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Shipping Multiple Cars From California

Resources > Shipping Multiple Cars From California
When shipping multiple cars from California it’s important to work with a DOT and FMCSA licensed transporter. Learn more from an expert freight partner.
Published: July 22, 2019
Last Modified: March 19, 2024
Author: Ask Truckload

The golden state is home to several car manufacturers, which might be why you’re shipping multiple cars from California. Mom and pop car dealerships and big corporations alike both need to ship cars. The process is the same whether you are a big company or a small one. This guide will help you know the ins and outs of car transport services.

When shipping multiple cars from California it’s important to work with a DOT and FMCSA licensed transporter. You also need to decide between closed or open transport. The quality and price of the cars will impact your decision to buy shipping insurance. To manage this process, many shippers choose to work with an auto transport broker.

Working with a Licensed California Vehicle Transporter

There are many different vehicle shipping companies out there, but for the safety of your vehicles, you want to work with a licensed California vehicle transporter. It is important to choose a licensed transporter because there are certain requirements they have to meet to become licensed. This ensures they are qualified and will protect your cars and your company through safe transportation of your vehicles. A licensed auto transport company does business within legal and safe boundaries, if it is not licensed the company may not be trustworthy. 

Moreover, state and federal organizations are responsible for tracking vehicle shipping companies and ensuring they do business legally and are taking responsibility for their customers vehicles in the event something bad occurs in transit. They ensure these companies are up to date on all vehicle transport licensing requirements. 

When shipping multiple cars from California you should work with a licensed vehicle transporter. To determine if they are licensed look to see if they possess the licensing required by the state the company is located in. If the company headquarters is based in California they should have a six digit “MC docket” number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for the state of California. Vehicle shipping companies need to be registered with the FMCSA. This means they are legally registered and legally able to transport cars within that state’s boundaries. 

Additionally, different states will have different requirements for auto transport licensing. Some states are stricter and will require more registrations and licenses to approve the company. Check out a states Department of Motor Vehicles website to learn about their specific requirements. When choosing a company look to see what state they are headquartered in, determine what that state’s requirements are, and then see if the company meets them. 

The MC docket number is the first set of licensing an auto transport company needs. However, this number is just for transportation in state boundaries. Many companies will also transport out of state. This requires extra licensing. 

In order to transport cars out of state a company needs to have a U.S. DOT number, these are issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A DOT number can be found on the side of a carrier’s trucks. This is the way the government can identify a carrier in order to complete compliance reviews, audits, etc. In fact, 31 states require carriers to also have a DOT number in addition to an MC docket number just to transport within state boundaries. 

Meanwhile, a company that works simply as a freight broker for auto transport does not need to have a DOT number. A freight broker will do the work for you so you don’t have to worry about finding a licensed vehicle transporter. Your freight broker will make sure your auto transporter is licensed and qualified for the job. 

Protecting Your Cars While in Transit

When shipping multiple cars form California you have a few choices in regards to how those cars are actually shipped. You can choose open transport or enclosed transport, although the choice largely depends on what your auto transport company offers. 

Open Transport

Open transport is most likely the type of car transportation you will be most familiar with and have seen on the road. Vehicle transportation companies that offer open transport use open-air trucks that are between 75 and 80 feet long. They haul a two-level trailer with a row of cars on the top level and a row of cars below. These trailers are completely exposed to the outside and have no walls or roof. 

The disadvantage of open transport is that the vehicles will be exposed to rain, wind, heat, hail, and snow. Not to mention any dust or rocks that could hit them. However, auto transport companies will ensure the carrier is driven by an experienced truck driver. Open transport also allows the driver greater access to inspect the cars in transit. 

An advantage to open transport is that it is significantly cheaper than enclosed transport. It is also a faster way to ship multiple cars. In addition to this, there is a higher demand for open transport carriers so they are much easier to schedule as there are more truckers driving these types of carriers.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed car shipping is just the opposite of open transport. Companies that offer enclosed transport drive carriers where the car is shipped in a covered truck or trailer. Unlike the open transporters, enclosed trucks can only carry several cars at once, with a usual maximum of five. 

