In this blog post, we address some of the common questions we hear from customers about the topic of containerized auto transport, or shipping a car inside a container. While it’s not the most common method of auto transport, use of a shipping container is still used from time to time, especially for overseas and international transport.
What Is A Car Shipping Container?
A shipping container, sometimes called an intermodal container, is a large, rectangular steel box that is used in the cargo transport industry. The term “intermodal” refers to the fact that the shipping containers can be moved from one type of transport to another: they can be moved by ship, rail, truck, or plane.
A car shipping container is specially designed to keep the vehicle secured during the transport process. Because car shipping containers can be moved from one mode of transport to another over the course of a long trip, it’s essential that the vehicle be firmly held in place and protected during shipping (see the “How Does It Work?” section below for more on this.)
Why Use Containerized Auto Transport?
Container car shipping is most frequently used for international and overseas auto transport. When overland shipping isn’t an option, transport by boat is really the only logical choice, unless you plan to spend a significant amount on air freight. Part of the reason that container shipping is a popular choice for international auto transport is that you can also ship personal belongings along with your vehicle. This aspect of containerized transport has some obvious benefits if you’re making a permanent or long-term move to another country. Standard modes of auto shipping require that personal items be removed from the car.
Shipping a car to another country? Use this map of the world’s sea ports to find the most convenient port location for where your vehicle is headed.
What Are There Options Besides Container Shipping?
The other option for car shipping by boat is a method called “roll on, roll off,” or RORO auto transport. This entails the vehicle being driven into a holding area under the ship, where it is then secured and delivered before being driven off the boat at the shipping port. For more information about RORO car shipping, you can read our informational page here.
How Does Container Auto Transport Work?
After choosing a company to work with and arranging the transport dates, they will pick up your car for transport to the nearest shipping port where it will be loaded into a car shipping container. During this process, the battery is disconnected and the vehicle is secured using industrial strength tie downs and blocking to keep it place. If you don’t need the full use of a 20’ or 40’ container, ask about a discount for a “Less than Container Load,” which allows the shipper to combine smaller shipments into one container at a reduced cost.
What Type Of Vehicles Can Be Shipped In A Container?
Shipping a car in a container does mean there are some limits to the space available, though it remains an option for most vehicle types. Car shipping containers are roughly 8 feet wide and 8 feet high, which means there’s plenty of space for most standard sized cars and trucks. Containers are either 20 feet or 40 feet long (car shipping containers are often the smaller of the two), which makes it easy to move multiple cars at once, if needed. An added benefit or using a container for overseas shipping is that personal items can be stored along with the vehicle since there is ample room.
Have other questions about containerized car shipping? Feel free to send us an email with your request or give us a call at 1-800-518-8708!
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 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.