Finding a Classic Car Transporter – Key Tips You Need to Know

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Classic car owners know how important it is to protect their vehicles. After all, older cars are difficult to repair. If your car gets damaged, you might struggle to find replacement parts and panels. Of course, you can ensure your classic car is safe and sound when you’re driving it yourself.

But what if you need to use a shipping company to transport it across the country?

There are many reasons you might want to use a classic car transporter for this task. Perhaps you need to move the car over a long distance and don’t want unnecessary wear and tear. Or you’re transporting the vehicle to a show or exhibition and want to keep it as safe as possible. Whatever the reason may be, you need to find a vintage car transport service that is reliable, trustworthy, and capable of shipping a car without damaging it.

That’s where this article comes in. We’re going to look at the crucial tips you need to know when choosing between different classic car transportation services.Finding a Classic Car Transporter – Key Tips You Need to Know

Tip No. 1 – Start Your Search Early

If you know you’re going to need to ship your car somewhere in a couple of months, you may be tempted to wait until the shipping date gets closer. The problem with doing this is, you don’t give yourself enough time to properly research the classic car haulers available to you. A lack of research means you don’t know enough about each company, which increases the possibility of working with carriers that provide poor services.

Start searching for a transportation company as soon as you know your shipping date. Not only does this give you more time to research, it also ensures you’re more likely to be able to schedule your shipping service for the time and date you want.

Tip No. 2 – Decide on a Mode of Transportation

Most old car transport services offer you the choice between open-air and enclosed shipping.

Open-air shipping involves loading your vehicle onto a car trailer, typically alongside other cars. Trailers often have two levels, allowing the shipping company to move several cars simultaneously. This option is the cheaper of the two and allows drivers to conduct quick visual inspections of the vehicles they’re hauling.

However, open-air transport exposes your vehicle to the elements and any debris that gets kicked up from the road. If debris hits your vehicle, it may cause dings and scratches to your classic car’s valuable bodywork.

Enclosed shipping involves loading a single car into a trailer that has a ceiling and four walls. Your classic car is completely protected against debris and weather, creating a more secure shipping environment. Of course, it’s more difficult for the carrier to conduct visual inspections, and the personalized service offered with enclosed shipping costs more.

Many classic car owners opt for enclosed shipping because of the increased security it provides. Open-air shipping is better for your wallet, but comes with more risk. Make your choice based on your budget and the importance of keeping your vehicle’s bodywork in good condition.

Tip No. 3 – Ask for Recommendations

Using the internet is the easiest way to find old car carriers. However, the websites you find are created by the carriers themselves. That means they’re highlighting the best of the transportation company, with no focus on any issues they have.

This one-sided perspective could lead to you choosing a classic auto transport company that is unfit for your purposes. A better idea is to ask for recommendations from people who’ve used a classic car delivery service before.

Any friends or family who’ve shipped vintage cars can point you toward (or away from) carriers. If you don’t know anybody who has a classic car, get in touch with any of the following.

  • Local auction houses
  • Car clubs
  • Vehicle restorers
  • Classic car museums

All of these organizations have reasons to use classic car transportation services regularly, which means they know who provides a good service and who doesn’t. Follow their guidance to create a short list of companies you’ll research later.

Tip No. 4 – Ask About Classic Car Collection and Delivery Methods

Just as you have two options for the way your vehicle is transported, you also have two options for its collection and delivery.

Terminal-to-terminal shipping is the most common. With this method, you take your vintage or classic car to a terminal owned by the carrier and drop it off with them. They then transport it to the terminal that’s nearest its intended destination so you can pick it up. Terminal-to-terminal shipping is cost-effective and allows more flexibility in terms of who picks the vehicle up on your behalf. However, many companies that use this method only offer open-air transport. Plus, you may face significant time delays due to the lack of personalized service.

With door-to-door shipping, the classic car delivery service turns up at your address on the date you specify. It then transports your vehicle to wherever you tell them to take it, meaning you don’t have to go out of your way to drop off or pick up your car. Though this personalized service increases the classic car transport cost you face, it’s more convenient and better suited to expensive cars.

Your choice depends on how quickly you need the car delivered, your budget, and the importance of personalized service. Consider terminal-to-terminal if you want to spend less and don’t mind the delays caused by the carrier shipping multiple cars at the same time. Opt for door-to-door delivery if you value convenience and don’t want to waste time with extra steps.

Tip No. 5 – Consider More Than the Cost

Choosing the cheapest classic car transporter you can find may help you save a few dollars. But it could lead to you working with a company that doesn’t provide the quality you need. As such, the price of your service shouldn’t be the main factor in choosing a carrier.

