Door-to-Door vs. Depot-to-Depot Vehicle Transport

Door-to-door and depot-to-depot vehicle transport are the two main transport methods available when you have a vehicle transported.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss briefly each of these transport methods and share the main advantages and disadvantages of each. You’ll also discover you which type of delivery is most prevalent among car carriers today.

Car loaded for door to door delivery

What is Door-to-Door Vehicle Transport?

In the simplest of terms, it involves having your vehicle picked up at the “door” of the pick up address, and then delivered to the “door” of the delivery address.

The pick up address and delivery address can be a home, business, or commercial address. The vehicle is literally being picked up and delivered “door-to-door,” the same way a package is delivered in the mail.

Some situations may prevent door-to-door service. Residential zoning laws, weight restrictions, narrow streets, and low hanging trees may prohibit big trucks from entering neighborhoods.

Likewise, if you live on a hillside or mountainous area, the driver may not be able to manoeuvre his truck all the way to your doorstep safely. A good rule of thumb is if you see tractor trailers regularly in your neighbourhood, then pick up or delivery to your door shouldn’t be a problem.

In those instances where the carrier can’t provide door-to-door service, the pick up and/or delivery will take place at a safe, convenient and mutually-agreed upon location.

The carrier usually works with customers to determine the best pick up and delivery locations if the truck can’t to their door. Typical meeting locations might include parking lots of nearby churches, schools or even shopping centres.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Door-to-Door Car Transport

The main advantage of door-to-door delivery is the convenience. Your vehicle is being picked up and delivered at your specified locations. And even if your vehicle can’t get picked up or delivered right to your door for the reasons outlined above, it will be picked up and delivered nearby – typically within a mile or two of your original locations.

Door-to-door car transport also allows for convenient pick up and delivery times for the vehicle hauling customer. It is sometimes possible for carriers to pick up or deliver cars outside of traditional business hours – i.e. early morning, late evening or even at night, and weekends.

Simply put, door-to-door shipping provides the most flexible shipping method to work around peoples’ schedules.

The other advantage of door-to-door transport is your vehicle is picked up and delivered immediately with you being there. When you do terminal-to-terminal shipping, as we’ll discuss in a minute, your vehicle may be sitting around in a terminal yard until the car hauler, or you, can get there.

The only disadvantage to door-to-door shipping is the cost. It usually costs a little more than terminal-to-terminal transport but not so much more that it’s cost prohibitive. In fact, door-to-door car shipping is offered by nearly all auto transport companies. It is the most common car transport method.

The default quotes you get from carriers will generally be for depot-to-depot, open transport. It’s worth going through the booking process to check the actual price so you know what it’s really going to cost.

Online bookings will generally let you do this, configure your own transport options and get a final price before handing over your credit card details.

What is Depot-to-Depot Transport?

Some car carriers have storage yards. These are typically fenced in, fully secured areas where vehicles can be picked up from and delivered to.

Carriers with depots will ship their customers’ vehicles from one of their depots to another. You’re then responsible for getting the vehicle to and from their depots.

This is depot-to-depot transport.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Depot-to-Depot Car Transport

The primary advantage to this transport method is that it is usually cheaper than door-to-door transport, but the savings will vary depending on your pick up and delivery locations.

Door-to-door transport may be substantially higher than depot-to-depot if your vehicle is being picked up or delivered in remote areas. If the pick up and delivery locations are along interstate routes or in larger cities, the price difference may not be that much at all.

The other advantage is that in some rare cases it can be convenient if the estimated pick up and delivery days and times for door-to-door shipping don’t work for you.

With door-to-door transport it requires you to be there at the time of pick up or delivery. With depot-to-depot transport, you can just drop your car off or pick it up at the depot when it’s convenient for you.

Of course, that potential convenience only makes sense if a depot is close by and doesn’t charge depot storage fees.

If the pick up and delivery locations are in remote areas, a depot may be several kilometres miles away. This will add travel time and costs to get your vehicle transported so keep that in mind.

Some depots may charge storage fees so you have to factor those into the overall cost of your transport as well.

Sure, depots usually don’t charge fees if your vehicle will be picked up or delivered within a couple days or so but when they do charge fees, they are usually nominal (i.e. $10-$15/day).

Nonetheless, those fees can add up so be aware of them if you’re working with a depot-to-depot carrier.

The other disadvantage of depot-to-depot transport is terminal yards usually have traditional business hours.

If you’re planning on dropping off your vehicle or picking it up in the evening or weekend those options may not be available.

Be sure to ask what the operating hours are for the terminal yards you’ll be dealing with.

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Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more