A Guide to Shipping a Vehicle

I recently shipped a car across the country for the first time. My car ended up showing up filthy in darkness with $2,500 in damage which I didn’t see until the next day.

It was a confusing thing to set up. I imagine many people shipping cars have never done it and probably won’t need to do it again. So basically, the industry can take advantage of first timers.

Here are some things I wish I’d done differently.

  1. Don’t use Montway. I don’t have any other company recommendations for you, but I used Montway and they were awful to deal with.
  2. Decide if you want open or closed transport. Open means the car will get very dirty, but it’s a lot less expensive and generally more available. Closed means the car is inside a container. I wish I would have done closed only so when the car arrived, it was clean.
  3. Have the person on the pickup side take a zillion photos, send you a list of any and all damage that the vehicle had at pickup, and a photo of the pickup Bill of Lading, which is the document that is used to state the condition of the car. Know this inside and out so when it arrives, you know what damage is new.
  4. Call the driver directly, not the broker you booked through. Whenever I called Montway, they said they’d call the driver and get back to me. They never called me back.
  5. Check in with the driver every few days to make sure they’re on schedule. I was told the car would be here on a Saturday, so we waited at home for it. When I called the driver in the mid-afternoon, he was still two days away. Two days later, he was still one day away. Basically, don’t trust anything they say with timing and just keep calling them.
  6. If you do open transport, have a hose or bucket of water and sponge handy, because the car will be filthy. If you don’t clean it, you might miss damage (like I did). Take time to clean the car before signing anything.
  7. Ask what the contracted delivery hours are. I naively assumed the car would be delivered in daylight. It didn’t show up until after dark (830pm) but apparently the contract allowed delivery until 9pm. If you have the option, say you’ll refuse the car if it’s delivered after sunset.
  8. Have a well lit place for the car to be delivered to. My car arrived in the pitch black on a street with no lights. I found a poorly lit parking lot to take the car to, but still didn’t have nearly enough light to fully inspect the car and missed a lot of damage.
  9. Make sure you have a method to get in touch with the broker at all hours. Montway gave me a number to call if there were any problems, but when I called them to ask what to do about my driver delivering the car in darkness, they were closed.
  10. Tell the driver delivering the car that you expect 30 mins of inspection time. Also, don’t let them talk to you during the inspection. My driver spent the entire time getting between me and the car and generally distracting me from inspecting the car, which I’m sure wasn’t an accident.

Not following these tips led to me not seeing damage and signing the delivery document. When I saw it the next morning (about 12 hours later), I immediately reported it to Montway and the driver, but they claimed the damage wasn’t there on the time of delivery because I didn’t mark it. My fault for missing that, but maddening.

This seems obvious, but hopefully will be helpful to anyone shipping a car. Don’t use Montway and be careful because the whole industry feels like a racket.