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Common Problems During Auto Transport

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Your vehicle is one of your most valuable and prized possessions, so trusting it in the hands of auto shippers when you're relocating can be a stressful, harrowing experience. When you're moving, you are often under a lot of pressure, with many tasks to take care of in a certain time frame. If you are under specific time constraints, you may be dependent on your vehicle arriving at its destination by a certain date, unscathed without spending a fortune--moving costs enough as it is! With so much at stake, you will want to hire auto movers that can get your car to you quickly, safely and at a great price.

Unfortunately, there are numerous factors involved in auto shipping and many ways that things can go awry. This guide describes some of the common problems that arise during vehicle transport, how you can deal with them, and how to prevent them.

Late delivery

One of the most common problems to arise during car shipping is delayed delivery. While car shippers do their best to provide customers with an accurate date of expected delivery, there are many factors that can contribute to a late shipment. Unexpected traffic jams, extreme weather, mechanical trouble, accidents or a flat tire can all hold up your car's delivery. Additionally, since trailers are often carrying eight to ten vehicles at any given time, late customers and paperwork can also cause late shipments.

Because of the likelihood of delays, auto shippers will rarely provide you with an exact date and time for delivery. Be wary of any company that does. Car movers will typically estimate your delivery within a three-day window. If there is any occurrence that will delay your shipment, the shipper will contact you as soon as possible with your new expected date of delivery. Some companies may offer you a discount if you car is late by more than three days, but it shouldn't be expected.

Incorrect quote

Occasionally, an incorrect quote may be given due to a misunderstanding about your location. For instance, if there are two cities in the same state with very similar names, located several hundred miles apart, this can cause a variance of hundreds of dollars in your estimate. When speaking with an auto carrier or broker, make sure to reiterate the zip codes of your pick-up and delivery locations to ensure you are being quoted the correct price (not to mention avoiding your car being delivered to the wrong city!).

Poor communication

Hiring an auto-transport broker to find a carrier for you to ship your vehicle can sometimes make the process easier, but can also lead to miscommunication. The third-party broker will be handling all communication between the carrier and the customer--while this may take the responsibility off of you, it can increase the risk of misunderstandings or delays.

If the carrier needs any information about your vehicle or the pick-up location and cannot reach your broker, they may remove your vehicle from their list and continue on with their shipment. Your broker will now have to find a new carrier to transport your vehicle, which will only set back your progress and prolong your expected date of delivery. Make sure to be in touch with your broker or carrier to prevent any delays due to poor communication.

Off-route destinations

Auto transport companies have common routes that they travel for frequent business. If you require pick-up or delivery from an off-route location, you may incur extra charges or a slower delivery. Picking your vehicle up at a terminal, rather than requiring door-to-door delivery, will likely shorten your wait and lessen your expenses. Be sure to inquire about extra charges for your out-of-the-way origin or destination locations before hiring any company, so you can prevent a surprise hike in your price later.


Another common mishap that can occur during transport is damage to your vehicle. When your car arrives, be sure to thoroughly inspect it in a well-lit area for any scratches, dent, cracked glass or any other damage. Don't forget to check the roof and under the bumpers--these areas are often overlooked.

If you find any new damage that wasn't there when your car was picked up, make a note of it on the Original Inspection Report (also known as the Bill of Lading). Then have the delivery driver sign the document--you will have trouble filing a claim later if the driver doesn't sign the document before leaving.

Next, you will want to contact your shipper with your complaint. They will likely ask you to send them the Original Inspection Report, photos of your damage, and a copy of an estimate on the damages from your mechanic. If the company does not respond to your claim with an offer for resolution, you may want to contact the Better Business Bureau to prompt the company to quickly resolve the matter.

Additionally, make sure you inquire about the shipper's standard insurance coverage and the cost for additional insurance before enlisting their services. You can also purchase shipping coverage from your current car insurance provider. For more on insurance for auto shipping, click here.

Bait and switch estimates

Like any other moving service, the auto transport industry is often plagued by fraud and scam-- the most common being the bait-and-switch estimate. This occurs when a company offers an unusually low quote for their service, then tacks on an array of "hidden fees" that raise the price astronomically. When the customer disputes the cost, the company refuses delivery until the amount is paid in full.

You can avoid falling victim to scams by thoroughly researching your auto mover before hiring them. Check their record on the website for the Better Business Bureau, read online reviews, ask for customer references, request the company's MC number and verify it on the FMCSA website. These steps will help you be sure that you are hiring an honest, reputable auto mover to ship your vehicle.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on April 4, 2013

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