Car Shipping Company Methodology (2024 Guide)

At moveBuddha, we are committed to giving our readers everything they need to take some of the stress out of the moving process, including vehicle transport, which comes with its own unique set of challenges. In order to pick the best car shipping company for your move, it’s important for you to understand how vehicle transport works and what special services car shippers may have to offer.

That’s why we base our recommendations for car shipping companies on clear and transparent criteria developed and fully researched by our industry experts.

We’ve been helping people with their moves since 2015 by sharing our knowledge — and our customers’ real-life experiences — through our Better Moves Project grants. More than 400,000 readers trust us to help them with their moving and car shipping needs.

Our evaluation system includes in-depth analysis of consumer reviews, our Better Moves Project participants’ experiences, and deep dives into companies’ services, pricing structure, and availability. 

Here’s a look at how we develop our informed picks for the best car shippers in the industry.

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Hope's Move With Montway Auto
Hope’s cross-country move included needing to ship her car to her new home in Maryland. Hope had used Montway Auto before, and really appreciated their professionalism and pricing.
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How we rate car shipping companies

Car shipping companies focus solely on vehicle transport, whether it’s a passenger car, truck, or SUV, or specialty vehicles like motorcycles, RVs, and even heavy equipment and boats. 

Since auto shipping comes with its own set of logistics and considerations, we rated each car shipping company based on a unique set of criteria that includes:

  • Standard auto transport services
  • Additional car shipping services
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Availability
  • Scheduling and payment

Standard auto transport services (30%)

As an industry standard, car shipping companies offer open transport, enclosed transport, or both. Enclosed transport provides more protection from your car from weather and other variables, but at a higher cost. So, choosing a car shipper that offers both options means more options and pricing flexibility. 

Likewise, car shippers tend to offer either door-to-door shipping — meaning the company will pick up your vehicle and deliver it to you — or terminal transport, which requires you to drop off and pick up your car. Door-to-door shipping naturally comes with a higher price tag than terminal-to-terminal service. Some car shippers give consumers the choice of either option, giving you the ability to decide based on what’s more important to you: convenience or cost.

Finally, all auto shipping companies transport cars, obviously. But not all of them handle specialty vehicles like RVs, boats, motorcycles, and inoperable vehicles, as well. 

We evaluate companies based on their standard service offerings, giving more weight to those car shippers who provide multiple options and handle a wider variety of vehicles.

Additional car shipping services (25%)

Beyond standard vehicle transport, some car shipping companies provide extra perks and optional services. 

These include: 

  • Expedited shipping
  • Guaranteed pickup and delivery times
  • Free car washes
  • Car rental reimbursement for delayed deliveries

Add-on services like expedited shipping can come with an extra cost but are great for people in a time crunch. And bonus benefits like car washes and car rental reimbursements show a company’s commitment to providing quality and timely service. 

We look at free guarantees that speak to that commitment, as well as add-on services that can make planning easier and more efficient. Companies that offer those services standard that typically come at a higher price score a little higher here. 

Customer satisfaction (20%)

Customer experience is paramount when it comes to picking a trustworthy car shipper. That’s why we take into account consumer reviews on multiple major platforms, such as Yelp, Google, and Trustpilot. We also considered the moving experiences of our Better Moves Project participants if car shipping was a part of their relocation process. 

In addition to using reviews to gauge customer satisfaction, we consider each company’s overall reputation in the moving industry. For starters, car shippers must have proper federal licenses like a registration number issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (a USDOT number), and a Motor Carrier or MC number. 

The USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also requires companies to have proof of cargo and liability insurance, but the amount of coverage depends on what they’re transporting. 

Occasionally, organizations like the American Trucking Associations and the National Safety Council will give car shipping companies awards for safety. Other car shippers might receive Auto Transport Industry Awards from different trade associations and industry publications. 

Along with each company’s grade with Better Business Bureau, we also noted any professional awards and honors in these customer satisfaction ratings.

Availability (15%)

Many car shipping companies offer services across most of the United States. However, getting your car to Alaska, Hawaii, or out of the country can present more of a challenge. That is why nationwide availability in all 50 states and international car shipping services are important for determining the availability of different companies. 

In general, wider availability earns a company higher points in this category.

Scheduling and payment (10%)

Shipping your car is only as convenient as the process of scheduling service and paying for it. Car shipping companies that make it easy to book both online and over the phone are ranked higher than ones that don’t. Price-matching policies and discounts are also important to consider. 

Car shippers that offer binding quotes or a price-lock promise — and include insurance in these estimates — will be rated more positively than car transport companies that are less transparent about cost. 

How to find the best car shipping company

All the rating criteria we use has been developed with one objective in mind — to help our readers pick the perfect car shipper to meet their needs. The variety of services (including any perks or add-ons), customer satisfaction, and availability are all crucial to finding a quality car shipper.

But since everyone’s circumstances are different, the best car shipping company for you will depend on your specific budget and unique needs. 

For instance, if you’re a luxury or classic car owner, you should look for a car shipping company with the best insurance options, closed transport, and a clean car or damage-free guarantee. 

If you need to ship an RV, you are going to look for a car shipper that can handle transporting a heavier vehicle, even if they don’t offer as many perks like expedited shipping. And the owner of an older sedan on a budget should look for open transport and terminal-to-terminal delivery in order to save money. 

Check out our recommendations for the best car shipping companies in the moving industry to help you get started in your search. You can trust that every company on that list has been fully vetted using the criteria above and has risen to the top of the industry list. 

Once you have narrowed down your list of choices, you can use our car shipping calculator to quickly compare prices.

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