How to Avoid the Most Common Automobile Shipping Mistakes

Charlotte Miller

Updated on:

In the United States, 91.3% of households have access to at least one vehicle. Although cars and trucks can make life a lot easier, they do cause a burden in some circumstances.

If you plan to move across the country, driving your vehicle is expensive and even impossible if you move overseas. Instead of dealing with the hassle on your own, hiring an automobile shipping company is the best option.

Yet, many who choose this process end up making mistakes. Learn how to avoid common hiring mistakes by reading on in this guide. 


Automobile shipping varies in price depending on the company you choose. There are also different services offered by companies that can affect the price you pay.

Before hiring a car shipping company, know exactly how much you are getting charged. This will help you avoid hidden costs that you weren’t familiar with during the hiring process.

Although overpaying is a mistake you don’t want to make, opting for the cheapest option is not always smart either. Low service costs could mean that a shipping company will collect your car on their own time instead of yours.

Keep in mind that those who are in a hurry are expected to pay more because they want their car to get delivered within a particular time frame.

Most companies in the auto transport industry offer free quotes. In general, you should receive quotes from more than one company. This will make it easier to compare prices and decide who is offering a fair cost and who is not.

click here – 4 Aspects of Gas Everyone Should be Aware of 

Not Having Vehicle Documents

The best car shipping company will ensure you have the correct documents before moving your car. If a company does not ask you for vehicle-specific documents, consider it a red flag.

You have to prove to the company that the car they are moving is owned by you. Prepare for the process with a copy of your insurance certificate and vehicle registration. Don’t forget to have your driver’s license on hand as well.

Not Taking Note of Damages

Another document you’ll need but have to ask for is an inspection report. A car transport company should carry out an inspection and note any issues they see with the vehicle.

This is important as it proves the condition of your car before it was shipped. You can also take your own dated photographs to act as proof. The report they create should correlate with what you know about the condition of your car.

After the car is delivered to the designated location, complete another inspection. If there is any damage that occurred during the transportation process, make note of it on the Bill of Lading and have the transporter sign.

Without making notes on the Bill of Lading, you will be responsible for paying any damages that occurred to your vehicle. In most cases, the only damage that happens is small chips or scratches.

It is rare for damage to occur during the delivery process if you choose a reputable car shipping company. Don’t let the possibility of damages discourage you from shipping your vehicle.

click here – 9 Items You Never Thought of Vacuum Sealing!

Not Having Insurance Coverage

You should have your own vehicle insurance to cover any costs that incur during the transportation. Some people opt for additional coverage before they have their car shipped anywhere.

In addition to your own coverage, a car shipping company is required to have their own in case there is damage to the car they are moving.

To be extra safe, ask for a copy of their insurance certificate and read it thoroughly. You need to understand this document to know exactly what coverage your car will have when it gets moved.

If the insurance coverage from the company is insufficient for your vehicle, you can check other companies or ask to pay a fee to cover the remaining balance. However, this option is not always available.

Not Emptying Your Vehicle

The best car shipper will leave any personal items in your car alone, but you should never take that risk. If the reason you are shipping your vehicle is because of a move, don’t pack up your car with your belongings.

This may seem like a smart idea as it will save you the trouble of moving things yourself, but shipping companies aren’t supposed to move vehicles that have household items in them.

Some companies allow up to 100lbs of your personal property to stay packed in your vehicle but they aren’t responsible for any missing or damaged items. Your insurance also won’t cover personal belonging damages either.

During the journey to move your car, the company might be inspected by the Department of Transportation. If this happens, they have the right to seize belongings left in the vehicle.

Trusting Unlikely Promises

The auto transport process is an unpredictable one. Realistically, because of inclement weather and traffic delays, an auto company can’t guarantee a single delivery day.

Even if you pay more to have your car delivered on a certain day, a reputable company will tell you that they can only move your vehicle within a certain time frame. This is typically a three to a five-day window.

They also cannot guarantee a specific date because the shipping process depends on the distance of the final location.

Waiting Too Long to Schedule Your Car Shipment

The sooner you book your auto transport, the better. In fact, as soon as you know you need to transport your car, you should look into shipping companies.

In general, a car shipping company needs at least one month’s notice. This is because there is a limited number of carriers out there going to your destination and they may already be booked for your time frame.

Scheduling a car shipment closer to your moving date might still be possible but definitely more difficult. Your delivery could take longer than expected or cost you more than it would when booking in advance.

