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“A1 Auto Transport became synonymous with top-notch service delivery, unfailing punctuality and constantly preoccupied with customer satisfaction.

See Article— USA Today

How Are Brand New Cars Transported?

Published by Joe Webster.

How Are Brand New Cars Transported?

Have you ever wondered how that brand new car ends up on your local dealership lot? Ever ponder the mystery of how it made its way there without so much as a nick or a scratch?

The answer might surprise you. That brand new car was likely transported hundreds or thousands of miles using one of several creative transport methods.

From over-the-road auto carriers to train transport, auto manufacturers don't mess around when it comes to getting their cars in pristine condition to the dealer's showroom floor.

Let's find out some common ways shipping companies ship new cars. This article will also provide an in-depth look into the industry's transportation standards.

From the Factory to the Dealership

As auto production ramps back up, manufacturers are taking precautions to ensure their new cars are transported safely and in mint condition.

Cars can be moved from the factory to local dealerships by rail, truck, or ocean freight, depending on the distance.

For transportation by rail, the cars are typically loaded onto flatbeds and secured for the journey; for longer distances, they may be placed onto a containerized car carrier. Trucks are usually used when the distance is shorter, as it allows dealerships to get their stock quicker and more cost-effectively.

The transport vehicles used by manufacturers come equipped with tracking systems that allow them to monitor their cargo at all times.

Furthermore, several transportation companies provide sanitization services so that each automobile arrives at its destination clean and sanitized.

With these safeguards in place, customers can rest assured that their automobiles have been transported with minimum exposure to hazardous contaminants.

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A New Car's Voyage

Every brand new car begins its journey with the same goal: to safely arrive at a dealership in perfect condition. Hence, it's no surprise that car manufacturers take great care in ensuring secure and efficient transportation of the cars.

The cars' journey from the manufacturer to the dealer starts on large car carrier trailers. These trailers are known as over-the-road carriers, or OTR.

The OTR process begins with the manufacturer preparing each automobile for transport with great attention to safety and security. This involves using straps or blocks to secure the vehicle, checking the tire pressure and fluid levels, and ensuring that all locks are in place.

For delivery, the car is normally loaded onto a flatbed truck or trailer. During transit, it may also be covered with a specific tarpaulin or blanket to provide further weather protection.

And it's not just physical protection; there are several other steps to make sure the new vehicles arrive safely. For example, many transporters use satellite tracking to monitor the cars' location and ensure they follow the correct route.

Some even use specially developed air-ride suspension vehicles to lessen impact while traveling over rough terrain. This helps reduce any potential harm that could happen during transportation.

When delivery time comes, all necessary paperwork is checked and verified against the vehicle's VIN number.

When the paperwork is finished, dealerships will know that their brand new automobiles have arrived in perfect condition and are ready for client test drives.

Right off the Assembly Line

An automobile is prepared to start its trip to the dealership after it leaves the production line at the factory.

Some automobiles are even enclosed in protective material known as "wrap guard" to protect them and stop scratches along the road in an attempt to prevent future damage.

When does the "wrap guard" come on? That's after the final inspection and before "vehicle processing." The latter may include installing enhanced features, safety measures, and unique adornments, such as splash guards and "underglow" illumination.

With these extra features installed, the brand-new car is now prepared for transportation. After all safety protocols have been followed, this fresh-off-the-assembly-line car can finally be shipped off to its new home!

Ro-Ro Ships

Car production continues to go up, so it's now becoming increasingly common to ship brand new cars abroad.

In order to achieve this, several manufacturers use "ro-ro" ships, which are equipped with ramps and can accommodate up to 8,500 automobiles at once. These ships travel over the sea and arrive at various US ports, mainly on the East Coast and West Coast.

On these ships, cars are kept safe on several different decks so that as much space as possible can be used for storage.

This process ensures that all vehicles make it to their destination safely, allowing for efficient transportation of brand new cars from overseas locations into North America.


Arrivals at the U.S. Port

New vehicles are unloaded from the cargo ship after they reach the U.S. port and are then put in a storage area until a car carrier comes to pick them up.

Large trailers or semi-trailers called "car haulers" are designed to transport passenger automobiles. Typically, they can handle up to nine vehicles simultaneously.

The automobile is then prepared for delivery after being put into the car transporter and can be taken either straight to the dealership or to an auto ramp for a long-distance carry via rail.

This efficient process helps get new cars into dealerships quickly and safely, allowing customers to enjoy their brand new vehicles with minimal wait times.

Railroad Auto Ramp

The last leg of a brand-new car's trip to its dealership occurs at a railroad's auto ramp, at many auto production plants, and at significant distribution facilities.

Here, the cars are loaded onto flatcars or special automotive carriers that can carry multiple vehicles at once. The process is meticulously supervised to guarantee that the cars reach their destination safely and securely.

Railroads transport nearly 75% of all new cars and light trucks purchased in the U.S., with more than 40 vehicle distribution centers located across their networks. Places like Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas are popular, as there are several automobile manufacturing plants within their borders.

The auto ramp process is efficient and cost-effective, decreasing delivery time while keeping costs down, thereby providing customers with access to their vehicles quickly and conveniently.

And due to the stringent safety measures taken by the railroads, such as properly securing each car on the flatcar or carrier before it departs for its destination, customers can rest assured that their cars will be delivered in pristine condition.

Getting to the Dealership

When a brand new car is ready to leave the factory, it begins its journey to the dealership via an auto ramp or rail car.

After arriving at its destination, it is unloaded and parked in a storage lot before being transferred onto another vehicle hauler.

The vehicle has only covered 25 miles or fewer at this time owing to short manufacturing runs and trips to and from loading and unloading bays. Once unloaded at the dealership, it is inspected for any scratches, dings, or dents and given a thorough wash and detail.

A car's journey from the manufacturing to the showroom might take a few days to many weeks, so plan accordingly. This timeline largely depends on the geographic distance between the car's origin and destination.

For instance, cars manufactured within the continental United States, like those made by General Motors, Stellantis North America, and Ford Motor Company, typically require less travel time than those manufactured overseas.

Today's car dealerships are taking extra precautions due to COVID-19 by allowing prospective buyers to view photos of cars online, compare features, and schedule test drives directly from their homes.

For clients to finalize their purchase without having to physically attend the dealership, many dealers now provide other touchless interactions, including live video conversations and electronic signatures.

Delivered in Pristine Condition

Arriving in pristine condition is a top priority for manufacturers and dealerships alike when it comes to transporting brand new cars.

Shippers rely on the Association of American Railroads (AAR) for established norms, loading diagrams, and information for safe restraint in transport to safeguard the integrity of the car at every stage of its voyage.

AAR and the automobile sector work closely together to create and enhance the shipping procedure.

Every time there's an ownership change, the vehicle is inspected for damage, and the party acquiring possession is expected to report any damage and make repair arrangements with the manufacturer.

To maximize safety when shipping cars via rail, it is important to consult with the railroad before transport to ensure proper loading, securement, and compliance with AAR requirements.

Through these measures, shippers can guarantee that their vehicles will reach their final destination undamaged.


Proven Track Record

The transport of brand new cars requires specialized attention and planning. Whether you’re shipping multiple cars to a dealer or having one delivered to your home, understanding the process is key to ensuring that they make it safely and quickly to their destination.

While technology and modern conveniences have made transport easier, experienced car haulers are still necessary for reliable and safe delivery.

Delivery of new cars and all of your other shipping needs can be met or exceeded with the expert service of A1 Auto Transport. Three decades of expertise for delivering any type of vehicle or even shipping your household goods with trusted, safe, and reliable service

Follow this link for a free quote today.

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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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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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