There is a lot to consider when transporting your vehicle across a long distance. After all, your vehicle is one of your most valuable assets so you want to be sure it is in good hands. Furthermore, you have to consider things like delivery time, cost, and shipping preferences that can help you determine which mode of transport is best for your needs. It’s possible to have your car transported by rail or truck and each have their advantages and disadvantages. However, while it might seem more cost-effective to have your car shipped by train, there are several reasons why this is a much less favorable option than using a reliable carrier.
1. You Have Fewer Delivery Location Options
One of the biggest drawbacks to shipping your car via train is the fact that trains follow an unchangeable route. This means you have far fewer options on where you can have your car delivered. For example, if you want to have your car shipped from Pennsylvania to Florida but the train does not have a direct route to Florida, this could be very problematic. This could mean several weeks of delays and additional costs to get your car to its destination. Carriers, on the other hand, can conveniently transport your vehicle to a number of terminals located across the country and they can even provide door-to-door shipping.
2. There Are Limited Options for Privately Owned Vehicles
Another reason many people don’t choose to ship a car by train is the fact that there are far fewer rail options available than carriers. Since most trains do not routinely ship privately owned vehicles, you are limited in the number of train options available that can ship your vehicle to its destination. Unlike the railroad, there are dozens and dozens of auto shipment companies available so you are more likely to find a solution that fits your needs.
3. It Takes Much Longer
There is no question that auto shipment by truck is much faster and more efficient than shipping via train. An auto transport company can often arrange a pickup in a matter of days whereas a train could take several weeks. Also, once the car is loaded onto a train, trains are required to make multiple stops along the route which could prolong the transit time. You also have to factor that the train can only get as close to the final destination as its train route will allow so you might have to spend another day driving to pick it up.
4. Train Transport Might Still Require a Carrier
Since trains can only travel to and from a set destination, your vehicle might still require a carrier to deliver it to you. For instance if the train stop is located far away from your destination, your car will have to be loaded onto a carrier so it can be delivered to a nearby terminal or delivered directly to you. In addition to taking a longer time, you could end up paying more than you would have if you had used an auto transport company.
5. Uncertainty About Departure and Arrival Dates
While there is no way to guarantee auto shipment with either truck or train, it is much easier to estimate these times with an auto shipping company. Auto shipping companies have the ability to find a carrier located close to your location so it’s easier to gauge a pickup and delivery time. Trains, on the other hand, have unpredictable schedule changes that could delay transit. There is the possibility for weather delays or problems and incidents on the railroad network. Trains are also required to make multiple stops along the route, which can make it difficult to plan for an exact delivery time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.