You can look at national average rates to help you determine if a carrier is qualified to ship your vintage or classic vehicle. A journey from New York City to Los Angeles covers nearly 2,800 miles. On average, that journey costs $1,650, though this may fall to $1,200 with a loose timeframe or increase to $2,100 for shipping with an enclosed trailer on a tight deadline.

Use these averages to gather quotes from the carriers you’re considering. Any that charge considerably less than the average may have hidden fees or similar issues that should dissuade you from using them. Similarly, any that ask for far more than these averages are overcharging and should be avoided.

The cost will always be a factor when choosing a classic car transporter. But having it as the sole determining factor could open you up to hidden fees and inadequate service. Often, it’s best to pay a little more so you can feel confident that your vehicle will be protected during its journey.

Consider More Than the CostTip No. 6 – Learn More About the Company

Let’s assume you have a short list of classic car transportation services that you’ve gathered via recommendations. You now need to learn as much about each of these companies as possible. Browsing each carrier’s website gives you the basic details about what they do. This should be enough to eliminate any companies that don’t offer classic auto transport from your list.

For the rest, you need independent opinions on the service provided. Looking for a classic car transport review website helps you do that. While forums dedicated to vintage and classic vehicles may allow you to talk to customers who’ve used the shipping company you’re considering, you’ll likely find more reviews on social media and the carrier’s Google Business page. By using reviews, you get independent and unbiased opinions about what a carrier’s service is like. This helps you to hone in on transportation companies that are likely to provide a good service.

Any company that has a low overall star rating should immediately fall out of consideration. If most customers find the service to be poor, you’re taking a real risk if you use the carrier. For those with better overall ratings, dig into some individual reviews. Look for references to the carrier’s customer service and how it handles the shipping process. Consider what’s important to you and look for evidence that the transportation company can meet your needs based on how it has served other customers.

Finally, check the carrier’s USDOT number, name, MC number, or MX number in the Federal Motor Carrier Association’s Company Snapshot database. Be wary of any company that doesn’t appear when you run this search. Assuming your carrier does appear, use the results to check its licensing and insurance status to ensure all of its documentation is up to date.

Tip No. 7 – Look for Experience With Vintage and Classic Cars

When you checked a carrier’s website, did you specifically look for mention of classic or vintage cars? If you didn’t, check the website again. You want to see that the carrier has experience dealing with older and more valuable vehicles before you trust them with your car. Ideally, the site should have a section or web page dedicated specifically to vintage car transport.

Why is that important?

Transporting a classic car is more difficult than shipping regular cars. Carriers need to understand how the car works and must take more care with the vehicle to avoid damaging its bodywork, wheels, and chassis. Classic car shippers also have enough experience with older vehicles to help you prepare your car for transit. You want to hire a company that has worked with cars like yours before. If you see no mention of classic car transportation in the carrier’s marketing materials, assume there’s no difference between their vintage and regular car shipping service.

Tip No. 8 – Ask About Insurance

Any reputable classic car transporter will have basic liability insurance. They may also provide additional coverage for any damage that occurs to the vehicle while it’s in transit. Avoid any company that doesn’t have insurance in place.

Assuming your carrier has insurance, you need to see it. Ask the carrier to send a copy of their policy, or their Certificate of Insurance, to you. This allows you to check what the policy covers and lets you examine it for small print and conditions that could affect your decision. It’s also a good idea to ask some basic questions about the policy, such as what it covers and whether there are any types of events or accidents that aren’t covered. A good classic car transporter will provide transparent answers to these questions. The company’s responsiveness to these inquiries also gives you some insight into the quality of its customer service.

Note that some vintage car carriers won’t provide enough insurance to cover your vehicle’s full value. In these cases, speak to your insurance provider about any additional insurance you should take out for the shipping process. Ideally, you’ll work with a provider that offers classic or collector car insurance.

Keep Your Vintage Vehicle Safe

You’ll follow many of the same steps for choosing a regular car shipping company when you’re looking for a classic car transporter. You still need to gather recommendations and research any companies you’re thinking of using. You have to make key decisions about the transportation and delivery methods you’d like to use.

The main difference lies in checking the carrier’s experience with classic cars. Research your carrier to ensure it offers classic car shipping as a specialized service. If it doesn’t, you may find that the carrier’s inexperience leads to it failing to handle your car correctly, which could cause damage or delays.

Now that you have these tips, you’re ready to start your search. Begin by checking out Ship Vehicles. We specialize in transporting vintage, exotic, and luxury vehicles in the United States. We can also help you if you want to import or export a classic car. We’re always on hand to offer guidance if you’d like to learn more about our services. If you’re ready to get a quote right now, contact us at (888) 231-0113 or get in touch with our team online.