You may have heard the term “Auto Transport Terminal” or even just “terminal” when obtaining quotes, and like most people outside the industry, you had little to no idea what exactly that term meant. An Auto Transport Terminal, henceforth referred to as a terminal, is essentially a storing space for your vehicle, most often utilized at the vehicle’s originating location and/or final destination, and generally only found in popular metropolitan areas. When shipping your vehicle, most auto transport companies will offer you the option of door-to-door shipping, in which they will have your vehicle picked up at your house (or current location) and delivered directly to your specific endpoint. This is by far the most convenient option, but it also tends to be the most expensive, since the transport driver will need to deviate from his route to pick up and deliver your car. It also requires that you (or your representative) be physically present during both pick-up and delivery. A terminal is often utilized if one of multiple scenarios applies.
The first situation would be if you are unable to be there for pick-up or drop-off, for example, you need to leave town prior to your vehicle being shipped. If this is the case, you have the option to take your vehicle to an auto transport terminal for temporary storage, until the vehicle can be picked up. Keep in mind that storage fees do apply at a daily rate when leaving your vehicle at one of these facilities. This can also come into play if your vehicle will be arriving at its destination before you do, and again, you may need temporary storage until you are able to take it into your possession. Let your auto transport company know if one of these situations applies to you, so they can give you an accurate quote, taking into account terminal fees.
The second situation would be a cost-saving maneuver made by you, depending on your flexibility and where your vehicle is originating and arriving. Rather than have the transport truck come directly to you, you can bring/pick-up your vehicle from a terminal. If you are able to do so on the days the truck is arriving and departing, you will save yourself the cost of storing the vehicle, in addition to the common upcharge for door-to-door shipping. Unfortunately, there are not always terminals located at convenient locations in proximity to you, and it would not make sense to drive great distances out of your way to save a couple dollars. Talk to your auto transport company about terminal-to-terminal shipping if you think this may be a viable option for you, and they can work with you to determine the most convenient terminal locations.
Finally, the other instance in which terminals would be used would be if either your starting or ending location is in an area that does not allow 80 foot long auto transport carriers. Examples of these would be New York City or downtown San Francisco, and of course, any other areas where the street structure or traffic just does not allow for the loading and unloading of auto transport vehicle.