Shipping your car vs towing it

March 6, 2019
Atanas Nikolov
Car Shipping Seattle
Do you need to transport your car somewhere? If you do, you might have already stumbled upon the different options that are out there. But while the information you find online is generally great, it can often be confusing.

So here we are – coming to clear things up! Today, we will compare two different methods of getting your car from point A to point B. We are going to take a closer look at auto transport companies and contrast their services to towing your vehicle.

Interestingly enough, the latter is not as straightforward as it sounds. That makes it even more important to learn a thing or two about it. Ready to begin?

Car shipping basics

Undoubtedly, one of the easiest ways to move your car across the country is by shipping it. With that service, your vehicle is taken care of without any worries on your part. The only thing that is expected of you is to hand off and then receive the vehicle.

Nuances within the service exist, of course. You can opt for one of the more popular solutions, such as open auto transport. It is the most affordable and people often go with it. If you consider shipping a car from New York to Florida or any other route, open transport should definitely be on your shortlist.

Alternatively, there is enclosed auto transport. It is a step up in terms of vehicle protection. Unlike open trailers, enclosed carriers completely shield vehicles against the effects of weather and road dirt. This makes it a good choice if the aesthetics of your car are important to you. Of course, you can easily give your vehicle a wash after it arrives, but that complicates things.

Lastly, you can also consider a premium service. It usually consists of your vehicle being transported in a single-car trailer within a very concrete timeframe. While such transport is mainly booked for luxury and classic cars, everyone can benefit from it.

Ship your car via Corsia Logistics exclusive enclosed carrier anywhere in California.

What about towing your car?

The first thing that comes to mind when you consider how to transport your car is to just drive it. We have already covered the differences between shipping your car across the country vs driving it. But while towing may sound similar to driving, it has its own quirks.

For starters, towing is not for everyone. It should not even come to your mind if you have nothing to tow your car with. However, if you have one of those modern recreational vehicles the story gets a little bit different. Many people like to have a smaller vehicle with them for everyday driving on their RV trip. In such a case towing seems viable.

Another common towing situation is when you have two vehicles you need to move. If one is quite powerful (e.g. a pickup), you may consider it worthwhile to tow the other car. That being said, it is not strictly necessary for one of the vehicles to be more powerful. Here is why…

What car towing options do you have?

Just like in auto transport, there are different options when it comes to towing as well. It is crucial to know what their differences are, as they can have a huge effect on both of your vehicles. The three main options are as follows:

  • Renting or buying a tow dolly

Tow dollies have simple construction, which makes them an easy choice for many people. With them, you have the two front wheels of your car locked to a platform. The platform itself is attached to your other vehicle via a tow bar.

Since the platform is not that heavy, even less powerful cars can make use of this towing method. Nevertheless, it is not recommended, as you will be forced to drive much slower. It can work if you only have to transport a car for a short distance. Otherwise, you will be better off with a different solution.

  • Going with flat towing

Flat towing is quite similar to the former option, with the main difference that you do not need a dolly altogether. The only thing you need is a tow bar. There are different kinds, but all of them do essentially the same thing. You connect both vehicles directly and one tows the other – as simple as that! Sadly, there is a catch.

If you have a car with the manual transmission, flat towing can definitely work. The problem is that most vehicles nowadays have automatic transmissions, which are electronically controlled. That presents an issue as friction is introduced even if the car is on neutral. Not to mention that the keys have to be in the ignition for that to work anyway.

  • Renting or buying a car transport trailer

The last major option you have is to get a flatbed trailer (aka auto transport trailer). It is a solid platform, on which your car is placed in its entirety. That means no wheels are on the ground, thus no friction is introduced from the towed vehicle’s transmission.

A major con with this method though is that it requires a more powerful vehicle. Due to the increased weight, it works best with an RV or a big pickup. Aside from that, the option requires more investment as well, whether you are renting or not. Sadly, the issues with towing do not end here.

how much does it cost to ship a car

The problems with towing your car

On the face of it, towing makes a lot of sense if your situation is suitable for it. However, when it comes down to practicality, it may turn out to still be a bad decision. Here is what you need to consider:

  • Wear and tear to the engine of the towing vehicle

Whichever towing option you pick, you cannot avoid the increased stress on the engine. Even lighter trailers are not recommended nowadays for the most part. Imagine what towing an additional ton and a half of steel feels like.

Naturally, a one-off tow would likely not be that much of an issue (if your car has not already experienced trouble with the engine). Yet if it is only going to be a one-off thing, open auto transport may simply be a better alternative.

  • Wear and tear to the wheels and transmission of the towed vehicle

Both towing with a dolly and flat towing present you with the issue of wear and tear to the towed vehicle as well. With flat towing the transmission may cause additional friction, while all 4 wheels will get used for sure. And the meter will still register mileage (as if you are driving the car). With a dolly, only the back wheels get wear and tear, which is still not ideal.

  • No reverse gear

While you technically have your R gear, towing makes it difficult to operate with it. If you have no experience, you should not attempt it in the middle of the street. Most people underestimate the loss of maneuverability this causes. You should at least have it in mind!

  • Skills and experience required

Truth be told, towing may seem simple and easy, but it is not. It takes a while to get used to having the additional length at the back of your vehicle. Taking turns also becomes a hassle. If you go down the towing route, we advise you to practice maneuvering before you go on your trip. On a similar note – make sure to develop a habit of regularly checking the towed vehicle. A flat tire that you fail to notice can cause the car to catch fire.

  • Increased fuel costs

There is a simple rule – the heavier your vehicle gets the more fuel it is going to need. This can be rather negligible in the case of increasing the weight by one or two people. When it comes to a whole another car though? Yes, the cost definitely piles up.

Which option is better for you?

Deciding between shipping your car and towing it ultimately comes down to practicality. If you have an RV and you are going on a road trip throughout the States, shipping may not be the ideal option. You will be constantly on the move, which makes towing more practical. It will still have all the mentioned drawbacks, but you just do not have another choice.

On the other hand, if you are going to stay for a long while at a certain place, towing does not make a lot of sense. The trade-offs are too many to be worth the trouble. It is far easier (and likely cheaper as a whole) to have your car transported by a carrier, even if the distance doesn’t seem that long. You can learn about the benefits of shipping your car 600 miles in our article, for example. Not only will you have peace of mind, but there will be no wear and tear to the vehicle at all. Does that sound like your kind of thing? You can get a free car shipping quote right now!

Do you need more information?

I understand that explaining every single detail of our car shipping services is beyond the scope of a single article. We know that sometimes people just have more questions about something in particular. Here at Corsia Logistics, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have!

If you find that our auto transport process is not laid out clearly enough, feel free to contact us whenever you want. Our friendly staff will make sure to give you as many details as you need. They will walk you through our services in no time. Should you decide that car shipping is the right thing for you, you can book it there and then!