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Is It Cheaper to Ship a Car by Train or Truck?

What's in this article?
  1. How Is It Like To Ship Your Car By Train?
  2. Shipping Options Open Vs Enclosed Is Container Car Shipping By Train
  3. Open Container Shipping
  4. Enclosed Container Shipping
  5. The Average Cost Of Transporting Your Car By Train
  6. Understanding The Cost Of Shipping A Car By Train
  7. The Pros And Cons Of Shipping A Car By Train
  8. How To Ship Your Car By Train [The Step-By-Step Method]
  9. Step 1 Select A Train Line That Offers Car Shipping Services
  10. Step 2 Provide Your Information 
  11. Step 3 Choose Your Shipping Mode
  12. Step 4 Book Your Shipping
  13. Step 5 Prepare Your Car 
  14. Step 6 Ship Your Car 
  15. Step 7 Pick Up Your Car
  16. Preparing Your Car For Train Shipping
  17. Remove The Accessories
  18. Check Tires And Battery Of Your Car
  19. Photograph The Current Condition Of Your Car
  20. How Long Does It Take To Ship The Car By Train?
  21. How To Find Cheap Car Shipping Services When Transporting Your Car By Train?
  22. Our Recommendation For Car Shipping By Truck Or By Train? 
Is It Cheaper to Ship a Car by Train or Truck?

Transporting a car can be a daunting undertaking. It takes proper planning, preparation, and good bucks to transport your vehicle from one location to another. 

After all, no one would like to get their car damaged during transit. Plus, the people who are always on the move for no matter what purposes are looking forward to cheaper auto shipping options to move their cars successfully. 

Fortunately, there are several car shipping options available. Like, you can drive it by yourself, use a truck to transport your car, or you can also use a train service to move your vehicle.

Moving your car by driving yourself requires so much effort and time. But if you don’t want to spend your time and energy driving your car on the longer route. Just head towards car shipping services. They will provide you with the options to ship your car through open or enclosed containers and deliver your vehicle in a promised time frame.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, shipping your car by train is the perfect plan than sending it through a truck. 

Let’s understand the ins and outs of car shipping by train!

How is it Like to Ship Your Car By Train?

Today, more and more train lines are offering car shipping services. Admittedly, it’s not a standard auto transport option, but the pretty low prices and the ease of transport make this shipping mode much popular with those willing to move their car with them.

Not only does the train transport cost you a reasonable shipping price, but it also allows you to fill your car with other belongings and boxes that you need to move along.


Shipping Options: Open Vs. Enclosed is Container Car Shipping by Train

Like any other shipping service, you get two shipping options when transporting your car by train. Ship it through an open container OR ship it through an enclosed one.

Open Container Shipping

The open container shipping mode is an inexpensive option while moving your car by train. But, as the name implies, your vehicle will be exposed to elements and might get damaged by the extreme weather conditions during the transit.

If the dirt, debris, and weather conditions are not your concerns, open container shipping is cheaper and faster to move your car.

Plus, a quick car wash can also help get your car back into the condition it was before.

Enclosed Container Shipping

Want to receive your car in a ship-shape condition? Enclosed container shipping is the way to go. Though enclosed container shipping is a rather costly option, It gives you the peace of mind that your car will look exactly the way it looked before shipping. If the protection of your car is a significant concern, you must choose the enclosed container shipping method.

The Average Cost of Transporting Your Car by Train

The average cost of standard shipping a car by train from coast to coast is $600 to $1,000. However, if you are shipping a sedan, pick-up truck, SUV, or small van, expect the cost to be somewhere between $800 and $1,070.

Understanding the Cost of Shipping a Car by Train

Below are the factors that can contribute to the final price of your transit when you choose to move your car by train.

  • The rail line you select for your move.
  • The distance between the pick-up and delivery destinations. Most cross-country shipments cost less than short-distance shipments.
  • The shipping mode of your move (open or enclosed). The pricing of enclosed container shipments is higher than the open-container shipments.
  • The route of your move - whether you are moving to or from a famous (or less popular) route
  • The high-demand season of the year. Usually, the peak time of the year contributes to increasing the price of your shipment.
  • When fuel prices rise, they also increase car shipment prices.
  • Your vehicle’s condition also plays a significant role in its final shipment price. The inoperable vehicles take more effort to load and unload. That’s why you’ll have to pay a higher price.
  • Larger vehicles like SUVs cost more than shipping smaller cars or standard sedans.
  • Be ready to pay extra charges for additional services like Service fees, insurance costs, carrier price, etc.