This type of transport is advantageous if you are shipping antique or custom cars or expensive sports cars. It offers the highest protection for the vehicles.  

However, in enclosed transport, the truck driver is not able to conduct regular inspections to monitor the safety of the cars. It is also much more expensive than open transport. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to choose a shipping method for shipping multiple cars from California.

  1. What type of cars am I shipping? 
  2. How many cars do I need to ship? 
  3. Do my cars need extra protection or will they be okay in the elements? 
  4. What can my company afford and what is most cost-effective? 
  5. Have I looked at three to four different quotes for auto transport services? 

Are you shipping military vehicles? Learn more about how these vehicles move.

Should I Purchase Shipping Insurance?

Shipping one car can be stressful, shipping multiple cars can be even more so. If you are a car dealership shipping multiple cars from California you want to make sure they arrive protected and in good condition. 

All carriers are required to carry liability insurance. Some vehicle shipping companies also offer cargo insurance. If your auto transport company is properly insured, this insurance covers damage caused during the car shipping process, after you pay the insurance deductible. 

The terms and amount of coverage vary based on the company so you should always ask to see a copy of the company’s proof of insurance. A company should always be able to present a valid insurance certificate. In fact, they are legally obligated to show you if you ask, if they can’t then you should probably find another company to work with. 

While carriers are required to have liability insurance, you may ask yourself if the minimum coverage is enough. This is why it is so important to ask about a company’s insurance policy. They may not cover things like the interior of your car or they may only cover the body of the car. 

You should also be aware that there will be an inspection before the vehicles are loaded to the carrier. This protects the company so the client can’t make claims on pre-existing damage. But as a client, you should be at the inspection or send a trusted representative just the same. 

Similarly, the cars are inspected upon arrival. This is a crucial moment because it’s the only time when you can assess the cars for damage. At this time you will fill out the bill of lading where you report the vehicle’s condition upon arrival. Don’t forget to check the engine of the car as well as undercarriage. If there is damage you need to let the carrier company know and go about the process of filing a claim according to the insurance used. 

It is always smart to take photos of the vehicles you are shipping before and after the delivery process. This way you have proof to show the insurance company that damage happened in transit. 

Depending on the types of cars you are shipping you may want to acquire more insurance. However, if you do your homework on your vehicle shipping company’s insurance policy you should be able to make an informed decision. Always remember that if you feel you are being unfairly treated you can report the company to the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint.

If you’re just shipping one car and you purchased it online, check out ou article How to Ship a Car That You Bought Online.

Managing Costs When Shipping Cars

Shipping cars can cost you a lot of money. It can be even more expensive when shipping them from coast to coast. Luckily for you, there are several ways you can manage costs when shipping multiples cars from California. 

Many factors will affect the average cost to ship a car. But, you can expect car transport services to cost between $500 and $1,500 depending on how far it is being transported, the type of car, size of car, and any extra insurance needed. 

Most vehicle transportation services will give you a quote based on how many miles your cars are being transported. For example, a cross-country rate would be 0.40 cents per mile. To ship a car from California to Florida, which is 2,704 miles away, the cost would be around $1,081. But, remember shipping an SUV, van or pickup truck will be more expensive than a sedan. The size and type of car matters. The type of transporter used will also impact costs. 

So how can you manage costs when shipping cars? Here are a few things to consider to lower costs when shipping multiple cars from California. 

