The Types of Trailers and Trucks Used for Shipping Vehicles and Freight
November 04, 2020

The Types of Trailers and Trucks Used for Shipping Vehicles and Freight

You’ve decided to ship your car from one location to a place that’s too far for you to drive it. You could be moving to a new place, you could have just purchased a vintage car that – for any number of reasons – is inoperable at the moment, and so on.

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Your transport company undoubtedly will offer you one of two options to ship your car: either an open trailer or an enclosed trailer. You’ve certainly seen those exposed trailers: they are the double-decker trailers you see on the highway all the time carrying about eight vehicles.

As for an enclosed trailer, it’s just as you picture it: it looks similar to, for example, grocery store trailers: completely enclosed with the truck or other vehicle inside. It may be as large as a supermarket’s trailer or smaller, depending on how many vehicles it’s carrying.

Note: many owners of classic or high-end vehicles do prefer to ship their cars in an enclosed trailer without any other cars with them inside. These trailers will be smaller than a supermarket’s trailer.

Yet there are even more types of trailers available to ship your car. There are several options within the main two types of trailers (enclosed or exposed). Take a look below for their descriptions.

  • A multi-vehicle, exposed single level trailer.

    You’ll see far more multi-vehicle exposed trailers on the road than these one-level trailers, but there are smaller options, trailers that transport two-six cars or seven small recreational vehicles.

    You also may see multi-car gooseneck trailers or even bumper-pull trailers. Some are large enough that then need semi-trucks to pull them.

    These auto transport carriers are bigger than the small hotshots trailers (see below), but they’re still possibly small enough to navigate narrow city streets.

Shipping Vehicles

  • One-vehicle, small hotshot trailers.

    Some people may mistake these for tow trucks, but they aren’t.  Hotshots are exposed carriers basically are a pickup with dual rear wheels that pull a gooseneck trailer large enough to transport just one car or truck.

    These often are used to transport vehicles a short distance but they are used for long-distance transport, as well.

  • One-level, enclosed, multi-car trailer

    Pulled by a semi, these enclosed transport vehicles carry up to three cars. The cars are placed singe file in the trailer.

  • One-level, one car, enclosed trailer

    These are the trailers that generally transport vintage and/or high-value luxury vehicles. They tend to be small, of course, and often are used to transport cars a relatively short distance.

    Yet there are many different trailers and trucks transport companies use to ship freight and vehicles of all types. Some may be appropriate for shipping your car or other vehicle (such as a motorcycle, golf cart, atv or even a large boat). Such vehicles – which often are used for freight rather than vehicles transport – are numerous. Here’s a great article that describes them in detail.

Yet there are other ways to transport your car. Planes, for example, do so, as do cargo ships. Even trains.

Naturally, you’ll need to ship by boat if you’re moving your car overseas. U.S. residents moving to Hawaii must ship their car by a cargo ship. Many car manufacturers place a multi-car, double-level exposed car carriers via freight trains, although personal vehicles can be – and are – sometimes shipped by rail. Important note: if you want to ship just one or two cars by rail, you’ll have to work with an auto transport broker because the main rail transport companies (including Amtrak) won’t service individual customers.

Amtrak does offer what it calls auto trains, but you must travel with your vehicle and the service is limited only to the East Coast between Washington, DC and Orlando, FL.

You can fly your car across the country (or overseas). It’s by far the safest and fastest way to ship your car. It’s also much more expensive than shipping by truck transport.

Shipping Vehicles

Which type of transport should you choose? It’s a personal choice,  often based upon the vehicle’s value and/or how quickly you want to get your car from Point A to Point B, as well as how far those two points are from each other.

A highly valuable car that you want to transport quickly probably is best in a single-car, enclosed carrier: it will be safer than if shipped in an exposed vehicle and it will get to its destination faster because the drive won’t have to stop anywhere else to drop off other vehicles.

If your car is a family car, you have some flexibility in its delivery date and you want to save money, the least expensive and still safe way to transport it is via multi-vehicle, open carrier.

No matter what type of vehicle you need transported, no matter your transport budget, Ship A Car, Inc. can help you find affordable, trustworthy and secure shipping.

Call us today at 866-821-4555 and we will arrange for affordable and safe transport of your vehicle.

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