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Automobile Transportation Facts (Podcast)


Automobile Transportation Facts (Podcast)

Mike Scenna, sales manager at Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts, discusses auto transportation facts.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Mike Scenna, sales manager at Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Our topic today is automobile transportation facts. Welcome Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John, how are you?

John: Good, thanks. So, Mike, we’re just going to talk about a few sort of basic facts and ideas about auto transportation, some questions that people might have. So who is it that needs automobile transportation, first of all?

Who Needs Auto Transportation?

Mike: Yeah, so really anyone who needs to get a car from one part of the country to another part of the country. There are certain types of people we find ourselves working with more than others. We ship a lot of cars for college students. Each year, we work with more and more students who are attending college out of state, and they need to get their car there and use it to get around on campus or get off campus if they need to. And it’s the idea of shipping the cars is more appealing than driving there depending on where the school is.

We do a lot of work with seasonal residents. So people live in one part of the country for one part of the year and travel to another part of the country for another part of the year. And they’re all different, consistent lanes for these types of folks. We work with a lot of people who live up in the new England area during the summer, and then they move down to Florida in the winter. And this is a huge population of people that do this. And making that trip back and forth twice per year, it makes sense to move the car rather than rent the entire time in one place, or it could be expensive owning two cars and then having to store that car. So shipping is a really popular option for these types of folks.

Then there’s obviously people who are moving permanently for a new job or just heading somewhere different in the country. Almost all moving companies don’t move cars and people really don’t realize that until the time comes. So you’ll have to reach out to another company like ourselves to have the vehicle moved to where you’re going.

Then a big category for us is we work with the auto dealerships. Of course, all of that new inventory needs to get on the lot somehow and there’s other kinds of moves going on as well. Dealerships do a lot of swapping of vehicles to accommodate customers. They have to get the trade ins to the auctions of vehicles for used inventory vehicles from the auctions onto their lot so there’s a lot of shipping that goes on with the dealerships.

And lately, a category we’re seeing really spike this year is people buying and selling cars out of state. We’re starting to see a really big shift in that where there’s a lot of information out there now and buying a car online is something that is becoming a lot more realistic. You don’t have to look for a car that’s within driving distance of 20, 30 minutes from the house. You can go online, purchase a car out of state, probably save a lot of money and use a company to have it shipped to you.

Impact of Coronavirus on Auto Transportation Industry

John: Do you think that the Coronavirus has actually helped to accelerate that in a way because people are not wanting maybe to go to their local dealership to buy a car and it’s a little more convenient and possibly safer for them to just purchase a car from somewhere else in the country online and then have it shipped to them?

Mike: Yes, absolutely. So this is something that’s been going on in the works for a while, the idea of buying and selling online. I’m sure you’re familiar with companies out there that are really pushing for it, such as Carvana where they advertise it, you can buy a car and it gets shipped to your house. So being in the industry, it’s something we’ve been prepared for, for a while that buying and selling online is going to become a big thing. We expected it like two, three years to get as popular as it is now. And as you just said, the Coronavirus changed that timeline big time. People, we’re all trying to be safe. We’re trying to go in and out as little as possible.

And at the same time, we still things we need to do. And if you have a lease that’s ending or you have a car that’s not running and you need a new one, you’re kind of forced to go online and buy it. Now we’re starting to see people start to go back in and out of dealerships. But when this first started, the doors weren’t open, you had to go online. So people were kind of forced into trying this out.

Auto Shipping for Military Personnel

John: Right. You also mentioned that one of the groups of people that use auto transport a lot are people who are moving. Within that group, I think of military personnel as being people who move a lot, they get stationed at a different location or whatever and so they have to pack up their family possibly and move to another place. Do you do a lot of business with military personnel, with auto transportation? And how much of your business it might be?

Mike: Yeah, that’s a good question. We do a lot of that. Yeah. We deal with a lot of people moving in the military and some of the same people we see come back when they get re-stationed somewhere. And this is something that a lot of times I find with them, they sort of have to do it just because they’re on, usually, a strict timeline. So someone in the military might have to get to another part of the country and go right to work and get there. So the option of driving is really not an option for them. They need to get right on a plane and go. So having a company get their car out there is really [inaudible] for them, something they need to do.