  • Terminal to Terminal car shipping – This is when you take the vehicle to a designated drop off location and pick up at a designated location. It lets car transportation companies lower costs by delivering entire shipments from one location to the next. 
  • Door to door car shipping – This is not as cheap as the option above, but more convenient. You set a preferred pick-up location and final destination that the carrier will drive to. 
  • Bulk discounts – Perhaps the best way to save money when shipping multiple cars from California. If you are shipping a fleet of vehicles you will often be able to get a discount from your shipping company for shipping in bulk. This allows the carrier to pick up a full truckload and drop off everything at once at a final destination. 
  • Frequent shipments – If you are a car dealership that is shipping multiple cars from California throughout the year, not just once, you can get a discount for frequent shipments. You can save a lot of money by scheduling all your shipments at once. 
  • Clean Out The Cars – When shipping personal cars or cars bought from an auction, make sure to clean all personal items out of the car. Auto carriers are not licensed to transport personal items. The Department of Transportation will fine the carrier if they see personal items in a car on their trucks. The carrier will then forward the fine to you. It is easy to avoid this by cleaning the cars. 
  • Time of year – This option is best for business owners that have flexibility regarding when they need to ship their cars. The peak time of year to ship cars is summer, which means it will be more expensive to ship during the summer months. Ask you carrier about peak rates and see if they offer offseason discounts. 
  • Delivery time – Again, this option is best for businesses that are flexible about the delivery time of their shipment. Rushed shipping will cost more than flexible shipping so try to account for this in the planning stage. Generally, flexible shipping will give you a three-day window for pick up and a good estimate for the delivery time. 
  • Utilize a freight broker – Working with a freight broker is probably one of the best and easiest ways to say money when shipping multiple cars from California. When you don’t have the time or patience, a freight broker will contact all the shipping companies in your area and negotiate for the best discounts and services possible. Freight brokers have lists of all the trucks in the area and how many/what type of cars they can move for you. They can even get companies to bid against each other to get you the best price out there. 

Dealer Transportation Services in California

Auto dealerships of large or small scale need transportation services. Freight brokers understand the unique challenges that auto dealers face when looking for dealer transportation services. 

For example, dealers need to know the distance involved in shipping multiple cars and how to estimate appropriate delivery time. When shipping multiple cars from California to the east coast it can take anywhere from one to two weeks. But, when shipping from California to the midwest, or to the north or south, it should only take from 3 to 8 days.  

Also, auto dealers more often need high volume transport. Freight brokers understand that dealers will need to ship from one dealership to the next. This may also require expedited shipping. As an auto dealer looking into dealer transportation services you know you have to put the customer first, which means working with a reliable carrier service. A botched delivery can cost a company just as much in reputation as in actual profit. 

Moreover, auto dealers need the right cars for their inventory. Often times dealerships will increase their inventory by buying cars from auction sales. Freight brokers know that vehicles leaving auctions are sometimes hard to transport. They will make sure the right carrier is chosen and that it is auction friendly. 

Working With an Auto Transport Broker

When looking for vehicle shipping companies you have two choices: to book with a carrier or to book with an auto transport broker. While working directly with a carrier looks better at face value, the truth of the matter is that there are many more advantages to working with a freight broker than a carrier. 

An auto transport brokerage does not have their own trucks like a carrier does. Carriers generally have trucks all over the U.S. and may not have any available in your area. A broker will know of all the truck companies available and close to home. 

Also, carriers give you a quote and expects a response to book as soon as possible. They don’t give you room to negotiate. On the other hand, a brokerage gets multiple quotes so you can compare prices and find the best one. They will always give you a quote for door-to-door transportation so you get your deliveries faster. Carriers can also have hidden costs, but a brokerage will tell you everything you have to pay for upfront. 

Working with an auto transport broker will save you time, money, and often give you better service. Carrier’s have so many other jobs whereas a broker focuses solely on you and your needs. They will work with you to meet your goals. 

Freight Broker Services Through R+L Global

When you’re ready to take the next steps for your vehicle shipment, we’re here to assist you. While R+L Global doesn’t act as the carrier when transporting vehicles, we are freight brokers. As noted throughout this article, having a freight broker handle your vehicle shipment has many benefits. Our freight broker services offer these benefits and more.

As a leader in the shipping and logistics industry, you’ll have access to our 30+ years of experience and carrier partnerships. In addition to our broker service, we have a number of other services that you might need to utilize for your car shipment.

Our other services include:

  • Customs brokerage for international shipments
  • Strategically located warehouses for vehicle storage
  • Mexico transborder shipping

When you work with R+L Global when shipping multiple cars from California or any other freight shipping in California, you can be confident that your shipment will arrive safely and on time. Reach out to us today to learn more and begin the process of freight shipping from California to New York and other shipping routes.

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