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Buying and Selling Cars

Ship Your Vehicle in Style: Shipping by Train or Truck Transportation

There are about 15.5 million trucks on the interstate highways these days. Many of them carrying vehicles from one state to another. But is this the most efficient way to transport a vehicle?

If you need to ship, have you considered shipping by train? We are going to compare your options so you can make an informed decision.

So let’s get to it!

Shipping by Truck

When you ship your car by truck, there are two options on how your car gets to its destination. It will either be on an open trailer or on an enclosed truck.

An open trailer is the cheapest option but exposes your car to damage from the elements, road debris, and theft. An enclosed trailer is more expensive, but it will lock your car up tight to provide protection from the weather and unsavory characters.


When it comes to truck transport, there are a few factors that determine the rate you will pay. First, what type of vehicle do you need to ship? Larger or heavier than normal cars are going to cost more.

Then how far and where you ship your vehicle will be a large factor. The further it has to go, the more expensive your rate will be. Then if your shipment goes outside of the standard shipping lanes, it will be more expensive.

You Have Options

The advantage of truck shipping is that you are only limited by the road. While it may be expensive, you can have your car delivered anywhere you want.

There are also many options when it comes to choosing a carrier. Currently, there are over 4,000 businesses shipping vehicles in the United States.

It Takes Time

Just like every other truck transporting freight on America’s highways, your shipment is subject to traffic, road conditions, construction, and the weather. This can cause major delays in your shipment.

If you need your car delivered by a specific day, this could be a problem. You can pay a premium for a guaranteed delivery day, but let’s face it, nothing is 100% guaranteed in this world. One blizzard and that truck won’t be going anywhere.

Shipping by Train

You have the same two options when it comes to shipping your car by train. You can choose an open or enclosed car.

You face the same risks of damage with open train cars that you do open truck trailers. While enclosed train cars offer the same security that enclosed truck trailers offer.

Ship More

With either option, there will be other vehicles in the car with yours to maximize the profit of the space. However, you do have the option of paying for the entire train car. Then you can ship other items with your car.

You cannot ship anything but your car when you choose truck shipping. Personal belongings are not allowed on trucks because they increase weight and increase the risk of damage.


You will still want to get a few quotes from different companies, even if there are fewer companies to ship with. In general, rates for shipping a vehicle by train tend to be cheaper than those by truck. You will find that some rates are easier to get than others.

For instance, shipping from the Northeast to the Southwest is abundant with routes. But going to other parts of the country might be more limited.

Just like the trucking companies, rail companies will want to know the make and model of your vehicle. This is so they can accurately quote you based on the weight.

Go with Your Car

Unless you take another vehicle and drive behind the freight truck, you are not allowed to go with your car when you ship via truck. This is not true with trains! Companies like Amtrak offer an Auto Train Service.

With this service, you book passage for you and your car. You could hop on in Washington, DC and ride it to Orlando. This makes going on vacation with your car a reality, without those many road trip hours taking up valuable vacation time.

You May Still Need Truck Transport

Trains make it fast and easy to ship your car from point A to point B. The problem comes in getting your car to point A or from point B.

You may need truck transport to ship your car to the train terminal. Then when your car gets to the destination, you may need another truck to transport your car from the train terminal to your home.

There is also the possibility of needing short term storage. This extra cost will increase the total cost of transport.


Trains have a specific time they leave and arrive. They wait for no one and continually run.

The advantage of this is that you know exactly when your car will reach its intended destination. If you are on a time crunch, then this is a huge advantage over truck shipping.

Which Method Is Right for You?

So which method works best for your shipping needs? You should consider the value of your vehicle when deciding between open or enclosed transport.

If you own an expensive car, the extra expense is well worth the extra security. While it may not be worth it if you have a 15-year-old car that has seen better days.

Whether you decide shipping by train or truck is right for you, be sure to do your due diligence. The more informed you are and the more you prepare will ensure fewer things go wrong.

Is finding the cheapest option your priority? Then you need to check out our guide.