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Your Responsibilities When Shipping a Vehicle

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So, you've decided to put the transportation of your vehicle into the capable hands of an auto mover. Though you have relinquished the largest responsibility to someone else, there are still quite a few things that you, as the owner, need to take care of.

Protect Yourself

As with any move, your first responsibility is to yourself. Compare prices between a few companies, and beware of lowball estimates; you'll get what you pay for.

All legitimate long distance movers should have a USDOT (United States Department of Transportation) number and, if they have been active since 1995 or earlier, an MC (Motor Carrier) number. If they have the latter, you know they have been in business for a while.

Having this information can protect you from getting scammed. You can see if the companies check out by going to this website.

The DMV and Insurance

It is your responsibility to notify the DMV, or your state's motor vehicle department, that you are moving to another state. This must be done within 10 days of the move itself and cannot be accomplished through e-mail. Paper mail, telephone, or an actual visit to the DMV may be involved. Be sure that both your license and registration are updated with your new address.

It is also your responsibility to notify your insurance company of the change in address and what changes, if any, you would like to make to your current policy.

Before and After

Make a thorough inspection of your car. Take note of any scratches or dents it currently has, cracks in the headlights, etc. This can be performed by a hired professional if you prefer, but always should be done with the moving company present. Have them sign off on a report of the condition of your car before the move occurs, and make sure a copy of the report goes into the bill of lading. Consider the following:

  • Is the tailpipe intact?
  • What condition are your mirrors and windows in?
  • How do your tires look?
  • What condition is the interior in?

TIP: Treat your car as though you were taking it in for a state inspection.

Read the bill of lading very carefully before signing it. Make sure it includes the proper information concerning your car, its destination, and insurance. On that note, make sure you are covered for any unforeseen events through the moving company or your personal insurance provider.

Keep your gas tank at ¼ full; most companies will charge by the weight of your car. Check to make sure your battery isn't leaking and that you have enough coolant in the radiator. Keep in mind as well that you will be charged if your car is inoperable. It might be worth it to have a mechanic give it a once-over. Deactivate any alarm system on the car. Anything detachable from the outside of the vehicle, such as an antenna or spoiler, should be removed.

In fact, any modifications to the car whatsoever need to be mentioned to the movers. This will allow them to give you a more accurate quote. If they find out after the fact, you will be charged anyway, and you end up making their job a little more difficult.

Remove any personal items from the inside of the car. The movers will not be liable if they are lost, stolen, or damaged. On top of that, depending on what they are, they could add weight to your car that you'll have to pay for.

The carrier will need a complete set of keys to the vehicle, but you should hang on to your own. Once you get the car back, make sure you have enough time to inspect it for damages before signing off on anything.

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on August 27, 2009

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