Choose a Shipping Service
While it’s possible to transport your classic car yourself if you happen to have a trailer and a truck with which to tow it, choosing a dedicated auto transport service is by far the safest option. Auto transport and shipping companies specialize in transporting vehicles safely and reliably, and they have the equipment and expertise to ensure that your car survives its journey unharmed. For particularly sensitive or valuable cars, it’s best to seek out carriers that specialize in classic and exotic vehicles.
When selecting a shipping service, begin by conducting research to help you decide which company best fits your needs. If you know other classic car enthusiasts who have used a transport service, ask them for their experiences. Use the Internet to research each company’s online reviews and check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for any available safety records and other useful information. Enquire about the kind of trailer that will be used to tow your vehicle; large, multi-level car carriers are often less expensive, but they come with added risks including loading and unloading and leaks from other vehicles.
Open or Enclosed Transport?
Whether you’ve chosen a vehicle transport service or you’re opting to tow a trailer yourself, your next step is to decide whether you’d like open or enclosed transport. Open trailers and transport services are generally more affordable, but they offer less reliable protection from the elements. Open-air trailers may leave your car exposed to weather such as rain, snow and ice as well as road hazards like rocks, dust, grime and other airborne debris.
Enclosed trailers and car carriers, meanwhile, offer excellent protection from the elements but often come at a premium price. The right choice for your situation depends on a number of factors, including the distance your car will be traveling, the expected weather and the value of your vehicle. If you do opt for an open-air auto transporter, you can request that your car be top-loaded to reduce the risk from road debris. However, when in doubt, an enclosed trailer or transporter is the safest option to ensure that no damage is done to your classic car during transit.
Check Your Insurance
The best-laid plans can still be undone by unforeseen issues, which is why proper insurance is an absolute must when it comes to transporting your classic car. If you’re using a transportation service, be sure to request paper copies of the carrier’s insurance information. Contact the insurer to verify that the transporter’s policy is active and current. If it isn’t listed clearly in the available information, be sure that the transportation provider explains exactly what is and is not covered by their insurance in the event of damage or loss.
Additionally, you should contact your own car insurance company to verify that your car is covered during transit. This is especially important if you choose to transport the car yourself, but it also provides a fallback option if you’re using a car shipping service. If your existing policy doesn’t cover your vehicle during transport, your insurance company may offer coverage as an optional add-on. You should also bear in mind that some insurance providers may require advance documentation from a car transporting service should you choose to use one.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before your car is transported to its location, you’ll need to prepare it for a safe journey. Begin by removing all personal belongings from your car, both inside the passenger compartment and in the trunk. This reduces the weight of your car and ensures that no damage is done by items shifting around during transit. Additionally, auto carriers generally are not liable for any personal items that are lost or damaged during the transportation process. For this reason, you should also consider removing any items of value such as removable emblems, car audio systems, navigational aids and other electronic devices.
It’s also recommended that you leave your fuel tank only a quarter full. This significantly reduces your vehicle’s weight while leaving enough fuel to load and unload your car and, if necessary, to reach the nearest gas station for a fill-up. This is especially important for auto transport services who deal with strict weight guidelines, as a full tank may lead to an overweight load and a major hassle during transport. Finally, it’s a good idea to tackle any lingering mechanical issues that may need to be addressed. Particularly troublesome are fluid leaks, which may cause paint damage to your car or other nearby vehicles, and leaky or damaged tires, which can make the loading and unloading process much more difficult.
Document, Document, Document
If you choose to use an auto transportation service, properly documenting the condition of your classic car is crucial. Your car is expected to arrive at its destination in the same condition it was in before it left, and it’s your responsibility to provide documentation in the event of any damage during transit. Take the time to photograph your car from every angle, documenting any existing damage and making note of any mechanical issues. The transport company will conduct a detailed inspection prior to loading your vehicle, at which time you will be asked to sign a condition report. Carefully read this report before signing to ensure that it accurately reflects the current state of your car.
You should follow a similar process upon your car’s arrival at its destination. You or someone you trust should inspect your car closely before signing the Bill of Lading and accepting its delivery. If the delivery takes place at night, you should move the vehicle to a brightly lit area if possible. If you notice any damage, make note of it on the Bill of Lading and contact the shipping company. Your pre-transit documentation can help you with any damage claims, ensuring that your investment is properly protected. Fortunately, this is a very unlikely occurrence. Statistics show that only three percent of vehicles transported by an auto carrier service suffer any form of damage, and that number is even lower among carriers specializing in classic, antique or exotic vehicles.
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