how to prepare for auto transport

Whether you’re company just relocated you to a new city, you’re traveling to vacation at your second home, you’re retiring to a warmer climate, or you just purchased your dream car from an out of state dealer, you’re going to need someone to transport your vehicle.

Google auto transportation companies, and you’ll get over a billion responses in .82 seconds. How can that be? Simple, auto transport is big business, estimated at some $12 billion annually, and there are over 4,500 providers in the space.

Mercury Auto Transport is one of those companies. We are an auto transport broker, and we’ve been in business since 2007, with over 218,000 satisfied customers, as evidenced by the customer testimonials on our website and our Better Business Bureau rating of 4.9 of 5.0 stars.

The experts at Mercury Auto Transport have prepared this article to provide you an overview of the relationships in your car’s move, the different types of auto transport companies, brokers versus carriers, and how the process should work.  Mercury employs a best-in-class process. In this article we contrast our process with others, perhaps a bit less professional. It’s important to understand these differences before deciding on the right auto shipping company for your situation.

Our Top 10 Tips to Ensure a Safe Auto Transport will give you peace of mind, and no surprises when selecting a car transport service.

Tip #1 – “We’re in your area”

Auto brokers cannot know if a carrier is in your vicinity before you book. Beware if they tell you “we just happen to have a truck in your area.” Until they have an order and start communicating with the carriers, they have no idea where the trucks are. They are telling you what you want to hear to get your order!

At Mercury, we post your vehicle through our network, including all National Dispatch Boards for Auto Transport. This is where all licensed auto transport carriers will see your vehicle is available for shipping.

Tip #2 – Guarantees

Beware the broker who tells you, “your deposit guarantees a spot on the truck”. At this point in the transaction, they have no idea if a truck will take your order.

Conversely, the Mercury process is as follows: No deposit is due until you approve your carrier and agree upon final logistics. Your deposit is included in your quote and goes toward the total price. The remaining balance is due at the time of delivery. Nothing gets done without your approval.

Tip #3 – Asking for Deposits BEFORE Assigning Carriers

Another red flag is when a broker asks for a deposit before they have an assigned carrier. Never pay a deposit, broker fee, or admin fee until the broker has a carrier confirmed, and they give you the name and phone number of the driver. Should the broker tell you they do have a truck, get the name and phone number of the trucking company. If they fail to divulge the name and phone number, cancel your order. Why cancel, because the broker does not have a truck, and now they can charge your credit card to buy more time.

At Mercury, no deposit is due until you approve your carrier and agree upon final logistics.

Tip #4 – “Gas Cards”

Some brokers tell you they will give you a gas card worth $200 to $300 when your order is complete.

We suggest you not consider this offer in your due diligence process. In fact, we recommend you not waste your time. These are not actual Visa Gas Cards – they require you to save your receipts and send them in for a rebate. Google “Free Gas Card Scam” to see what you aren’t getting.

Tip #5 – Auto Broker vs Transport Carriers

The industry is comprised of auto transport brokers and transport carriers, and it’s crucial to know the difference when seeking vehicle transport services. As an example, Mercury is a transport broker. They do not ship cars – they charge a fee to find the appropriate carrier for you and negotiate rates.  Transport carriers do the actual work of picking up your vehicle and delivering it to your chosen destination.

Some brokers are both a broker and a carrier. They may lead you to believe they will transport your vehicle on their truck, when in fact they will broker it to a different carrier. There is nothing wrong with the broker using another carrier; the issue is in the deception.

The Mercury process discloses their approach, using only licensed and insured drivers and carriers, from the Central Dispatch national load board.

Tip #6 – Missing Fees Inside of Quote

Make sure all fees are quoted and included in your negotiated price to ship. Beware of broker’s quotes that have fees buried in their Terms and Conditions. Failure to accurately disclose fees can result in your paying $150, $250, or $300 or more than what you expected.

