Auto Transport: Road vs Sea

Domestic USA & International Auto Shipping
Quote Calculator

  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}
  • {{error}}

Auto Transport: Road vs Sea

Auto Transport: Road vs Sea

Whether you are shipping a consignment for business or personal reasons, you must make choices. Out of all the options available, in the end, the decision is whether to transport automobiles by road or sea. Overseas shipment may require one mode or a combination of several. Factors that may inform your choice include cost, transit time, and delays in delivery among others.

Among the key factors to consider when faced with the option of road or sea transport are:

Cost: How to determine what to pay

If you are in business, you deal with choices where the bottom line can make the difference between profit and loss. On the other hand, from an individual perspective, working with a budget to guide your daily expenditure is never an option. Both ways, natural instincts tell you to pick a mode of transport that costs less. Often, you will hear that road transport is cheaper than ocean freight.

Shipping charges: How transporters determine them

The best decision criterion is through knowledge of what goes into international shipping charges. Any consignment that goes on a ship is charged per container. The two standard containers in use are the 20-foot and 40-foot. Cost determination is per container size. For large shipments, you are better off using the sea.


A-1 Auto Transport can help you move your household goods nationwide. Call 888-509-3213 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote on interstate moving services.


Road haulage: Cost elements involved

Road transporters, on the other hand, base their cost calculations on mileage, number of units on board, truck driver wages, maintenance, and fuel cost. Therefore, if you are transporting one car, the shipper should give you a price that has considered all these. You might have to wait until other customers place their orders and fill a truck. Alternatively, with several units to deliver, you could have an entire lorry.

Reliability: How it affects your expectations

The quality of being reliable matters a lot whether in service or product delivery. Ocean carriers have a poor reputation for reliability. Ships get delayed quite often. As an individual, you can comfortably stomach an allowance for a few days delay. However, as an entrepreneur, a day could harm your business prospects. Shipping by road is more reliable than sea delivery. You can plan when to expect your consignment, and the delays are not necessarily long.

Damage: Where to mitigate

Sea cargo gets damaged during rough weather. At times, vessels run aground leaving them prone to being tossed up and down by strong waves. Nonetheless, in fair weather, you can expect a gentle roll from one port to the next. In this regard, road transport is the riskier option. Trucks traveling in both on and off-road conditions must meander and maneuver through sharp bends and steep inclines. Sudden brakes are also a normal occurrence.

Both sea and road transportation modes can work when seeking to relocate. By knowing what goes into the final cost, you stand a better chance of negotiating a price. At the same time, the two methods have different reliability expectations. Make an informed choice so that you are happy with the outcome.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

Ship Your Vehicle With A-1 Auto Today

Get an Instant Free Quote Now

Or Call Us Today and Speak to Directly to Our Sales Team:

1-800-452-2880

Inc. 500 Company
American Moving and Storage Association Member
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Secured by Verisign Inc.