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How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Tractor Trailer?

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How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Tractor Trailer?
How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Tractor Trailer?

If you drive a tractor trailer or you work for a larger shipping company, you may find that you have to move one or more of your vehicles either a short distance or across the country. How much will you pay for this service? Find out now in this guide from A-1 Auto Transport.

How Much Will I Pay To Ship A Tractor Trailer? 

The cost of shipping a tractor trailer is typically charged per mile, but the rate can vary quite a bit. There’s no way to provide you with an accurate estimate without knowing more details about the truck. For example, its size and dimensions, whether or not it’s running, your chosen pickup/delivery locations, total shipment distance, and the weight of the truck can all influence the cost of shipping. 

Let’s take a deeper look at these costs now, and help you determine how much it may cost to ship your tractor trailer. 

  • Truck size and dimensions – The length, height, and width of the tractor trailer will influence the cost of shipping. The bigger the tractor trailer, the more it will cost to ship, in most cases. You’ll need to supply your carrier with the dimensions of your truck and its make, model, and year before getting a quote.
  • Operability of the truck – Shipping non-running vehicles will require additional equipment, so it will usually cost more money to ship a truck that’s not running or that has broken down.
  • Distance of shipment – The cost for shipping locally is more expensive, per mile traveled, compared to shipping a tractor trailer long distance. However, you’ll still pay more overall for a long-distance shipment, since the vehicle must cover a lot more distance.
  • Required shipping time – A rush job will always cost you a lot more money. Lots of heavy equipment carriers don’t ship tractor trailers that often, so you may have to pay extra fees if you need to ship your tractor trailer quickly. However, if you can plan ahead and have a more flexible time frame for shipping your tractor trailer, you can save a lot of money. 
  • Pickup and delivery locations – There will need to be enough space at the pickup and delivery site to pick up the truck and drop it off, and the conditions at the site must be adequate for the loading of your tractor trailer.

Why Would I Ship A Tractor Trailer?

There are a few reasons you may want to ship a tractor trailer, rather than just drive it to its destination. Most commonly, this is because the tractor trailer has broken down, you’ve bought a new tractor trailer that’s not located near you, or you’re selling it to another person or company.

Of these situations, a broken-down tractor trailer is the most common reason for shipping a tractor trailer. If there are serious mechanical issues with the engine, brakes, or other critical systems of a tractor trailer, you may not be able to have it repaired on the side of the highway – and doing so isn’t usually safe, either. 

Usually, a large tow truck can be used to get your tractor trailer to a safe location, but it can’t be used to haul your truck a long distance. For that, you’ll need to ship your tractor trailer using a flatbed. 

When buying or selling a tractor trailer, it also may make sense to have the tractor trailer shipped, as you otherwise would have to drive the semi trailer and also pay for a plane ticket to get the pickup/dropoff area. 

If you’re selling a tractor trailer to someone across the country, these costs – along with the high fuel costs of driving a tractor trailer – can really add up quickly, making shipping the tractor trailer a cheaper option. 

Can I Have A Cargo Trailer Shipped At The Same Time As My Tractor Trailer? 
No. Most shipping companies will only ship the tractor trailer itself – the front cab that contains the engine and driving compartment. It’s not possible to safely haul or two a tractor trailer and a cargo trailer at the same time for more than a short distance.

However, if you are in a situation where you need to have your tractor trailer shipped and also need to ship its attached trailer – such as if it breaks down on the side of the road – you’re not totally out of options.

It may be possible to have a trucking company come to the location of your semi cargo trailer with a new tractor trailer. Then, they can simply hitch up the tractor trailer to the semi cargo trailer, and drive away to ship your goods to their intended destination. 

Should I Have My Tractor Trailer Towed Or Put On A Flatbed?

You should only have your tractor trailer towed without the use of a flatbed for short trips, because towing will put more stress on the drivetrain and mechanical elements of the vehicle. For long shipments (over 50 miles), always choose to load the truck onto a flatbed.

In some cases, a tractor trailer can be towed without the use of a flatbed, lowboy, or similar trailer. The tractor trailer is simply lifted and then attached to the fifth-wheel coupling, with the rear tires or front tires maintaining contact with the road. Then, the tractor trailer is put in neutral, and the truck can be hauled. This is ideal for short trips, since it’s fast and easy to tow a tractor trailer in this manner.
The prime disadvantage is that heat will build up within the drivetrain, even when the tractor trailer is in neutral. Long-distance towing of a tractor trailer could damage these mechanical components – which is not ideal if you’re buying or selling a tractor trailer, or if you are shipping the vehicle because it’s already been damaged and needs repairs.

In contrast, a flatbed trailer like a step-deck or lowboy trailer is perfectly capable of accommodating most large tractor trailers. The truck can be towed or driven onto the trailer, and then loaded up for a long-distance shipment.

The benefit of this is that there will be absolutely no wear on the mechanical components of the tractor trailer, since it will be stationary and the wheels will not be contacting the surface of the road.

Need A Quote To Ship A Tractor Trailer? Contact A-1 Auto Transport Today! 

At A-1 Auto Transport, we work with a huge network of heavy equipment transport companies throughout the United States. Our team of vetted, professional shipping companies are here to help you with your next shipping job.

So if you need help shipping your tractor trailer, don’t wait. Contact us online or give us a call, and get an estimate for the cost of shipping your tractor trailer right away.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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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.

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

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
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
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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