SHIPPING A VEHICLE CAN BE EXCITING, STRESSFUL, OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH.
Regardless of the reason, you need to have a healthy respect for the sheer logistics of vehicle shipping: a transport company (preferably a reputable one) needs to load a nearly two-ton item onto a truck, secure it properly, transport it hundreds or thousands of miles safely, and unload it.
Then, think about the huge number of shipping companies to choose from, and throw in wrinkles like a non-running or lowered vehicle.
All things considered, if youre a first-time shipper, its very easy to feel like youre in over your head.
While vehicle shipping will never be a super pleasurable experience, GM High-Tech Performance is here to make it less of a nail-biting PITA. Your author has personally shipped a half-dozen performance and daily driven vehicles. Ive done the research, pulled the trigger, and learned some hard lessons so you dont have to.
So listen up!
How to Ship Your Vehicle the Right Way
The following information will walk you through the process of finding, screening, and choosing a company to transport your pride and joy. And as with anything, the earlier you start the process, the sooner youll be comfortable enough to book a transport. Thats important because car shows, big auctions, and summers in general, can be extremely busy for these companies; booking a transport way in advance can save you from higher prices and longer pickup and delivery times.
Choose an Open or an Enclosed Carrier
Anyone on a budget will need to answer one all important question: does your ride need an enclosed carrier, or can you make do with an open carrier? Advantages of using an open carrier include cheaper cost, and more open carriers on the road means they can often pick up your ride quicker.
The disadvantages are that your vehicle is now completely exposed to rain, snow, hail, dust, insects, birds, and, depending on its placement on the truck, even leaking fluids from the vehicles above it. Also, open carriers almost always use ramps, which can damage lowered vehicles during loading and unloading.
The advantages of using an enclosed carrier include protection from the above-mentioned elements and airborne pests, and some trucks are even climate controlled. Also, your vehicle gets more of a white glove treatment: many have high-tech lift gates that stay level as they lift your vehicle up, so theres less chance of damaging a delicate or lowered car. The vehicle is then strapped down to keep it stationary and safe while in transit. Protective covers are used to help prevent damage. And enclosed carrier drivers are usually more highly trained and experienced with transporting valuable vehicles safely.
Cost is the big one, as enclosed carriers can charge from 25 percent more to twice as much, compared to open carriers. Also, as there are fewer enclosed carriers on the road, scheduling one can be more difficult and you may need to wait longer until the carrier has a full load.
Research the Companies
Knowledge is power, and now is the time to crowd source some good transport company leads. First, search big automotive forums with a Google search, for example,site:www.ls1tech.com transport your car, to get members your mechanics, and anyone else in the hobby about their shipping experiences. Next, visit transportreviews.com to get more leads, as well as detailed reviews of transport companies. Note that many carriers offer a small rebate, usually around $20-50, to customers who post excellent reviews on this site about their shipping experiences. FYI, theres an option of searching for non-paid reviews, which can give you a more objective viewpoint of the companies.
Finally, go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website at www.safersys.org for transport company safety ratings, license and insurance information, and accident info.
Feel Them Out
After some thorough research, narrow your list of companies, and call each one to get a feel for them. If you get direct, friendly customer service, reassuring answers to your questions, and a good gut feeling, youve probably found a winner. If you get an unknowledgeable person giving vague responses, be wary.
One very important question to ask is if a transport company ships direct or uses brokers.
While many owners prefer direct shipping, either method can be fine, depending on how a company handles it. If theyll be brokering a shipment, make sure they will keep you in the loop while your baby is in transit. And beware of brokers trying to pass themselves off as direct-ship transporters.
To get a ballpark idea of what youll spend, fill out online quote forms or call each company separately. Be sure to keep your vehicle information exactly the same for each quote: if its stock or modified, whether or not the vehicle runs, exact pickup and delivery times, locations, etc.
Its time to choose your transport company. If youve done your homework, you now have several reputable companies with great service and safety records to choose from. Now, you can choose the right shipper for your budget.
With quote in hand, contact your chosen transport company via phone. While speaking with a real live human, double check your quoted price, and make sure it wont change even if the pickup dates do. Verify the pick-up dates (if theyll pick it up at your place), or the drop-off dates as well as the delivery dates. Verify both addresses, and let the rep know any specifics of both the pick-up and delivery locations (like narrow roads) as it will aid the truck driver.
Have the company representative fax or email over the companys insurance documents-if you have any questions about coverage, contact your collector vehicle insurance agent for answers; they should be kept in the loop about the vehicles trip too. Its important that you determine how any damage-or a complete vehicle loss-will be resolved by the shipper.
When all of the details are taken care of, brokers may ask for a fraction of the total shipping price as a deposit. However, most reputable direct transport companies will not ask for a deposit.
