Terminal-to-terminal car transport vs. door-to-door car shipping

Terminal-to-terminal car transport vs. door-to-door car shipping


You have lots of options to choose from if you ever need to ship your car. You might have to decide between open car transport and enclosed auto transport, for example. However, before you face that kind of decision, you’ve got to choose whether you want door-to-door car transport or terminal-to-terminal car transport services. These two services are very different, each with their own pros and cons. This article will help you understand the fundamental differences and make an informed decision about which method is right for you. 

What is terminal-to-terminal car transport?

Black truck that drives cars

A terminal is where vehicles wait to be transported. Only one hauler might use it, but generally, more than one company uses the terminal at the same time. The location of these terminals is often near an airport terminal, in many of the large cities across the United States. Alternatively, the location might also be just off major highways running through a city. 

A terminal is just another name for a transport hub. It’s where carriers collect and deliver vehicles. They often use them for combining shipments going to the same area, because it means the carrier doesn’t have to drive around picking up and dropping off vehicles at different locations. For the carrier, it saves time and effort. 

How does terminal-to-terminal car transport work?

sunset on a parking lot

Once you’ve made a booking, you drive your car to a specified drop-off terminal. Your vehicle stays in the terminal until your chosen carrier is ready to collect it. Once it’s picked up, the carrier will transport it to another terminal location. You then need to get to that final terminal location to pick up your car.     

The benefits of using terminal-to-terminal auto transport services

One benefit often cited is that it’s much lower cost. However, that’s not strictly true because there are other factors that make it more costly. The first extra cost is getting your vehicle to the terminal. You’ve then got to get back home again. When the vehicle is delivered at its final terminal location, additional costs apply here too. If your vehicle is waiting at a terminal for any length of time, you might have to pay extra in storage fees. 

Another advantage is that it might seem to be very convenient. You don’t have to wait for a pick-up, and you can collect your vehicle when it suits you. However, having to get your vehicle to the terminal and collect it when it’s delivered is not really convenient at all. 

Peace of mind is something else you can rely on because your vehicle is being stored in a safe and secure location, until you or the carrier are ready to collect it. This is good to know because you may have to drive a long way to get to the terminal. 

If you choose to use a terminal-to-terminal service for shipping your car you have the option of arranging for someone else to drop off and pick up your vehicle for you. You can arrange this on a date and time of your choosing. It might be a friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague you ask to help. However, it could just as easily be a tow truck or a reliable auto transport provider.

Being able to collect your car has its obvious advantages, for example, should the weather or another emergency delay your shipment or you get held up yourself. 


  • You can nominate a third party to deliver or collect your vehicle.
  • Peace of mind.   

The downside of terminal-to-terminal car transport

This all sounds ideal, but there are several disadvantages to this type of auto transport service, which means it’s not ideal for everyone. For many people, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. 

One of the biggest disadvantages is that they often locate terminals outside of city limits. This means you might have to drive a long way to deliver your car. And once you’ve dropped off your car, you’ve then got the problem of getting back home. Both these issues can make terminal-to-terminal shipping more complicated. 

There are also additional costs you must factor into the equation. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend that can collect you or take you to the terminal it’s not such a problem. But if you’ve got to get yourself there and back home again, it can work out to be very expensive. 

Another disadvantage of booking with terminal-to-terminal car shipping companies is that you might have to pay storage fees at the terminal.  

Terminal-to-terminal car transport services often take longer than door-to-door transportation services. Your vehicle has to wait until a carrier is available to pick it up and deliver it to another terminal.


  • Terminals tend to be located outside city limits, which means extra traveling for you.
  • Additional costs can make it more expensive, for example, the cost of getting your car to and from the terminal.
  • You may have to pay storage fees.
  • Takes longer than door-to-door car transport.

Is terminal-to-terminal auto shipping cheaper than door-to-door auto shipping?

The simple answer is no it isn’t. If you’re considering terminal-to-terminal auto transport services there are additional costs involved. 

You have to get your vehicle to the terminal in the first place. You’ve then got to get home again. When your vehicle arrives at its eventual destination, there’s the additional cost of going to pick it up. You may also have to pay extra in storage fees, if you leave your vehicle waiting at a terminal for any length of time.

How much does the car shipping terminals charge?

You can be charged anything from $15 per day up to $35 per day, depending on the location of the terminal. If the terminal is located in a metropolitan area, the cost will be more. 

There are none of these extra costs when you choose door-to-door car transport. Use our online quote calculator to find out how much it costs. We guarantee there will be no extra fees or charges. Our prices are inclusive of all taxes and insurance coverage. 

