terminal to terminal car shipping

What is Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping?

Moving a vehicle across the country (or even just a few states over) can be a real headache. You could drive it yourself, but that’s a huge time commitment and puts a ton of wear and tear on your ride. 

Not to mention the cost of gas, food, lodging, and putting all those miles on your car. Hiring a professional terminal to terminal car shipping company is definitely the way to go, but with so many shipping options out there, it can be tough to know where to start.

car shipping

The Power of Agoyu

If you’re trying to make the overall car shipping process easier, Agoyu can help connect you with the most qualified car shipping companies in your local area. 

Whether you’re shipping your car across the state or across the country, Agoyu can provide you with free instant quotes using artificial intelligence. 

All you need to do is take a picture of your vehicle, upload it to Agoyu with some information about where you’re shipping to and from, and the Agoyu technology will provide you with instant quotes from the most qualified movers. 

What Is Terminal to Terminal Auto Shipping?

Terminal to terminal car shipping is exactly what it sounds like – your vehicle gets picked up at one major terminal or storage facility location and then delivered to another terminal at its destination city or region. These terminals are like big parking lots or warehouse areas where auto transport trucks can easily load and unload vehicles onto their carriers.

Rather than having a truck come straight to your door, you drop off your car at the origin terminal yourself. Then on the other end, you pick it up from the terminal closest to its final destination once it arrives. It eliminates the need for logistically complicated door-to-door delivery.

How Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping Works

The process of shipping your car terminal to terminal is pretty straightforward. First, you’ll get a quote from an auto transport broker or carrier for the specific route you need to ship your vehicle. Make sure to provide accurate details like the make, model, year, operability, and any high-value or exotic specifications.

Once you book the shipment and get your pickup and delivery terminal locations assigned, you simply drop your car off at the origin terminal within the scheduled time frame, generally a 24-hour window. The driver will inspect the vehicle at drop-off and note any pre-existing damages on the condition report.

Then your vehicle gets carefully loaded onto the appropriate auto transport truck – either an open carrier for the most economical shipping, an enclosed trailer that fully protects the cargo space, or a flatbed truck if your car is inoperable, ultra-low, or being shipped with a motorcycle. The trucks hauling standard cars and trucks can generally fit between 8-10 vehicles.

Get a Quote From a Shipping Company

For open transport, your car shares the truck with several other vehicles heading in the same general direction. It’s the most cost-effective shipping method but does leave your vehicle exposed to potential road debris and the elements during transit.

Enclosed auto transport uses an enclosed trailer or container that fully protects the vehicles inside from bad weather, pebbles, dust, or anything else thrown up by the roads and winds. It comes at a premium cost but is highly recommended for classics, luxury/exotic cars, or vehicles you want to keep in pristine condition.

Sometimes a flatbed truck is required for transporting inoperable vehicles, extra-low clearance cars, or hauling a car along with a motorcycle that can’t fit on a standard carrier. These are more niche shipping scenarios but still an option with most auto transport companies.

On the delivery end, you’ll get notified when your vehicle has arrived at the destination terminal and is ready for pickup, typically with a 24-48 hour window. You’ll inspect the car again with the driver, sign off on the condition report, and then you’re free to take your car home!

When to Use Terminal to Terminal Car Transport

Terminal to terminal shipping makes the most sense when you’re moving your everyday vehicle somewhere and don’t need super expedited door-to-door service right to your residence or office. It’s way cheaper than premium door-to-door shipping but still gets your car transported safely and efficiently from point A to B in a reasonable timeframe.

The main downside is that you have to make arrangements to drop off and pick up your vehicle yourself at those terminal locations, which can involve some driving if you don’t live very close by. However, most auto transport companies position their terminals within 25-50 miles of major cities to maximize convenience for customers.

It’s also a good option if you’re shipping a car you’ve purchased from an individual seller, dealership, or auction house that’s already sitting at their facility. You can simply arrange the terminal pickup right from there.

Door-to-door auto transport is generally preferable if you’re relocating your household and want your personal car moved as part of that. The convenience of door-to-door justifies the extra cost in those scenarios. For a single car move across state lines or beyond, terminal to terminal shipping provides the perfect balance of pricing and logistics.

