Tips for a Stress-Free Auto Transport Experience

Brantley Kendall

03 Mar 2023 1 year ago

When you are relocating to a new place, auto transport services come in handy but it may seem daunting and complicated. Going through the entire process of getting your car delivered to your new place, there’s so much to look for. But car shipping is easy and doable once you get to know various aspects of the process. Let us help you in dissecting everything there is to know about auto transport to give you a stress-free experience.

Commonly used auto transport industry terms

Navigating through the auto transport industry can be a complex and confusing process, particularly when you are not familiar with all of the industry jargon. Terms such as ‘depot-to-depot’, ‘door-to-door’, ‘enclosed transport’, and ‘open transport’ may sound confusing and intimidating. But, with a basic understanding of these terms, you can have a more informed and successful auto transport experience.

Auto Delivery

It means shifting or transporting a car/ vehicle as freight from the source to the destination location.

Auto Logistics

The detailed organization and implementation of the freight transport process.

Auto Transport

The process of physically shifting or transporting a car/ vehicle as freight from source to destination location.

Shipping Quotes

These are pricing quotes shared by the auto transport companies to transport the vehicles from one address to another. These costs are not fixed and are calculated as per the needs of the customers.

Boat transport

Many auto transport companies also arrange special boat-based carriers to transport vehicles, these are often taken up by the bonded auto transport companies.


An auto transport broker is someone who has a large network of car carriers that operate in multiple cities across the country. A broker can often cut down the cost by contacting with multiple carriers to get customers the best deal for shipping their car. The broker is also responsible for verifying the licenses and insurance details of the carrier transporting company to check the legitimacy of the carrier to avoid any fraud/ scam.

Car carriers

These are the trailers that carry multiple cars from one place to another. These trailers come in different configurations catering to the various needs of auto shipping companies.

Car shipping calculator

A car shipping calculator gives an instant and accurate cost as per the information shared by the customers that can help in making final budget decisions. We also have a car shipping calculator that offers a quick cost as per the information given by you.

D.O.T/ Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966. The D.O.T. is responsible for federal highway, air, maritime, railroad, and other transportation functions in the country.


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is a government entity that looks after the laws and regulations pertaining to auto transport services. It also offers a public database listing all the details of insurance and licenses of the auto transport companies. FMCSA accreditation is an indicator of the credibility of any auto transport services in the country.


This bill is a legal document and agreement between the auto transport company and the customer, stating the details and condition of the vehicle at the time of pick up. This condition is cross-checked at the time of delivery to look for any mishaps that might have occurred during the transit. Towards the end, this bill acts as evidence for the freight transaction.


By law, auto shipping companies/ brokers need to have a bond with the carriers as a guarantee that they will be paid for the work done. These bonds are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).


ATA stands for Actual Time of Arrival, referring to when the vehicle arrives at the given address/ destination.


ATD stands for Actual Time of Departure, referring to the time when the carrier transport picks up the vehicle and leaves from the source address.

Car Hauling

When a customer is moving more than a few miles away, they hire an auto transport service provider to help with a smooth, cost-effective, and hassle-free shipping experience.


When more than 1 vehicle/ car is loaded onto a single trailer/ carrier truck, then it is called co-loading. This is a smart way to save costs for the customer as well as the company.

Proof of Delivery (P.O.D.)

It is documentation that shares the details of the auto shipping from one address to another, mainly the bill-of-lading.

Door-to-Door auto shipping

Under this type of auto shipping, the carrier will pick up the vehicle from the given address and drop off the vehicle at the shared address, without causing any stress to the customers. However, addresses must be easily accessible and safe for picking up or dropping off the vehicle.

Terminal-to-Terminal auto shipping

Every auto shipping company has a terminal in the cities where they operate. If customers pick terminal-to-terminal auto shipping then they are required to drop the vehicle for shipping at the closest terminal and also go for picking up the vehicle at the new place’s terminal.

Enclosed/ Closed car hauler

This carrier keeps the customer’s vehicle safe and protects it from all external elements.

Transit time

This is the total travel time passed from when the vehicle left the source till it arrived at the destination.


