7 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed by a Car Transport Company

When preparing for a move, the last thing you need is hassle from a car transport company. You want to make sure your vehicle will arrive at your new home without sustaining damage or getting delayed. It would be nice not to pay too much on top of the other costs of moving and to have peace of mind knowing you can trust the company you choose to handle your vehicle. Unfortunately, not every service available to ship car is reliable.

Many unsuspecting vehicle owners get taken in by scams, but you can avoid becoming a victim by exercising discernment in your search. Whether you’re shipping a car across the state or across the country, taking these steps can help you separate legitimate companies from those just looking to make a quick buck.

Be Your Own Inspector

Your car should always arrive in the same condition in which it left. Before you ship, inspect the interior and exterior of the entire vehicle. Write down existing damage, note the mileage on the odometer and take photos for confirmation. Keep this information in a safe place so that it doesn’t get lost in the bustle of the move.

Check transporters’ policies regarding how damage is to be reported and how to get reimbursed if repairs should be necessary. Even reputable companies can’t prevent every possible problem, so it’s essential to know you have recourse should something go wrong.

When the car arrives, you should have a chance to look it over again. If the vehicle seems unusually dirty or the auto transport company insists on delivering at night, take it as a warning sign. Don’t accept the bill of landing until you’ve done a second inspection and determined the car hasn’t been damaged.

car carrierCheck Licenses and Registration

All vehicle transporters are required to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). They should also have a motor carrier number (MC#) and a USDOT number. Ask for these qualifications when talking with prospective companies, or use the FMSCA website to look it up for yourself. If the company isn’t registered, search for a transporter with legitimate credentials.

Read the Reviews

Reviews should be a key part of your research when shipping a car. These can be found on Google and consumer advocacy sites. Take time to read what past customers actually said instead of just looking at the number of good or bad reviews. Beware of companies with only positive reviews. A spotless record is rare and could indicate unscrupulous review collection practices or the deliberate repression of negative comments.

A company’s BBB page can also be revealing. Here you’ll find not only a BBB rating but also a record of complaints against the service and how or if these complaints were resolved. Consider the ratio of negative to positive feedback, and see how the company responded to angry or unsatisfied customers. The way a company resolves issues can be just as important as having a collection of glowing reviews.

Question “Direct Carrier” Claims

There’s a difference between a transport company and a broker, but not all services make this distinction up front. Transporters are known as “direct carriers.” They ship cars from one location to another using trucks owned and drivers employed by the company. Jobs are never transferred to a third party, and you deal with the same people throughout the shipping process.

Brokers should act as reliable intermediaries between customers and shippers, but some simply contract with the lowest bidder and pocket the difference. If a company doesn’t have any vehicles or drivers of its own, beware of signing a shipping contract.

Look into Suspiciously Low Fees

A “guaranteed lowest price” isn’t always a good thing when it comes to shipping your vehicle. If you come across a company with much lower quotes than the average given during your research, your first reaction should be to question why they’re able to charge so little. Dig deeper into the fine print of their terms to find out what extra fees are attached to their services.

Should this not give you a satisfactory answer, call the company for clarification. You may find they’re more than willing to try and sell you “upgrades” for standard services already included in the quotes from other companies.

Know Your Driver

Never give an auto transport company a deposit until you have the name of your driver along with reliable contact information. Companies trying to secure deposits before providing carrier details are likely looking for a way to soak you for more money. Unless you know exactly who is taking care of your vehicle, the company can try to charge you more money to secure a spot on a transport truck as the day of your move approaches. Having the driver’s contact information also gives you a way to get in touch directly if necessary.

Scrutinize Before You Sign

Thorough research should lead you to a company with which you feel comfortable shipping your car, but reading every detail of the contract is still essential. Skimming and signing could leave you with no recourse if you’re charged additional fees when the car is delivered or your vehicle is damaged and you find out the company’s insurance won’t cover the costs. Your signature shouldn’t go on the document until every charge, exemption, limitation and potential liability is made clear.

If there’s something in the terms you don’t understand, ask questions. Sketchy answers or avoidance tactics should raise red flags and indicate it’s time to find a different company to ship your car.

Don’t get taken in by an unscrupulous car transport company. Discernment is necessary to spot potential scams. Do your research to find a reliable service with a solid reputation and good reviews, and you can feel confident they’ll get your vehicle to your new home without any trouble.

Interstate car transport is a huge industry with some reputable and some not so reputable companies out there.

Let us help you find one of the good guys.

Interstate car transport is a huge industry with some reputable and some not so reputable companies out there.
Let us help you find one of the good guys. Get a Free Quote