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5 Automobile Shipping Methods

Published by Joe Webster.

5 Automobile Shipping Methods

How often do you ship your car from one place to another? If you're like most people, then the answer is not very often. But when you need to ship a car, it's important to know the different shipping options available.

There are five common ways to ship vehicles: air freight, sea freight, trucking, rail freight, and courier services. While trucking is probably the most common method of shipping vehicles, each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

This article will teach you about the five primary methods to ship a car so you can make an informed decision when it comes to auto shipping.

1) Trucking

Vehicle transport services are great if you're looking to save money while still having an efficient way to ship your vehicle.

When you choose trucking, expect your vehicle to be delivered in a trailer attached to a large truck. Transporting vehicles is dangerous work, which is why professional pickup truck drivers are hired to do it for you.

They'll take care of loading and unloading, and even provide storage facilities along the way. Depending on what you need done, this could cost anywhere from $1,500-$5,000 per week.

Exclusive container shipping

Enclosed vehicle transport offers many benefits over traditional open shipping.


1) Better protection against weather damage

The most obvious benefit of enclosed vehicle shipping is that it protects cargo from extreme weather conditions. When goods are exposed to rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind gusts, and even tornadoes, they can suffer severe damage.

2. Less likely to break down during transit

When goods are transported via open truck, they are exposed to road hazards such as potholes, bumps, and debris. These things can cause the entire load to shift around, making it difficult to secure the cargo properly.

If the truck breaks down, the driver must stop and wait for repairs. This could cost you money and time.

However, enclosed vehicle shipping does not expose cargo to the same risks. Instead, it uses air suspension technology to keep everything level and stable. So, if anything happens, the cargo won't fall off the trailer.

3. Cheaper than open transport

Unlike open trucking, it doesn't require a lot of manpower to unload and reload shipments. In fact, it takes just one person to operate an enclosed vehicle shipping system. And since it requires fewer people, it costs much less than open trucking.

Shared container shipping

Shared containers allow for multiple vehicles to be shipped together, saving money over RoRo. Customers can add additional items to their vehicle during shipment, making them feel like they're driving around with their own private storage unit.

New Deals are now available for shipping all types vehicles using our vetted reliable shippers. Compare price estimates & Unlock up 25% off.

2) Shipping by Train across the Country

Shipping cars across the country by train is becoming increasingly popular because it offers lower costs than traditional methods like trucking and air freight.

This shipping option is best for vehicles that weigh less than ten tons.

Some auto shipping companies use specialized trains designed just for car transport. Others use standard diesel locomotives that run on regular tracks.

Depending on how many vehicles you plan to send, you may pay more per ton by rail than by truck.

For example, if you're sending four cars, each weighing 5 tons, you'll likely pay about $1,200 per car by rail versus $3,600 by truck.

However, if you're sending three cars and one trailer, you'll pay about $2,500 per car by rail versus about $6,300 by truck.

Finally, you must decide where you want to deliver the vehicle. You can pick up the shipment at a local railroad yard or transfer station, or you can drop off the vehicle at a regional hub.

If you're planning to deliver the vehicle to another state, make sure you check out what options are available in that area.

In general, railroads fall into three categories: short-line, long-haul, and intermodal.

Short-lines are smaller carriers that operate within a single region. They typically handle shipments of less than 20 tons.

Long-haul lines cover long distances, usually between 50 and 200 miles.

Intermodals are larger carriers that connect different modes of transportation. These include container ships, tankers, and barges.


3) Air Freight Transport

Air freight is expensive compared to most other shipping methods. But it does offer some advantages over ground transport, including speed and security.

Ground vs. air freight

Ground transportation is typically less expensive than air freight. If you want to quickly deliver your car, use ground transport. If you want to steer clear of long delays and high insurance premiums, choose air freight.

In addition, ground shipments require additional paperwork and inspections, while air freight requires no documentation.

How much does air freight cost?

The cost of air freight depends on the size of the vehicle being shipped, where it is headed, and how far away it is located.

For example, a large truck weighing 10 tons traveling from Los Angeles to New York City will cost $3,500-$4,000.

In contrast, a smaller SUV weighing around 4,000 pounds and traveling from San Francisco to Seattle will cost $1,200-$1,400.

4) Transport via Ship

Port-to-port shipping is usually the cheapest option for moving vehicles across oceans.

This includes ocean freight carriers like Maersk Line, MSC Cruises, P&O Ferries, and Royal Caribbean International. These companies offer door-to-door delivery to most major cities around the world.

RoRo (roll-on roll-off) shipping

RoRo is an economical and very safe shipping method.

RoRo shipping is for shipping across oceans or long distances. However, international vehicle shipments require extra planning and coordination.

RoRo is for exporting large items like motorcycles, trucks, and other vehicles. Typically, RoRo shipping is very popular among car manufacturers. It is particularly suitable for cars that don't require special care.


5) Using a Drive Away Courier Service

This type of transportation is stress-free since there's no driving involved. Conveniently scheduled pickups and delivery dates are available to suit your needs.

Door-to-door courier delivery is an easy and convenient way to transport your vehicle to various delivery locations. This option is ideal if you live near an airport or seaport where there is a large number of shipping companies.

Choosing Between an Open or Enclosed Transport Type

The majority of auto transport carriers offer both open and enclosed transport options. Here's a little information about the pros and cons of each one.

Open auto transport

Cars are often transported in an open-air trailer. This option is generally more affordable, but it does expose your vehicle to potential damage from road debris.

This method is ideal if you want to save money but aren't as concerned about the condition of the car after delivery. There's an elevated risk of theft during transit too.

Enclosed car transport

Enclosed auto transport is ideal for transporting luxury, classic, and custom cars. An enclosed auto transport option will cover and protect the entire car during transport.

There are different levels of enclosed transport, including enclosed trailers, enclosed vans, enclosed containers, and enclosed railcars.

Scheduling can sometimes be difficult as there are fewer enclosed auto carriers available.

Car Shipping Rates

Car shipping costs vary depending on where you live. Car shipping costs take into consideration the type of vehicle, weight, size, shipping distance, and more.

Transport costs increase during the holiday season due to increased demand.



A-1 Auto Transport offers automotive transportation options to meet a wide variety of personal and business needs. Contact us today for more details or for a free quote.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.
★★★★★ choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

A1 Auto Transport... From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

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Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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