Is Auto Shipping Better for the Environment?

John: Right. Is using auto transportation actually better for the environment than driving my car from one place to the other?

Mike: I don’t know if I could say for sure. I haven’t really done the research on that. I mean, I’d like to say yes, of course. That’s a good question. That’s something I’d like to look into and see the emissions of the diesel semi-truck versus the emissions of nine cars. I’d be curious as to which one produces less. But what I could speak to, I guess, is as far as the traveling goes, I’m sure that that’s a better option for the environment. If you’re getting on a plane and making a three or four hour trip versus driving several days, you’re going to create a lot of waste. You’re stopping at different hotels and using water and really maybe not being as sustainable as you could, if you were to just do the trip in a couple of hours.

John: Right. And when you’re on a plane with maybe a couple of hundred other people, so you have to figure that you’re only using 1,200, say, of whatever the plane emissions are versus just one person in a car. You get a lot of one people in a car and there’s a lot of cars out there and it all adds up. I’d have to imagine that using sort of the group transportation options like that to get from one place to the other, and then having, like you said, maybe nine cars on one truck, all not running and just the one truck running instead of nine separate cars driving, that it would make a difference. But it would be interesting to see what the stats are on that.

Mike: Yeah, you’re right. I mean, we’re ultimately, something we all collectively try to work towards is keeping less cars on the road, especially cars with one person in them. That’s why we have the benefits of carpool lanes and things like that. So yeah, I’d say flying’s of course, as you mentioned, an efficient way of traveling, there’s a lot of people in one plane traveling from one place to another.

Can You Choose Your Shipping and Pickup Dates?

John: With automobile transportation, do I get to choose a specific day and time for my pickup and for when my car is going to be delivered? Or is it sort of a more loose timeframe? Or explain how that works.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So as far as timing goes, it depends on the company you work with of course, each company operates differently. With us, we understand what you need and we can make that work. So if it’s important for you to have your car picked up on a specific day, you haven’t traveled yet, but you’re going to be soon. And it’s very important to make sure that the car is picked up and that step is off your plate. You have all kinds of options. We can schedule a truck to come pick it up the day you need it picked up. We can work with the hotel that you’re at. I’ve worked with people who leave keys with front desk staff and the car safe at the hotel that they’re saying it. And we take care of communicating with them and picking up the car and letting the customer know when the car is picked up.

A lot of people I guide towards their dealerships, wherever you bought your car. Chances are the dealership you bought your car at, it would be willing to help you out during transport. So call them up and ask if you can leave the car there while waiting to be picked up by the trucks so you don’t have to worry about it. And then there’s timing on the other end. For some people it’s important that when they get to where they’re going, their car is there. If you trust us and made the planning up to us, we’ll tell you when we need to pick it up in order to make sure it’s where you need it to be when you get there.

John: Right. If the most important thing is I need it to be there on this date, then that’s going to tell you, okay, we need to pick it up, whatever it is a week prior to that, or three days prior to that. Or if it’s more important that you need to have the car picked up from you on a certain day, then that’s the most important part. And maybe when you receive, it has a little bit of flexibility. So you work with whatever it is that people need.

Mike: Right. Exactly. I always tell people, just tell us what you need and trust us to do the work. And a lot of our regular customers don’t hesitate and they appreciate our understanding of how this works in our ability to get them what they need.

Insurance During Transport

John: We’ve talked before about safety and that using an auto transport company is actually safer than getting in the car and driving it for hundreds of miles yourself. But accidents do sometimes happen. Is my car insured during transport and for how much?

Mike: Yeah, that’s a great question. So your car with the right companies, it is insured during transport. And that’s a very important question to ask the companies that you’re talking to before choosing a transport company. So as far as the numbers go, most carriers and brokers are insured anywhere between, I would say, half a million to $2 million on a truck. So it’s important to understand that because half a million on a truckload of eight or nine cars, that might not be enough to cover some of these cars. They’re Mercedes out there that go for $100,000 a car, and that’s going to go up over that insurance policy. So it’s good to ask that question when choosing a company is how much are you guys insured for? Is my car completely covered during this? If it gets totaled, do I get reimbursed 100%? And with a company like ours, the answer is yes, you do.