Any vehicle is said to be inoperable when it can’t be run and driven onto the car trailer.


Any vehicle is operable if it can move forward and reverse, with a working brake and steering. if any vehicle can be driven in and out of the car trailer during the auto shipping, it is considered to be in an operable state.

Single vehicle shipping

The kind of shipping where only one vehicle is loaded on the car carrier, to be taken from one place to another.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

This is a unique set of numbers allotted by the auto shipping companies to identify every loaded vehicle for documentation, record keeping, and tracking of different vehicles to avoid any confusion.


The process of following the shipment throughout the transit. This helps the auto shipping company as well as the customers to check on the movement of the carrier from source to destination.

Drop off window

It refers to the time and day of the delivery of the vehicle at the destination.

Car shipping companies – An overview

The process of car shipping begins way before the car is actually loaded in a trailer for delivery to the destination. At first, the auto transport company discusses various options of carriers (open or enclosed), and types of delivery between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal shipping options.

Next, the details and offerings of insurance coverage are discussed as a safety measure for auto shipping. The final cost is calculated basis of all the choices made as well as the distance between the source and the destination. Any shipping company’s role is to assist the customers throughout for providing a seamless auto shipping experience.

Tips for a stress-free Auto Transport Experience

As an informed customer, you must know all the following tips to have a stress-free auto transport experience.

  • Choosing the right auto transport company

Most of the hassle fades away when you choose an auto shipping company that is right and cost-effective for you. Since transporting your car requires you to trust and rely on the service provider, hence always go for well-known companies to avoid any fraud or scam.

Ask your friends and relatives for recommendations or go online and check out the reviews for different companies. Check the company’s FMCSA accreditation to be sure about its credibility and legitimacy.

  • Preparing your vehicle for transport

The shipping company hires experienced and reliable drivers for the job, however to avoid any mishap during the transit, it is essential to prepare your car for transport. Get it checked, keep it loaded with some fuel for loading and unloading. Remove all the personal and valuable belongings from the car to ditch any possibility of theft during the transit. If there are any external accessories then consider removing it or if you cannot, then cover it well using multiple layers of bubble wrap to avoid any jerks or damage. 

  • Understanding insurance coverage

Before signing the final agreement with the concerned auto shipping company, take a stock of all the insurance offered by the company. Usually, there are carrier insurance, broker insurance, and customer insurance with different types and extents of coverage.

  • Staying in touch with the carrier

Due to advanced technology, the auto shipping companies usually share the tracking number with the customer so that it is easier to track the shipment. When the car is loaded onto the trailer, customers also get access to contact details of the carrier to coordinate for the exact time of delivery. Having an access to the carrier also establishes trust and credibility of the auto shipping company.

  • Tracking your shipment

As long as you have the tracking details of the carrier, there is no fear of losing the shipment. However, during transit network might affect the accuracy of location but it is very reassuring when you can connect with the carrier if there are any diversions or delays on the way without having to wonder what happened to your car.

Types of auto transport

The type of auto transport you choose will depend on your needs and budget, as well as the distance you need to travel. It’s important to understand the differences between the various types of auto transport services so that you can choose the most suitable option for your needs.

Open auto transport services

When you pick an open truck, your car is exposed to almost everything during the commute, such as dust, rough weather conditions which can even lead to discoloration or other damage to the look of your car.

A majority of people in the country go for open trucks, as it is definitely a cheaper option. The auto transport services are able to transport multiple cars in an open truck, saving time and cost of fuel.

Enclosed auto transport services

Enclosed trucks protect the vehicle from any external conditions like sunlight and dust.

But it is an epensive choice, as closed trucks have limitations on the number of vehicles it can ship together. It also requires a more experienced driver to navigate through the way to protect the car from any internal damage.

Understanding the cost for auto shipping your car

The final cost of your car shipping depends on various factors. Here are some factors that often impacts the price of your entire auto shipping journey.

  • Location and distance

The city and the distance between point A and B is a primary factor that will alter the overall cost of auto shipping. If the distance is less and the source & destination has good infrastructure, then it will be a nominal cost charged by the auto shipping company.