Read all terms and conditions and understand them before you sign. And, watch for those small-font disclaimers on the very bottom of your emailed quotes.

Another example of a standard disclaimer.

At the top of the email in Large Font – “We can transport your vehicle for the Total Price of $xxx”.

At the bottom of the email, in tiny font – “Indicated rate is automatically calculated based on previous similar shipments on a similar route. The rate is subject to the carrier’s confirmation due to limited availability.”

At Mercury, we explain the process and disclose all fees to the customer, so you know precisely what to expect. We discuss all the pertinent details with you and ensure all your needs are met. We guarantee the final price when you approve your carrier, no surprises. We believe full disclosure at the outset will allow you to make the best decision.

Tip #7 – Increasing Rate After Signing

The broker’s role is to help you strategize and negotiate rates to find the appropriate carrier for your situation.

Beware the broker that delivers a full-price quote, yet their terms allow them to increase the rate without your prior agreement. Some companies have clauses that state, “the customer agrees to allow us to increase the carrier’s pay in $50.00 increments until the vehicle is accepted for transport by a carrier. This can be done up to a maximum of $250.”

These escalating fee agreements can result in your carrier presenting you with a bill for more money than what you thought you were going to pay. Read the terms and understand them before you sign.

Tip #8 – Charging for Chargebacks

While every transport company includes in their terms an agreement that there will be no chargeback on your credit card, some state they will charge you a fee if you do a chargeback. This violates the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Merchant Agreement. Should your carrier charge you, report them, and they will be fined.

Tip #9 – They Don’t Accept Major Credit Cards for their Broker Fee

If your transport broker does not accept a major credit card as payment, beware. When using a credit card, you have recourse for conflict resolution, by disputing the charges. If you pay by other means, they have your money, and regardless of what happens, you will not be refunded.

If the company only has one payment option such as PayPal, stay away! The only reason a provider would do this is that they cannot qualify for a merchant account.

Tip #10 – Look for Disclaimers

When negotiating with a potential transport broker, look for any disclaimers on their terms and conditions, contracts, and emailed quotes. This is especially important if you have strict parameters for pick up or delivery dates. Some brokers will promise they can meet your specific times, and even go so far as to say they guarantee it. Read their terms, and they always have an out.

Mercury does not guarantee specific dates. Why? Because vehicle trucking companies never guarantee them, for obvious reasons.  Your carrier may have up to ten other clients to accommodate with conflicting schedules. Possible delays may occur due to traffic, weather, and, most commonly, timing conflicts with different loads.

At Mercury, if you have strict date requirements, we discuss those details in advance and develop a plan of action and solution. The difference is honest discussion, planning in advance, and working as a team.

Here is an example of a typical disclaimer, usually in incredibly small font:

“Indicated dates are approximate and are subject to the carrier’s confirmation due to limited availability, No Refunds.”

What should be asked is, if drivers cannot guarantee delivery dates, how could your broker?

In Conclusion..

We sincerely hope you find this information useful. Most brokers and carriers are professional, conscientious, and follow proper protocols. You are now armed should you encounter any less than best-in-class providers.

To learn more about how Mercury determines your quote, and our No Money Down Guarantee, please visit our Auto Transport Guide. We’re sure once you do your due diligence, Mercury Auto Transport will be the obvious choice. At Mercury, there are never any surprises or hidden fees – Guaranteed!

Feel free to call us today at 800-553-1828 or visit our website at

for a free quote or to discuss your next move.



  1. This is a great article. I shipped my car from Fort Worth to New York last month with Mercury thanks to this post. It helped make up my mind to move forward them. Mercury responded to my move query and sent one follow-up e-mail. They sent a list of do’s and don’ts, and a thorough explanation of how the car transport company works. Since they were not pressuring me, and I needed to make a decision, I took a chance with them. Glad I did. The whole process was initiated and done in about 8 hours. Car arrived at the destination 6 days later. Proof that a good agent can make things happen. I felt very good about the whole experience.

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