Terminal-To-Terminal Car Shipping Explained

When you need your car shipped to a delivery location across town or the country, you might wonder how exactly the carrier picks up and drops off your vehicle. While some shippers can pick up your car at your doorstep and drop it off at your destination, others may require you to drop your vehicle off at a transportation terminal. Then you pick it up at another terminal.

In essence, this is terminal-to-terminal car shipping. Let’s take a closer look at this vehicle transport method and explore when it’s worthwhile compared to door-to-door car shipping.

What Is Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping?

Put simply, terminal-to-terminal auto transport services involve:

  • Dropping off the vehicle you need to ship at a car transportation terminal
  • Picking up your vehicle at a car transportation terminal near your final destination

It’s contrasted with door-to-door car shipping. With door-to-door car shipping, a car carrier such as Carvaygo comes to your home to pick up your car, then drives away with your vehicle. It then delivers your vehicle to the final destination, like the new home you’re moving to.

With terminal-to-terminal car shipping, you must drop your car at the nearest transportation terminal (or whichever transportation terminal works for your needs). Generally, auto transport terminal locations are in major cities since those places are where it’s easiest to combine shipments and provide expedited car transportation services. However, some small to midsized towns also have them.

Then, you pick up your vehicle at the nearest auto transport terminal to your final destination. For example, if you’re moving from Dallas to Los Angeles, you’ll:

  • Drop off your car at your chosen Dallas auto transport terminal
  • Pick up your car at the Los Angeles auto transport terminal nearest to your home

What Is an Auto Transport Terminal?

An auto transport terminal is essentially a hub for car shipments. It includes parking lots, garages, and storage spaces for large trucks and trailers that move other vehicles from place to place.

Skilled and trained auto transport industry professionals operate auto transport terminals and ensure that cars get put into a truck at the right time.

However, many auto transport terminals let carrier trucks or trailers leave once they have a full load of cars to ship. For example, suppose you drop your vehicle off at an auto transport terminal. In that case, the carrier may not leave with your vehicle to bring it to its final destination until others drop their vehicles off.

Terminal-To-Terminal Car Shipping Options

  • Enclosed Auto Carriers
  • Open Transport Haulers
  • Flatbed Auto Transports

Enclosed Auto Carriers

You can take advantage of terminal-to-terminal car shipping in several different options. The first of these is enclosed auto transportation. Enclosed auto carriers are large trailers that carry multiple vehicles at once. As their name suggests, they are entirely enclosed, protecting the transported cars from wind, debris, and inclement weather.

Naturally, enclosed auto carriers are more expensive than open transport haulers (see more below) or other transportation solutions. However, enclosed auto carriers can be beneficial if you need to transport a classic or luxury vehicle that you don’t want to be damaged or affected by the transit.

Open Transport Haulers

Open transport haulers are economical and versatile. These are the most common type of car carriers in the industry. You've probably seen them on the freeway; they look like two-level trailers that carry cars on both the top and bottom levels. The transported vehicles are exposed to inclement weather and debris from the road in exchange for cheaper transportation.

Most (nearly 90%) of cars shipped across large distances do so on open transport carriers or haulers.

Flatbed Auto Transports

Then there are flatbed auto transports. These are the least used car carriers and are usually more expensive than the above two options. Flatbed auto transports have longer wait times and more strict or rigid transportation windows.

Why? Flatbed auto transports take just one or two vehicles at once. In other words, you pay for a carrier to ship your vehicle alone, ensuring proper care and safety at all times. Flatbed auto transports often include car covers or other protective accessories to keep your vehicle’s paint job or wax safe in transit.

These car shipping options are also available for most door-to-door shipping services.

Are Terminals Used in All Auto Shipping?

No. Most car shipping services are door-to-door services rather than terminal-to-terminal. There are a few big reasons for this, namely cost. With terminal-to-terminal shipping, customers have to pay fees each day the car is in transit or storage. With door-to-door shipping, a vehicle is typically picked up and hits the road to its final destination on the same day.

