As a car owner, your vehicle is one of your biggest investments and maybe even your most prized possession. Many drivers like to keep an eye on their vehicle’s whereabouts after handing over the keys to have it shipped across the country. After all, having visibility on your car’s location goes a long way in maintaining peace of mind while you wait for delivery.
What you might not know is that there are dozens of unseen processes and proven solutions leveraged to ensure your vehicle is delivered safely, efficiently and legally. They determine the optimal route your vehicle will take. If you’re following your shipment closely, some of these routes might seem confusing, especially if you have limited direct experience with logistics. In this blog, we’ll break down some common misconceptions to help you better understand auto transport tracking and delivery.
Auto transporters use the same navigation tools as other drivers
While GPS is a vital tool truck drivers use for navigational assistance, it’s not the same or standard GPS that individuals rely on for everyday navigation. Professional drivers use a premium GPS service that factors in everything from their truck’s length, height and weight to their fuel consumption and average speed. The system uses that information to create a specific route that is both safe and legal for the driver to navigate.
Auto transporters take the same routes as other drivers
The safest legal route for a truck driver will likely be different than the one you would take to the same destination. Not only are truck drivers limited to certain highways, but some roads and bridges also have specific weight and height limits that prevent truckers from using them.
The average car carrier is 13.5” in height. The most direct route to your destination might pass under a bridge that is only 12” high, meaning the truck would have to take a detour to avoid damaging the cargo on top. Additionally, car haulers can weigh tens of thousands of pounds before there are even any vehicles loaded onto them. Some bridges and roads can’t accommodate that much weight, forcing the driver to take an alternative route.
If you’re tracking your car shipment and notice that your driver appears to be taking a long detour or roundabout way to your destination, this is likely the reason.
Auto transporters take the shortest route to my destination
The shortest route for a car transporter could be a lot longer than the one you might see on your own GPS or navigation app. The driver will take the most efficient route to accommodate all of their deliveries while operating within the law. The route they follow will account for roads and bridges that must be avoided, while also accommodating other pickups and deliveries along the way.
For example, the car hauler transporting your vehicle might have a delivery in the state next door to your destination. If you’re tracking your shipment, you might wonder why the carrier is stopping in a place that doesn’t seem relevant to your delivery. They could also be picking up another car in that location, which would extend the time they spend there. Be sure to refer to your estimated delivery window as it accounts for these factors.
Auto transporters can pick up and deliver vehicles at any time
Auto transporters require someone to be present for vehicle pickup and drop off. Many commercial businesses only operate during certain hours, so auto transporters need to work around their schedule. Depending on the driver’s route and their customers’ operating hours, the delivery timeline could be affected.
The most efficient route could involve a bit of downtime while the driver waits for their customer to become available to complete vehicle pickup or drop off before moving on to their next destination. If you see that your shipment has been stopped in the same location for a period of time, the driver is likely there for specific logistical reasons.
My own tracking device will give me accurate information
Consumer tracking devices like Tiles and AirTags are great for keeping tabs on your luggage or finding your keys, but they’re not so great for long-distance tracking. Their location reporting can easily become delayed or interrupted when loaded onto a car hauler and driven thousands of miles.
Since these tracking devices only report the last known location of the device through an iPhone or Bluetooth signal, their latest report could be hundreds of miles behind the actual shipment, especially if the auto transporter was recently driving on a more infrequently traveled road. In the case of tracking your vehicle during auto transport, these products are usually unreliable. The most accurate information will come directly from your carrier or broker.
What can I do besides GPS tracking?
Understand car shipping timelines
Before you send your car on its way, have a good understanding of how long it takes to ship a car. Knowing the total distance your car has to travel, and the average time it takes to complete the journey, will help you set realistic expectations around when your vehicle will arrive. While you’ll also receive an estimated delivery date when you place your order, it’s important to remember that estimation is subject to change based on changing weather conditions, road construction or unexpected delays along the way.
Get a guaranteed pickup date
Talk to your shipping company beforehand about setting up a guaranteed pickup date rather than a “pickup window.” In most cases, this can speed up the beginning of the transport process and get your car on its way based on your scheduling preferences. Keep in mind that a guaranteed pickup date can add extra cost to your shipment and it does not always mean faster delivery.
Contact your broker or transporter
If you want more information on your vehicle’s whereabouts and don’t have access to the car transporter’s GPS tracking, your auto transport broker or carrier service will be available to help. Just get in touch with your sales representative or customer service and they’ll be able to directly reach out to the driver to obtain the most recent and accurate information on your vehicle’s location.
Auto transport GPS tracking: FAQs
Can I track my vehicle shipment?
Yes, provided your driver is actively using a GPS tracking system. If you’re working with an auto transport broker, you can ask if your driver offers GPS tracking. This technology is still new in the auto-shipping world, so many carriers don’t offer it yet. For the most accurate shipping updates, contact your driver or broker directly.
How much does it cost to track my car shipment?
Tracking your car shipment is free. You can either contact your carrier or broker directly for updates. You can also use a tracking number if your driver provides one, but phone and email are the primary methods that auto transporters use to provide updates.
What does it mean if my vehicle is “in transit?”
“In transit” means your vehicle has been picked up by an auto transporter and is currently being shipped to its destination. You should get an estimated shipping time in which your car will remain in transit. For real-time updates on your shipment, contact your carrier or broker.
The nation’s #1 auto transporter
Montway arranges transport for over 200,000 vehicles annually while delivering 5-star customer service to vehicle owners in all 50 states, every day of the year. No matter what kind of vehicle needs to be shipped, from cars and motorcycles to trucks and SUVs, customers all around the country trust Montway to safely deliver their vehicles.
With 15+ years of experience and nearly one million satisfied customers, we’ve earned our reputation as the leader in auto transport. Get started with a quote or speak with a vehicle shipping advisor at 888-666-8929.