And the other important thing to ask, and as we just talked about with timeframes, how we have all kinds of options, that you can leave your car at one place and whether or not you need it in another place by a certain time. So when shipping a car, your car is not out just on the truck, it’s at a terminal, it’s in a parking lot and it might change trucks. So it’s important to ask, when is your car covered? So with us, your car is covered from the moment we get your keys until the moment we give you your keys back. And that’s not the case with all companies. You definitely want to dig into how your car is covered and for how much when choosing a company. You really want to understand that because accidents do happen and you want to make sure that you’re covered if that does happen.

John: Right. If the car is only covered while it’s on the transportation truck, but not while it’s in the parking lot or something like that, then that would be a problem.

Mike: Right. Yeah. And I’ve heard all kinds of stories from people about that and how something happened in the parking lot and the company they were using previously wouldn’t cover it because it wasn’t on the truck. That’s not a good experience. So you really want to make sure you’re covered the whole time.

Requirements for Truck Drivers

John: What kinds of requirements are there for the truck drivers themselves? I want to make sure that whoever it is that’s driving the truck, that’s carrying my car, obviously following all of the rules and is a trustworthy person and that kind of thing. Are there any requirements for truck drivers?

Mike: Yes. There are lots of requirements for truck drivers. You and I have talked before about how driving cross country is dangerous, and there’s also that mesmerizing effect that can happen when driving long hours and these drivers, this is something they need to be in the right state of mind and right condition to do their job on a regular basis. So you have different kinds of licensing at the state and federal level, depending on the size of the truck that the driver is operating. There’s regular DOT drug testing. There’s ELD compliance with electronic log books. So these drivers are only allowed to drive a certain amount of time per day, which is to be safe. This is kind of a new rule too, this went into effect a couple of years ago when there were a lot of problems with the logs being done on paper and a lot of drivers, they wanted to get more work done faster. So they were driving 15, 20 hours straight. And we were experiencing lots of accidents with these trucks throughout the country.

So the government switched to use electronic log books that are actually attached to, hooked up to the truck’s computer. So now drivers are only allowed 10 hours a day on the road. And this is a very strict policy, which we agree with completely here. I mean, we even push a little further than that. We require our drivers to take a little extra time off too between trips. You have DOT physicals. So they want to make sure that these people driving the trucks are safe. So they do regular physicals to make sure that they’re physically able to do these drives. And then you have different company safety mandates, for example, the loading procedures and the securing procedures, how we secure the vehicles to the trucks.

For example, the federal government requires that there be two straps, the straps go over the tires and hold the vehicle down to the ramps. We require our drivers to do four. We want four straps, one on every tire, we’d rather be more safe. And then there’s extensive training. Car hauling as to drivers like to call it is a lot different than [inaudible] driving a truck. And you’re not just driving. You have to become a professional at getting these cars on the truck and off the truck. And if you’ve ever seen one of these, I mean, I’m sure you’ve driven by one on a highway. It doesn’t look like something you want to drive a car on and off. The ramps are as wide as the tires, they piece this load together like a puzzle and it takes a lot of training to be able to do that the right way.

John: Right. Those cars on the top deck are pretty high up off the ground.

Mike: Yeah. Some of the trucks have a spot that goes over the cab. So you have to back it in over the cab and make sure you stop the tires on these little blocks without driving off the top of the truck.

John: Wow.

Mike: You really need to know what you’re doing. And we make sure we provide all of our drivers with the right training and knowledge before having them do this kind of stuff on their own. With us, you usually work, a new driver will work with a more experienced one for two weeks, even a month before operating their own truck.

John: All right. That’s really great information Mike, very interesting and thanks again for speaking with me today.

Mike: Yeah, of course. Thanks, John.

John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at or call (877) 542-1955.