Another factor that can add to the cost of your auto transport is if you choose a door-to-door shipping service. With door-to-door shipping, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of going to the terminal and picking your car. Instead, this type of service transports your vehicle from the pick-up terminal to the delivery terminal. And then to your doorstep!

But, of course, the added service is available at an additional price.

There is also a possibility that you want to benefit from the door-to-door shipping service, but the train shipping you have chosen doesn’t offer this additional service. In that case, you also have the option to arrange a third-party auto shipper who’ll receive your shipment from the terminal and will deliver you at your door.

The Pros and Cons of Shipping a Car by Train

Know about some of the perks and downsides of shipping your car by train below:


  • The cost of shipping your car by train is much cheaper than shipping it through a truck.
  • Train services cover almost all routes. 
  • You have two options to move your car, either in an open or an enclosed container.
  • Shipping a car by train is an eco-friendly option because it has a lower carbon footprint.
  • Most train car shipping services allow you to pack your car like a suitcase. That means you can stuff your other items into the car without paying any extra shipping charges.


  • Shipping your car by train takes longer. 
  • You can end up paying more money when availing of additional services, such as using a third-party shipper to deliver your car to your home. 
  • The routes of trains are defined. Hence, your pick-up and drop-off points become limited.

How to Ship Your Car By Train [The Step-by-Step Method]

Below we are outlining a step-by-step method to ship the car that you can use as a checklist while moving your vehicle to make the moving process smoother.

Step 1: Select a Train Line That Offers Car Shipping Services

First, you need to choose a particular train line that you want to use for your shipping service. Then, carry out profound research to know what railway line better suits the route you need to take to your destination.

Step 2: Provide Your Information 

Most shipping companies need to know basic information to carry out your transition. Like, they might ask you:

  • The make, model, age, and operability of your car
  • Pick-up and delivery destination 
  • Your expected timeframe to receive your shipment 
  • Contact details (Name, Email, and Phone Number)

Your shipment company may offer you the quote based on this provided information.

Note: The initial quote of your shipping process is merely an estimate and won’t include the Service charges, insurance fees, and carrier charges. You’ll have to pay far more than the initial quote you received from the shipping company.

Step 3: Choose Your Shipping Mode

Almost all shipping-service provider train lines offer two modes of shipping. Open and Enclosed container! The additional services can include door-to-door shipping, terminal-to-terminal, or expedited shipping services.

In all these options, terminal-to-terminal car shipping is an inexpensive option.

Step 4: Book Your Shipping

Once you’ve decided all the parameters for your shipment, you are good to book your shipment. You’ll either have to pay the shipping charges in advance or after you receive your shipment.

Step 5: Prepare Your Car 

Prepare your car for transit. (More about that later!)

Step 6: Ship Your Car 

On the shipping day, your shipping company and you will together inspect the car, and once you two agree on the condition of your car, your car is all set to travel to its next destination.

Step 7: Pick up Your Car

Receive your car on the delivery day. Inspect its overall condition and pay the bills (if you have to pay some of the charges).

Simple as that!

Preparing Your Car for Train Shipping

When you are about to ship your car by train, your shipping service is more likely to assist you in preparing your vehicle for the move. But, having the proper knowledge in advance and being self-prepared for the action is something that wouldn’t hurt. 

So, here are some of the steps you can take to make your car ready for shipping.

Remove the Accessories:

Yes, you can move anything that fits in your car while shipping, but you should remove everything that has some emotional attachment, and you can’t risk losing it from your car. This can be an essential set of documents, medical supplies, or anything else.

Never take chances on your valuables while shipping your car by train.

Check Tires and Battery of Your Car:

You probably will have to drive the car to your home once it reaches the delivery terminal. Right?

