Car shipping from craigslist isn’t difficult, but it requires some research. If you’ve just bought a car online, and if it’s in good, working condition, you can ship it to different locations based upon your transport needs.
While Craigslist warns against seller shipping, you can absolutely avoid scams while securing a car transport. Follow the steps below to prepare, ship and secure your purchased car while avoiding dangerous transactions. Make sure to take great care in avoiding seller scams, and always use a well-trusted transport company instead of a seller’s transport offer.
1. Understand Scam Potential
Before shipping a car from Craigslist, you’ll need to know how to spot and avoid scams. Craigslist does suggest buyers deal locally, on a face-to-face basis, to avoid scam attempts. That said, they do offer comprehensive “scam targeting” tips. Even if your seller isn’t shipping the car, they can still scam your car purchase transaction.
Protecting Your Payment Options
First, you should beware extending payment to anyone you haven’t either met in person or have verified financially. Beware “pushed” shipping offers, as a seller posting a car based upon its ability to be shipped may be using the shipping aspect to scam you. You should also avoid the following:
- Wired fund services, like Western Union
- Certified checks and cashier checks
- Money orders
- Transactions without a third party
You should take care in protecting your financial information, too. To do so, avoid giving out your social security number, bank account information or Paypal account information.
Craigslist scams can be spotted early on-assuming you’re keeping an eye out. Pay attention to any emails delivered from Craigslist sellers not local to your area. Additionally, avoid any seller who has posted a vague inquiry. Any poor grammar, spelling or comprehension of payment, too, is a red flag. While Craigslist is used for remote transactions, any seller who avoids telephone or face-to-face contact may be attempting to scam you.
When in doubt, contact the providers below to prevent, identify and remedy a Craigslist scam:
- FBI Internet Fraud and Complaint Center
- SIIA Software and Content Piracy Reporting
- Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant
2. Contract a Car Shipping Company
Once you’ve purchased your car, you’ll need to contract a company to ship it. Fortunately, car shipping between online buyers and sellers is quite straightforward. Assuming both parties carry viable insurance coverage, the actual sign-up and verification process takes little time.
Before you square away the shipping details, verify insurance coverage and establish a shipping destination, you’ll need to determine pricing options.
In most cases, shipping a car from an individual buyer to an individual seller will cost approximately 75 cents per mile. For this reason, a car shipped between Austin to San Diego can cost about $1,000. Likely, you’ll pay about $250 to $500 in gas charges-depending upon your car’s type.
You have several shipping options when buying a car from Craigslist. Because you’re purchasing from an individual seller, car shipping companies can either drive, tow or transport your car on a trailer.
While uncommon, company driving services are available. Choose this option wisely, however, because it’ll definitely increase your car’s mileage. If you’re purchasing a used car, you should avoid driving services. While relatively cheaper than towing or trailer transportation, driving services can create vehicle wear and tear. You’ll also be responsible for gas purchases.
Towing services are useful for local Craigslist buys. In fact, they’re often the cheapest services available for in-city car shipments. However, towing services may expose your purchased car to the elements. While trailer shipping services, too, may expose your vehicle, towing services often expose vehicles to low-level abrasions, dirt and pebbles kicked up from roadways.
Trailer Transportation Services
Trailer transportation services are incredibly safe. They’re often governed by well-trusted car shipping companies, too. Able to connect with your seller at the seller’s location, trailer transportation services are commonly favored during Craigslist transactions due to their company protection programs. A transport company’s trailer services are more expensive than the later options, however, so be prepared to pay additional prices for the following:
- Enclosed car transport
- Direct delivery
- Weight costs over long distances
3. Make Sure Your Shipping Company is Certified
Once you’ve settled on a promising company, you should conduct your own research. Check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, and find your provider’s USDOT credentials. These credentials will serve as a background check. Every company certified to ship cars is governed by the United States Department of Transportation, which will maintain their validity over years of service.
4. Establish Insurance Coverage
It’s important to examine your purchased car’s insurance coverage to avoid damage costs. While you’ll be responsible for the car’s damages after it’s left the seller’s possession, your shipping company will still protect your purchase as it’s transported.
Your shipping contract should contain clear insurance policy limits. If, for example, your car is worth $50,000, and if your shipping company’s limit is $25,000, you may require extra liability coverage. It’s also a good idea to purchase additional liability coverage if your car is being transported in an open-air container. Open-air containers may expose your purchased car to wind, rain, dirt, dust and flying objects. While your shipping company will cover damages accrued from negligence, damages caused by acts of nature may not be recoverable.
5. Document Pre-Shipment and Post-Shipment Condition
Anyone purchasing car shipping services should fully document their vehicle’s pre-shipment and post-shipment condition. Because you’re buying from a Craigslist seller, you’ll need to make sure they document your new vehicle’s quality prior to takeoff.
If they haven’t already, ask the Craigslist seller to visually document the vehicle. High-definition pictures should be taken, saved and sent via email. If possible, ask to obtain physical picture qualities. Picture documentation needs to cover the following areas:
- Exterior paint
- Interior cabin floors, seats and roof
- All glove boxes and compartments
- Steering wheel, gear shift and pedals
- Radio and all electronics
- Under-the-hood mechanics
- Trunk area
- Suspension and tires
- Windshield and all windows
Repair and Upgrade Information
If the car has received recent routine maintenance, repairs or upgrades, ask the seller to provide documentation. This is important, as any operational faults can be covered by the seller-or even a repair provider-if documentation protects your end of ownership.
You should also secure the purchased car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN. This 17-digit number can yield an entire vehicle history. This vehicle history will warn you ahead of time about mechanical problems, interior damages and even salvage titles.
It’s also important to secure video evidence of your car’s functionality. Ask your seller to film the car’s interior as it’s turned on, revved and turned off. Similarly, ask for video coverage of the vehicle’s sound system. Video coverage, while not commonly used to combat scams, damages or even insurance claims, are incredibly useful in a pinch.
6 Select a Shipping Time and Destination
If you’re shipping on a budget, you can save money by increasing your car’s shipping time. Always remember to purchase a Craigslist vehicle with shipping costs in mind. While risks do exist on Craigslist, the actual shipping portion of the transaction is incredibly safe. Your shipping provider is far more reliable than a Craigslist seller, and they’re certifiable by many industry guidelines.
When selecting a destination, note your provider’s rates for door-to-door and terminal delivery. Often, door-to-door delivery is quicker. If you live in a rural area, however, this service may require extra time. Your shipping provider can ship to a pre-determined terminal, reducing costs and allowing on-site pickup. If you have any questions, contact your shipping provider. Additionally, exercise caution during any face-to-face meet-ups with your seller.