Prep Your Ride
The shipper will perform a pre-ship inspection with you, so make your ride ship-ready before pickup. Remove or reattach the antenna, toss any hazardous items like gas cans out, remove your personal items, and disable the anti-theft and alarm systems. Then take lots of photos from all angles for your own records.
On shipping day, someone from the shipping company will do a walk-around with you, documenting the vehicles condition.
Get any last-minute questions you have answered now. Ask for and document the drivers CDL number and the truck license number. And once you sign off, its time to
Give Up the Keys
Youve worked hard to choose a good company; dont make a scene and refuse to hand over your keys. Cut the cord already, jeez!
Check In During Transit
While some transport companies may have GPS truck monitoring that you can follow, you can just as easily call and talk to the driver directly; theyre usually also great about calling back to give you updates.
Most drivers are good about calling you a day or so out, so you can arrange for a delivery time. When your baby arrives and is unloaded, thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any dents/dings/chips/ etc. Especially check the doors for any new dings, and the underside for any damage. There should be no damage with an enclosed carrier, but there might be minor chips and some road grime on a vehicle thats been on an open carrier. Once youre satisfied, sign the paperwork to take delivery and youre done! That wasnt so bad, was it?
CLOSING IN ON AN ENCLOSED CARRIER? HERE are SOME TIPS!
In between loading up newly sold classics at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale, Jim Bergeron, the Customer Service Coordinator for Intercity Lines, Inc., filled us in on shipping with enclosed carriers.
Q: What are the biggest benefits a classic car owner gets by shipping in an enclosed carrier?
A: The biggest benefits with enclosed transport are: the vehicle is inside away from the elements, theres greater security, a soft tie down system gives more peace of mind as there is no hardware near the car itself, and the carrier is very competent.
Q: Enclosed carriers are known to have higher costs than open carriers but what would you tell a classic car owner about the added value they get with enclosed?
A: There is greater security, no exposure to the elements, higher insurance liabilities, more competent drivers, better equipment, and the ability to ship additional parts.
Q: How should classic car owners research reputable shipping companies?
A: We recommend independent websites like transportreviews.com or epinions.com; these websites allow people to report and review carriers of all sorts with experiences good and bad.
Q: What vehicle info does the shipping company need to know beforehand?
A: We need to know the year, make, and model of the vehicle, and the pickup and delivery locations.
We also need to know if the car is running or not, if it is stock or modified, and if it will ship with any additional parts.
Q: What specific hauler features should owners look for to help avoid damage during loading/hauling/unloading?
A: Customers should look for lift gate loading, drip barriers in between decks (if it is a stacking trailer), nylon wheel saddles for tie down, plastic covers for the seat and floor mats, and a car cover once the vehicle is loaded.
Q: What specific hauler practices should owners look for?
A: Owners should make sure the carrier does a detailed visual inspection of the vehicle before it is loaded, noting its mileage and VIN.
Q: What are drivers/loaders trained to do to ensure the vehicle isnt damaged?
A: Drivers are trained to carefully look over a car before it is loaded to note any scratch, ding, dentanything and everything to acknowledge the condition of the car before it is loaded. The drivers are trained in proper tie down techniques, and know where to position cars to make the safest ride across the country.
Q: Is dealing directly with a specialty hauler with its own drivers more preferable than working with a company that is a broker, who may farm out shipping to other trucks?
A: Dealing directly with the carrier allows customers to get direct answers regarding vehicle handling, timing, and most importantly, driver contact.
Most reputable carriers do not require a deposit, whereas brokers normally charge a deposit. When you deal directly with the carrier they do not broker it out, so the customer knows exactly who is hauling the vehicle, and with what type of equipment.
Q: What forms of payment does Intercity accept?
A: Intercity Lines accepts MasterCard, Visa, cashiers check and cash. For credit card payments, we require the cardholder signature on file. Our credit card payment form is available on-line in either Adobe Acrobat format or as a Microsoft Word Doc. If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it by going to the Adobe website. You can download, print, complete and fax the form to Intercity Lines at 1-413-436-9422. If you have questions regarding this policy, call us at 1-800-221-3936.
Q: What levels of insurance does Intercity Lines carry?
A: Intercity Lines carries the highest level of insurance coverage in the industry. For more information on our coverage click here.
Q: Can I put personal items in the car?
A: Yes, but we need access to the drivers side seat and must be able to see out the back window. Since our insurance only covers your vehicle, we cannot be responsible for items that become lost or damaged during transport.
Q: Do you offer open transport?
A: No. Our only transporters are enclosed. Our service is enclosed, door-to-door (some restrictions apply), and insured.
Q: Do you have terminals?
A: No. Our only warehouse is in Brookfield, MA. Our service is door-to-door (some restrictions apply).
Q: Do you transport motorcycles?
A: Yes. Enclosed transport is available for motorcycles including sidecars, tricycles and other custom motorcycles.