2 May 2005

Choosing the Right Transport Company

You’ve decided to ship your collector car to another part of the country. Here are some tips to make sure your car arrives at its destination in the same condition it was in when you loaded it on the truck.

Establish the credibility of the carrier. You are entrusting something valuable to the carrier you choose so make sure they are capable of protecting your investment. Do some research. Make telephone calls to various companies, surf the web, browse print ads and ask members of your local car club who they’d recommend.

Look for experience in shipping collector cars. Determine how much experience they have and whether they can prove it. Ask the company for referrals.  The major auction companies are also a good source of referrals. See who they use and recommend.

Verify that the shipper is properly licensed and insured. A credible shipper will be able to provide you with a United States Department of Transportation operation authority number and proof of insurance. The US DOT currently requires carriers to have a minimum of $1,000,000 liability coverage.  Also, carefully scan the company’s bill of lading to determine its level of responsibility to you in the event of damage or loss.  A carrier that cuts corners is likely to do it here by specifying a flat “release rate” that is a fraction of the value of your car.

Determine in advance the level of service you will receive. Not all carriers of collector cars provide identical levels of services.

  • Is the salesperson you are speaking with knowledgeable about handling your car? You should feel comfortable with the person's "grasp" of the job involved because they will probably be directing the handling of your car once the order is placed.
  • Ask the carrier to confirm the services in writing. If they won’t, it’s a big "red flag" that you should not ignore. Although carriers may not be able to specify exact dates of service, established carriers are not hesitant to commit to defined parameters of service in writing.
  • Is the carrier equipped to provide the service required? For example: Are the trucks equipped with lift gates and winch systems to accommodate non-running cars?

Inspect your vehicle carefully before and after shipping. Many owners don’t do a daily inspection of their vehicles so do one right before yours is loaded on the truck. Make careful notes and even snap a few photos of the major body panels before you ship. Upon arrival, be sure to inspect your car with the driver so any shipping related damage can be verified.

Come to an agreed rate for shipping. The prices you receive from quality carriers should be competitive with other credible carriers and commensurate with the specified service level. If a price looks "too cheap," it probably is. You get what you pay for. Make sure you know the payment terms up front and ask the company to put them in writing.

Prepare your vehicle for shipment

  • Follow any guidelines the carrier specifies. The carrier has the option to refuse the shipment if you have not met the conditions you agreed to.
  • A clean car makes it easier for you and the carrier to do a proper inspection. This will help avoid damage claim problems on the receiving end of the shipment.
  • Do not fill the gas tank. One fourth of a tank of fuel is most desirable to the carrier.
  • Batteries should be charged to avoid additional fees for winching.
  • Any special instructions that a person handling your vehicle needs to know should be written down and left in the vehicle. Examples include battery shutoff switches, fuel shutoffs, hidden switches, and other "tricks” to your car. This will help the driver handle your car the way you want it handled.
  • Do not leave loose articles in the vehicle or in the trunk of the vehicle without consulting the driver. These items can shift and be damaged or cause damage to your car.
  • Be sure the anti-freeze level is adequate for the climate at both ends of the trip. Transporting your car from warm weather to cold weather can result in freezing and damage to the engine block if your coolant freezes.
  • Inform carrier of any alarm systems. Ideally, alarms should be disabled, but the carrier should be provided with instructions for operating the system if necessary.

Some added precautions for inoperative vehicles.

  • Doors without handles should be tied shut.
  • Freshly painted body parts without rubber seals should be padded with towels.
  • Engines and drivelines should be properly bolted.
  • Loose parts should be secured so they don’t shift and damage other parts of the vehicle.

This information was provided by FedEx Custom Critical Passport Auto Transport, a well-respected transportation company in the automotive industry. For more information on how to transport your collector vehicle you can contact Passport Transport at 800-325-4267 or visit http://passport.fedex.com .

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