The world wide web has expanded shopping opportunities for everything from vacation packages to groceries and has allowed shoppers to find just the right products and services at the best prices. Thanks to companies like Amazon and eBay, merchandise can be ordered from across the country and be at your door in a few days, but most people only consider shopping online for vehicles within a short driving distance from home. However, websites like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, eBay and Craigslist allow you to venture outside your local driving area and search nationwide for the exact make, model, and year vehicle you want.
This method of car buying is catching on as more people realize they do not have to spend days going from one dealer to the next or chasing down private sellers all over town. Instead, you can search thousands of vehicles from the comfort of your home while wearing you pajamas and sipping a cup of coffee in a fraction of the time. Of course, buying a vehicle online does present a few issues that usually do not come up when shopping locally. These include finding a way to inspect the vehicle before you buy it and then figuring out how you are going to get your new ride home.
Do Your Due Diligence
Once you have found a car online that you are just in love with, you first need to be sure the vehicle is in the condition the seller claims. Heaven forbid the deal should go south and if you have not employed the necessary safeguards you can end up holding nothing but an empty wallet and a broken dream. To keep from getting yourself in a tough situation, follow these tips to protect yourself:
1) Check the VIN
2) Check the Vehicle Safety Rating
3) Confirm the Car Meets Your State’s Requirements
4) Vehicle Inspection
5) Maintain Comprehensive Records
6) Negotiate the Best Price
Getting Your New Vehicle Home
If you go to inspect the vehicle in person, then you will be able to drive the vehicle home yourself. Most states will issue what is known as a “trip permit” that is a temporary short-term registration. The permit is issued by the motor vehicle department in the state you are buying the car and allows you to operate the vehicle for a specific number of days. This should not be confused with a temporary tag that is issued by your home state until your receive your permanent license plates. If you cannot go to pick up the vehicle yourself, are purchasing an inoperative vehicle or one that is not road worthy, you will have to locate an auto shipper.
Referred to as auto transport companies, an auto shipper will transport your purchase across the state or across the country. Auto transport companies provide nationwide service, so it does not matter where in the country you live or what state the vehicle is located. You can live on one coast, such as in California, and the vehicle can be on the other, like in Florida or New York, and the company will ship the vehicle to you. However, just like buying a vehicle, you must do your research on shippers. Follow these guidelines:
- Choose a transport company that is highly rated and has been in business for a while. This will help ensure your vehicle will arrive safely, in a timely manner and be shipped at a fair price.
Get several quotes from various shippers to get a feeling for what that average industry cost should be and consider the quote with the service they offer. However, be very wary of quotes from companies that seem too good to be true because it will be from a less than reputable shipper. There are a number of factors that will affect the cost of auto transport. These include:
- The pickup and drop-off location and the distance the vehicle is being transported.
- Whether you require open or enclosed transport.
- The vehicle's size.
- The age and condition of the vehicle. High end vehicles, such as custom and antique cars, typically require more care and attention so costs will be higher.
- Check online reviews to see what previous customers have to say about their experience with the transport company. Shy away from shippers that do not have many, or no, reviews as this is an indication, they have not been in business long enough to have established a track record.
- Decide on an open or enclosed carrier. Open carriers use trucks like the ones that deliver cars to auto dealerships, whereas enclosed carriers use fully enclosed trailers that provide the vehicle greater protection. Open carriers are typically more readily available than enclosed carrier, so it is easier, and faster, to ship a vehicle via open carrier than by enclosed carrier. However, open carriers leave the vehicle exposed to the elements. Most common vehicles will be fine to ship via open carrier, but enclosed carriers are warranted for vehicles that have significant value, such as antique or highly customized vehicles.
- Be sure to ask the carrier what documentation you need to give them and what ones they will provide to you. Be certain to get photographs of the vehicle before the carrier takes possession as evidence in case the vehicle is damaged during transport.
Understanding the Shipping Timeline
While it is understandable that you want to get your hands on your new ride as soon as possible, the standard time it takes to transport a vehicle up to 2000 miles is four days to a week. Like cost, there are several factors that will affect shipping time. These include the distance, traffic, weather and the pickup and drop-off locations. Note that the pickup and drop-off dates can also affect transport time as the carrier’s availability may be limited and there may be dates when you cannot be available.
Using a professional auto transport company can take the stress and hassle out of moving your vehicle. The process of having your vehicle shipped by a reputable auto transport company is not particularly complicated or time consuming and can usually be handled with just a couple of phone calls and a few minutes online. If you are in need of having an auto shipped across the state or across the country, American Auto Transport can deliver your new purchase to you in a timely manner and at a fair cost. They will work with you to schedule shipment on the dates that work for you. American Auto Transport also transports vehicles for snowbirds heading south for the winter and north again in the summer and can also ship your vehicle if you are moving across the country.
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