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

Using one terminal might be considered if you don’t have anyone that can meet the auto transport driver at either end of the transport. However, if you use door-to-door auto transport, you do have the option of appointing someone to accept the delivery or be available at the pick-up. You could ask a friend, neighbor, relative, work colleague, or someone else that you know to act on your behalf. The only stipulation is that they have to be 18 years of age or older.

What you should be aware of when you choose terminal-to-terminal car transport services

Terminal-to-terminal auto shipping isn’t too different from door-to-door car transport. The main difference is the pick-up and delivery locations are a transport terminal rather than a location of your choosing. 

One factor to be aware of is that you don’t get to inspect the vehicle for damage upon delivery, unless you happen to be at the terminal when it arrives. While you might find it convenient to be able to pick up your car when it suits you, not being able to inspect your car when it arrives makes the process complicated. 

Your vehicle may be stored for a while before you pick it up, which means it’s going to be sat in a parking lot or storage facility for several days, possibly a week or more. Storage facilities are safe and secure, but your car is exposed to the elements. There’s also the potential for damage from other vehicles being ushered in and out of the same storage lot.  

When would we recommend terminal-to-terminal car shipping?

We would always recommend our customers use door-to-door car transport. There are just too many benefits to make any other option worth considering. 

What is door-to-door auto transport?

different color houses

Door-to-door transport is a service that picks your car up and delivers it to a location of your choice. It might be right outside your door, hence the name door-to-door transport. However, it’s often not the case. What’s most important about this type of auto transport service is that the locations are of your choosing. You’re not forced to deliver and pick your car up from a specific terminal.  

How does door-to-door car transport work?

When you make your booking, you specify a location where the carrier can pick up and deliver your car. Car trucks and trailers are large commercial vehicles, so bear this in mind when choosing your location. Some streets have restrictions on large vehicles, and overhead power cables or low branches can also restrict access. Suitable locations might include a wider street near where you live, a parking lot or shopping mall, or outside where you work.

The advantages of using door-to-door transportation services

Door-to-door car transportation services take all the hassle out of moving your car. There’s often the opportunity to move some of your belongings in the trunk of the car as well. 

You simply schedule the door-to-door car transport company to pick-up and drop off your vehicle as close as is safe and legal to the address you provide. The carrier loads and unloads your vehicle close to your home, so you don’t have to drive for several hours to the nearest terminal. This convenience saves you time and effort. And you don’t have to worry about the cost of additional travel.

Door-to-door car transport is also an option that causes the least amount of wear and tear to your vehicle.

Safety and security are paramount for transporting your car, particularly if it’s a luxury, exotic, classic, antique, or custom vehicle. Door-to-door transportation services can be either open car transport or enclosed auto transport. Both options are very safe and secure, but an enclosed auto transport service takes the level of protection one step further. 

Choose enclosed auto transport and your vehicle will be completely enclosed in a trailer, away from the elements, traffic grime, and envious eyes. 


  • Absolute convenience.
  • Affordability. 
  • Completely safe and secure.
  • Cost is all inclusive, with nothing else to factor into the cost of moving your car.
  • Complete protection for your vehicle.  

The disadvantages of using door-to-door auto shipping

There are a couple of disadvantages to using door-to-door car transport, although for many people, the advantage of absolute convenience trumps them all. 

Door-to-door transportation services can cost a little bit more than terminal to terminal shipping. However, you have to remember that there are no extra costs to consider.you don’t have to get to a terminal, or find your way home again when you’ve dropped off your car.

The second downside is that not all areas of the US are accessible for large trucks and trailers. Restrictions might be in place in the street where you live. There might be problems such as overhanging branches or power lines that restrict access. If this is the case, you can make alternative arrangements for a more suitable pick-up and delivery location nearby.   


  • Not all locations are accessible for auto transport trucks and trailers.

When would we recommend door-to-door car transport?

If anyone ever needs to ship a car across country, whether it’s from one city to another or across state lines, door-to-door car transport is the service we will always recommend. You might be relocating to a new place or buying a car online, for example. The price is very affordable; the service is convenient and flexible; and there’s the option of an enclosed auto transport service if your car is very valuable.  

Here at SGT Auto Transport, all our services are door-to-door. With so many advantages to this kind of auto transport service, why not get in touch today? 

If you have any questions about the door-to-door car transport service we provide here at SGT Auto Transport, please feel free to contact our dedicated shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038. You can also email or use our Live Chat service. If you are interested in a free door-to-door car shipping quote, use our online quote calculator.

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