a transport truck on the highway in the midst of terminal-to-terminal auto shipping

Comparing Door-to-Door and Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping Options in 2021

Comparing Door-to-Door and Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping Options in 2021

David Stone
Updated October 18, 2021 by David Stone

Table of Contents

    a transport truck on the highway in the midst of terminal-to-terminal auto shipping


    Each auto transport delivery type has pros and cons to consider before selecting a carrier

    When comparing vehicle shipping options, you’ll see various price points, truck types, and timelines in your search. You might also see door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal transportation listed, and you’ll have to decide which one you’d prefer.

    As the names suggest, door-to-door shipping means the driver picks your vehicle up from your home, or as close to it as the truck can get, and delivers it to your desired destination on the other end. 

    On the other hand, terminal-to-terminal transport means you have to drop your car off at a specific location in your current city and pick it up at another terminal at your destination.

    Both vehicle shipping types have benefits and drawbacks to consider, so it’s vital to go over your options and choose the style that works best for you.

    Here’s a look at the pros and cons of door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal vehicle shipping.

    Key Takeaways

    • Door-to-door car shipping is convenient but pricey, and you have to be there to receive the shipment
    • Terminal-to-terminal shipping is more flexible but creates hassle, and storage fees can quickly make it more expensive
    • Mercury Auto Transport can help you find the right shipping type


    The benefits of door-to-door car shipping

    The advantages of door-to-door shipping start with its convenience. When you go with this option, the driver will pick your car up from your home and deliver it directly to your destination. As a result, you don’t have to find a ride from the terminal and can stay close to home.

    You also don’t have to worry about your car’s safety at the terminal. These terminals are often just open lots where your vehicle could be damaged or broken into due to the lack of supervision. A door-to-door delivery ensures your vehicle reaches a safe destination right away, eliminating that worry.

    For overall convenience and safety for your car, door-to-door shipping is the way to go.

    Door-to-door auto transport drawbacks

    However, it’s worth noting that there are some drawbacks associated with door-to-door shipping that you’ll want to consider.

    First, it’s more expensive than terminal-to-terminal, at least on the surface. You’re paying for a premium service requiring the carrier to venture into a residential neighborhood, so you can expect it to cost more. 

    It’s also worth noting that depending on the truck’s size, the driver might have to meet you somewhere anyway because driving on narrow residential streets isn’t possible. The driver will usually try to find a spot close to your home, but this process adds inconvenience. There could be commercial truck restrictions in your neighborhood that prevent delivery, too.

    Someone must be available to meet the driver on both ends, as well. You’ll have to present the driver with your keys, collect them at the end, and complete an inspection. If you’re moving across the country, having a specific timeline for meeting the carrier could add stress to the situation. 

    The pros of terminal-to-terminal vehicle shipping

    With terminal-to-terminal shipping, you’ll have to drive your car to a predetermined location where you’ll drop it off for your carrier. This method is far more flexible because you can drop the vehicle off a day or two before shipment. For busy people, terminal-to-terminal is sometimes the best option.

    The same goes for picking your car up at its destination, as you can leave it at the terminal while you figure out where you’re going to park it or complete your journey when moving. Having this flexibility on the other end is helpful when shipping lengthy distances.

    Terminal-to-terminal also costs less for the shipment itself because the carrier can stick to major highways and won’t have to trek through a residential neighborhood. The cost savings are often reason enough to go with this option.

    Terminal-to-terminal car transport cons

    There are negatives associated with terminal-to-terminal auto transport, though, that you’ll want to look at before choosing a method.

    For starters, the terminal could be far from your property, adding hassle to the entire process. If you live in a suburban area and have to travel into town to drop your car off, you’ll then have to figure out how to get back home. The same goes for reaching your vehicle at its new destination.

    If you end up leaving your car at one of the terminals for a few days, you could also encounter a storage fee. This fee could end up making the terminal-to-terminal shipping far more expensive for you in the end, so it’s worth asking about your carrier’s storage surcharges.

    It’s unlikely that the terminal is secure, as well, and since there will be other vehicles and trucks passing it all day long, the risk of damage is heightened.

    Choosing a car shipping option

    The type of auto transport you go with comes down to personal preferences. For convenience, it’s tough to beat door-to-door shipping because your carrier will pick your vehicle up and deliver it right to your destination (assuming they can reach it). However, terminal-to-terminal adds flexibility and can reduce your overall expenses if you pick the car up quickly. 

    Mercury Auto Transport is a car shipping broker that provides you with quotes from FMCSA licensed and insured carriers. Our system allows you to choose between door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal options, ensuring you end up with the type of vehicle transportation that makes the most sense for you. Contact us for a free, instant quote or to speak with one of our auto transport experts.


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    First, we post your vehicle through our network, including all National Dispatch Boards for Auto Transport. This is where all licensed auto transport carriers can see your vehicle is available for shipping.


    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.


    Not until you approve your carrier and final logistics is your deposit due. Your deposit is included in your quote and goes toward the total price. The remaining balance is due at time of delivery. Nothing gets done without your approval.


    Your driver will contact you prior to your pickup and delivery dates to schedule a time for loading and unloading. Once your vehicle reaches its destination, you do a final inspection of your vehicle and pay the driver the remaining balance. You and the driver both sign the Bill of Lading and each keep a copy.