What is Intermodal Auto Transport?

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What is Intermodal Auto Transport?
What is Intermodal Auto Transport?

Intermodal auto transport is not commonly used by auto transport brokers and carriers, but nonetheless, there are instances in which it's the only viable choice available. Intermodal auto transport is the transportation of a vehicle using more than one carrier. In other words, an auto transport hauler will only transport your vehicle a certain distance before it's unloaded and then reloaded onto another carrier for the rest or part of the journey.

Considering how complicated it seems, you may be wondering why intermodal auto transport even exists. Here's an overview:

The Two Most Common Instances In Which It is Used.

The two most common instances in which intermodal auto transport is used are:

  • If you're transporting your vehicle overseas;
  • If the auto transport hauler experiences mechanical issues.

When you ship your vehicle overseas, it will have to be transported to a port. Since it's rare when you, the owner, will drive the car to the port, it will most likely be driven there on an auto transport hauler. After it's then taken off and loaded again onto the carrier ship, when it reaches its destination overseas, it may have to be placed on another auto transport hauler, depending on the delivery arrangements.

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In the second instance, domestically, if the auto transport carrier is experiencing mechanical issues with their hauler, your vehicle may have to be loaded onto another hauler to complete the journey. Some of the more common mechanical issues that can occur are:

  • Engine issues;
  • Flat tires or low-pressure tires;
  • Lift hydraulic malfunctions;
  • Miscellaneous broken equipment.

Auto Transport Companies Try to Avoid It.

Auto transport companies avoid using intermodal auto transport unless they have no other choice. It simply doesn't make business sense for them to use more than one carrier, as this results in the profits being split. Plus, this doesn't even take into account the difficulties in having to load and then unload vehicles from a trailer, which can be a time-consuming process.

Auto transport carriers try to make the process as simple as possible, and going from a clear point A to point B with minimal stops is the most efficient way to transport auto transport. One of the only instances in which a carrier will plan on intermodal auto transport is if they are only a regional carrier that doesn't drive long distances.

It's Not the Best Option for Customers.

Intermodal auto transport rarely saves a customer money. In fact, it's more of an inconvenience than anything. The process of transporting a vehicle from one carrier to another can delay the shipping process, which is obviously not an ideal situation. Plus, it also complicates matters related to insurance claims and possibly having to deal with more paperwork in paying two different carriers separately.

At A-1 Auto Transport, we always try to avoid arranging for intermodal auto transport. Make sure to contact us today for your free auto transport quote, as well as to ask us any questions!

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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