cross country auto shipping
December 13, 2006 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I need to ship a car from New York/NJ to San Francisco area on Dec. 15. Online info for such services seem dodgy. Any recomendations or warnings?

Actually, my brother needs to get his car from NY/NJ to San Francisco on Dec. 15th. He's rather hang with the family than spend days driving across country. Online sources and opinions that rate such services never give more than a two star rating to any of the services. Does anybody have experience with a reputable shipping or trucking auto transport company? Rough idea of costs? Horror stories? Recomendations?
posted by zaelic to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have done the 'drive-away' thing twice. Get a car and a tank of gas, drive the car from NYC/east coast to SF/west coast. Driver gets use of a car, owner gets their car shipped, company gets the money. It's a crapshhot at best.
posted by fixedgear at 12:55 PM on December 13, 2006

The car shipper I used was a nightmare (and I believe is not out of business), and my car arrived in Oregon from Connecticut with several scratches on the bumper.

As such, I have no advice about shippers, but I do have one small bit of advice that you might overlook: If you have an EZ Pass, take it out of your car before you load it on the truck. I forgot to remove mine and the next month got several toll charges from when the truck made its way over the NY State Thruway.
posted by pdb at 12:59 PM on December 13, 2006

Try posting an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to drive it across the country for you. Offer tham a nominal fee plus money for gas. This would be a lot cheaper than paying truck/train shipping rates.

There are always loads of college kids looking for cheap cross-country road trips, especially the low and medum income kids attending Ivy League colleges on the East Coast under scholarship.

Meet the kids in person, get references and ask your insurance company about additional insurance coverage i case they wreck the car en route.
posted by camworld at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2006

I spent a couple decades in the car business and shipped a few hundred cars during that time. The 2 best companies if you're shipping by truck are Hadley Auto Transport and Passport Transport. Passport is the more expensive of the 2 but they use enclosed trailers and are definitely the way to go if your brother is very finicky about his car.

Auto drive-away companies used to be cheaper, but you never know how the car will be treated or driven during its trip.
posted by buggzzee23 at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2006

I recently shipped my van from PA to AZ. I used A-Z Affordable Transport. Their number is 1800-262-0008. I worked with Azeez. The trucking company was K&C - the driver's name was Ken and was very very nice. My vehicle arrived in perfect condition. The rates were good - it cost about $1,000.00 to ship. Please be aware that these sorts of operations do not work on strict schedules and can only guesstimate when they can pick up your vehicle and when they will drop it off. So don't stress too much and make sure that you are covered for the likelihood that your vehicle may not be there right on schedule.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2006

I shipped a car once and the whole exprience was a bit of a headache. You weren't sure when they would get it, or when it would be delivered or exactly how much it was going to cost. I had stuff in the car and there was a lot of oogy boogy language about maybe not being able to keep my stuff with the car, etc etc.

If it could wait until right after Xmas, I'd do it for you for the price of a plane ticket home and gas money. I have references. Just another option to consider (alternately, MeFi Jobs might be an option)
posted by jessamyn at 1:54 PM on December 13, 2006

If you pick a shipper off the net, do yourself a favor and check them on - lots of horror stories and extra charges/late delivery for lots of shippers.
posted by clanger at 2:15 PM on December 13, 2006

after some review (use a couple years ago, I settled on dependable auto shippers. They moved my car from SF to NYC and did it on the schedule they promised to, after the first guys left me hanging for a while.
posted by alkupe at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2006

I have done the 'drive-away' thing twice. ... It's a crapshhot at best.

What happened?
posted by smackfu at 3:23 PM on December 13, 2006

Both cars were dogs. Car one was a Chevy Impala that broke down on Christmas day in Bumfuck, AZ. It had some sort of bad timing problem and was backfiring flames through the carb. It got fixed and we limped in to Berkeley. That was in 1982.

To prove that I learn nothing, I did it again. Subaru, different friend. This car had transmission problems which we learned when it would jump out of gear while driving along at sixty or so. We started rooting around in the glovebox and found all sorts of neat repair orders from Don Rosen Subaru, like 'pops out of gear.' So that car had no neutral or reverse after a while. We dropped it off in SoCal smowhere. The guy came to pick it up. My friend said 'oh yeah, it needs to be in neutral and you need to push the clutch in before it will start.' The guys said 'what? no it doesn't' and as he proceeds to turn the key the car lurches forward. Sigh.
posted by fixedgear at 3:41 PM on December 13, 2006

I have shipped a couple cars across country. It costs roughly $1000 and takes 4-6 weeks minimum. I doubt you'll be able to find someone to schedule a pickup 3 days from now; my guess is that you'll be able to find a company that promises to pick it up sometime in the first or second week of January, and they won't be more specific. You won't learn when you're getting your car back until the day before, either. And they're pretty rough on the car; expect to get it back sun-baked and banged up.

If you let someone else drive your car across country, you can be found liable if they kill someone with it. How much money is avoiding a $10 million wrongful death suit worth to you?
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:27 PM on December 13, 2006

I've had a moving company (United) move a car and a private company move a car. The moving company by far did a better job of it. The private company left the lights on (killed the battery) - they blamed it on a short in the electrical system, but we had a mechanic who had certified the electrical system before we left. They refused to drop it off at the actual target destination (even though the truck could easily maneuver there), and at the actual drop-off point, the literally dropped it, tearing off part of the cowling on the front end.

No matter what you go with, get a mechanic to look over the car first and evaluate it then take many photos inside and out so as to avoid any possible "it was like this" disputes at the far end.
posted by plinth at 7:15 PM on December 13, 2006

Dependable Auto Shippers (see alkupe's link) shipped my car from NYC to SF (actually, Fremont) and they were great -- they let us drop the car off within a week of when we called, and it arrived a couple of weeks later (can't remember exactly, but they shipped it shortly after the new year and I had it by the end of January). It cost $900ish, all told -- this was a year ago next month. DAS will do door-to-door, too, but it is several hundred dollars more expensive, iirc.

Also, they had web and email update stuff going on, which was great for me as I hate the phone but like to know where my stuff is.
posted by obliquicity at 9:10 PM on December 13, 2006

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