Your Essential List of Long Distance Car Transport Tips for 2023

From the back roads to the highways, you’ve likely spotted long distance car transport trucks while out and about. You may have seen giant open carriers moving between five and nine automobiles on their trailers.

Enclosed trailers often prove more elusive due to the roof and walls shielding their vehicles, but you’ve probably passed by some of these, too. Their treasure of investment-worthy vehicles hidden from public view.

And then, of course, some people move cars individually on rented trailers or using tow bars. But when it comes to major interstate or cross-country moves, a tow bar or trailer won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll need the services of an auto transport company.

Here are tips you need to know about long-distance car transportation and how it can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety associated with a move.

Tip One: Give Yourself Plenty of Lead Time

Certain aspects of moving get all of the attention, from finding boxes to hiring private movers or renting a U-Haul. Other vital parts of relocation, such as how your car makes the journey, often get swept under the rug.

Unfortunately, neglecting this critical step in long-distance transport comes with consequences. After all, it’s risky to wait until the last minute to book auto transport, especially during a busy time of year.

Not only will waiting too long to book long-distance car transport services limit your choices, but it could lead to delays and added charges for expedited shipping. You also need a clear understanding of how car shipping works so that you can make vital decisions about how you want your car shipped.

We recommend giving yourself plenty of lead time to research and comparison shop different auto shipping companies. Find out what customers have to say about how Car Transport Services have helped them.

Tip Two: Comparison Shop Car Shipping Companies

What should long-distance car transport comparison shopping look like? You’ll want to begin by getting shipping quotes from a handful of companies servicing your area. The most customer-friendly sites now offer free, no-obligation shipping quotes on their websites.

Remember that at no time should an auto shipping company require a deposit or other obligation to receive a quote. If you encounter companies like this, consider it a red flag and move on.

Use these instantaneous quotes to begin your journey toward purchasing car booking services. Once you’ve narrowed your search down to shipping quotes that look both favourable and reasonable, verify each company.

Tip Three: Verify Companies You’re Considering

To verify a long-distance transport company, double-check that it’s adequately licensed and insured. You can do this with a little additional internet research. Check each company you consider on Google and Product Review. There, you can explore customer complaints and reviews.

Tip Four: Inquire About Insurance Coverage

Once you’ve verified that long-distance car transport companies are legally licensed, explore their insurance coverage policies. You can frequently find these listed somewhere on each company’s website. Or request a copy over the phone.

Look over this policy carefully and consider running it by your auto insurance agent. That way, you’ll get a better sense of just how comprehensive it is and whether or not stop-gap insurance is necessary.

If you decide you need more insurance, inquire with the car shipper about supplemental plans. You should also ask your private auto insurance company about adding more insurance to make sure your vehicle remains fully covered during transport.

The research and verification process detailed above will help you find the best car transport company to meet your needs and give you peace of mind.

Tip Five: Choosing a Long Distance Car Transport Service

Besides doing your research on long-distance car transport businesses, you must understand the different shipping options available to you with car shipping companies. These options impact everything from the final price you pay for the transport conditions your car will enjoy.

Open Carrier Car Transport

For the vast majority of people involved in a long-distance move, going with an open carrier makes the most sense. Yes, your car will get exposed to the elements and hazards of the road. But these risks are comparable to taking your wheels on a road trip.

If you’re shipping a daily driver or commuter, this option remains the most popular way to go. It’ll save you money in the long run, too.

Enclosed Carrier Car Transport

What about long-distance car transport shipping for investment-worthy vehicles? If you’ve got an antique, classic, exotic, or race car, go with the more expensive option, enclosed transport. An enclosed carrier will protect your vehicle from the weather, road grime, dust, and other elements encountered during a lengthy haul.

Another choice you’ll need to navigate is whether you prefer door-to-door or terminal-to-terminal shipping. Both approaches come with pros and cons. Let’s dissect each further in the context of long-distance transport services.

Door-to-Door Transport

As the name suggests, door-to-door long-distance car shipping means the driver will pick up and drop off your vehicle at the residential addresses of your choice.

In some cases, the driver may also make arrangements to meet you as close as possible to your address. The driver will choose a location that’s easy for loading and off-loading.

For example, the driver might make arrangements to meet you for drop-off at the parking lot nearest your neighborhood. This option costs more, but most customers agree it’s well worth it for the convenience.

Depot-to-Depot Transport

For those looking for the cheapest possible auto shipping option, terminal-to-terminal shipping is often appealing. That said, you need to do your research carefully to make sure other expenses don’t offset the savings you receive.

