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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default More Background on Drive-Away programs

    This subject comes up fairly often and so here is a quick primer on the car transport services. Auto Drive-Away is the largest of the firms and these are general conditions:

    1) A would-be traveler registers with a company indicating a preferred destination and period of travel.

    2) Driver must be solo and over 21 years old (some require 23+ years)

    3) Driver must have a valid driving license and agrees to drive a minimum of 400 miles per day in a nearly direct route to the destination of the vehicle.

    4) Security Deposit -- the driver pays a deposit -- with some companies this includes the cost of the car (ouch!) with others the companies carry their insurance on the vehicles. But in all cases, the security deposit covers break-downs and any damages to the car while in-transit.

    5) Incidental expenses. Driver is responsible for all fuel costs, tolls and living expenses. Most companies purchase the first tank of gas!

    There are a dozen or so auto transport companies that offer this Drive-Away program. Here are links to three of them:
    Auto Drive-Away.

    (Edit: This thread used to have a link to some of the Drive-Away firms, but that link is no longer working).

    As always, we are very interested in knowing if you have used any of these services.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-31-2015 at 08:31 AM. Reason: updated info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Having driven almost two dozen cars for Auto Driveaway, I would like to share some of my experiences, and correct some of the misgivings above.

    For the traveller who is flexible in both time and destination, driveaway - the relocating of vehicles - is an adventure filled way to travel the US. You never know where your next destination is going to be.

    In 2001, my very first visit to the States, all of my driving for the 13 weeks was with Auto Driveaway. In 2004 my trip was for 20 weeks. On both those ocassions I contacted all the companies in the phone book and on web searches, but other than Auto Driveaway, none offered this facility to casual drivers / travellers.

    I have driven brand new luxurious cars and rattly old bombs. I have driven small cars, and large SUVs. I have returned cars from lease, and taken lease cars to their new owners. I have driven reposessed cars, and cars for folk who simply moved interstate. The variety is endless, both in the vehicles and the destinations.

    Sometimes it was only a few hundred miles, some times it was coast to coast or border to border. In 2001 I went border to border twice, coast to coast twice and many trips inbetween.

    I would never have seen as much of the US if I had not driven these cars. I did not know anything about North America - other than that they drive on the other side of the road - and basically just went where the wind blew.

    1) There is absolutely no need to 'register'. Just look them up in the phone book, and walk into their offices. You have the choice of taking an available vehicle, or waiting till one becomes available, to your preferred destination. Or do as I did, see what they have available, and decide which one you wish to take... which vehicle you would prefer to drive, which State you would prefer to visit.

    2) It is not at all necessary to be a solo driver. In fact, a couple of trips I did were with other travellers. So long as the company knows, and has the details of all drivers and passengers. Auto Driveaway requires minimum age of 21. And I helped two young lasses who were travelling together to get a car from Seattle to Dallas, and showed them how to make it a trip through Reno, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, etc. and onto Dallas.

    3) This is not quite correct. It is correct that you must have a driver's licence and valid visa (if applicable). But as for direct route and distance driven in a day.... Once you are in the vehicle, no one knows which route you will be taking, nor how far you are driving in any given day. There is a generous mileage allowance for the trip which acknowledges that you may wish to do some sightseeing along the way.

    4) With the Auto Driveaway company - the only one I know from experience - there is a security deposit of around $350 - $400. This is equivalent to the company's excess on their insurance policy. The car is completely covered insurance wise for the trip. (I always had my own medical travel insurance.) On delivery of the vehicle in good order and condition, the deposit is refunded by the office of the company nearest to the point of delivery of the car. All breakdowns are covered by the company / owner, as is any oil or other requirements the driver may have along the way. Only once did I have to top up oil. Never even had so much as a flat tyre. The company demand the vehicles to be in good condition and recently serviced.

    5) The driver pays all normal travelling expenses, fuel, tolls, lodgings etc. The vehicle has a full tank on pick up, and must have a quarter of a tank of fuel on delivery. Many owners make a contribution towards the fuel, especially for 'fuel guzzling' vehicles. You are expected to deliver a clean vehicle. And if you are lucky, some owners are so thrilled to see their vehicle, they tip handsomely!

    There are other common sense requirements. You may not drive between 10pm and 6am. You may not smoke in the vehicle. The vehicle may not be used for anything illegal, e.g. you may not carry any drugs. You are not permitted to drive under the influence of alcohol. And so forth.

    The first vehicle I ever drove was from LA to Boise. I picked it up on a Thursday. Drove to Ridgecrest... ever so gingerly. This was my first time driving on the wrong side of the road. Well, that was how it felt!! Then drove to Reno. Spent the rest of that day and the next in Reno and around Lake Tahoe before taking my time to drive to Nampa where I stayed the night before delivering the car to a jubilant boss who was so glad to see his brand new company vehicle. There was ample time to stop at scenic spots along the way, go for walks and generally check out anything which interested me.

    I learned a lot from that first trip, and my following trips went much more smoothly.

    When in 2004 I drove from LA to Grand Forks ND I had a stop-over in LV, took a full day and two nights to visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon, visited Zion and Grand Teton as well as driving through the Big Horn Mountains. This trip was in a Mazda 626, and just outside LV, on the road to Mesquite, a stone hit the windscreen and the crack slowly crept up to about 9" long. The owner was not the slightest perturbed, saying that her insurance would cover it.

    As I have said before, this is an ideal way for the adventurous traveller to see the US, just be flexible with your time and about your destination.

    Lifey who is working on putting her experineces on paper

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