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Auto Relocation

When you need to relocate your car over a long distance, you basically have three choices: drive it there yourself, have someone else drive it, or hire an auto transport company. If you know how it works and can avoid the pitfalls, auto transport is a good solution.

How Auto Transport Works

When you contact an auto transport company, you are probably talking with a broker, not the actual transporter. The broker takes your request, quotes you a price based mostly on distance, and farms it out to a transporter who contacts you to make pickup and drop-off arrangements.

Higher-end transport companies tend to be complete operations, handling their own requests for transport and providing the drivers. While these tend to be more reliable and garner higher customer satisfaction, you pay for this, sometimes twice the rate of the separate broker/transporter operations.

Other price factors include: open carrier vs. enclosed transport, timeframes, and damage protection guarantees. Check with at least three operations -- -free quotes are easy to get from the web.

What to Look Out For

If you use a separate broker/transporter arrangement, remember that the transporter just picks up your job from the broker and may suggest a different pickup/drop-off date than was quoted. The quality of the independent transporter who actually carries your vehicle is a hit or miss thing. Sometimes you get someone who is terrific, sometimes it is a nightmare.

Damage is a concern, especially with open carriers. Rocks, weather, road grime and other hazards can damage your car just as if you were driving it. Another concern is oil dripping from the engine of the car on top of yours. Usually this damage is not covered by the transporter so read the agreement carefully. Your auto policy might cover it, however.

Watch out for transporters who change the deal enroute. Some are known for trying to get you to pay an additional amount for arriving early, to compensate for traffic delays, and other things outside your control. Most back down when they sense you know the game and question these charges. If you complain to the broker, they may just say that the transporter is independent and there is nothing they can do.

Using a higher priced, "all in one" operation avoids many of these hassles because there is less chance of finger pointing. But these more costly carriers make sense only when you are relocating a very expensive luxury auto or one with sentimental value.

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