Benefits of Car Shipping Terminal to Terminal

The biggest advantage and drawing factor of terminal to terminal transport is cost savings compared to premium door-to-door shipping services. Since the auto haulers don’t have to make special trips and detours to random residential or business addresses along the route, they can keep their operating costs and overhead down.

Those lower fuel, labor, and logistics expenses then get passed along to customers in the form of significantly reduced pricing on terminal shipping rates. Overall, you can expect to pay 30-50% less than you would for the same door-to-door route.

The efficiency of the terminal model also leads to faster transit times in many cases. With fewer stops and detours to make, the auto haulers can stick to more direct routes and shave time off those long-haul trips. So your vehicle may reach its destination terminal days sooner than if it was part of a multi-stop door-to-door delivery route.

Speaking of those terminals, they are large secured facilities that are monitored by staff around the clock to keep all stored vehicles safe until they’re ready for pickup. You don’t have to worry about your car sitting unattended on some random street or parking lot between delivery stops.

Most major auto transport companies have terminals scattered across all the biggest metro areas. So chances are you’ll never have to travel more than 25-50 miles out of your way to drop off or retrieve your ride, compared to meeting a truck directly at your home which could involve questionable neighborhoods or long shuttles.


Cost of Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport

As with any vehicle shipping service, prices for terminal to terminal auto transport can vary significantly based on factors like total distance, vehicle type, operating condition, shipping route, time of year, and current market supply/demand dynamics. Typically, you can expect to pay a lot less than door-to-door rates for the same origin and destination.

To give you a rough idea on costs, shipping a standard operable sedan roughly 1,000 miles door-to-door might cost around $1,200 on average. The terminal to terminal rate for that same vehicle and route length could be $800 or even less in some cases. Longer routes spanning 2,000 plus miles might be $1,800 door-to-door versus $1,200 terminal to terminal.

If you need things like enclosed transport for a classic muscle car or flatbed shipping for low clearance exotics, that will increase the cost accordingly. However, those premium services still tend to be markedly cheaper when taking the terminal to terminal route rather than door-to-door.

Another factor that can impact cost is supply and demand issues around peak auto shipping seasons like the summer when everyone wants to move. If truck space is limited, rates may rise. A reputable transport broker can help you find the most competitive prices whether demand is high or low.

Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping: FAQs

How far in advance should I book terminal to terminal car transport?

Most vehicle shipping companies recommend scheduling your terminal transport at least 2-4 weeks in advance to ensure availability and ideal pricing. 

This is especially true if you’re dealing with busy routes, peak transport periods, or you’re shipping your car across the country. That lead time allows brokers to find the most efficient carriers at the best rates.

Are there weight limits for terminal to terminal auto shipping?

Yes, individual auto carriers typically have maximum weight limits in the 7,000-8,500 lb range to stay under total truck permit limits. Anything much heavier will likely require a flatbed truck at added cost to legally and safely transport your vehicle.

What if I miss the scheduled pickup window at the origin terminal?

In most cases, if you miss the pickup window you were assigned, the carrier won’t be able to load your vehicle and you’ll have to reschedule the shipment which incurs a fee. To avoid this, aim to arrive at the origin terminal at least 1-2 hours before the start of your scheduled pickup window to be safe.

Do I need to have my vehicle registered and insured to ship it?

Absolutely. Current registration and valid proof of insurance are mandatory requirements with any reputable auto transport company before they’ll accept your vehicle for shipment. 

Don’t let your registration lapse if you’re in the middle of relocating and shipping your car – that’s a surefire way to get turned away at the terminal.

car shipping

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re relocating across multiple states, shipping a recent purchase from a dealership or auction house, or just moving your daily driver somewhere for temporary work or school, terminal to terminal shipping gets the job done without the premium price tag of expedited door-to-door service.

Agoyu can help you find the best terminal to terminal car shipping companies for your move. 

Contact us at Agoyu today or download the Agoyu moving app to book the best car shipping company.

Bill Mulholland

Bill Mulholland is the owner of ARC Relocation, a company that relocates thousands of employees annually, to every state in the United States, and more than 90 foreign countries, for organizations like DHL, Overstock.com, GNC, and the U.S. Government. Bill also owns a real estate brokerage and title company in Virginia.