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8 Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping Your Car in 2024

by Elsa Stringer

Thousands of vehicle owners ship their cars every day. Whether they’re preparing for an extended location or relocating cross-country for a new job opportunity, auto transportation services are an incredibly useful resource for car owners making a big life adjustment.

Even if you’re only relocating a few states away, utilizing car transportation services may be in your best interest if you’re a working parent or a business exec juggling a hectic work schedule. With the help of shipping professionals, your car will arrive in its original condition—sparing you from days’ worth of road trips.

At times, choosing a reliable car shipping service can be tricky and disorienting, especially if it’s your first time recruiting the services of an auto transportation company. While many of their services are the same, they differ in terms of quality and professionalism, so don’t hand over your car to just anyone. Work with a reputable company like Guardian Auto Transport backed by stellar customer reviews, so you can feel confident you’re receiving top-notch service.

Mistakes to avoid when shipping your car

1. Not being ready with your vehicle

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You need to check several items off your to-do list to prepare your car for transportation. For example, you’ll need to clean your vehicle’s interior and exterior before your shipping provider conducts an inspection. Take pictures of your car and document existing damages before transportation.

You’ll also need to make sure your vehicle is running well. That way, you’ll be able to compare your vehicle’s condition pre and post transportation accurately. There are also several documents you’ll need to have with you for verification purposes. You should have a valid passport or license, proof of ownership, insurance certificate, and vehicle registration documents in your possession.

2. Inadequate research

With more individuals owning cars than ever before, there are several auto transportation companies on-the-market. To narrow down your options, you’ll need to research companies within your price range before settling on a final decision.

For starters, your transportation company of choice must be registered with the Department of Transportation. They should also be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For verification purposes, any trustworthy transportation company will provide you with their registration number to input on the Department of Transportation website.

After verifying a company’s registration status, scroll through online reviews to look into the company’s quality of services. In most cases, customer feedback will steer you in the right direction. A transportation company with glowing reviews and customer testimonials can grant you much-needed peace of mind.

3. Not emptying your car

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Leaving your belongings in the car can put you at risk of theft. Unfortunately, shipping insurance doesn’t cover the damage or loss of personal items during transportation. The law prohibits transportation companies from transporting cars with household items or other valuables to avert customer complaints.

Although some companies may allow personal loading items up to 100lbs, they aren’t liable for losses or damages. Besides the risk of damage to your personal belongings, the added weight may attract additional costs. Therefore, most transportation companies recommend that you empty your car before shipping.

4. Paying too much

Yes, shipping costs will vary between companies, but you’ll want to score the biggest bang for your buck. Request a quote from your transportation company, and be sure to ask about hidden charges. In most cases, trustworthy and reliable transportation companies will provide free and instant quotes. Others even offer an online shipping calculator that estimates the total cost based on a variety of factors.

After you’ve received the quote, review the entire document, no matter how comprehensive it is. Inquire about charges not included in the quote. As an extra precaution, don’t rely on one quote. Ask for several quotes to compare their terms and conditions. It’s important to note that cheaper quotes don’t necessarily guarantee excellent service. You’ll need to put other factors into consideration when choosing the transportation company.

5. Not checking the insurance coverage

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Shipping your car without comprehensive insurance coverage is one of the worst mistakes you can make as a consumer. If your vehicle is involved in an accident during the shipping process, you’ll have to cover the costs out-of-pocket if your car isn’t insured. In the case of vehicle shipment, peace-of-mind is a valuable asset.

Any reputable transportation company will offer insurance coverage, which should cover most, if not all, of the damages that may occur during transit. A responsible car owner should request more information from the company about the type of insurance they offer and what it covers before committing to their services. If their coverage isn’t satisfactory, you can pay for additional coverage or search for other transportation providers.

6. Trusting unrealistic promises

It’s essential to understand the shipment process, so you aren’t surprised by the unexpected, such as severe weather, technical hitches, and unforeseen traffic. Doubt the shipping providers promising same-day delivery. On average, there should be a grace period of at least 3-4 days for shipping. While this will entirely depend on the distance traveled, you’ll need to prepare for delays if these circumstances arise.

7. Ignoring auto safety standards

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You’ll need to be aware of the possibility of your vehicle being denied entry to the state you’re traveling or relocating to. Some of the reasons for denied entry include the failure of your car to meet a state’s auto safety requirements. Before shipment, confirm that your vehicle meets all the legal guidelines stipulated. No vehicle owner wants to receive the phone call explaining that your car has been denied entry.

8. Upfront payments

Beware of companies that request an upfront deposit. Some questionable shipping providers may even require payment before sending a quote. With most of these companies, your deposit is non-refundable even before your car is officially shipped. Avoid shipping providers that require upfront payments at all costs. You shouldn’t incur any charges until your car ships.

Why you should ship your car

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Now that you’re familiar with these car shipping tips-and-tricks, you’ll need to make an important decision regarding the shipping company. Generally speaking, a shipping company will pick-up and drop-off your car at the location of your choice—meaning hassle-free shipping. For this reason and some others highlighted below, you should consider hiring an auto transport company.

• It saves time
• It saves money
• Gives you peace of mind
• Protects your car from wear-and-tear
• Enables you to transport several vehicles at the same time
• Caters to eco-friendly vehicle owners hoping to decrease the number of vehicles on the road
• Reduces your car insurance costs
• It is safer for you and your loved ones
• Allows you to enjoy hassle-free, professional services

In summary

Even as you consider other maintenance tips, shipping your car is an example of an indirect maintenance procedure that guarantees your car remains in tip-top condition. Don’t exhaust yourself with any long-distance road trips or force yourself to navigate unfamiliar locations.

Today, shipping your vehicle is easier than ever, but beware of scams. Carve out time in your schedule for some quick research so that you can make an informed decision. When you avoid the common mistakes listed above, you’ll be ready for your extended vacation or cross-country move.