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If you plan on shipping a car to another state or across the country, it may be impractical to drive the car by yourself. It is smart and more convenient to use a car shipping service to get your vehicle where it needs to be. Car shipping allows people to move their vehicles from one location to another on a truck dedicated to transporting vehicles.

What Is Car Shipping?

Car shipping refers to the process of transporting an automobile from one location to another, such as moving a newly purchased car from a dealer in another state or country to your location. Car shipping may involve automobiles, including boats, trucks, motorcycles, and passenger cars.

Preparing For Car Shipping

When preparing to ship a car to another state or country, follow these steps:

Gather the Documents of the Vehicle

This is an essential step in getting your car ready for shipping, and it involves detailed paperwork. The shipper will require vehicle registration and proof of insurance to ship out your vehicle. Additional documentation may apply depending on the specific circumstances of the shipment and the shipping agency. Submitting necessary paperwork helps the shipping agency verify the legal status and ownership of the vehicle.

Wash the Car

When preparing your vehicle for shipping you should remove grime, dust, and other dirt forms that may have accumulated over time on the exterior. This cleaning improves your car’s appearance and allows for a clearer inspection of the car during the shipping preparation. During cleaning, you may also identify any dents or imperfections that may be present on the car. In addition, washing the interior of the car, such as seats and floors, creates a safer environment during shipping.

Document Damages

To protect your interests, prevent future conflicts, and ensure a smooth transportation process, you should document any pre-existing damage to your car before the shipping company takes over. Take pictures of all visible marks, scratches, and dents to establish a reference point that makes it possible to differentiate between new damages that may occur during transportation and the old existing imperfections.

Remove Personal Items

To ensure the safety of your items, remove them from the vehicle before the car is shipped out. Firstly, this prevents theft possibilities, while secondly, it simplifies the inspection process and prevents loose items from loss or shifting, potentially causing harm to the interior of the vehicle.

Secure Accessories

If you plan to ship a car across the country or ship to another state, it is recommended that you remove or snugly secure accessories that are vulnerable to damage or those that may damage the interior of the vehicle. Accessories like antennas and spoilers can increase the risk of damage to the vehicle during transportation.

Carry Out Maintenance

To ensure that your car is ready to be driven once it arrives at your new location, you should carry out necessary car maintenance before transporting it. The maintenance should include checking the fluids in the car, such as engine coolant, engine oil, brake oil, power steering fluid, and washer fluid. In addition, ensure the tire pressures are not under- or over-inflated, and keep the car battery at full charge. Furthermore, disable all alarms and remove toll tags.

Reduce the Gas In The Tank

Emptying your tank or leaving it below a quarter-full can save you some costs, as transporters typically charge based on the weight of the vehicle. Also, keeping the fuel level low can help mitigate potential hazards during transportation. If you keep a fuller gas tank, you increase the risk of leakage or fire outbreak.

Choose The Right Shipping Method

If you are considering using a car shipping service, you need to understand the differences between the two primary types: Open carrier shipping and enclosed carrier shipping.

Open carrier shipping is more popular, it involves shipping vehicles on an open-air trailer without a roof or walls. These open trailers can carry up to 10 vehicles per time, using chains or straps to prevent the vehicles from shifting or falling off during transit. Usually, open carrier shipping services are more affordable than enclosed carrier shipping since the cost can be shared among multiple cars. Also, there are more open carrier services than enclosed carriers, making the former faster than the latter.

However, open carrier car shipping services have certain disadvantages. During transit, your vehicle can be exposed to elements such as water, dust, debris, and other factors. Your vehicle is also visible to others since it is housed in an open container, making it a target for theft.

Choose The Right Shipping Method

Enclosed carrier shipping transports vehicles in enclosed containers or trailers. These trailers have walls and a roof and can carry between one and six vehicles per trip. Vehicles are also secured with straps or other elements to prevent movement or shifting during transportation.

Compared to open-air shipping, enclosed carrier shipping offers greater protection for vehicles during shipping due to the cover or enclosure. With enclosed carriers, your vehicle will not be subject to weather or other element risks.

Since enclosed carrier shipping ferries fewer vehicles at a time, using this service is more expensive than open-air carrier shipping. Also, with fewer enclosed carriers on the road, they take longer compared to open carrier shipping.

When deciding which car shipping service type to use, you should consider the pros and cons of each service type in determining which best suits your budget and needs.

Choosing a Car Shipping Company

Some crucial factors to consider when choosing a car shipping company in shipping a car include checking for previous reviews, insurance covers, license availability, payment methods, cancellation policy, and customer service relations.

