Life has its surprises and one of them can be an impromptu move. Fortunately, many auto transport companies offer expedited car shipping with guaranteed dates and door-to-door service. But even with these available options, the process takes time. Customers can take certain steps to streamline the auto shipping process and increase their chances of receiving their vehicle as soon as possible. Let’s walk through some of them.
What Is The Fastest Shipping Method?
The answer is air freight. Shipping a car by plane is truly the fastest, safest method. This is especially appreciable when transporting overseas because it takes only a few days instead of weeks as it would with ground or sea shipping. If you have an especially valuable or fragile car – say, a vintage or luxury automobile – this might be the best option for you. Another benefit of air freight is that, unlike a boat, planes are not limited to accessible areas and can deliver your automobile pretty much anywhere as long there’s a nearby airstrip.
Now, one thing to bear in mind with air freight is its price, which is, perhaps, the method’s biggest disadvantage. The considerable convenience, safety, and speed translate to increased costs. Shipping your vehicle via plane is expensive. For example, shipping an SUV internationally by air can round up to $40,000. Unless you are looking to transport your high-end, antique, or exotic car, you might want to look into other options to justify the fees. And if you do decide to ship by plane, make sure you understand the total costs prior to signing up.
Got It. What Are My Other Options?
Let’s take a look at other available methods as well as their pros and cons in regards to speed:
- Open Trailers. The biggest benefits of shipping on an open trailer are availability and affordability. Since trucks load and ship several cars at once, this method is much cheaper than any other. Plus, even if your move is last minute, you still might be able to find a spot on a trailer. The cons of this method are exposure to outside elements on the road and speed. Since the cars are transported on an open truck, meaning it has no walls and no roof, vehicles are exposed to weather, road debris, rocks, and other elements during the journey. This may prove unsuitable if you own an expensive car, are looking to ship long-distance, or need to ship during cold, inclement months. This option may also be undesirable if you are pressed for time. Open air carriers haul several vehicles at once so it takes longer, in comparison to enclosed shipment, to retrieve your automobile.
- Enclosed Trailers. Shipping your automobile on an enclosed trailer will be more expensive – on average, 50% more than open air – but it will also provide protection from external damage and break-ins. It is also a much faster method; since a container can only fit six cars, it takes less time to process them upon arrival at a destination terminal. As a result, you can collect your car a week or two earlier than with an open air transport.
- Driving Your Car. You might have spent some time wondering if it’s better to drive or ship your car. Driving will give you total control over your journey and you can always make it an adventure. Bear in mind, however, that out-of-state or cross-country trips are not that easy; they take a long time and can accumulate high expenses (count gas, fuel, lodging, meals, etc.) so it’d be more sensible to drive your car yourself only for short distances. You can also hire a professional driver. It is a fast option since the driver can pick up and drop off your car at your doorsteps. The drawbacks are availability (so you need to book in advance) and costs, which are might higher than shipping with a traditional shipping carrier.
Shipping By Sea
If you are shipping your vehicle overseas and ground shipping is not possible, you can choose to transport your car by sea. Here you’ll need to choose between containerized and roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) methods. Containerized transport — similar to enclosed transport in ground shipping — offers accessibility, added protection, and allows you to ship additional items such as spare tires and accessories, along with your automobile. Ro/ro is a much more cost-effective alternative supposing there is a receiving port in your proximity.
Time-wise, there is little difference between containerized and ro/ro shipping. The speed of delivery will mostly depend on where you are receiving your car (port, terminal, door) and if you request an expedited shipment.
- Terminal-to-Terminal: if you pick this option you will drop off and pick up your automobile at the nearest terminals. It’s best if you live near a metropolitan area close to a major highway since it will take less time and save you a buck.
- Door-to-Door: scheduling an auto hauler to collect and deliver your car to your doorsteps is convenient but may not always be the fastest method, depending on your addresses. For accuracy, confirm your exact locations with the shipping agent. You can schedule door-to-door auto transport with expediting shipping and guaranteed delivery dates for an extra cost.
- Expedited Shipping: many professional companies offer this service to customers on a tight deadline. Talk to your agent and see if you can request expedited shipping. For an additional charge, you can have your vehicle picked up and delivered to you on guaranteed dates.
Tips To Make Sure Your Vehicle Arrives On Time
If you’re pressed for time and need your car shipped to you as soon as possible, check out the following tips that can help you transport your vehicle faster.
Pick The Right Company. Reputation and professionalism should always matter when it comes to picking an auto transport company, but when you’re tight on schedule, experience, knowledge, and a stellar track record can be the guarantees of smooth and efficient service.
Book In Advance. Our advice is to contact a shipping agent and book your transport as soon as you can. Carriers become filled up quickly and you want to make sure you book a spot that departs within your preferred dates.
Be Clear. Clear communication is very important when you are booking car transport. Your shipping agent needs to know the type of car you own, the exact destination, preferred shipping dates, and other relevant details. Professional companies will work to accommodate you so make sure you make it very clear what you need.
Furthermore, accurately describe your car model and condition when placing an order. Does it have any idiosyncrasies? Is it modified, does it have a roof rack, does it require special equipment? Communicate them all to your shipping company so they can prepare on their end and save some time and trouble.
Prepare Your Documents and Automobile
Having all your paperwork ready and in order can help your shipping provider streamline the process. This is especially important when you’re transporting your car abroad and have everything ready to fulfill special restrictions and pay the necessary import taxes. Any missing or inaccurate documents can lead to major delays so consult your shipping representative to ensure you have all that is needed.
You should always prepare your car for shipment. For starter, take the following steps and speak to your agent. Having your vehicle cleaned and completely ready will save plenty of time and allow the carrier to stay on schedule.
Delivering your vehicle right to your door may not always be possible within a specific time frame. The unpredictable nature of the business can mean that guaranteed delivery dates are not always possible. You can propose to deliver your car at a major city nearby, preferably that is en route, to save some time.
If you are pressed for time, this point should not come as a surprise. Surely, you can do everything above to facilitate efficiency but auto hauling business is a business; it can be pretty inconvenient and expensive for a company to focus on one car only. To have your car delivered fast, prepare to pay more.
So many factors will determine your pick up and delivery dates. Traffic, weather, and accidents may be out of your control but other factors can depend on you and your carrier. Distance and location will influence the shipping duration; so will your preparation, communication, and choice of company. It is important to select a reputable, licensed, and professional transporter as it can be your greatest guarantee of quality and speed.
Written By:Joe Webster
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.