Auto transport terminals or storage facilities are typically only used for terminal-to-terminal shipping, though there may be exceptions depending on carrier needs and client expectations.

Advantages of Using Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

  • Flexibility for Drop-Off and Pick-Up
  • Best for Damaged Vehicles
  • Storage for Non-Immediate Transport
  • Potentially More Cost-Efficient

Flexibility for Drop-Off and Pick-Up

There are many benefits and advantages to using terminal-to-terminal shipping when you need a car shipped across town, state, or country.

For starters, terminal-to-terminal auto shipping companies offer extra flexibility for drop-off and pick-up times. With door-to-door shipping, you have to be present when the transportation company picks up your vehicle and when they drop your car off. Bending your schedule around these times can be a real hassle.

In contrast, terminal-to-terminal shipping allows you to drop off your vehicle and pick it up whenever you like (provided the car is at the destination terminal, of course). This can be advantageous if you have a tight moving schedule or aren't sure when exactly you'll reach your destination.

Best for Damaged Vehicles

Terminal-to-terminal shipping can also be an excellent choice for damaged (though still operational) vehicles. With terminal-to-terminal transportation, your vehicle receives extra attention. It is not at risk of being damaged during the loading or unloading process on the road (which may be more likely if your vehicle’s pickup location is a crowded or narrow street).

Storage for Non-Immediate Transport

Auto transport terminals may also serve as convenient storage solutions if you don’t need your vehicle immediately. If, for instance, you are moving to a new house but can’t move into the property for a few days, you can use terminal-to-terminal car shipping. That way, you can rest assured that your vehicle is safe and sound until your new home comes into your possession (at which point you can put your car in your garage).

Potentially More Cost -Efficient

Some companies offer discounts for customers and clients who use terminal-to-terminal shipping. That said, remember that you’d usually have to pay storage fees for each day your vehicle stays at an auto transport terminal; in some cases, this may negate any initial discounts on your shipping cost.

Disadvantages of Using Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

  • More Complicated
  • More Risk from Accidental Damage
  • Only Accommodates Limited Cargo

More Complicated

Of course, terminal-to-terminal car shipping also comes with certain disadvantages and downsides.

For instance, terminal-to-terminal transportation is usually more complicated. You have extra steps to drop off and recover your vehicle after moving. In contrast, with door-to-door shipping, you have to be around when the carrier comes to pick up your car and drop it off. You don’t have to figure out how you’ll get home after dropping your vehicle off at the first auto transport terminal or how to get to the destination transport terminal.

More Risk from Accidental Damage

In addition, terminal-to-terminal shipping introduces an additional risk of accidental damage to your vehicle. Since the car must be loaded onto a carrier, stored at a transport terminal, and otherwise moved around, there are more opportunities for accidents, making this a less-than-stellar option for classic or luxury vehicles.

Only Accommodates Limited Cargo

On top of that, terminal-to-terminal car shipping only accommodates limited cargo. You can’t, for example, use terminal-to-terminal shipping for certain classes of vehicles or vehicles with lots of freight stored within them (since the carrier needs to be able to maneuver the car around).

Terminal-to-Terminal vs. Door-to-Door Shipping

Generally, most people use door-to-door auto transport companies versus terminal-to-terminal shipping. Door-to-door shipping is often more convenient, especially if you have a strict schedule you must stick to.

However, terminal-to-terminal car shipping could be beneficial when:

  • You need storage space for your car
  • You won't be able to oversee the pick-up and drop-off of your vehicle at your door
  • There are many possible auto transport terminals in your area, so dropping off or picking up your car won’t be very difficult

Bottom Line

Ultimately, terminal-to-terminal car shipping can be a practical choice for your car transportation needs, particularly if you require vehicle storage or the flexibility it offers.

However, you can also rely on door-to-door car transportation from Carvaygo. When you rely on Carvaygo, you get top-of-the-line service and an uncomplicated process to get your vehicle from point A to point B. Contact us today for more information or an instant quote on enclosed carriers, open carriers, and other vehicle shipping services.

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