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How to Ship a Luxury Vehicle

Published by Joe Webster.

How to Ship a Luxury Vehicle

Owning a car is considered a huge investment, so it’s understandable to see how far owners will go to protect their luxury cars. Owners often shower their luxury cars with love and affection, with some even giving their luxury cars names and treating them the same way you would children or significant others.

So when faced with the prospect of transporting their beloved cars across the country or even overseas, it’s understandable that luxury car owners will stop at nothing to get the best service available to them. But how does one find the “best” service out there? The first step is to go through your options, weigh the pros and cons, and pick the perfect option for your needs when it comes to luxury car shipping.

Best Luxury Car Shipping Company

Drive the Vehicle to the Destination Yourself

You’d be surprised at how many luxury car owners actually consider this option. Admittedly, if you own an expensive vehicle, you might have a hard time trusting someone else with it. After all, they do say that if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.

However, this method is actually not recommended for several reasons:

  • It takes too much time. This means you have to miss work while you are driving your car across the country.
  • It can wear you out physically. Even commercial truck drivers are told to rest after ten continuous hours of driving. You will end up feeling tired and worn out from the journey.
  • It is more expensive. People think that by driving the cars themselves, they’re saving money. However, the money you spend on meals and snacks, plus any hotel accommodations for overnight stays can easily add up, making the trip more expensive.
  • It can damage your vehicle. Like it or not, driving your car will expose it to the elements. And no matter how careful a driver you are, the risk of getting into an accident is always there.


Keep in mind, the destination may not be easily accessible by driving. For those types of shipments, you may need to consider a different method of transport for your luxury vehicle. One of the more popular methods, but most expensive is by air freight – it is quick, and it keeps your luxury car safe.


Air Freight

Air Freight

Transporting your luxury vehicle via airplane is a viable option and one that is common to luxury car owners. Several airlines have cargo planes that can carry luxury vehicles, or you can even charter your own plane if you have the money for it.

Air freight has several advantages, including:

  • Less travel time. What can take days for land or sea travel may take only hours via plane.
  • Convenient. You can accompany your luxury vehicle as a passenger on the same plane.
  • Secure against road accidents. Because you’re not traveling on the road, you don’t need to worry about getting into an accident.
  • Secure against wear and tear. No road travel, no worries about dust, dirt, mud, rain, or snow.

However, it also has its disadvantages:

  • Very expensive. The cost to fly your luxury vehicle can set you back from $2,000 to $4,000 for regular vehicles. We’ve seen luxury vehicles getting transported via air freight overseas for a whopping $20,000.
  • Limited schedule. The plane’s regular schedule restricts you unless you charter a plane yourself.
  • No door-to-door. Of course, planes can’t park on your driveway, so you have to unload the plane at the airport or nearest airstrip and then drive it the rest of the way.


Ocean Freight

Ocean Freight

If you’re transporting your luxury vehicle overseas, the best way to go about it is through the sea. It’s less expensive than air freight and still gives you an ample amount of security and control over your luxury vehicle.

There are two methods involved in ocean freight shipping: The roll-on method and the shipping container method

  • Roll-on Method - Roll-on, or more commonly known as Ro-Ro, is when your vehicle is rolled onto the ship manually and fastened securely. Someone either drives the vehicle to its spot or is pushed there by the freight crew.

This is the more affordable method, although it is not recommended for luxury cars. Because the vehicle is rolled over manually onto the ship, it will be handled directly by several people. It is also out in the open, which means it is susceptible to damage from tampering.

  • Shipping Container Method - As the name suggests, the luxury vehicle is placed into a shipping container and fastened securely. The container is then loaded onto the ship. This method is more secure because the container acts as a shield that protects your vehicle from damage. This is more expensive because you also have to rent out the shipping container.

Some shipping containers are shared, which is called LTL (less than truckload shipping). This means that one container will usually have 2 to 4 cars, sometimes stacked on top of each other, separated by a wooden beam structure. This means that you’re not really renting out the shipping container itself, but you are simply renting space inside it.

If you don’t feel comfortable knowing that another car is stacked on top of your car, you can go for FTL or full truckload shipping. This means you own the entire container. Of course, this is more expensive compared to LTL, but if you have the money for it and want extra protection for the vehicle, it’s something worth investing in.

One thing to remember when shipping a luxury vehicle, you should make sure that you are choosing the option that provides the most coverage for the car (not just the lowest price tag). Your luxury car is a major investment, and how you ship it should be too.


Moving Truck or Trailer

If you want to transport your luxury car via land, you can use a moving truck or trailer. Because many companies offer this type of service, it’s an affordable and more accessible option for car owners. 

  • Open trailers - There are trailers designed specifically for the transport of vehicles. These are long, open trailers that are two vehicles high. Open trailers are more affordable because one trailer usually houses several vehicles.

Experienced vehicle shipping companies can load and unload the vehicles carefully to make sure there are no scratches and cracks. You can even watch them load the vehicle yourself if you want to stay on top of the moving process.

Because the trailer is open, your luxury vehicle will be exposed to the elements. You can opt for a car cover, but that won’t do much while the vehicle is on the road. While regular car owners may be okay with it, getting dirt, mud, and pebbles on your luxury car may be something you want to avoid.

  • Enclosed trailers - Instead of a customized open vehicle moving trailer, enclosed trailers simply have a shipping container as a trailer. The container is also usually two vehicles high, and companies usually use wooden beams as support to allow for vehicle stacking.

Enclosed trailers are more secure because your vehicle is protected from the elements by the container. This also makes it more expensive compared to open trailers, but the money is spent well if it means protecting your vehicle from damage.

You are more likely to find enclosed trailers carrying luxury vehicles. The reason for this is the added protection. While open trailers are cheaper, they do not provide the protection needed from the outside elements that may cause damage to the car.

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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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