2021 saw 8.4% of Americans up sticks and head for pastures new. Are you planning a big move sometime soon?
Maybe you’re a lifelong New Yorker who’s being tempted west by the lure of Silicon Valley. Or maybe you’re leaving Texas behind for the cooler climes of New England. Whatever your reason for moving, there’s a burning question – to drive, or not drive?
Driving your car across the country might be great when you’re a kid on summer break with all the time in the world. When you’re adulting, you need to ship your car.
Let’s get into exactly how that works and how you can find the best transport company for shipping your car long distance.
Why You Should Always Ship Your Car
Roadtrips are fun, we get it. But they’re not without risks. The chances are very slim that you’ll have an accident, but when you’re driving long distances, it gets really old, fast.
No one should plan to drive more than 500 miles per day. FMCSA limits don’t apply to private vehicles, but they’re in place for a reason. They recommend that passenger-carrying drivers drive no more than 10 hours per day – which makes 500 miles touch and go in many states.
Can you afford to take a week off work just to move your car across the country? For most people, it makes more sense to spend that time adjusting to their new home and getting their kids settled into school before they start their new jobs.
It’s also better to transport your car to reduce the wear and tear on the vehicle. Thousands of miles will mean you’ll need new tires and brakes sooner. Plus, you’ll put a lot of extra miles on the clock.
It makes more sense to save yourself the stress, gas money, and repair costs of driving your car. Instead, entrust it to a professional transport company who will pick it up and safely deliver it to your new address.
How to Ship Your Car Long Distance
Before you start searching for quotes, it’s helpful to understand how the process of shipping your car works. You have a few options and there are some ways that you can reduce the overall cost.
Choose Your Pickup Location Carefully
You can have your car picked up from home, but that’s usually the most expensive option. Driving to a central location may reduce the cost. If you live on a tiny road, you may also need to meet them in another location because the road is too small for the truck.
Open or Closed?
Naturally, it’s cheaper to transport your car on an open transporter. The obvious disadvantage is that your car will not be protected from the elements and birds flying overhead.
That may not worry you, especially if your car is parked outdoors most days anyway. If you do choose covered transport, it’s going to be a lot more expensive and is usually reserved for high-value vehicles.
Prepare Your Car
You want your car to be in the best possible shape when it arrives at the other end. Start by washing the car, so that you can easily document any scratches, scrapes, and dings. This will help you to identify any accidental damage that occurred in transit at the other end.
It’s also a good idea to get your car serviced before it sets off on its adventure. The last thing you want is an oil leak en route to your new home. No one wants to have to find an auto shop as soon as their car arrives at their new home.
Make sure that there is enough, but not too much gas in the tank. You need enough to be able to drive it at the other end, but not so much that it adds a lot to the weight of the vehicle.
How Long Does It Take?
This depends on how far you’re shipping your car. It also depends on the carrier you choose and their routes. But here are some ballpark figures to give you an idea:
- Up to 500 miles – 2 days
- Up to 1000 miles – 3 days
- Up to 1,500 miles – 5 days
- Up to 2,000 miles – 7 days
- Up to 2,500 miles – 10 days
- Over 2,500 miles – 14 days
The times quoted are the maximum amount of time it usually takes. If you are in a hurry, ask your broker to find the fastest transport service they can.
Can You Fill Your Car With Stuff?
A few items in the trunk are OK. But filling your car with stuff is not recommended.
The weight of the vehicle may be a factor in determining the cost. So the more you put in, the more expensive it will be. Plus, it’s not the safest way to transport your personal items.
How Much Does It Cost?
This will vary based on how far you’re traveling and the type of service you choose.
Working with a car transport broker is a good move. They charge a fee to find the best deal for you. They negotiate with a wide range of car transporters and compare their rates to the DAT rate.
The DAT rate is the current average rate for freight, based on a database of recent transactions. This helps the broker to determine if you’re getting a good deal.
It may be tempting to go for the cheapest quote you can find. But be warned – they come with a health warning. If your vehicle is the lowest value load on the truck, the company will put it on last, if they put it on at all.
This can lead to seriously inconvenient delays. Working with a broker will give you peace of mind that you’re getting a fair deal and a quote that you can rely on.
