Car Freight 101 – Where Do I Get Started?

Car Freight

Air, Land or Sea Car Freight?

The main differences between land, air, and sea car freight are the mode of transportation, speed, cost, and accessibility.

Land Car Freight

Land car freight involves transporting vehicles by road or rail within a country or region. This mode of transport is typically used for shorter distances and is often more cost-effective than air or sea freight.

Land car freight can be slower than air freight but faster than sea freight, with transit times ranging from a few days to a week or two.

Air Car Freight

Air car freight involves transporting vehicles by air cargo planes. This mode of transport is typically the fastest but also the most expensive, with transit times ranging from a few days to a week or two, depending on the destination.

Air car freight is often used for urgent or high-value shipments and is accessible to almost any destination with an airport.

Sea Car Freight

Sea car freight involves transporting vehicles by ocean-going vessels. This mode of transport is typically the slowest but also the most cost-effective for long-distance or large shipments.

Sea car freight can take several weeks or months, depending on the distance and shipping route. Sea car freight is often used for international shipments and is accessible to most major ports worldwide.

When choosing a car freight method, it’s essential to consider the distance, urgency, and cost of the shipment and any regulatory or legal requirements associated with each mode of transport.

Additionally, each mode of transport may have different risks and conditions, such as insurance coverage or packaging needs, so it’s essential to research and understand these before booking the transportation.

Open & Enclosed Car Freight Carriers

There are two main types of car freight carriers: open and enclosed. Open carriers are the most common and cost-effective option, typically transporting multiple vehicles simultaneously. They have an open-air design that exposes the vehicles to the elements during transport.

Enclosed carriers, on the other hand, offer more protection and security for vehicles during transport. Their enclosed design shields vehicles from the elements and other potential hazards.

What Factors Should I Consider?

When selecting a car freight company, you must consider several factors and risks to ensure that you choose a reputable and reliable company. Here are some of the most critical factors and risks to consider:

Reputation and Experience

Look for a car freight company with a good reputation and extensive experience in the industry. Check their online reviews and ratings from previous customers, and ask for references if necessary.

Type of Carrier

Decide on the carrier that best suits your needs, such as open or enclosed transport, and ensure the company offers the carrier you need.


Compare quotes from different car freight companies to ensure a fair price. However, be wary of companies that offer prices significantly lower than their competitors, as this could indicate low-quality service.


Check the company’s insurance coverage for your vehicle during transport and consider purchasing additional insurance if necessary.

Licensing and Certification

Ensure the car freight company is appropriately licensed and certified to operate in your state or country and comply with all regulations and safety standards.

Delivery Time

Ask about the estimated delivery time and any guarantees or penalties for late delivery.

Hidden Fees

Check for hidden fees or charges, such as fuel surges or storage fees, that may not be included in the initial quote.


Some risks associated with car freight include vehicle damage during transport, delivery delays, and fraudulent or unscrupulous companies. To mitigate these risks, thoroughly research the car freight company and ask for referrals or recommendations from trusted sources.

What Steps Are Involved?

Car freight, also known as auto transport or car shipping, typically involves the following steps:

Choose a carrier

Research a reputable carrier that offers the service you need, whether open or enclosed.

Get a quote

Contact the carrier to request a quote for the transport of your vehicle. The cost will depend on distance, carrier, and vehicle type.

Book the shipment

Book the shipment with the carrier once you have received a quote and are ready to proceed. You must provide details about the vehicle, including the make, model, year, and pickup and delivery locations.

Prepare the vehicle

The carrier will provide instructions on preparing the vehicle for transport, including removing personal belongings, ensuring the fuel tank is not full, and noting any existing damage.


The carrier will arrange to pick up the vehicle at the agreed-upon location. You may need to be present to sign the necessary paperwork.


The carrier will transport the vehicle to the destination using the selected carrier.


Once the vehicle arrives at the destination, the carrier will contact you to arrange delivery. You must be present to receive the vehicle and sign off on the delivery.

Choosing a reputable carrier and following their instructions is important to ensure a smooth and successful transport. Consider purchasing additional insurance to protect your vehicle during transport.

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