a tow truck, part of the car towing vs. shipping debate, driving on a highway


Towing or shipping your vehicle could make sense when moving to another city, but the option you’ll choose depends on some variables.

Relocating to another part of the country comes with inherent stress. 

First, you’ll have to find a new home and begin your preparations. Then, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll transport your belongings and develop a timeline. 

Finally, you can start thinking about the actual move, which could include hiring a moving company or renting a truck and driving yourself. 

Your vehicle is another factor to consider because, if you’re renting a truck or moving a long distance, driving the car might not be possible. 

Fortunately, you’ll have some auto transport options available to you, including hiring a tow truck, towing the vehicle yourself, or using a car shipping carrier. 

Here’s a look at some car towing vs. shipping information that you’ll want to keep in mind as you decide.

Key takeaways

  • You’ll have multiple options when moving your car to another city
  • Towing it could work in some situations
  • Car shipping is the preferred option for longer distances
  • Mercury Auto Transport can put you in touch with licensed vehicle transport carriers


Hiring a tow truck

Contacting a towing company makes some sense in a few situations, particularly if you’re only transporting your vehicle a short distance. 

First, you can trust that the professional tow truck driver has the expertise to deliver your car in good shape. These drivers tow dozens of vehicles each week, so they know what they’re doing. 

Car towing companies are available around the clock, as well since there’s always someone on shift. This availability can be incredibly convenient if you make the last-minute decision to tow your vehicle rather than drive it. 

Hiring a tow truck is also affordable, at least over a short distance. For example, if you’re moving somewhere with a 50-mile radius, you can save some money through this method. 

Nevertheless, you should know that using a towing company quickly becomes more expensive than using an auto transport professional when traveling longer distances. That’s because you’ll usually pay a per-mile rate. If you’re moving across the country, many tow truck drivers won’t even attempt the job because it’s too much time away from home. 

In short, tow trucks are great options within town but aren’t recommended when you’re moving a significant distance.

Towing the car yourself

Another option you might consider is towing your vehicle behind you as you drive. You can achieve this by buying or renting a trailer or renting a moving truck with a tow dolly

This method is the least expensive you’ll come across because you won’t have to pay a shipping company to handle the work for you. If you already have a truck that’s capable of pulling a trailer, the expense of renting a trailer is minimal compared to the other forms of vehicle transport. 

However, it’s worth noting the drawbacks of this method, starting with the time it’ll take. If you’re responsible for the entire shipping process, you’ll have to pull the trailer wherever you’re moving, a process that could take multiple days. This option could end up costing you more when you factor in the time you’ll have to take off work.

Next, you should remember the wear this journey will put on your vehicle. Pulling a heavy trailer is hard on your engine. While it shouldn’t cause immediate problems for your truck, it’s worth factoring in this additional wear when making your decision. 

Finally, there’s an increased chance of something happening on the road when you’re towing a trailer. Driving with a trailer is more challenging than driving a solo vehicle, and there’s also the risk of user error when connecting the trailer. 

If you have the equipment and experience, towing your car could be a solid option. Otherwise, the additional risks you’ll take on and the time the journey will take might not be worth the cost savings.

Using an auto transport service

Auto transport carriers specialize in shipping vehicles from point A to point B. For that reason, you can trust that your car will be safe and secure throughout its journey. 

Car shipping companies are also a good option because of the time they’ll save you. All you have to do is book a carrier and ensure the vehicle gets on the truck. The driver will take care of everything else, and you can fly to your new home at a time that suits your needs. 

Shipping your car could even end up being less expensive than hiring a tow truck, depending on the distance you’re traveling. It makes sense because your auto transport carrier is moving multiple cars at once, so you’ll share the expenses with other people. 

There are a couple of negatives when shipping a car, though, starting with time delays. Since there may be more than one car on the carrier’s truck, it takes longer than hiring a tow truck to make a direct delivery to your new home. 

You’ll find fewer car shipping carriers on the market, as well, which makes it more challenging to secure the services of a reputable one. You’ll often have to book well in advance, cutting into your flexibility. There are some services you can use to put you in touch with auto transport vendors, though, which will make your life a lot easier.

Where to find reputable vendors

Once you decide between car towing vs. shipping, you’ll have more decisions to make. A vehicle shipping broker can provide you with quotes from multiple car transport vendors, making it easier to decide on one that meets your needs. These service providers can also streamline the planning process, so all you have to do is select a carrier and wait for the big day to arrive. 

Mercury Auto Transport is a leading car shipping broker that deals exclusively with vendors holding FMCSA licensing and insurance. The result is a streamlined process when selecting a carrier to move your vehicle. Contact Mercury Auto Transport today to learn more or to receive your free quote.



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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.