Choosing the First Automobile Shipping Company You Find

A common mistake people make when looking for a car shipping company is doing a quick internet search and choosing the first business they find. This is a sure way to get scammed or deal with delivery problems.

Finding a company to handle such a valuable asset takes a lot of research. At the least, ensure that a company is registered with the Department for Transportation as this is a legal requirement.

How to Avoid Car Shipping Mistakes

The best way to avoid all car shipping mistakes is by hiring a professional and reputable company. The right businesses will ensure you have the documentation you need and complete inspections all for a fair price.

Not sure how to find the best car shipping company for your needs? These tips should help:

Check Online Reviews and Other Resources

You can do a simple Google search on automobile shipping companies to find the best ones in your area. Before making a quick decision, check the online reviews to learn about client experiences.

Always pay attention to the details of company reviews. For example, if you find a negative review, see how the company responds to it. Companies without any reviews at all are not ones you want to hire.

Along with Google reviews, check other reputable websites like Better Business Bureau (BBB), TransportReviews, Facebook, and TrustPilot. The best vehicle transport company will have reviews on each of these review sites.

You can benefit from reading all reviews, but try to find ones written by people like you. For instance, if you need to ship a very valuable or antique car, find reviews of those who went through the same situation.

Lastly, consider the average rating of reviews compared to the total number of reviews posted.

Ensure the Company Is Accessible

For your own peace of mind and in case of any unforeseen circumstances, it is important to contact the company when needed. If a company is not accessible, you won’t have your questions answered when you want.

An accessible company is often one that ranks high in customer satisfaction, something else you’ll need to consider when choosing a car shipping business. A company should at least be accessible during their business hours.

Check Shipping Costs

After going through online reviews of various companies, you should have an idea of a few businesses you might hire. Give these companies a call or fill out an online form for a free quote on their website.

Here is what you need to know about receiving car shipping quotes:

  • Larger vehicles cost more to ship
  • Longer trips cost more to complete
  • You’ll pay extra if you need to ship your vehicle ASAP
  • Deposits aren’t required to receive a quote

If a car shipping company only provides you with a quote in exchange for a commitment of some kind, find a different business to work with.

Keep in mind that smaller car transporting companies are going to charge more for cars that need to ship across the country. This is because they don’t often execute longer routes and don’t have the necessary resources.

Ask About the Process of Shipping

Since every car shipping company is different, they will have various policies regarding their shipping process. Figure out this information about shipping before hiring a business:

  • The duration of the shipping process
  • Covered and uncovered carrier options
  • Scheduling a vehicle pickup
  • Delivery options offered

Auto shipments don’t happen overnight. In fact, some of them can take as long as a month. If you are shipping your vehicle overseas, you can expect the delivery to take longer.

If you prefer a covered carrier option, ensure the company you hire offers it. An uncovered carrier is the least expensive option, but it exposes your vehicle to any elements endured during the journey.

Depending on the company you choose, you might have to pick up your delivered vehicle at a specific location. Other companies offer door-to-door delivery to make things easier. This is the more convenient, but expensive choice.

Pro tip: Figure out who the person shipping your vehicle will be. Often, it is not the initial person you come into contact with at the company.

Read the Terms and Conditions

We as a human population are guilty of ignoring the terms and conditions then accepting them anyway. This is a mistake you don’t want to make when hiring a car shipping company.

You should understand everything the carrier company has to offer. Often, the terms and conditions are where you can find the most valuable information like liability insurance.

Consider a Larger Auto Transport Company

A larger auto transport company provides you with more opportunities than a smaller company would. A big company will work with brokers who find carriers and schedule all shipments. This prioritizes customers from each end.

If a problem arises, a larger company can solve them faster. They work with a network of truckers to get your vehicle where it needs to go. Shipping with a bigger company is a better call because you’ll have more options.

Give Yourself Time to Make an Informative Decision

If you begin research in advance, you’ll have enough time to make an informative decision after receiving multiple quotes. Take in everything you learned from these tips to find the right company for your needs.

Transport Your Vehicle the Smart and Responsible Way

Transporting your vehicle smartly and responsibly involves avoiding these common automobile shipping mistakes.

If you check prices thoroughly, get your documentation together, have insurance, and empty your vehicle, you are already on the right path. However, avoiding mistakes means finding the right company as well.

When you trust this guide, your vehicle will get to your designated location safe and sound. For more informative articles like this one, check out the other posts we have on our blog.