15 Essential Questions to Ask the Best Car Shipping Companies

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Did you know that, according to recent reports, the national average cost to ship a car is about $1,650? Of course, there are numerous factors that can influence that cost, including the type of car you’re shipping, where you need it delivered to, and so much more.

This is why we believe it’s always best to do your research and ask the right questions. Not all of the best car shipping companies are created equal, so you'll want to make sure you find one that meets your needs.

As a trusted auto shipping broker with almost two decades worth of experience in shipping and logistics, we have worked with numerous clients with various needs. We believe in honesty, competence, and innovation, providing high-quality service to our customers nationwide. 

Because one of our core values is “people first,” we’ve developed this guide to the most essential questions to ask before shipping your car to ensure that, no matter who you ship your car with, you receive only the highest quality attention and service.

What To Know About Car Shipping Companies

Before we dive into the specifics of questions to ask the best car shipping companies, it’s important that you understand what a car shipping company does and doesn’t do. We find that providing customers with a great starting base is helpful in their search for the best services.

When it comes down to it, a car shipping company is responsible for transporting vehicles from one location to another. This can include shipping cars from factories to dealerships, or from one state to another. 

However, there are two players in the “game” of car transportation. Auto shipping carriers and auto shipping brokers.  As an auto shipping broker, for example, we take care of all the stress of sourcing an auto carrier that is registered, insured, and highly rated, so you don’t have to. 

We vet the carrier companies we hire to ensure the smooth and safe delivery of one of your greatest assets; your vehicle. On the contrary, an auto shipping carrier is a company that actually transports the car.

Ultimately, understanding the difference between the two will make your search and the transportation process a bit easier to navigate.

Questions to Ask the Best Car Shipping Companies

Now that you understand a little bit of the basics of car shipping, it’s time to shop around for a high-quality, trusted company. Worried you won’t get the service you deserve or that your car will end up damaged or missing?

This is why, when you're looking for a car shipping company, it's important to ask the right questions. Here are some questions for car shipping companies to ask to ensure you're getting the best service possible.

1. Are You a Shipper or Broker?

If you’ve read the paragraphs above regarding these differences then you’ll know what we’re talking about!

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) warns not to trust companies that are vague in regards to their status as a broker or transporter. If a company can't tell you whether they are a carrier or broker, it's best to steer clear. 

Essentially, car shipping is a big industry and there are a lot of players involved. Carriers are the companies that actually move the vehicles from one location to another. They have the trucks and the drivers, and they do all of the legwork. 

Then you have brokers. Brokers are the middlemen between customers and carriers. A broker takes your order and then shops around for a carrier that can do the job efficiently and effectively.

The simple fact is that carriers don’t always have time to find customers and a competitive broker can often get you a good deal. So if you’re looking to ship a car, you might want to consider using a broker.

2. What Is Your Company’s Experience in Shipping Cars?

A company with a lot of experience will likely have a good understanding of the ins and outs of shipping cars and will be able to provide you with a smooth and hassle-free experience. 

On the other hand, a company with little to no experience may not have the same level of expertise, and may not be able to provide the same level of service. So, be sure to ask about a company's experience before making your final decision.

When in doubt, see what others have to say about the company you’re looking to ship your car with. That brings us to our next question…

3. Where Can I Read Reviews From Past Customers?

This is an important question to ask any car shipping company you're considering. After all, you want to be sure that you're working with a reputable, reliable company. 

Reading reviews from past customers can give you a good sense of what to expect in terms of service and value. Furthermore, it's always helpful to hear about other people's experiences, good and bad. 

So, if a company doesn't have any reviews readily available, that could be a red flag. Instead, look for companies that have plenty of positive reviews from happy customers.

4. How Do You Ensure the Safety of My Car During Transport?

When you're looking for the best car shipping company, it's important to ask about their safety protocols. 

  • How do they ensure that your car will arrive at its destination in the same condition it left in? 
  • Do they have a team of experienced and qualified drivers? 
  • What kind of insurance do they carry (if any)?
  • How do they handle inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances? 

Ultimately, what you’re looking for here is that whoever you’re talking to has confident answers to this question. If they’re fumbling around and don’t know what you say, you can pretty much guess they actually won’t be able to ensure the safety of your car during transport.

5. What Are Your Rates & What’s Included in That Price?

Any good car shipping company should be able to give you a quote for their services. The price should be all-inclusive, with no hidden fees. 

Make sure to ask about any discounts that may apply, such as for multiple vehicles, off-peak shipping, or discounts for military members, students, and senior citizens (note: we offer all of those!).

In addition, find out whether the quoted price includes insurance or if that will be added separately. Some companies also offer additional services for an extra fee, such as door-to-door delivery or vehicle tracking. Door-to-door should be the standard, but it’s helpful to ask.

