Is Drive Away Service Really A Good Alternative to Car Shipping?

by : Christine Harrell

If you've just bought a car online, you need to find a way to get it to your home. Or maybe you are moving and don't want to drive the car yourself. The most common method of moving a car long distances is an auto transport service. However many people find it is cheaper to use a drive away company instead. But is the cost savings worth it?

Car Shipping vs. Drive Away

An auto shipping service loads your car onto a trailer with other cars headed for the same destination or for another destination along the way. They coordinate shipments among many customers since the more cars they can load onto a trailer, the more economical the trip is. This can cause delays as they wait for a minimum of vehicles all headed in the same direction.

When you use a drive away service, they assign a person who to drive your car wherever it needs to go. Your car may be able to get to the destination sooner than a shipping service since it is a direct point-to-point trip with no detours for other vehicles.

Drive Away Adds Miles

The primary advantage of drive away is that the service is often cheaper than using a shipper. However there are a number of potential problems that come along with this savings.

When your car is shipped on a trailer, there is no wear and tear on the engine. On the other hand, using a drive away service puts miles on the car and that adds hidden costs to the service such as oil and fluid changes. Also, what happens if your car has problems along the way? If a driver gets stuck with an overheated or vehicle or a lit 'check engine' light, you'll also be paying for time in the shop and lodging for the driver.

Professionals vs. Amateurs

The main difference between auto transport and drive away is the quality of the drivers. Car shipping services use professional drivers. Your car is under the care of an experienced and trained specialist. This person is being paid to do a job and therefore has a personal stake in getting your car to its destination on time and in good shape.

On the other hand, there is no such thing as a professional drive away driver. Instead, drive away services are used by people who need to travel long distances and are looking for cheap alternatives to renting a car. Drive away drivers aren't paid for what they are doing. They get a free trip and a gas allowance in return for their driving services.

To be fair, drive away companies have standards for their drivers. They require clean driving records, references, and generally require drivers to be at least 21. However that is no guarantee of the quality of the driving. After all, this person is driving someone else's car and it's easy to get careless when it's not your vehicle.

You get a lot for the extra cost of a car shipping service, and that extra cost might be less than you think.