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Here, there and in between: moving your car

ORLANDO — With spring approaching, snowbirds who return to the North when the weather warms often need to get their vehicles from one home to another, and many don't want to drive.

There are, however, companies that will find people who will do the driving, or will put your car on a trailer and deliver it.

Bob Sellers Jr., general manager of Reliable Carriers — the world's largest enclosed auto transport company — says that more people are choosing to have their cars professionally dispatched. It costs more than driving the car yourself, but — especially for very expensive cars, or for vehicles that you don't want to accumulate more miles — you may decide it's worth it.

Reliable's "Snowbird Service" is, Sellers said, gaining in popularity. Reliable and Sellers are based near Detroit, but they have terminals in Florida, Arizona and California.

"We have snowbirds we've served for 15 or 20 years," Sellers said. Reliable's fleet of orange 18-wheelers also transports cars to major auto shows for manufacturers, and carries collector cars to auctions.

Reliable, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, offers door-to-door service, and because the cars are hauled in an enclosed trailer, "a lot of people load the car up with their personal possessions, so they don't have to carry or ship them back," he said.

Reliable is insured and licensed, something Sellers recommends you ask anyone you are hiring to transport your car.

For moving a car from Florida to Michigan, Reliable charges about $1,200. To New England, it's $1,500. Sellers said some customers will have one or two cars delivered, and drive another one back themselves. You can request a quote at reliable-carriers.com.

Another alternative is to have your car driven, which several companies can arrange, even to a foreign country: David Smaller is a spokesman for a new company called Canada DriveAway, which arranges the delivery of cars, trucks and RVs over the border. "We do that," Smaller says, "by finding safe drivers to drive the cars to their destination." This migration, Smaller says, "will take place, mostly, in late March and early April." The cost varies, but isn't as much as enclosed delivery like Reliable offers.

Auto Driveaway is the largest U.S. service that matches vehicles with delivery drivers, with 43 franchised offices. The company offers three types of service: hauled on a truck; picked up and delivered at a set time by a professional driver; and "standard service," delivered by a nonprofessional as available. For a quote, you can visit the company's website at autodriveaway.com.

Choose carrier carefully

"Check the company out" when selecting a transport company, says Brenda Korte. "It turns out the company we used had an 'F' rating with the Better Business Bureau."

Korte, formerly of Miami but currently living in Georgia, has lodged complaints with the Florida attorney general against a Fort Lauderdale company her brother contracted to drive a car from California to Georgia. Because of multiple problems, the car was never delivered, and the up-front delivery fee of $1,095 was not returned.

Other tips for a successful experience:

• In addition to checking with the BBB, search the company on the Internet — there are several "review" websites that feature consumer reviews of transport services.

• Check with your own insurance company for advice on how to make sure you are covered.

• Ask for references, and make sure the company is licensed and insured.

• The more flexible you are on pickup and delivery dates, the less expensive the service will likely be — otherwise, the service will have to schedule a truck or a professional driver to make sure your dates are met.

• Finally, spending $1,500 to ship a $2,000 car may not make sense, but if the car is worth $50,000, it probably does.

Here, there and in between: moving your car 03/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 3:30am]
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