In the United States alone, some 17.5 million cars, trucks, SUVs, and other motor vehicles are sold on an annual basis. Even though you might drive vehicles off of dealerships' lots, they almost all got there via long-haul truck rides.
There are two primary ways to ship vehicles: on industry-standard automobile hailing trucks that sometimes hold upwards of 10 automobiles at once and inside enclosed, fully-sealed-off shipping containers.
Whether you're gearing up to ship a vehicle of your own or simply reading for fun, let's pick out the pros and cons of shipping automobiles using enclosed containers and open trailers.
Transporting Your Vehicle On An Open-Air, 18-Wheel Car Hauler
Open vehicle transport options are significantly cheaper than their enclosed counterparts. If you've ever seen a shipping container, you'll know that an 18-wheeler can either haul two shipping containers or between eight and 10 consumer-class vehicles. As you might imagine, using shipping containers is significantly more expensive because they take up more space and weigh more than their open-air counterparts.
Shipping speeds with this method of car or truck transportation are generally faster because there are so many car haulers on the road at any point in time. New rides can simply be picked up by drivers without taking any detours and ultimately delivered to their destination.
Open car transports work for any make and model of modern vehicles. You won't find any problems in using an open car transport to haul your vehicle unless the ride has been modified significantly from its stock position. Low-riders; very, very tall, jacked-up trucks; and other similarly modified rides are virtually the only things on wheels that won't fit on a car hauler.
Sandstorms, hail, snow, ice, and other harmful weather conditions can wreak havoc on your vehicle during transit. Further, debris from car crashes, litter, and anywhere else could potentially damage your vehicle if it is shipped via open-aired big rig on a long-haul drive.
Most car haulers use less gas than the vehicles used to tow closed shipping containers. In other words, open-air shipping is better for the environment. They all burn through less than most 18-wheelers.
It's also been said that some nine out of every 10 automobile shipments across the United States come in the form of open trailers as carriers.
Using Closed Shipping Containers for Transport
Most people reserve these enclosed shipping containers for transporting very expensive or otherwise valuable motor vehicles. Some people place high levels on sentimental value on their vehicles, even if they aren't worth that much, which is another reason why closed shipping containers are used to push motor vehicles here, there, and everywhere in the United States.
Drivers won't be able to inspect enclosed vehicles as frequently or easy as they could with open-air car haulers. This could result in vehicles being mishandled for hundreds of miles at a time instead of only a few miles.
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.