by Collin Bass

Having a professional auto carrier ship your car or truck is a convenient and reliable way to move it across the country. You might take advantage of the service when you’re relocating, moving a vehicle out of car storage, or buying a vehicle from a distance. Here are uShip’s top tips for getting a great deal and ensuring your vehicle is shipped quickly and safely.

1.     Compare pricing
As with any service, you’ll probably get what you pay for with auto transport companies. But with a realistic budget in mind, you can compare rates with different carriers to get a good deal. Sites like make this easy by offering upfront quotes from top carriers, or you can list your shipment and wait for competing bids.

2.     Check your carrier’s feedback online
When comparing quotes, you should evaluate auto carriers based on their experience, licensing, authority and insurance. Legal haulers are required to be registered with the Department of Transportation and have valid Motor Carrier authority. Google, the Better Business Bureau and uShip are great resources for feedback from previous customers.

3.     Confirm your carrier’s liability
Before you choose an auto carrier, be sure to understand the carrier’s limit of liability, including any deductibles. Most carriers will provide $50,000-$100,000 in coverage, with some carriers going as high as $250,000.

4.     Protect your vehicle from the elements
If you own a classic, vintage or luxury vehicle, you’ll want to request either fully enclosed transport (an enclosed trailer), or have your vehicle “top loaded.” Top loading typically costs a bit more, but your vehicle will travel on the upper deck of the carrier, where contact with road debris and auto fluids is less likely.

5.     Inspect your car before pick-up and take photos
Take time to inspect your car before the carrier arrives and note any visible or mechanical problems. It’s helpful to take dated and well-lit photos of your car from different angles. Thankfully, the industry as a whole has a damage rate under 3%, so you probably won’t have to deal with the photos at all.

6.     Take everything out of your vehicle
Before your vehicle is loaded onto a carrier, you’ll need to empty it entirely. There are several reasons you can’t use your vehicle to haul your stuff while it’s on a carrier. They all relate to safety— weighing down your vehicle increases its weight, can impede a clear line of sight during loading/unloading, and more often than not, your items can bounce around in transport and become damaged.

7.     Leave only a quarter of a tank of gas
Leaving only a quarter tank of fuel in your vehicle is the safest option during transport, unless your carrier tells you otherwise.

8.     Agree on reliable pick-up and delivery location
Before your transporter arrives, understand how and where your vehicle will be loaded. Some companies offer door-to-door car transport, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle will be delivered directly to your door. Communicate ahead of time with your carrier to find out if their truck and trailer can navigate to your business or residence. Some streets and alleyways may be inaccessible, so you may need to meet at a mutually agreed location.

9.      Keep a realistic timeline
To ensure your vehicle arrives when you need it, you’ll need to plan well in advance—sometimes weeks ahead of time. The carrier should provide a window of time in which your vehicle will be loaded and delivered. Patience is also a key factor. Unlike standard parcel shipping, unforeseen delays can occur.

Collin Bass is a writer and social media specialist at uShip, the world’s largest and most trusted transportation marketplace for household goods, freight, vehicles and other hard-to-ship items.