Car Shipping or Towing: Choose the Best Option for Your Car

Car Shipping or Towing: What’s the difference?

4 mins to read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

So you need to move a car from one place to another; how do you choose whether you need car shipping or towing? Does it make a difference at all?

If you’re new to the business of transporting cars, you might be shocked to learn that there are several distinct methods to ship cars, and options within options. For instance, you could choose to tow your car with another car, either with all four wheels on the road, or with two raised. Likewise, if you choose car shipping, you could choose to have your car transported in the open air, or in an enclosed container truck. While one method is more suitable to one type of transport, both have their own benefits. It really depends on your reason for car shipping or towing and the specifics of your car.

One example is car dealers who buy vehicles from auctions. Now, one dealer cannot drive more than one car at a time – and some salvaged cars can’t be driven – and it is unproductive and costly to bring along several people to drive away all the cars they’re buying. The challenge is that most auctions charge a storage fee, and demand that cars be removed from the premises within a certain deadline – usually 24 hours. Auctions also tend to have strict car loading policies.

Your decision to choose car shipping or towing would hinge on:

    • The distance the car(s) must be taken
    • Whether a car carrier can easily load the car in the yard
    • The type of vehicle
  • Whether the vehicle is operational

Car Shipping or Towing: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between car shipping and towing is that tow trucks are usually called as and when a vehicle needs to be transported for a short distance on the same day, while car shipping is booked in advance. When you tow a car, you typically have to remove any personal belongings, while you can usually ship up to 100 lbs or personal belongings (permitted items only) when you ship your car.

What is Towing?

They work mainly for parking lot companies, handling illegal parking, and recovery of repossessed vehicles. It would typically be taken from an accident scene to a repair shop or a junk yard. Or, in the case of a breakdown, a truck would tow your vehicle from the roadside to the mechanic’s workshop.

But there’s another type of towing to bear in mind when you choose between car shipping or towing, which can work over longer distances, for instance, between two neighboring cities. With this method, you would hitch the non-operational car to one that does work, and take a road trip. The nice thing about towing a car, is that you stay with your car the entire time, and it gives you a sense of control. However, there are some drawbacks – mainly the costs of:

    • Fuel
    • Hotel stays
    • Food for the road
    • Hiring a tow dolly or trailer
  • Wear and tear on both cars

When you call a standard tow truck, rather than a car carrier or a flatbed, there’s the risk of damage as many tow truck drivers tend to be in a rush to attend to their next job. They are paid on a per-project basis, so they are under pressure to handle as many jobs every day as they can and this might lead to clumsiness or recklessness. This might be a factor in whether you choose car shipping or towing.

See, if you the wheels are on the road, a car is subject to wear and tear. Likewise, the major interstates are dangerous, and unless you are used to towing heavy cargo, it becomes even more dangerous – no matter what the trailer rental companies try to tell you. What makes it more complicated and dangerous is:

    • You’re in control of handling double the amount of weight that you’re used to handle (the towing car plus the towed car);
    • You have to properly secure the dolly or trailer;
    • You have to secure your vehicle;
    • You have to navigate major highways;
    • You have to negotiate parking lots and small roads with not one, but TWO cars when you stop in towns;
  • You have to handle your own security, permits and navigation.

car shipping or towing

What is Car Shipping?

Some people feel that when it comes to choosing car shipping or towing, the former stands out.

While a single towing vehicle (conventional tow truck, flatbed, or your personal vehicle) tows your car, car shipping companies use a special flatbed or double-decker car carrier to transport your car along with up to ten other cars at the same time. The car shipping industry is huge; Nationwide Auto Transportation has access to a fleet of over 2,000 carriers that transport cars across the lower 48 states.

Each car is on a rack that can move autonomously for easy loading, and secured using specialized equipment. Yes, your car will be exposed to the elements while it is on the truck, but no more so than when you’re driving it on the road in rainy or windy conditions.

With car shipping, you have the option to ship your car on an open trailer or in an enclosed truck. If you have an expensive exotic or classic car, you might choose enclosed shipping, as this option provides added protection.

car shipping or towing

Car Shipping or Towing: Which to choose?

Most people use the circumstances surrounding your need to move your car to make the decision between car shipping or towing.

This table should give you a good idea whether you should opt for car shipping or towing.

Circumstances Shipping Towing
Distance shorter than 100 miles Yes Yes
Distance more than 100 miles Yes Maybe
Interstate car shipping Yes No
Valuable vehicle Yes No
Salvage vehicle Yes Yes
Non-operational vehicle Maybe Yes

Car Shipping or Towing: The Smart Choice

Car dealers, classic car clubs, motorcycle clubs, exotic car owners and experienced car owners rely on Nationwide Auto Transportation. When they are faced with the decision: Car Shipping or Towing, they call us to ship their vehicles.