Today, door-to-door auto transport is the standard way of shipping a car. Many private and business customers prefer this option due to its convenience.
An alternative to door-to-door car shipping is to use transport terminals for vehicle delivery. In this guide, we will define auto transport terminals and go over the pros and cons of terminal-to-terminal delivery, so you can make an educated choice about the relocation of your vehicle.
What is an auto transport terminal?
A terminal is a regional storage facility, usually a secured lot, that towing companies use. It is the place where vehicles are stored until a carrier picks them up. Most terminals are located outside large metropolitan areas, often near your local airport or off major highways running through big cities. It’s not unusual for more than one auto transport company to use the same terminal.
The terminal is a transport hub where carriers often combine shipments traveling to the same region. Not having to drive around picking up and dropping off individual loads, carriers can efficiently load and unload vehicles at one place – the terminal. That, in turn, means a lower price for the end customer.
Pros of terminal-to-terminal car transport
When moving, planning is essential. To stay on track with your move, you will need to schedule every task, sometimes down to the last minute.
If you are relocating with a vehicle, you will need to schedule the shipping in advance to ensure timely delivery. The standard open carrier car shipping service requires a window of 3 to 5 business days for pick-up of your vehicle.
In case you need your car on an exact date, and sometimes even time, prepare to pay a premium for expedited vehicle delivery.
Your other option, when tackling your moving schedule, would be terminal-to-terminal shipping. It enables you to drop off your vehicle at a certain location, a storage facility, at your convenience. With this shipping method, you are not bound by the availability and time constraints of door-to-door auto transport.
Many terminals, however, charge storage fees that sometimes may add up to an amount equal to the cost of expedited vehicle shipping. The first day or two might be free, but then the storage fees begin to pile up.
Hence, before you settle on an option, we encourage you to get pricing for all three alternatives.
Cons of terminal-to-terminal car shipping.
Although terminal-to-terminal auto transport is often a more affordable option, it’s not for everyone. And for some car owners, the disadvantages will outweigh the advantages of shipping a car to a terminal.
- Getting to and from the terminals
The first disadvantage is that the terminals are usually located outside of the city limits, far from most residential areas or suburbs. It means that you will have to arrange transport and calculate your time accordingly. It’s a task that implies additional time and money.
If you have a friend or a relative willing to give you a ride – you are all set. Otherwise, you may find that the cost of getting to and from the terminals cancels out any saving you’ve earned by not booking door-to-door service.
- Terminals storage fees
The next possible disadvantage is paying storage fees. In case you are not able to pick-up your vehicle within a certain time frame, you may incur storage charges.
- Vehicle delivery time
Terminal-to-terminal transport may take longer than door-to-door auto transport service. To avoid unpleasant surprises, check with your booking agent in advance.
- Security of terminals
Another disadvantage of terminals is that they are not always fully secured. Your vehicle will be parked in an open air lot, exposed to the elements as well as possible vandalism and accidental damage. Most terminals are equipped with cameras, but often not with 24/7 security guard.
When is terminal-to-terminal delivery a good choice?
Sometimes, if you’re moving to a remote location such as a village nestled in the mountains, terminal-to-terminal shipping might be your only option. Door-to-door service, in this case, would be an extremely pricey and difficult to arrange endeavor.
Also, if you can’t be around for your vehicle’s pick up and at the same time don’t mind driving a few extra miles, then terminal-to-terminal shipping is for you.
When you opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping, you will be responsible for delivering your vehicle to a designated storage facility. From there, a carrier will pick it up and drop it off at a terminal closest to your destination location.
When dropping off your vehicle at a terminal make sure to leave your car keys – either with an attendant or in a drop box, together with your order number.
Carefully follow all the instructions provided by your car shipping company. It is important to understand how to prepare your automobile for transport and have all the necessary documents.
You can learn all about how auto transport works on our website. And if you prefer to speak with a human, our seasoned logistics agents are just a phone call away. They will walk you through the entire vehicle shipping process and help you select services that work best for you and your car.