Few of us move our cars often enough as to become pros. Too many times knowledge comes too late — and at the expense of a costly experience.
Here are the 7 most common misconceptions that you should reevaluate before you hire someone to transport your vehicle. Make sure you don’t learn this the hard way.
1. Terminal to terminal services are cheaper than door to door services.
It makes sense. After all, expecting the truck driver to deliver the car to your door requires an extra effort – and extra efforts never come for free. Right?
Wrong. Even if the auto carrier saves time and fuel by leaving your car at a terminal, the fees charged by the terminal for sheltering the vehicle may seriously downplay these advantages. It is however true that the cost depends on the location of the terminal — and of your door. In case you live in a difficult to reach area, the terminal fees may prove themselves lower than the ones required by the carrier for going the extra mile.
Still, in most cases door to door services are cheaper and are to be preferred from all points of view.
2. It is better to deal directly with the carrier and avoid the auto transport broker that will only increase your costs.
You should carefully rethink this one. Why? First, if you deal directly with a carrier, you take upon you serious risks of finding no customer relations department. It is up to you to choose instead a shipping agent that has perfected the process of helping customers and being readily available with updates.
Carriers have a limited number of trucks covering a limited (and very specific) area every week. When their capacity is filled, they will offer later dates when they will be available for shipping. It will require hard work on your part to find an available and dependable carrier that covers your exact route exactly when ou need them.
On the other hand, car shipping brokers have connections with a large number of carriers, which they have selected over time according to their performance, and can easily make arrangements that suit you. They can deal with the terminals if necessary and even obtain special treatment and discounts, which will only benefit you.
Keep in mind that auto transport brokers gravitate around their customer service. They will make the terms of the shipping known to you in the early stages of your collaboration, by sending you their contract. By contrast, trucking companies may simply show up at your door and hand the contract to you the day of the pick-up. You will have only a few minutes to attempt to read the “fine print”.
3. You can save big bucks by shipping your car with the hubcaps removed.
This is the kind of urban legend that ends up just not being true. It may have originated because of the fact that, when shipping cars overseas, you may be told to take down all the removable parts of your car (hubcaps, windshield wipers,outside mirrors, antennaes) and lock them inside the trunk for increased security. Wherever it comes from, the idea is simply a misconception. Your hubcaps have nothing to do with the price that you are charged by the shipping company.
There ARE things to be removed however. They consist of all additional items that you may try to place in your car for a “free ride”. This is not allowed for two reasons: first, carriers have to meet very strict weight requirements; then, the items that you are trying to ship are not insured, which gives you no guarantee that they will arive safely.
4. If I smart shop, I can get my SUV shipped from Chicago to new York for as little as $475.
Not a chance. Be careful when shopping for the lowest price. Some companies tell you about the surcharges AFTER they’ve received your non-refundable deposit. Remember to compare “apples to apples”. If you get a quote significantly lower or higher than the average, make sure you carefully look into it.
Instead of hunting for “the cheapest” one, it is much wiser to look for offers that guarantee on time and safe delivery, e.g., partial reimbursement if the car is not delivered on time.
5. Quotes are always correct.
Don’t overlook the possibility of an incorrect quote. It may happen that, in the case of a too low or a too high quote, the pick-up or delivery location have been recorded erroneously.
What would you say the probability of such a mistake would be in the case of two different Michigan cities that have the misfortune of bearing the similarly sounding names of Lansing and L’Anse? Sadly, one of them is in the South of the state, while the other one hundreds of miles away, in a corner of the North Upper Peninsula. The difference in quoting such a destination may go up to $500. Depending on the shipping agent’s policy, you may end up being charged some unexpected hundreds.
What to do? Simple — always make sure that both ZIP CODES have been correctly recorded.
6. The auto shipping cost depends exclusively on the distance.
While distance IS an important factor, how can we explain the fact that, when you compare costs with your friend down the road, you find out that you have paid an extra $100 to have your car delivered to your door?
If “down the road” means at the foot of the mountain on whose top you reside, your $100 have probably covered the disadvantage of a hardly accessible location. Even if we forced this example to give you a clear idea, you always must consider the accessibility of the pick up and destination location. Carriers charge extra money for going off their main route.
As for the pick-up and delivery dates, the more flexible you are, the less you will pay, since your car shipping agent will not have to make additional arrangements to accomodate your request.
In conclusion, when evaluating a car shipping fee, consider the triple factor: distance – accessibility – flexibility.
7. I can 100% rely on an instant online quote from an auto transport company.
Closely related to #6, we find it hard to believe that an instant online quote (meaning one that lacks all human evaluation) can be 100% reliable.
Keep in mind that the value of a system can be fairly measured by the way it responds to unexpected circumstances. Try to first test the system by requiring quotes for different combinations of requests. We have recently obtained a quote of several hundred dollars for shipping our car 2 miles down the road. Such an estimate seriously altered our trust in the reliability of the system.
Also, never forget to read the fine print and make sure that the quote includes all fees.
Requiring a customized quote will bring things closer to reality. We have learned that every car shipping experience is unique. Shipping a car is very much a question of finding the right moment, the right place and the right carrier that will allow a clients demands or expectations to be met.