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What Is Door-to-Door Auto Transport?

You have two choices when you ship your car. You can ship using door-to-door transport or terminal-to-terminal shipping. It’s kind of like mailing a letter. You can mail it from your house to another house or you can take the letter to the post office and have it delivered and picked up at another post office across the country.Door-to-door transport is like mailing the letter from your mailbox to another mailbox. The carrier or car shipper comes to your house (just like the mailman) and loads your car on the carrier for shipping. The carrier does the same thing when it delivers your car to its destination. It brings the car to your house or other specified location and you sign the paperwork to receive delivery.


Your other option is to drive the car to a terminal where the carrier loads up other cars. You will also have to go to another terminal to pick up your car when it arrives at its new location.

The Pros and Cons of Door-to-Door Transport

Door-to-door transport is almost always more convenient than terminal-to-terminal transport. This can be a big deal when you’re in the midst of a move. It can eliminate the headache and time waste of finding the terminals, driving there, and then having to get back to your house to finish your move.

But, door-to-door transport does cost more. The carrier is providing an extra service and convenience for you so your auto shipping quote will be higher. But the added convenience and hassle may be well worth it to you. So if you’re trying to keep your move at its lowest cost terminal-to-terminal is likely your best option. But if convenience is a more important priority than the extra cost, door-to-door is your best course of action.

Also, terminals can have added costs, like terminal or storage fees. So make sure you ask about those and factor in all the costs when you compare quotes. While you can pick up your car anytime at a terminal, you will not know the exact time it is dropped off. This means you may not be able to inspect it, like you can when it is dropped off at your door. This can lead to a problem if the car is damaged, as you won’t know if it happened in transit or after the car arrived at the terminal.

Plus, there is also a higher risk of damage, as your vehicle will be sitting in a terminal instead of your driveway. More and more people ship their cars door-to-door these days, which means some terminals are just open lots. These terminals offer limited protection for your vehicle while it is stored.

Other Considerations

In some cases, door-to-door shipping does not always mean your car gets delivered to your front door. Some carriers (semi-trucks and trailers) may not be able to access your house or apartment due to clearance limitations.

Delivery can be a problem if your neighborhood has low hanging trees, power lines or narrow streets and corners that don’t provide adequate space for the large auto-shipping carrier to maneuver properly.

Some areas also have laws that only let trucks travel on main roads. Subdivisions and neighborhoods can also have their own regulations prohibiting the car-shipping carrier from delivering right to your front door.

If this is true of your location, you will have to set a meeting place that the truck can get to. This is usually a nearby parking lot or shopping center on a main road or highway. It will be your responsibility to find a place to that is good for the loading and unloading of your car. You can make that your delivery point instead of your home address.

Keep in mind you (or a person you have authorized) needs to be available to pick up the vehicle. Also, the carrier may deliver your car during a time window instead of an exact time. So you or your representative will have to be somewhat flexible. And you may not know you have an accessibility problem until the carrier arrives in your neighborhood.

Start with a Quote

Many auto transport companies will offer you door-to-door and terminal-terminal options. So it’s best to get a quote for each service and examine the difference in cost. Also, find out how close the drop-off and delivery terminals are from where you live now and where you’re moving.

After you have all the details in front of you, it will be easier to evaluate which is best for your particular situation. It will likely come down to your priorities — cost or convenience.