Be sure to ask about these options so that you can make an informed decision about which company to use.

6. Will My Car Be Insured During Transportation?

All reputable auto transport companies will carry insurance that will cover your vehicle in case of any accidents or damage that may occur during transit. However, it is always best to check with the company beforehand to be sure. 

You should also ask about the level of coverage and whether or not there are any deductibles that you would be responsible for.

Do note here, though, that if you’re speaking with an auto broker, they themselves likely won’t carry the insurance. This is because brokers don’t carry insurance. Only carriers carry insurance.

However, part of the broker's job is to vet the carrier's insurance. So, that should definitely be included in the process and fees.

7. Are There Any Additional Fees That Apply to My Shipment?

This should have been covered in the pricing question above, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that there are zero hidden fees. Simply double-check to confirm that the price they’re quoting includes everything you need and want.

8. What Information Do You Need to Ship My Vehicle?

You’ll need to know exactly what information the company needs in order to ship your vehicle. This includes things like your vehicle's make, model, and year, as well as your contact information and the pick-up and drop-off locations. 

Without this basic information, the car shipping company won't be able to provide you with an accurate quote or timeline for the shipment. 

However, outside of that, there shouldn’t be any lengthy paperwork required. For example, we only need your keys. No additional paperwork.

9. How Long Will It Take to Ship My Car?

The answer to this question will vary depending on a number of factors, including the distance the car is being shipped and the type of shipping service you've chosen. 

However, most car shipping companies will be able to give you a general idea of how long it will take to ship your car so you can plan accordingly. 

Do note, though, that it’s almost impossible to give a guaranteed delivery date. If a company can’t provide you with a guaranteed date, don’t worry! If they can, they’re probably lying.

Guaranteed delivery is impossible due to weather, traffic, etc. However, at AmeriFreight, for example, our First-Class Rate offers a guaranteed pickup date.

10. Do You Offer Door-to-Door Shipping?

This type of shipping is the most convenient, as you won't have to worry about getting your car to and from a terminal. And it should absolutely be the gold standard. We don’t recommend working with any company that doesn’t offer this.

At AmeriFreight, door-to-door service is our typical delivery service and has no additional cost. If the delivery truck cannot deliver the vehicle straight to your door because of obstructions then we’ll meet you nearby to deliver it as close as possible!

11. Do I Have to Be There for the Delivery?

You don't need to be there for the pickup or delivery, although someone will need to receive the car and keys for you. Typically, we prefer that this is you just to ensure that you’re satisfied with the delivery.

Likewise, it's always a good idea to be around when your car is being loaded onto the truck just to have some peace of mind that everything goes smoothly.

12. How Can I Pay for Shipment?

This is an essential question you must ask any car shipping company you're considering using. Some companies require payment upfront, while others will allow you to pay after the car has been delivered. 

If you're paying upfront, be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available. You should also inquire about the methods of payment that the company accepts.

NOTE: As mentioned, we don’t recommend working with companies that require you to pay upfront before finding a carrier. If they do then get in touch with us and we’ll walk you through our zero deposit service.

13. Are There Any Restrictions Where I Want to Ship My Car?

Some companies have restrictions on the type of car they can ship, and others may not be able to ship to certain locations. It's important to find out if there are any restrictions before you book with a company.

14. Can I Ship a Car If I Don’t Know the Exact Address?

The answer is typically yes, you can ship a car without knowing the exact address. However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. 

First, you will need to provide the car shipping company with an approximate location of where the car needs to be delivered. This can be done by providing them with the city, state, and zip code. 

Additionally, you will need to make sure that someone will be available to meet the car at the time of delivery. This is important because the driver will need someone to sign for the delivery. 

And finally, once you do have the exact address, you’ll want to send it to the shipping company as quickly as possible so they can update the carrier and driver.

15. How Much Will This Cost?

Finally, after asking all of your questions and getting the answers you need, you should be prepared to ask for a final, comprehensive quote for the cost of car shipment.

However, do note that with car shipping companies, pricing is an estimate and a starting point. 

This includes the deposit. Currently, the industry standard is to pay a deposit and then the rest upon delivery. However, at AmeriFreight, we offer a zero deposit service. We pay the carrier on your behalf and you pay in full once the car is delivered successfully!

Ship Your Car With AmeriFreight

Ready to ship your car with one of the best car shipping companies in the industry? We're here to help.

Our individual shipping services range from boat transportation and military relocation to seasonal movers who go back and forth for warmer weather.

We have over 17 years of experience helping others just like you ship their cars across the entire country. Get in touch today to see how we can help you make your move seamless and stress-free.