The term “shipping a car” is kind of a broad term, because it doesn’t really talk about what you’re shipping or where it’s coming from and going to. This is more important than you might think because those two factors are going to impact how you actually ship your vehicle.

In this article, we’re going to talk about shipping a car vs. towing a car. We’re going to talk about the differences between the two, which is best for who, and what you need to know about both so you can make the right decision for your next shipment.

An overview of shipping a car vs towing a car

Both towing and shipping a vehicle involve moving said vehicle from one location to another without driving that vehicle. But that’s about where the similarities end. 

Shipping a car involves hiring a transportation company that will then hire a carrier company to load, transport, and unloads your vehicle. Of course, carriers come in many different shapes and sizes; they range from small, 2-3 car haulers to large ten-car carriers. 

While most leave the vehicle open to the elements, there are also some that will move them inside enclosed trailers at a higher price. These enclosed haulers can typically take 2-6 vehicles at a time.

When you tow a car, you’re calling a local company to come and hook your vehicle up to a tow truck. Tow trucks are usually reserved for vehicles that have broken down or can’t otherwise move under their own power.

More than that, though, towing services are mostly used for local movements, typically within 50-100 miles. Shipping a vehicle with a shipping company is best reserved for shipments that go further than that.

What to know about towing a car

As mentioned, towing a car is typically useful when you don’t have to take your vehicle all that far. Most often used by stranded motorists whose vehicles have given up on them, towing services are great for local moves where pickup and delivery can happen within an hour or two. 

Towing services will almost always be cheaper than using an auto shipping service to move your vehicle the same distance. This has a lot to do with how the car transportation industry works and how the logistics chains are built, but we’ll get to that here in a bit.

For now, know that any shipment that stays within city or county lines will often need no more than a tow. And you can get a tow regardless of your vehicle’s condition; whether it’s running or not, totaled or pristine, a tow truck can move it for you at a competitive rate.

When you should have your vehicle towed

As mentioned, the best time to have your vehicle towed is when you’re moving it a short distance, within about a hundred miles of the pickup location. There are times when it might be useful to have a running car towed as well, and this is one of those times.

This often happens when you’re relocating within a city or a county but don’t have the ability to drive your vehicle yourself. A tow company can come in, move your vehicle for you while you handle other things regarding your move, and you don’t have to worry about it.

Of course, for these kinds of shipments, it’s often best to just drive it yourself if you can. Tow companies are primarily used to move vehicles that just can’t move under their own power, but shippers can do it as well. Just remember that tow trucks are best for short distance shipments, while shipping companies are best for long-distance. 

What to know about shipping a car

Shipping a car, though, is a much different thing. While it is the same as towing in that you’re using a truck to move a vehicle, the services provided by a shipper are much different than those provided by a tow company.

To start, auto transporters focus on nationwide shipments – interstate, not intrastate. So they’re most useful for people who are looking to move their vehicle longer distances than just within a city or a county.

Auto transport services are most often used by people who are moving to another state or another part of the country. They are also useful for when you buy a vehicle online in another state and need it delivered to your door. 

Many people use auto transport services. Whether they’re relocating themselves, relocating for work or because of new military orders, or if they just bought or sold a car online, auto transportation is designed for people to move vehicles long-distance at lower prices.

When you should have your vehicle shipped

You should ship your vehicle whenever you need to relocate a vehicle long distance. This is because it’s generally going to be cheaper to ship your vehicle longer distances than it would be to either drive it or tow it.

The way this works is pretty simple. With a tow truck, it’s just your vehicle, so the tow truck driver has to charge more for his time and services. But with a car transporter, they can split those charges amongst ten different customers. This sharing of the overall cost of the route helps them keep prices for each customer lower.

Tow companies don’t have this luxury, since they only move one vehicle at a time. However, for tow companies, their operating radius is much smaller than a car shipper, so they can charge less overall. 

This is also why you should use a tow company for shorter moves. Nationwide carriers rely on brokers to fill their trucks, and brokers take their own fee for their services. Tow companies don’t have to use a broker; you can call them and immediately book your tow. This isn’t feasible with a carrier, so brokers are the ones you talk to when shipping long distances. 

Because of the addition of another company into the mix, prices go up. They even out the further you ship your vehicle, though, making it much better to tow a vehicle short distances and ship a vehicle long distances.

Ship your next vehicle with American Auto Shipping

If you’re interested in shipping a vehicle, make sure to give us a call! We are a premier nationwide car transportation company. We can help you ship your vehicle to or from anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. We work with only top-rated carriers on the road, so you’re in good hands from start to finish.

If you’re interested in shipping with us, give us a call at 800-930-7417 to speak to a representative. They can answer your questions, give you a quote, book your shipment, and much more. You can also get a free quote right on our website by filling out our free quote request form. From there, you can book your shipment right then and there if you’re ready to commit.

No matter what you’re shipping or where you’re shipping from, American Auto Shipping offers competitive pricing and customer service. We’re here to help you ship your vehicle, so let us help!