If you don’t want a trip to a car repair shop right after it’s delivered, check the condition of the tires and battery in advance.

Photograph the Current Condition of Your Car

The chances of your car getting slightly damaged are higher when you ship it in an open container. 

Of course, you’ll take information about the liability claims you can make upon delivery before shipping your car. But, documenting your car’s condition will be a great option to file such claims (if your car arrives with any claimable damages).

How Long Does it Take to Ship the Car by Train?

The average shipping time of different car transport trains in the US is 6 to 12 days.

There can’t be any guaranteed time frame when your car is up for shipping via any train line. Though, these companies will let you know an expected period. But, multiple factors can cause delays in the delivery.

Here’s the rundown of the few factors that affect the delivery time frame of your car transportation.

Distance: The distance between the pick-up and delivery location matters a lot in deciding the delivery timeline of your shipment. Delivering a car from a few hundred miles away is a matter of a few days. Say, it might take a day or two. On the other hand, a country-wide trip to deliver your car will take longer than that (up to 10 days, for instance!).

Road Conditions: Roads can either be helpful or harmful for your delivery timeline. If your delivery driver travels through a smoother road, then you’ll receive your shipment on time. Contrarily, if the delivery driver has to experience some hurdles on the way, like, any major construction, or a breakage in the railway track, they will have to slow down their speed.

Which, in return, will affect your delivery time frame.

Weather Conditions: The weather can also be a reason for delaying your delivery. For example, there’s snow and ice on the roads in winters, and it can block the way.

Time of the Year: Winters are often NOT suitable for shipping. So, most of the shipping is carried out in the Summers. Hence, summers become a busy period for car hauling service providers. As a result, it might become harder and more expensive to book a car shipping service in Summer. This factor, too, can keep you waiting to receive your car.

Vehicle Type: Do you have a standard Sedan to ship? The chances of your car getting shipped in a short time frame are higher. However, if you need to ship an SUV, RV, or ATV, you may find it harder to secure a space as large to fit your vehicle type. 

How to Find Cheap Car Shipping Services When Transporting Your Car By Train?

Finding a cheaper car shipping train service is difficult, especially when so many shipping service providers overcrowd the market. Also, you never know if by going cheaper you’ll have to compromise on the quality of services or not.

Below we’ll discuss are some additional ways that you can save money without compromising on the quality:

Avail Discounts: When you are researching to opt for the best shipping company to carry out your transition, keep an eye on their discount offers. Or, maybe if you are collecting the quotes by directly calling a shipping service provider, don’t hesitate to ask about their discount offers.

Choose Open-Container Transport and Opt for Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping Option as An Additional Service: Both of these shipping options are the cheapest. The open-container shipping method cuts the cost of additional protection services. Moreover, the terminal shipping services also save some money. Because your car will be shipped to a terminal rather than your home, not all car shipping service providers offer a terminal-to-terminal delivery option.

Be Flexible with Your Delivery Timeline: When you have more room in your delivery time frame, you have the option to consider more and more shipping service providers to carry out your shipment. And, you will not have to compromise on a specific price to get your car delivered as soon as possible.

Plan Your Move in Off-Peak Time of the Year: We know it doesn’t always work this way. But, if possible, plan your move in the low-demand time of the year (Other than January and busy Summer months, typically).

Choose a Shipping Service that Provides Insurance at No Additional Cost: Your car’s safety is the priority, of course. But, shipping service provider companies cover the insurance at no additional charges. So, planning your car’s shipment with such companies will lighten the burden off your pocket.

Our Recommendation for Car Shipping: By Truck or By Train? 

As per our research about different car shipping methods and their price points, we’d recommend you consider train shipment services to move your car. 

Why? Because it’s by far the cheapest option to transport your car. No matter if you need to move your car country-wide or over a few miles. It will save you time, money, and you’ll get your car delivered in the best possible condition. 

Before you decide on a train shipping service, we’d recommend you gather quotes from at least three different shipping train services. You will better understand the potential charges you will pay and the whole car shipping process through the train. 

Once you are happy with the terms and conditions of a particular train shipping service, you can get started with the different shipping processes. 

All the best with your move!

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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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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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