Shipping a vehicle requires you to choose from a variety of options. We talked about how to choose an auto transport company and we have a guide to help you choose between open and enclosed auto transport. Often customers think about shipping to a terminal and they need to choose between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal car shipping.
The door-to-door shipping means a carrier will pick up your vehicle from your door and drop it off at a designated address. Door to door means as close to your door as legally possible. Many residential areas have restrictions for big rigs entering, or tight streets that restrict maneuvering. This means that customers usually arrange to meet the carrier at a nearby parking lot. This is the standard way of shipping a car, which the most convenient and preferred among private customers and businesses option.
An alternative to door-to-door transport is when customers use transport terminals. In our guide, we will review details about transport terminals to help you understand and decide how to ship your vehicle. We will learn about what is a terminal and the advantages and disadvantages of vehicle shipping terminals.
What is an auto transport terminal?
A terminal is a regional storage facility, usually secured lot that towing companies use. It is the place where vehicles are stored until a carrier picks them up. Terminals are usually located outside large metropolitan areas, often near your local airport or off major highways running through big cities.
Many terminals are used by more than one auto transport company. The terminal is their transport hub where carriers are often able to combine shipments traveling to the same region. This makes it easier and faster for the carrier to load and unload, which means a lower price for the end customer. However, you still have to travel to the terminal and often pay storage fees.
Perks of terminal-to-terminal car transport
If you are moving, preparing and scheduling is usually a top priority. You will need to have everything in a timetable scheduled down to the last minute. When you have to move your vehicles as well, shipping them on an exact date, and even time means paying a premium for expedited vehicle delivery. The other option is the standard open carrier car shipping service that requires you to have a window of 3 to 5 business days for pick-up of your vehicle.
Terminal to terminal shipping is the third option that enables you to drop off your vehicle at a certain location at a convenient for you date and time. Many terminals, however, charge storage fees that sometimes may account as much as paying for expedited vehicle shipping. The first day or two might be free, but then the storage fees begin. Thus, the best approach is to get pricing for all shipping options.
Disadvantages of terminal-to-terminal car shipping.
Although often terminal-to-terminal could be a more affordable option, it’s not for everyone. For some people, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of shipping a car to a terminal.
The first disadvantage for many people is the fact that the terminal is usually out of the city, far from most residential areas or suburbs. This means you need to arrange transport and calculate your time.
Transport to and from the terminal
This leads us to the second inconvenience – arranging your transport back from the terminal when you drop off the vehicle. This usually costs money and time to you and often for the person who will drive you back from the terminal. 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 designated terminal cancels out any saving you’ve earned by not booking door-to-door service. Also, in case you are not able to pick-up your vehicle within a certain time frame, you may incur storage charges.
Terminals storage fees
The next step to consider a 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 takes 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 to choose shipping a car to a terminal?
Sometimes, if you’re moving to a hard to get location such as a village “trapped” in the mountains, terminal-to-terminal shipping might be your only option. Remote locations often mean higher prices for a door to door service or the option of leaving your car at a terminal.
If you need to drop off or pick up your vehicle at an exact date convenient for you, and at the same time don’t mind driving a few extra miles, then terminal-to-terminal shipping is for you.
If you decide to opt for terminal-to-terminal shipping, you will be responsible for delivering your vehicle to a designated storage facility where it will be picked up by a carrier. A trucker then will deliver it to a terminal closest to your destination location where you will be able to pick it up.
When dropping off your vehicle at a terminal make sure to leave your car keys at a designated place – either with an attendant or in a drop box 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 always call us with questions.