Of the many decisions you’ll make when shipping a car, the choice between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal auto shipping is among the most important. This decision affects the cost of the shipping service, in addition to what you can expect from your carrier when they take possession of your car.
Understanding what each shipping method entails is key to making your choice. That’s where this article will help you. This guide to terminal-to-terminal car shipping explains what the service entails, digs deeper into the concept of a terminal, and demonstrates the pros and cons of choosing this type of vehicle transportation.
As the name implies, terminal-to-terminal shipping requires you to drive the vehicle you want to ship to a terminal designated by your carrier. The vehicle shipping company may then store the vehicle at this pick-up terminal, depending on its schedule. When your vehicle is ready to ship, the carrier loads it onto a suitable form of transport and sends it to a destination terminal.
A destination terminal is a car terminal operated by your carrier. It will usually be the terminal that is nearest to the location you’re shipping the vehicle to. When your car arrives at this auto terminal, it’s unloaded and placed into storage, ready for you to pick it up.
Terminal-to-terminal car shipping is common because it enables carriers to quickly and easily transport vehicles. They don’t have to deal with the logistics of getting a truck and trailer to your address, meaning they can usually offer terminal-to-terminal shipping for less money. Furthermore, carriers keep specialized equipment at terminals that allow them to load certain types of vehicles, such as inoperable cars, onto trucks. This equipment may include cranes and harnesses.
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With door-to-door shipping, the carrier commits to picking your vehicle up at a location chosen by the customer. They’ll also drop it off at the customer’s selected address. It’s a more personalized service that is typically used for valuable cars, such as luxury and classic vehicles. The customer doesn’t have to research auto shipping terminal locations or make any journeys to terminals themselves, creating a more convenient experience.
Terminal-to-terminal shipping is less convenient because of the requirement to travel to a terminal when dropping off or picking up. Carriers make up for this loss of convenience by charging lower prices than they charge for door-to-door shipping.
Think of a car terminal as a large vehicle storage facility. Terminals are usually located in large urban areas, which makes them easier for car transportation vehicles to access. They should also have dedicated loading and unloading areas, which workers can use to safely trailer or unload your vehicle.
In many cases, a carrier will keep vehicles received at a terminal for several days before shipping them to their locations. Logistics come into play here. The carrier may store your vehicle at a terminal to ensure that it’s sent out on a full trailer, thus keeping their costs lower and hopefully reducing the amount you pay for vehicle shipping.
Vehicle carriers typically provide clients with three options for terminal-to-terminal shipping.
The majority of carriers offer open-haul transport. This involves attaching a multi-tier trailer to a truck. The trailer can hold several vehicles, which are transported simultaneously. The ability to haul several vehicles at once allows carriers to conduct more deliveries per trip, thus making open-haul the most economical option. However, your vehicle is exposed to the elements with this type of transport.
Enclosed carriers surround your vehicle with a vinyl or fiberglass enclosure, which guards against moisture, muck, and debris. The added protection comes at a cost. Enclosed carriers can hold fewer cars and require the shipping company to invest in specialized equipment. These costs carry over to the customer, meaning this type of transport is best used for classic or luxury vehicles.
Finally, flatbed transport is exactly what it says – transporting a vehicle using a flatbed truck. It’s the rarest of the three options and tends to cost the most.
There are several reasons to consider terminal-to-terminal shipping, many of which relate to the lower cost and specific features that auto transport terminals offer.
Let’s assume you live in a busy city. The streets are already narrow, and there’s restricted on-road parking. Often, you can’t find a space for your car in front of your home. Now, what do you think will happen if you try to hire a door-to-door carrier in this situation?
That carrier will find it extremely difficult to access your property and load your car because the narrow roads and limited parking prevent them from doing so. The same goes for any situation where a carrier’s access to your vehicle is restricted, or in instances where it will be difficult for the carrier to maneuver a truck to your location.
Shipping your vehicle from a transport terminal makes things simpler for the carrier because they can load your car in a location designed for the job.
Shipping from a car terminal usually costs less than having a carrier pick your vehicle up from your door. At least, it costs less up front. You may find that you have to pay storage fees if you want the terminal to hold onto your car. That’s especially the case at your destination terminal, as many carriers will charge you for storing a car if you delay in picking it up.
If we assume there are no delays and you can pick your car up at its destination immediately, you’ll usually pay less for terminal-to-terminal shipping than you would for door-to-door.
