do to file a claim if the need arises. Your personal insurance might include coverage as well. Before signing a shipping contract, look into all of this and make sure you’re adequately protected.

For optimal pricing, book well in advance and be as flexible as possible with your pick-up and delivery dates. When companies are able to efficiently consolidate shipments it costs them less, and those savings will be passed on to you.

Once you reach an agreement with the company for pick-up and delivery dates, it’s time to document the condition of your vehicle. Take good, detailed photos of the entire car including any damaged areas. If you find new damage after the car is delivered, you’ll have visual proof that it wasn’t preexisting.

Before pick-up, be sure to remove your personal effects from the vehicle. Check the tire pressure, battery and fluids. To reduce weight, don’t the fill the gas tank more than halfway. Secure any loose interior or exterior parts that could fall off during shipment.

Tracking Your Car

A good transportation company will keep you informed throughout the shipping process with regularly updated tracking. They should also be accessible by phone if you have any questions or concerns.

Taking Delivery of Your Car

If you opt for door-to-door shipping, your car will be delivered directly to your address unless some obstacle on the road (low bridge, etc.) or local traffic law prevents it. If the driver can’t get to your location, a nearby meeting place will be determined.

You can also choose to pick up your car from a transport hub. This option is cheaper than door-to-door shipping, but might not be practical if you’re at a remote location far from a hub.

In either case, be sure to inspect your car immediately after delivery. If there’s any new damage, note it on the delivery form, photograph it, and report it to the company.

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