Why Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping Is Slowly Losing Steam

Trucks in the parking lot near the highway

First-time customers who are looking for options to ship their car often are confused by two auto transport terms: door-to-door shipping and terminal-to-terminal shipping.

Seasoned car transport customers will know that door-to-door shipping is a better option while terminal-to-terminal shipping is slowly disappearing. There are plenty of reasons why this is so. Before we take a look at those, let’s first understand what terminal-to-terminal shipping actually is:

Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping

As the name indicates, terminal-to-terminal shipping involves you dropping your car at a set location called a terminal to be picked up by a car transport carrier. Your vehicle is then delivered to another terminal that is nearest to your desired location and you have to go and pick it up.

Generally, terminals are usually situated in large cities, near airports or seaports. Airports are better terminals for individuals who are getting their car moved within the country. Seaport terminals are usually reserved for vehicles or shipments that come from overseas.

It sounds quite simple and it actually is. For people who have very busy schedules and cannot be there to pick up their cars at their doorsteps when it arrives, terminal-to-terminal shipping can be quite convenient.

Another benefit of terminal-to-terminal shipping is that the shipping quote is less than that of door-to-door shipping. That’s because carriers can fill the entire truck with vehicles that need to be picked from one set location rather than when they need to be transported at separate locations, as happens in door-to-door shipping. This saves fuel cost as well as results in low mileage. This also means low maintenance cost.

Taking a look at these advantages, it is clear that terminal-to-terminal shipping offers certain advantages. So, why is it that carriers and customers alike are now opting more and more for door-to-door car shipping.

Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping Vs. Door-to-Door Shipping

Here are some of the reasons why door-to-door shipping is preferred.


  • Door-to-door shipping is more reliable. With this mode of shipping, carriers can deliver the vehicle directly to the customer. The customer can do the inspection and check everything is how it should be. With terminal-to-terminal shipping you can’t do that.


  • A lot of times, terminals where your car is offloaded are simply open places. There are often no doors or gate where the shipped vehicles are parked or attendants either. If this happens, it can be problematic to the carrier. That’s because if they pick up the car and do an inspection of it, the customer is not there to sign and verify the inspection document. So when a carrier drops off the vehicle at the destination, the customer can easily claim the damage occurred during the transit. This is especially true if the carrier was the only person who signed the inspection document.
  • Also, since many of the terminal lots are open and unguarded, it is not much of a deterrent for unsavory people who want to steal your car.

Storage Fees

  • Another big issue is the storage fee. Although small terminals may not charge you one, big terminals do have a fee as they also have better security. If a carrier goes there to pick up a car and one of the owner’s has not paid the storage fee, the carrier won’t be able to load it onto the truck. Unusually, terminals won’t release the vehicle.
  • Also, what most people don’t understand is ultimately getting their car stored in terminals will not save them any money at all. Terminals charge an upfront fee as well as additional fee for every day the car is stored in the terminal. So, if you are unable to pick up your car from the terminal for several days, the resulting extra fees can actually make it even more expensive than door-to-door shipping.
  • Additionally, the upfront fee is usually paid by the customer while the auto transport company handles the payment of the terminal and the carrier. So, there is a lot of extra work for the shippers and carriers, which can be quite restrictive. They have to ship your car on a promise to pay and waiting for payment from the customer isn’t something that carriers like to do.
  • Door-to-door shipping, however, is usually paid with cash on delivery and carriers like this mode of payment. This allows them to have the money to keep their trucks running and fueled and it also gives the carriers some cash which can be handy during truck stops. Having immediate access to money is a big reason why most carriers will ship door to door.
  • Customers and shippers alike have to deal with several problems when it comes to terminal-to-terminal shipping. However, you do not encounter these problems when you are shipping door-to-door. That is why terminal-to-terminal shipping is fast losing steam.

If you want to get your car shipped door-to-door, contact HaulMatch and have your vehicle delivered safely and securely right to your doorstep.