To check for reviews from previous customers of a shipping company, you may search online for people sharing their car shipping experiences. Be cautious when a car shipping company has no reviews or multiple negative reviews. Most car shipping companies have an online presence on websites and social sites like Transport Reviews, Trustpilot, and Facebook; hence, you should look through these sites to assess the integrity of the business and sample customer experiences.

Also, car shipping businesses should carry liability insurance. Some may even offer additional coverage, like marine insurance for vehicles transported overseas. For businesses that offer only liability insurance, check to see that it covers all aspects, including transport, loading, and unloading.

Having a relevant license for car shipping operations is important to maintaining the integrity of the transportation business. In the United States, some of the relevant licenses include the Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC) license issued by the Federal Maritime Commission to regulate ocean-based transportation and registrations with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). With a relevant license, a car shipping business can contact shipping lines to book top-rated carriers at competitive rates. Another benefit to possessing a license is that the licensee can get faster shipment clearances at customs due to their vast knowledge of the industry. Hence, they can resolve shipment issues and avoid unnecessary delays at customs when issues arise.

Understanding Shipping Quotes and Contracts

When you determine which car shipping company you can do business with, you should contact them to obtain quotes for transporting your car to the new location. Ensure that you provide the same information to the business to properly review their quotes. You should provide accurate information on the vehicle's make, model, year, dimensions, weight, and other modifications done to the vehicle that may impact shipping. If you have any specific requests that can influence the quotes, such as pick-up and delivery locations, you should include them.

When you receive quotes from the shipping companies, check them for additional fees such as fuel surcharges or expedited delivery charges. If there are none, you should contact the businesses to verify any hidden charges. If there are hidden charges, ask what additional services are included that attract those fees. Once you have this information available, review the pricing and services for the one that best suits your budget and does not compromise on service quality.

After selecting a shipping agency, read the contract thoroughly and clarify delivery times and insurance coverage. Pay close attention to information such as the cancellation policy and clauses relating to delays. Once you are satisfied with the contract terms, sign it and keep a copy for your records. This may be useful if issues arise during the shipping process.

During the Shipping Process

When preparing for the delivery of your vehicle, confirm that there has not been a delay and that the pick-up locations and times have not changed. Collect and get any required documents ready, including the shipping contract and any special permits that may be required for your vehicle type.

Tracking Your Vehicle

Car tracking services are typically offered by car shipping companies so that customers can find the locations of their vehicles every step of the way. Depending on the specific service option offered by the shipping company, you may be able to track your car during transit via an online tracking system, GPS tracking, or automated notifications sent by the shipping agency. Using tracking portals or GPS tracking, you can obtain real-time locations of your vehicle and monitor the shipment progress closely. Alternatively, automated notifications may be sent by text messages or emails to keep you informed about the shipment status. The notification will include delivery and pickup times and locations, as well as information about any change in the delivery schedule.

If you need further clarification, you can open a communication channel with the shipping company via email or by phone call. Most shipping businesses have dedicated customer teams and lines willing to provide assistance with tracking vehicles or addressing other concerns customers may have. It may also be possible to contact the transporter directly in cases where the shipping business employs the service of a transport agency. Hence, you can have direct answers to any shipping inquiries you may have.

After the Car Arrives

Thorough Inspection After The Vehicle Arrives

When your vehicle arrives, conduct a thorough inspection of both the exterior and the interior for any damages, check for dents or damages on the doors, roof, bumpers, side panels, tires, wheels, and under the hood. You should also verify the mileage and fuel level and check for any signs of leaks and unusual vibrations and noises. Compare the current conditions of the vehicle at its arrival to the pre-shipping documentation to ensure no discrepancies or damages exist.

Addressing Issues or Damage

If there is damage to any part of your vehicle that was not there or stated on the pre-shipping documentation, contact the shipping company to report the issue. You should make a report as soon as the car arrives, including photos (close-up and multiple angles) and videos of the damages in your report. However, you may want to review your insurance coverage for the specific steps for filing a claim with the shipping company. If your shipping company delays or refuses to communicate as per a settlement offer, you may consider seeking legal advice or hiring the services of an experienced attorney to seek redress.

Conclusion

Shipping a car to another state or shipping a car across the country can be a straightforward process if you do your preparation and research to ensure a seamless process. Prior to shipping your car, ensure that you wash it and document any damage. Also, remove personal items and secure any loose accessories. To cut down shipping costs and avoid potential hazards, empty the car's gas tank. Next, research top-rated shipping companies and choose the right shipping method. While open carrier shipping may be cheaper than enclosed carrier shipping, you risk exposing your vehicle to dust and other weather elements when using an open carrier service.

You can track your car through the shipping process using any of the options available from your shipping company. Once the car arrives, inspect it for any damage that may have occurred during transit. If damages exist, contact your shipping company for compensation or consult with an attorney if the shipping company fails to offer fair compensation.

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