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Towing Versus Shipping: Which is Right for You?

How far do you need to move your car?

When you are considering moving a car somewhere without driving it, you essentially have three main options: towing it yourself, getting it towed by a towing company or shipping it. Each one of these have benefits as well as pitfalls.

The main thing to consider is how far you are moving your car. Towing is a reasonable option if you are moving your car a very short distance. However, for any move over fifty miles or so, shipping should be used.

There can be exceptions to this though. For example, if you are on Long Island, New York and you want to move your car to north New Jersey, it might make more sense to ship your car rather than having it towed.

In the end the main differences that you will experience between all of these methods of having your car transported are: convenience, price and the amount of time it will take to move the car.   

Towing your car yourself

Towing your car yourself is by far the least convenient option of the three. It could be the cheapest option, but if something goes wrong, it could easily become the most expensive. This option is not for the faint of heart. Its also not for those without some sort of towing experience.

You have a few options with towing your car yourself. You could either flat tow the car or you could rent a trailer or dolly to tow the car with.

“Flat towing” is when one car is pulling another by a connection called a tow bar. The car being towed is not on anything and remains in neutral for the duration of the tow, so its wheels move thus allowing it to be towed while being on flat ground.

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This sort of towing is only recommended for extremely short distances of a few miles or less. You are at a high risk of damage to the car being towed as well as to the car you are using to tow it. Realistically, towing like this is really only plausible for towing the car to an auto shop or scrap yard.

If you tow a car using a trailer or dolly of some sort, you can get further than you can with flat towing. It is also a bit safer than flat towing. However, you will need to buy or rent (likely buy) the trailer which will increase your cost considerably. You will also need a stronger vehicle to do the towing because of the additional weight being towed. This means you will likely need either a truck, very powerful SUV or RV to tow the car in question. If you don’t have one of those, consider flat towing or forget towing it yourself altogether.

Either way, if you choose to tow your own car, there are other issues that might come up which you need to consider:

  • Much less manoeuvrability – When the car your driving has another car or a trailer attached, you are going to have to take driving nice and slow. Taking turns will be more challenging. Navigating in reverse will be much more challenging and might seem near impossible. 
  • You will burn through more gas – The more your car weighs, the more fuel you are going to burn. When you are towing another car or another car and a trailer, their weight is carried by your engine. Thus, the amount of gas you will use will increase significantly.
  • Engine, wheel and transmission deterioration – Adding this much weight to your car will cause wear on your wheels, transmission and engine. If you are only doing it once and for a short distance of a few miles, the effects should be negligible. If it’s more frequent or for a longer distance than that, you might have some issues to repair after the tow is complete.

Having your car towed

As you might imagine, having your car towed is much more convenient than towing it yourself. However, it can be outrageously expensive. That is mainly because there is not much regulation within the towing business as far as price setting. Prices are often set by dispatchers or even drivers. The prices are sometimes set by the subjective perception of a customers need versus a guestimate of competitive supply. Thus, prices can get pretty steep.

And that is for a fairly short tow. For long distance tows, you will pay very high prices.

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Availability for a tow can sometimes be an issue too for tows that are more than a few miles. If you plan ahead and give whichever towing company you choose advanced notice it shouldn’t be an issue, but it could if you call for a tow on the same day. It will depend on the distance of your tow.

Shipping your car

If you are moving your car further than a short distance, shipping your car is likely your best option. You won’t need to worry about any wear and tear on another car you are using to tow the car in question. It will also be much more convenient because you won’t need to be involved beyond pick-up and delivery.

Your car will also have much less of a chance of being damaged because it will be safely secured to the auto carrier. The price will also be quite reasonable too based on the fact that the price you end up with for your car shipment is carefully calculated using several factors including:

  • The current cost of fuel
  • The distance that you are shipping your car
  • The type of vehicle that you are shipping
  • The time of year that you choose to ship
  • The method of shipping that you choose for your shipment
  • And more…

Conclusion

In the end, when you’re talking about a longer distance transport, car shipping is the best choice when you consider the safety of your car, the convenience and the price. Although, it is up to you which method of transportation for your car you end up using.

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