The holidays are right around the corner and many people will be traveling to see loved ones. While some may fly or take a train, others may want to ship their car instead of renting one at their destination. Shipping your personal vehicle ensures you have convenient transportation when you arrive. However, planning a self-drive move during the busiest travel seasons does require extra preparation. Here are some tips to help make shipping your car this holiday season as smooth as possible.
1. Book Early
The holiday shipping season runs from early November through New Year’s. During this time, auto transport companies see a significant spike in demand. To ensure you can get your vehicle moved on your desired dates, it’s best to book at least 6 weeks in advance. Last minute bookings are possible but you may encounter limited carrier availability and higher rates. Booking early also gives you the advantage of selecting from multiple carriers with reviews, rates, and transit times to compare.
Why book 6 weeks out?
- Gives carriers time to schedule your vehicle into their routes
- Avoids high demand surcharge periods around major holidays
- Opens up more carrier options to choose from
- Locks in rates before potential price increases
2. Prepare Your Vehicle Properly
To protect your vehicle during transport, there are some essential prep tasks to complete. Check that all lights, signals, wipers and accessories are working properly. Fix any issues that could develop into problems on the road. Perform any needed services like oil changes, tire rotations, or replacement of worn components. Clean the interior and exterior thoroughly to remove debris. Finally, empty or secure loose items in the trunk, glove box, and passenger compartment.
Other car prep tips:
- Remove valuables you won’t need or can pack separately
- Charge or disconnect the battery if vehicle will sit for long periods
- Fill the gas tank to avoid condensation build up in empty tank
- Leave a set of keys with the transport company
3. Inspect Thoroughly at Pickup
When the carrier arrives to pick up your vehicle, take time to thoroughly inspect it with the driver. Note any pre-existing dents, dings or scratches. Check that doors, trunk and hood latch properly. Look over tires and wheels. Drive it a short distance to verify everything is working as intended. Document the condition accurately on the carrier’s vehicle condition form before signing off. This establishes a condition report to reference in case any new damages are discovered at delivery.
4. Consider Added Protection Options
While carriers are responsible for reasonable care of your vehicle, added coverage can offer peace of mind. Some transport companies offer specialty services like enclosed transport. This fully encases the car to prevent things like road grime or bird droppings. Other options include maximum coverage plans which reimburse for more costly repairs beyond normal wear and tear claims. Ask your carrier about available add-ons that suit your risk tolerance and vehicle value when booking.
Common protection options:
- Enclosed transport
- Maximum coverage insurance
- Additional insured value for older/collector cars
- One-way/round-trip coverage for return self-drive
- Expedited delivery services for time-sensitive moves
5. Prepare Shipping Documents
One final element of preparation is ensuring you have all necessary documentation in order. Most states require a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Photocopy these items and leave the originals with a family member in case of emergency on the road. Also have your carrier’s shipping confirmation and vehicle condition report easily accessible digitally or in hard copy. Being fully prepared with paperwork helps avoid delays or issues at drop off/pick up.
6. Schedule Delivery Date Appropriately
When selecting a target delivery date, account for potential winter weather delays or high traffic volumes over major holidays. Having your vehicle arrive no later than a day or two before you need it allows a buffer. You also want to schedule pick up at your departure city after the expected travel/stay dates so you aren’t waiting around without transportation. Communicate clearly with your carrier if dates need adjustments due to changes in your itinerary.
7. Track Shipment Progress
Reliable carriers provide online shipment tracking through their websites or mobile apps. This allows you to see real-time location updates as your car makes its way cross-country. Monitor progress to look out for any anomalies versus the projected delivery date. A GPS tracker is also a worthwhile add-on for added visibility and peace of mind. Staying on top of the shipment status helps avoid any last minute delivery delays or issues upon arrival.
8. Inspect Thoroughly at Delivery
Just as with pickup, it’s important to thoroughly inspect your vehicle again with the driver upon delivery. Note any new dents, scratches or issues and have them acknowledged on the condition report. Drive it briefly and verify mechanical operation. Again, document accurately before signing off to transfer liability. This establishes a record of the vehicle’s condition post-transport in case repairs are needed down the line from transport-related damages.
9. Provide Feedback on Delivery Experience
After receiving your vehicle, take a few minutes to provide the carrier with feedback on your overall experience. Note what aspects went smoothly and any issues that arose. Carriers appreciate honest reviews which help them identify areas for improvement. Leaving positive feedback for a job well done also encourages high quality service. Keep all shipping documentation safely filed for your records in the rare case a claim needs to be made later on.
With some advance planning following these tips, shipping your vehicle for the holidays doesn’t need to be stressful. Booking early, proper prep work, routine inspections and communication throughout help transport go smoothly. Having your car waiting safely at your destination allows worry-free travel to see loved ones this season. Rely on an experienced, reputable carrier and your vehicle will arrive just in time for holiday festivities.