The Best Way to Ship Cars

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What is The Best Way to Ship Cars?

In order to transport a vehicle a long distance, whether you're relocating, bought a car over the internet, or so forth, you need to first be aware of the shipping options available. The following are the best options available, though there isn't necessarily a "best" one, instead, you'll need to find one that meets your own particular needs.

Before choosing a company, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website for some useful tips. In addition, the Better Business Bureau will help you to choose a reliable company (

Open-Air Truck

This is the most common way to transport a vehicle by land. Using an open-air trailer, such as the ones that are used to transport new cars, many car shipping services in the United States offer this. The time it takes to transport it in the United States or even to or from Canada can vary, but the average time is around 7 to 21 days.

Because it's placed in an open-air trailer, this option may be the most economical, but you should probably elect for the enclosed truck option, which will be discussed below if your vehicle is particularly valuable. You will have the option of either door-to-door shipping or terminal-to-terminal shipping in most instances.

Enclosed Truck

This is the more secure way to ship your car compared to an open-air truck. Being placed in an enclosed trailer, you will have to pay much more, with the average being around 60% more. However, if you're planning on shipping your car during the winter or if your car is a high-end model, you may want to consider this. Regardless, despite the increase in security and protection, you should make sure that you have insurance, something you should have with every shipping method.

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Professional Driver Service

The one drawback to this option is that it'll add miles to your vehicle. However, there are many professional shipping services in which your car will be physically driven by a licensed and certified driver. This is a viable option if you don't have to ship your car a great distance, as well as is a good option for a corporate car or one that a student may need.

In addition, many companies will allow you to include your personal items and even pets in the vehicle when it is being driven. The reliable car shipping companies will only employ drivers in which a background check has been done on them and who have a good driving record.

Non-Professional Driver

This is the cheapest option on this list, but also the riskiest. That's because it doesn't involve hiring a professional service, but instead, it involves you hiring someone on your own, such as a friend or someone recommended to you. Many students perform this service during breaks from school as a way to earn extra money. If you do choose this option, you really should know the person very well or at least make sure that you check the criminal record of the person. At the very least, make sure that you have insurance and that you have everything documented.

Shipping Container

This option is only viable if you're shipping your vehicle overseas. However, you may need to combine it with one of the above options in order to bring your car to the shipping port, especially if you live far away from it or in an obscure location. Shipping containers are either 20 feet or 40 feet in length, enough to hold either 2 cars or 4 cars.

Besides the extra security that a shipping container has, it also allows you to bring personal items with you as well, which can be placed inside the same container. If you're planning on relocating to another country, this is especially useful, as it can save you on overall shipping costs and can allow you to ship everything at once, or at least most of it.

Roll-On, Roll-Off

The more popular of the two ocean freight shipping methods, it's also the cheaper option. Your car will be moved up a special ramp onto the ship and then moved off of it at its final destination.

Though it's the cheaper option, it does have its drawbacks in the sense that you will not be able to bring personal items with you at the same time. It's also slightly less secure, but your car will still be very well protected because of the heavy duty straps that are used to make sure that your car doesn't move. You also may have to wait longer than with the shipping container option since you will have to wait for a ship to fill up before it departs.

Finding out the best way to ship a car involves research and figuring out your own needs, including the timeframe and budget that you have. Thankfully, A-1 Auto Transport can help to determine the best method for you. Contact us today and let us personalize your car shipping needs!

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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