Depot-to-Depot transport requires you to drop your car off at a regional depot and then pick it up from another after transport. While the service costs less, you must factor in other expenses such as how far you live from each terminal and how much gas will cost to drive back and forth.

Unless you can beg, borrow, or steal a ride from a friend or family member, you’ll also need a reliable means of leaving and returning to the terminals when you drop off and pick up your car. After calculating costs associated with gas, transportation, and time lost, many people go with door-to-door service.

You must also keep other costs in mind, including the storage fees charged by each terminal for leaving your car on-site for any length of time. Of course, if you’ve got a tight turnaround and need storage for a vehicle, the terminal approach could come in handy.

Tip Six: Understand the Shipping Process

After you’ve decided on a company and service type, what’s next?

Contact the company to book a service date and time. If the dates and destinations you initially reported during comparison shipping are accurate, the final price you receive should match your quote.

That said, shipping costs change based on supply and demand. So, don’t be surprised if you notice price variations on different days. Like purchasing an airplane ticket, rates fluctuate due to the popularity of specific dates and times.

Another factor that can impact the final price tag for auto shipping is your pickup and drop-off locations. Urban areas tend to be cheaper because driver’s networks visit them more frequently. But rural locations take drivers off their routes, adding time and gas expenses.

When choosing pickup and drop-off dates, know that you must be available to meet the driver for each event. If that’s not possible, then you’ll need to make arrangements for a trusted individual to meet the driver. This person must inspect and sign off on your car’s condition, so don’t leave this task to just anybody.

While en route, the best long-distance car transport services will let you track your ride during cross-country car shipping. That way, you’ll enjoy peace of mind throughout the process. Finally, you (or a person designated by you) will meet the driver to unload and receive the car after the relocation is complete.

Tip Seven: Have Realistic Expectations

We live in a fast-paced world where consumers expect services yesterday. But when it comes to auto shipping, you must cultivate realistic expectations. After all, the process takes time, and your car will need to fit into a driver’s overall hauling schedule.

How long will it take your car to ship? Most long-distance car movers say anywhere from six days to four weeks.

Why the massive discrepancy in these timeframes? Because car transportation relies on many different factors, including current road conditions, traffic patterns, how many vehicles get transported on each hauler, and more.

Some car transport companies pride themselves on fast turnaround times while others ask for extra days to ensure the best service possible. It can be difficult for companies to predict accurate timelines when it comes to auto shipping.

For this reason, most companies provide a buffer to account for potential delays. That said, the majority of cars generally reach their destinations in nine to 18 days.

Tip Eight: Enquire About Payment Options and Documentation

When booking long-distance car movers, most customers are responsible for two payments:

  1. An initial payment due at the time of the reservation
  2. A payment to the driver at the time of delivery

Beyond this, you’ll find significant variations when it comes to how payments get tendered. For this reason, ask ahead about acceptable payment types.

Typically, you’ll need a debit or credit card to secure a booking. As for drop off, many companies require a check or cash at the time of delivery. Make sure you have this sorted out ahead of time so that you don’t hold up your driver when they arrive with your ride.

Besides having your payment ready, inquire into the documentation the shipping company requires. This documentation changes based on where you’re shipping your vehicle to and from.

That said, long-distance car shipping always requires a Bill of Lading and Insurance Terms and Conditions. You’ll need to provide lien holder authorization and an absent owner authorization for shipments to and from Hawaii.

Some companies also ask for a photo ID, proof of insurance, title, and registration at pickup time. These last items are based on company preference, but make sure you have them ready if needed, or the driver might refuse to accept your car.

Tip Nine: Prepare Your Car for Transport

Many customers wonder whether they can transport personal belongings during long-distance car shipping. While some auto hauling companies might permit a limited amount of personal possessions in the vehicle, most don’t recommend it.

Extra stuff in your vehicle could throw off the driver’s weight maximums. It also represents a theft risk, and carriers don’t carry insurance for belongings that might get taken from your car en route.

We recommend not tempting thieves or sketchy long-distance car transport employees with junk in your trunk. What’s more, if you don’t move it ahead of time, some drivers will refuse to transport your car.

Besides removing unnecessary junk from your car, check your tire pressure, and give it a thorough wash. Make sure the fluid levels are adequate but don’t top off the fuel tank. Keeping it around a quarter full is ideal for car transport.

Remember that transport drivers remain on incredibly tight schedules. Make sure your car is prepped ahead of time, so you don’t make your driver wait.

Long-Distance Car Transport

The nine tips above will help your upcoming long-distance car transportation service go more smoothly. That way, you can focus on other essential aspects of your move.

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Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more