Though door-to-door shipping allows you to pick specific dates for pick-up and delivery, it’s inflexible. If you’re not available on those dates for whatever reason, the carrier will likely charge a late fee and you may lose your booking.
Terminal-to-terminal car shipping is more flexible because most auto terminals contain storage facilities. The carrier can deliver a vehicle to a terminal and then store it, ready for you to pick up when you’re available. Services like these are helpful for long-distance moves, as you can send your car in advance while you handle the rest of the move. Once you’re settled in your new home, you can pick up your car at your leisure. The only downside is that you usually have to pay extra for storage.
Car shipping terminal locations are designed to handle every type of vehicle. If you have an oversized car, the terminal should have the equipment needed to load it onto a specialized trailer. More importantly, terminals are ideal for hauling inoperable vehicles. If your car doesn’t run, you should find that a terminal has cranes, forklift services, and towing equipment that allows the car to be transported. You may not have access to this type of equipment with door-to-door service.
Though terminal-to-terminal shipping offers lower costs, access to special equipment, and increased flexibility, there are some disadvantages to consider before using this type of service.
You can’t assign a specific car shipping drop-off location when using terminal-to-terminal shipping. Instead, the carrier assigns a terminal for pick-up and another one for drop-off. You have to journey to each terminal to drop off and pick up your car. By contrast, a door-to-door service arrives at your specified locations, meaning you don’t have to do any extra work.
Most carriers build their terminals a fair distance from city limits. That means you’ll likely face long drives to drop off and collect your vehicle.
Auto transport terminals are huge and bustling locations. Laborers are constantly working to load vehicles onto transports and move cars into storage. It’s easy for your vehicle to be left unattended, especially if it’s not due for shipping for a couple of days.
The busy nature of terminals makes it possible for thieves or vandals to access your vehicle. The car or valuable personal items it contains might be stolen. Most terminals have security measures in place to prevent this from happening, including security cameras and patrolling guards. But with such large locations, it’s often impossible to have eyes on every car all of the time.
The flexibility of terminal-to-terminal shipping comes at a price. You’ll have to pay for any time the terminal stores your car. You also have to think about how you’re going to get to and from a carrier’s terminals. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a friend or family member who can drive you to your locations. If you’re unlucky, you may have to pay taxi or public transport fares until you get your hands back on your vehicle.
Now that you know the benefits and downsides of using terminal-to-terminal auto shipping, you’re able to decide whether you want to use it. Assuming you do, follow these tips to find a carrier that can meet your needs.
Reviews give you independent insight into the quality of service a vehicle carrier offers. They come from previous customers, which means they’re not influenced by the carrier’s marketing department. Ideally, you’ll discover that your carrier has many five-star reviews on social media and Google Reviews. If they don’t, take that as a sign that the company doesn’t offer the quality of service you’re looking for.
Remember that you have to make journeys to your drop-off and pick-up terminals as part of this type of service. If your carrier’s terminals are located hundreds of miles away from your location, using them becomes a huge hassle. By running a search for “car shipping terminal near me,” you can locate the terminals closest to your destination. Check which carriers operate those terminals and add them to your list of providers you need to research further.
Every terminal-to-terminal car shipping quote is different. Some carriers charge separately for services that other carriers include in their up-front prices. Each carrier has different prices for its shipping service, which you have to consider.
Collect several quotes to give yourself the best idea of what your shipping service should cost. Gather at least three, though more is preferable. With multiple quotes, you can determine the average cost of shipping your vehicle, which allows you to eliminate carriers that charge far more than average. It’s also a good idea to be wary of companies that charge significantly less than average, as that lower price may be reflected in the carrier’s service quality.
There are several instances when terminal-to-terminal shipping will be a good choice for you. If you’re moving to a remote location, it may be the only option, as door-to-door carriers may not be able to reach your location with their vehicles. Terminal-to-terminal is also a good choice if you want to save money, as it’s generally cheaper than door-to-door shipping unless you make extensive use of a terminal’s storage facilities. This type of shipping is best for transporting vehicles that no longer run because terminals contain the special equipment needed to load such vehicles safely.
You may prefer door-to-door shipping if convenience is more important than price in your decision. Some are also wary of the security concerns that come with terminal-to-terminal shipping, though this may be alleviated with appropriate research into a terminal’s security measures.
Whether you choose terminal-to-terminal or door-to-door shipping, Ship Vehicles is here to help you. We offer both types of vehicle transportation and can provide answers to any questions you have about either. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team or need a quote for terminal-to-terminal car shipping, call us at (888) 231-0113 or contact us online.
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