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WHEN TO USE TERMINAL TO TERMINAL AUTO TRANSPORT

 

When transporting your vehicle across the country or the state, you have options. We’ll provide a quick recap of the various options available to you and then drill down on when shipping your vehicle terminal to terminal may make sense. We’ll define a terminal, explain the service, detail the benefits and disadvantages versus your other options, and compare the economics. We’ll provide the pertinent details to enable you to make the appropriate decision for transporting your vehicle based on your unique needs.

You have three carrier options:

  • Open Transport Carriers – the most economical and considered the standard carriers in the industry today. Almost 90% of cars shipping across state or the country travel on open car transport.
  • Enclosed Auto Transports – more expensive and not as readily available as open transport carriers. Enclosed carriers are the upper echelon of transporters as they protect your vehicle against rain, dust, debris, and weather hazards.
  • Flatbed Auto Transports – the least used type of carrier, more expensive than other options, and require longer wait times for dispatch, pickup, and transport times.

You also have options relative to pick up and delivery of your vehicle:

  • Door to door shipping – the most popular method of auto transport in the industry today.
  • Terminal to terminal shipping – a less frequently used service, you deliver your vehicle to a terminal where it is picked up by the carrier. Upon delivery, you once again pick up your vehicle from the terminal. Your situation may dictate the use of a hybrid service where the car is picked up at the terminal and delivered to your door, or your vehicle is picked up at your door and delivered to a transport terminal.

What is an Auto Transport Terminal

 

An auto transport terminal is a storage facility for automobiles, usually located near a large metropolitan area. Industry trends indicate that the number of terminals is declining due to decreased demand for this method of transport.

When using the terminal to terminal method, you are responsible for delivering your vehicle to the terminal where it will be picked up by a carrier. The carrier will then transport your vehicle to another terminal in proximity to your destination, where you would need to pick it up.

Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport Services

 

Terminal to terminal is precisely what the name implies. You drive your car to a specified drop-off terminal where your vehicle remains until your carrier collects it. Once picked up, the carrier transports your vehicle to the destination terminal location, where you will pick up your car. In certain situations, you may opt for a hybrid service where the car is picked up at your door and delivered to a destination terminal, or for timing and convenience’s sake; you may drop your car at a terminal for pick-up and arrange for delivery to your door at your destination.

The automotive transport industry has changed significantly in the past few decades, and several methods of transport, including terminal to terminal, are declining. In the past, you may have heard that this method is a more affordable way to transport your vehicle.  Not necessarily so today, due to additional storage facility charges. Typical terminals fees vary from $15 to $35 per day depending on location, with facilities near major metropolitan areas usually costing more.

The Benefits of Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport

 

If you live in a major metropolitan area, where street parking is limited, and access for a carrier is limited, the terminal to terminal method may make sense. Other considerations for the terminal to terminal service:

  • Convenience aspects of terminal to terminal
    • Benefits people who want to drop-off or pick-up their cars on specific dates and times. You set the time to drop off or pick up your vehicle without having to coordinate with the carrier driver
    • You don’t have to wait for a pick-up, and you can collect your vehicle when it suits you
    • In a situation where you don’t necessarily need your vehicle moved immediately, but need a place to store it
    • You have the option of arranging for someone else to drop off or pick up your vehicle for you
    • If your situation dictates, and you’re are unable to take your vehicle to the terminal, you can have the auto shipping company hire a local towing company for drop off
  • Terminal to terminal transport does enjoy some benefits cost-wise, generally offset by storage fees
  • The carriers transporting vehicles to and from regional terminals combine shipments headed to the same region, saving the carriers time and expense

Disadvantages of Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport

 

There are also significant drawbacks to the terminal to terminal transport business, contributing to its declining popularity.

  • The process and scheduling are more complicated – most terminal to terminal transporters require a full load before pick-up
  • The company transporting your vehicle is limited in what they can transport, example; if you own a lifted or modified vehicle, most terminal to terminal transport companies will not assist you
  • Terminals are also limited in what they can house
  • There are fewer terminals available today for auto transport
  • There are no enclosed trailers used in terminal to terminal – not ideal if you are transporting a classic or vintage vehicle
  • Exposure to the elements while your vehicle is at the terminal

The drawbacks of terminal to terminal transport are significant, and most consumers opt for the more convenient, traditional door to door open transport. Time from booking to vehicle delivery is much shorter with the door to door method. However, if you don’t mind the inconvenience of having to drop off, pick up your vehicle from a terminal, and have your car exposed to potential mayhem and the elements, this method may be for you.

The Economics of Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport

 

The economics of auto transport largely depend upon the convenience of delivery method. From a carrier’s perspective, the least convenient and most expensive type of transport is a single-vehicle shipped door-to-door in an enclosed transporter. And, from their perspective, a more convenient, more economical method is terminal-to-terminal shipping. The terminal method saves carriers time and expense as they combine shipments to regional terminals.

The savings in transportation costs are somewhat offset by terminal storage fees, particularly if you miss the appointed pick-up date and incur penalties. In the past, terminal to terminal services were generally less expensive. Today, however, there are far fewer carriers willing to transport to terminals.

When one combines the benefits of door to door versus any minimal savings of terminal-to-terminal, the apparent choice is door to door.

Final Observations on Terminal to Terminal Auto Transport

 

We all want our vehicles to make it to the appropriate destination, safely, on time, and in the same condition as pre-shipping. The terminal to the terminal method still provides a reliable way to have your vehicle transported, if you don’t mind the logistical obstacles; the method may make sense for you.

Although we generally recommend open transport door to door, we can provide terminal transport services. If you are searching for a terminal to terminal auto transport quote, please fill out our free online quote request form. For more expert information, feel free to call us toll-free at 800-553-1828 to speak to one of our live auto transport representatives. We will be pleased to provide a quote, answer your questions, and help you book your order. With Mercury Auto Transport, you can’t lose.

Frequently Asked Questions about Terminal to Terminal Transport

What is terminal to terminal auto transport?

Terminals are secured parking lots that store your vehicle while it waits to be shipped at the origin and holds your vehicle for pick-up at the destination.

What if I only need to use a terminal at one location?

You can ship terminal to terminal, but you may only need to use a terminal at one location, such as the destination.  In that case, you can ship the vehicle door to the terminal.

This method is ideal if you don’t have someone that can meet the driver at either end of the transport.

Is Terminal to Terminal shipping cheaper than door to door?

Terminal to terminal can cost a bit more.  Years ago, terminal to terminal was a more economical way of shipping, although it would take longer for the shipment to go from point A to B.

Since door to door transport became the industry standard, many of the large terminal to terminal companies such as DAS have changed their business models. Today, there are no terminal to terminal companies covering the entire United States.

How much to Terminals Charge?

Terminals charge from $15 to $35 per day, depending on location.  Facilities near larger metropolitan areas usually cost more.

Should you need to use a terminal at either pick-up or delivery location, our agents find the right facility and the most cost-effective solution, anywhere in the United States.

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HOW AUTO SHIPPING WORKS

REQUEST A QUOTE

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.

BOOK YOUR ORDER

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.

VEHICLE IS PICKED UP

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.

VEHICLE IS DELIVERED

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.

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