  • Season

In summer season, people often move from one place to another, making it a peak and expensive season for shipping your across to a new location. Difficult weathers like that of snow and extreme rainfall may also cost a lot since it is difficult to drive and navigate during such conditions. Extreme season also calls for choosing enclosed trailers hence increasing the cost even more.

  • Time flexibility

We all know that time is money, the earlier you want your car, the more cost you need to bear. So prefer to be flexible with delivery dates, in this way the auto shipping company will also acknowledge it and might offer more personalized discounts for your patience and cooperation.

  • Open or Enclosed trailer

The choice of trailer definitely affects the price mark of your car shipping experience. Open trailer delivery is cheaper, as it can easily load multiple cars in one go, whereas in enclosed trailer, the number of cars is limited.

  • Size and weight of the vehicle

The size and weight of the car differs from model to model. Weight and size will alter the requirement of trailer trucks required to ship it to a new place. Every car has its own needs that are to be fulfilled. For example if the car is heavy, it would need a heavy weight trailer for transportation or if it is a luxury or limited edition car, it must be protected in an enclosed trailer thereby boosting the final auto shipping cost.

  • Vehicle condition – Operable or Inoperable

Your vehicle’s condition is also very important to consider while shipping. If the car is in inoperable state, then extra process would be required to load and unload the car to and from the trailer, making it an expensive shipping experience.

  • Other conditions

Many people also prefer filling their car with luggage while transporting, this in turn increases the weight of the car, and if the belongings are very expensive by nature then it would mean spending more money to ensure safety from theft or vandalism. However, it is recommended that you must not leave any belongings within the car during shipping to avoid any losses.

In conclusion, auto shipping doesn’t have to keep you running from one company to another, just remember to research well in advance about available auto shipping companies. Be open to understanding the industry terms and available offerings to not fall for any scam or fraud. Choose a reputable and reliable auto shipping service provider and ensure that you clear all your doubts with their team.  We know parting from your precious car isn’t easy, but it is our job to keep your car safe and your mind stress-free when we ship your car to your new home.

Always know that a  good company will assist you at every step to give you a hassle-free car shipping experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Far in Advance Should I Book My Shipment?

We recommend to at least book your shipment 3-4 weeks in advance to ensure timely delivery.

Can I Put Personal Items in My Car During Transport?

It is recommended to not have any personal items in the car during shipping but if something is necessary, you can always consult with the transport company to come up with a way to manage any hindrance.

What Happens if My Car Doesn’t Run?

It is important to inform the company about your car’s inoperable state in advance, so that they can arrange for services to load and unload your car during the transport.

How Long Does Auto Transport Take?

It depends on different factors like distance, season, condition of your vehicle and types of transport you choose.

How much does it cost to transport a car across the country?

The average cost can be between $500 to $1500 or more, subject to many factors in consideration.

How long does it take to transport a car across the country?

It depends on different factors like distance, season, condition of your vehicle and types of transport you choose.

Is it safe to ship a car across the country?

Yes, it is safe to ship your car through a reliable and reputable auto shipping company.

Do I need to prepare my car for transport?

Yes, you need to prepare your car for transport.

How do I choose a car shipping company?

A good way is to choose through recommendations from your friends and acquaintances or look for online reviews from people and then make a decision.

What should I look for in a car shipping company?

You should look for real-life testimonials from the people and details about the license of the company from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA), a government entity that regulates auto transport laws and regulations in the country.

How do I track my car during transport?

Every company uses a tracking system to track the shipment, it is often like a link or code that shares live location of the carrier at any given point of time.

What happens if my car is damaged during transport?

You can claim the insurance coverage against the damage, if the incident is eligible then you will get a fair compensation as per the terms mentioned in the insurance agreement. 

How do I file an insurance claim for damage during transport?

Inform the company (insurer) and collect evidences such as pictures of your car and other agreement papers. Then upon survey by the insurance agency’s representative, the insurance claim will be processed.

Brantley Kendall