Car Shipping Mistakes to Avoid
Car shipping makes a long-distance move so much simpler. But save yourself a headache at the other end by avoiding these rookie mistakes.
Not Documenting the Condition of Your Car
Think about the way you’d check a rental car before you drive out of the parking lot. You’d scrupulously point out every scratch and scrape, making sure it all went on the rental agreement. You kind of need to do the same with your own car before you hand it over to the transport company.
Accidents can happen in transit and it’s important that you can prove they weren’t there already. A reputable company will walk you through this process to give you peace of mind. Taking a few photos never hurts as well.
Not Checking the Transport Company’s Insurance
Your regular car insurance probably isn’t designed to cover you when you transport your car across the country. Of course, give them a call first and let them know what you’re planning. But the likelihood is that you’ll need to make sure your transport service has great insurance in place.
Ask them for details and how you can make a claim if there is any accidental damage. If they can’t provide details of the policy, it’s a red flag and it’s time to find another shipping company.
Filling Your Car With Stuff
A few personal items in the trunk should be OK. But don’t be tempted to use your car as an extra moving truck. It can make your car a thief magnet and your belongings may not be covered in the event of a break-in.
Also, make sure that you don’t leave any personal documentation, medication, or other valuables in the car when you ship it.
How to Find a Great Car Transport Service
It’s easy to leave shipping your car to the last minute when you’re planning a major move. After all, finding accommodation, schools for the kids, and packing up your house tend to take priority.
That said, it’s wise to check as early as possible, at least 7 days in advance to get the best deal you can. Here are a few simple things you can do that will ensure you find a great transport company.
Get Multiple Quotes
It’s always a relief to get an affordable quote. But is it really the best?
Even if you’re in a time crunch, try to get at least three like-for-like quotes. Check the fine print, such as pick up and drop off details and whether the transporter is open or closed. Also, make sure that they can work with your timescale.
Always choose the best quote rather than the cheapest. If you love your car enough to transport it, it’s worth making sure that it arrives safely.
Check Out Review Sites
Online review sites like Google and Facebook are great places to get some insight into the transport company you’re thinking about using. Sure, there’ll be some dodgy reviews in there, especially if they’re a large company with thousands of reviews. But look at how they respond to them.
The best companies take customer service very seriously. Do they follow up on negative reviews courteously and try to resolve the problem? If they do, that’s a great sign that you can trust the company.
Also, check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This rates businesses, with A+ being the highest rating. It gives you a chance to read reviews and see how good the company is at closing out complaints.
It will also tell you how long they’ve been in business and have been accredited by the BBB.
The Earlier, the Better
Although you can usually get deals at the last minute, that’s not the way to get the best deal. Try to book as early as possible, before spaces fill up. This can give you peace of mind and is one less thing to worry about as you prepare to move.
If you work with a broker, they’ll recommend giving them seven days’ notice. This gives them time to negotiate the best deal for you.
Work With a Transport Broker
Contacting multiple transport companies is time-consuming. For most people, this is something they’ll do once or twice in their life. How can you be certain that you’re getting a good deal?
Transport brokers are the way forward. You talk to them once and explain exactly what you’re looking for. They’ll help you come up with a price and then list your job on a dispatch board.
Transport companies will then quote for your business. They can accept your price or counter-offer. You choose the quote that works best for you and negotiate directly with the transport company to agree on the final price.
The broker will perform background checks. This includes making sure that the company is licensed, insured, and highly rated.
There is a small fee to pay the broker for their assistance. But it’s a small price to pay compared to the stress of searching for yourself. Plus, you’ll probably save money on car transportation too.
How to Get Cheaper Quotes
If your pickup and drop-off window is very narrow, you’ll limit the number of carriers that can quote for your business. If you choose a winder pickup and drop-off window, you’ll increase your options. This can translate into cheaper quotes.
Ship Your Car with Mercury Auto Transport
Now you know all there is to know about how to ship your car, all you need to do is find the right transport company.
Mercury Auto Transport is the way to go. We’re a transport broker, helping our clients find great deals on long-distance car transport. We’ll help you connect with licensed, insured carriers with great ratings, who will take care of your vehicle from pickup to drop-off.
Ready to get moving? Start a quote online right now!