If you need to ship a semi-truck – either locally or across the country – you may not be sure where to start. How much does it cost? What are your shipping options? In this guide from A-1 Auto Transport, we’ll help you learn a bit more about the basics of shipping a semi truck.
How Much Will I Pay To Ship A Semi Truck?
The cost of shipping a semi truck varies, depending on a lot of factors. You’ll typically be charged a flat rate per mile – but this rate will depend on the size and dimensions of your truck, how far it’s being shipped, the shipment method you choose, and a number of other factors.
Let’s take a look at a few of these factors and how they influence the cost of shipping heavy trucks.
- Truck dimensions & weight – The larger and heavier your truck is, the more it will cost to ship. For example, a day cab truck will usually be smaller than a semi truck with a sleeper cab, and may be cheaper to transport.
- Distance of shipment – The total distance of your shipment usually has the largest impact on the price you’ll pay to ship the heavy equipment. This is because, like most other shipping jobs, shipping a semi truck usually costs a set, per-mile rate.
This per-mile rate will actually be higher for short distances, and fall as the distance of your shipment increases. However, you’ll still pay more for a long-distance trip, since more distance will be covered by the driver and the truck.
- Shipment method – You can often have a semi truck towed short distances, which is cheaper than hiring a flatbed. For long distances, though, you’ll need to have it transported by another semi truck using a flatbed. Read the next section of this guide for more details about these shipping methods.
What Options Do I Have For Shipping A Semi Truck?
For short distances, it’s possible to tow a semi truck behind another semi truck – this is a very simple and inexpensive method of shipping. However, this is not practical for long distances, since it puts more stress on the drivetrain. A flatbed lowboy or step deck is the best option for long-distance semi truck shipping.
If your semi truck is being shipped by towing, it’s usually linked to the “fifth wheel” of another semi truck. Then, the front wheels or rear wheels (depending on the semi truck) are allowed to remain on the road, and the truck is put into neutral. Then, it’s towed behind the other semi truck to its destination.
This is not a good idea for long distance shipping, however, since there will be heat buildup and wear & tear to the drivetrain components. If you are shipping a semi truck a long distance, a flatbed trailer like a lowboy or step deck is used to load up your truck, and then drive it to its destination while keeping the wheels off of the road. This results in less wear and tear on your semi truck.
Can I Ship A Semi Truck That’s Inoperable?
Yes. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons for shipping a semi truck across a long distance. If you’re selling or buying an inoperable truck, or you need to send in a truck for repairs or rehab, shipping the truck using another semi truck is a great option.
However, you should note that it will usually cost more money to ship a semi truck that’s inoperable compared to shipping a fully-functional truck. This is because the logistics of loading and unloading the vehicle will be more complicated, and may require special equipment like a mobile crane.
Make sure you ask your heavy equipment shipping company about any extra fees and costs associated with shipping a semi truck that’s not in working condition, and be prepared to pay a bit more to ship your vehicle.
How Should I Prepare My Semi Truck For Shipping?
Whether you’re having your semi truck towed or shipped using a flatbed, there are a few steps you should take before you have it shipped. You should remove all personal items, clean the exterior and document its condition, and remove any protrusions or aftermarket components from the outside of the truck. In addition, you may need to drain most of the fuel from its tanks.
- Remove personal items and loose items from the cab – If you have any valuables or personal items in your truck, we highly recommend removing them, if possible. Anything that you don’t want to remove from your truck should be secured tightly to ensure it doesn’t move around during shipment. Removing your valuables will reduce the risk of theft or damage, and securing loose items ensures the interior of your truck is not damaged in transit.
- Clean the exterior & document its condition – Make sure to give your semi truck a thorough cleaning. Then, document the condition of the exterior. Take photos and videos of every part of your truck. This will make it a lot easier to get compensation if your truck is damaged in transit. Major damage during shipping is rare, of course, but when shipping a valuable piece of equipment like a semi-truck, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Remove protrusions/aftermarket components – If you have any large protrusions like aftermarket antennae and other such things on the exterior of your truck, it may be a good idea to remove them before the truck is shipped in order to eliminate any risk of damage during transit.
- Drain fuel – Most semi trucks hold between 120 to 300 gallons of fuel – which means that a truck that’s full of fuel could be a few thousand pounds heavier compared to one with empty fuel tanks. Because of this, most shipping companies will ask you to drain most of the diesel fuel from your vehicle. This also helps with safety, since it’s less likely that your truck will leak fuel, and there’s less of a risk of explosion or fire in the rare event that there is an accident involving your shipment.
Contact A-1 Auto Transport Now To Get A Quote For Shipping Your Semi Truck
As leading transport service, A-1 Auto Transport has one of the largest networks of reputable shipping companies for the transportation of heavy machinery, including semi trucks. If you have an inoperable semi truck that needs to be shipped for repairs, you’re buying or selling a truck, or you need to ship a truck for any other reason, we’re here to help.
Contact us online or give us a call at (800) 452-2880. to speak to a shipping specialist right now – and get a quote for the cost of shipping your semi truck. We’re available to talk about your job 24/7.
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.