Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping Guide

Terminal to Terminal car shipping means that the customer must drop off a vehicle at the terminal nearest the pickup location, then pick it up at the terminal closest to the delivery location.

A terminal-to-terminal car shipping service is used by high-volume auto shipping companies and is a more cost-effective method of transporting a vehicle.

What is an Auto Transport Terminal

Terminals are regional storage facilities for cars. Usually, these facilities are located in or near large urban areas. It is often cheaper to ship cars via terminals rather than door-to-door car shipping since carriers combine shipments to and from these terminals. In contrast, terminal-to-terminal car shipping can be ineffective if you are on a tight deadline.

Of course, knowing the definition is not enough; we’ll give you all the details to help you decide on the best method for moving your vehicle based on your unique circumstances.

Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping

Terminal-to-Terminal Car Shipping Options

Before we move forward, let’s talk about your options for terminal-to-terminal auto shipping. When it comes to car carriers, you have three options:

  • Open transport haulers: Currently, open transport carriers are the most economical and standard in the industry. Almost 90% of car moving state to state or across country travel by open car transport. Nevertheless, nothing will protect your car from weather, gravel, or road grime when driving on highways and freeways.
  • Enclosed auto carriers: The most expensive option is enclosed carriers. Thus, they are generally reserved for collectible, vintage, and exotic cars. This type of transport is considered the best since it shields your car from debris, weather hazards, dust, hail, and rain.
  • Flatbed auto transports: It is very rare to transport vehicles on flatbeds. Therefore, it will cost you more than other options. In addition, you can expect longer delivery times across the board.

Better Business Bureau® Reviews supporter for Auto Transport Service Providers Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Car Movers Directory



    Get your instant quote now!

    Or call us 888-802-8250

    Choose transport type

    Car Condition

    *We will use this info to contact you with a quote. We will never share your info

    Door to Door vs Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping

    The most convenient way to move a vehicle is to ship it from door to door. It means that the truck will arrive as close to the pickup and delivery address you provided that they can physically reach. But it is still the same idea – you meet the carrier directly and release your vehicle without a middleman.

    On the other hand, terminal-to-terminal car shipping is a lesser-used option, but it could save you money in the long run. As long as you are willing to deal with some inconveniences along the way.

    Do all Auto Shipping Services use Terminals?

    No, not at all. Today, the vast majority of car shipping services are door-to-door.

    That doesn’t mean terminal-to-terminal shipping is bad or inferior in any way. It’s quite the opposite. People who don’t have the time or luxury to wait for their carriers to arrive are better off using terminals. It’s a great option for people who can’t wait for their carriers to arrive.

    There are several auto shipping companies that offer terminal-to-terminal shipping at a discounted rate, and they can make your auto shipping experience as hassle-free as possible.

    At the same time, finding a carrier that will do terminal-to-terminal shipping takes longer, since they often need to take enough cars from the terminal to make a full load, and that can take some time because terminal shipping isn’t that popular.

    Is Terminal to Terminal the Most Convenient Way to Ship a Car?

    Unlike door-to-door shipping, auto shipping from terminal to terminal is less convenient. Why? Since your car will not be picked up and delivered at locations near the residential addresses you specify, you will have to arrange for it to be dropped off and picked up at terminals.

    You will be assigned a terminal near each of your two locations. However, if you live in a rural area, this fact may result in long driving times. It, therefore, appears less attractive to many people.

    Ready to Ship Your Car with AutoStar Transport Express?

    Call our door-to-door car shipping experts at 888-802-8250 to answer all your questions.
    Get a Free Quote

    The Benefits of Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping

    It may make sense to use terminal to terminal if you live in a major metropolis where street parking is scarce, and the carrier’s access is restricted.

    • You’ll have far greater flexibility when it comes to dropping off and picking up your vehicle. You can even drop off your car well in advance, which might make your move that much easier.
    • What if your vehicle is damaged or doesn’t run? In that case, towing or forklift services will likely be required. In a situation like this, car shipping from the terminal to the terminal may be your best option.
    • Suppose you need a place to store your vehicle but don’t need to move it immediately
    • Transport from terminal to the terminal can be more cost-efficient, but the fees for storing the products generally outweigh those benefits

    Disadvantages of Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping

    In addition, there are significant drawbacks of the terminal to terminal car shipping, which contribute to its declining popularity.

    • Transportation from terminal to terminal is more complicated due to full loads being required before pick-up.  If you own a lifted or modified vehicle, the company transporting your vehicle will not be able to transport it.
    • This type of car transport is unattended at both terminals, which poses a problem. Due to this fact, it will be more at risk of accidental damage and environmental harm. Don’t forget, your ride will be exposed to the elements.
    • In addition, your car is more likely to be the victim of vandalism and theft. We, therefore, recommend removing all personal belongings before shipping any automobile.
    • Furthermore, terminals can only accommodate a limited amount of cargo.

    Transport from terminal to terminal suffers from a number of disadvantages, so most consumers choose the more convenient, traditional door-to-door open route.

    Door-to-door car delivery reduces the time it takes for a vehicle to be delivered. However, if you don’t mind dropping off and picking up your vehicle from a terminal and exposing your car to potential mayhem and the elements, you may find this method to be convenient.

    Are you interested in comparing the cost of terminal-to-terminal auto shipping versus door-to-door shipping? We offer free, no-obligation car shipping quotes through our calculator.

    Terminal to Terminal Car Shipping FAQs

    What is terminal-to-terminal car shipping?

    A terminal is a secured parking lot at the origin or at the destination where you can store your vehicle while you wait for it to be shipped.

    Can I ship my car from the terminal to the door?

    Although you can ship from terminal to terminal, you might only need a terminal at one location, such as the destination. It is possible then to ship the vehicle door to the terminal. This method is ideal if you do not have someone who can meet the driver at either end of the journey.


    Victoria Ruiz

    A wanderer at heart, Victoria keeps taking her RAM 1500 to new places. She has been working in the auto transport industry for 7+ years. As an evangelist for Auto Star Transport (and as a friend who transports her vehicle), Victoria loves helping Auto Star Transport customers with help guides and insights. She is nowhere to be found when she is not in the office.
    View all posts

    Sol Abril

    Sol Abril is an INFJ soul with strong empathy and a passion for helping others. His experience of working for auto transports for over a decade helps him spot the problem and figure out the best possible solution. Sol has served in different roles in different auto transport companies. He understands the ins and outs of the auto transport sector which he regularly shares on the Auto Star Transport blog. He likes to spend his spare time with his family.
    View all posts