A trip to the auto showroom can be an exciting one when you’ve made the decision to buy a new car or truck. And from the other side of the showroom window, that new vehicle may have had a long and interesting excursion – perhaps from the other side of the world – to land in front of you on the dealer’s sales floor.
New vehicles often travel by multiple modes of transport, passing through many hands, to get from where they were built to where you sign the contract and take possession. All this is accomplished while keeping the auto damage-free, and racking up a very small odometer reading, even if it came from tens of thousands of mile away (it’s still a new car, after all)!
Vehicles built in Europe or Asia enjoyed an ocean cruise to reach your neighborhood showroom. Giant, “roll on-roll off” cargo ships sometimes move more than 8,000 vehicles at a time. These purpose-built seagoing leviathans, some with nine or more cargo decks and measuring nearly three football fields in length, are easily spotted by their tall, box-like shape as they move new vehicles from one side of the planet to the other. Some of these giant seafarers work closer to home as well, moving vehicles manufactured in Mexico to U.S. ports as an alternative to rail transportation.
Rail transportation – that’s another huge player in moving your new vehicle to the showroom! Out of every four new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S., approximately three of them took a freight train ride on their way to the new owner. The majority of more than 70 automotive manufacturing plants in North America are served by railroads, and each dedicated freight train moves an average of 750 new vehicles from production facilities to sellers. In 2017 alone, American railroads moved 1.6 million rail car loads of new automobiles and auto parts. Those “auto parts” are a key factor in getting new cars to the showroom, too - because railroads haul many heavy vehicle components, such as frames and engines, to auto factories in large numbers so the new vehicles can be built.
Few of America’s nearly 17,000 franchised auto dealers, however, have a freight rail terminal on their back lot. The final step in getting the new vehicles to market is generally accomplished by semi-trucks, which pick up dealer-specified new cars and trucks at rail yards or even factories and bring them right to the showroom door. Hauling new autos is one of the highest-paid jobs for some of the nation’s 3.5 million truckers, with responsibility not only for a semi-tractor and highly-specialized trailer that together could cost $270,000 or more, but for up to ten new cars. In contrast to a load of lumber or pipe, each load of new automobiles may typically be worth a quarter- to a half-million dollars. Auto hauling drivers often need special training and insurance; just safely loading ten new cars onto the complex, hydraulically-operated trailers requires specialized knowledge.
So when you look at your new vehicle invoice and see the line item for “Destination Charge,” you may not smell the ocean breeze, or feel the heavy diesel thunder of a passing freight train, or hear the back-up alarm of the towering semi-truck that brought your new ride the last few miles – but they may all be there. Enjoy your new car - a lot of people, in many industries, worked hard to get it to you!
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.
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