If you are moving your business or home, most of your items will be packed and transported via a mover truck. The most valuable and sensitive items will be in your custody to take while you travel. How about your car? Well, some people sell the car at the current location and buy a new one at the new destination. But what if you do not want to sell your car? How can you transport a 4-wheeler during your relocation?

In general, the options to move a car in India are:

  • Self-drive 
  • Hired drivers
  • Train
  • Trucks
  • Open trailers
  • Enclosed trailers (also known as Car Carriers)

Which method is suitable for you? Read on to find out what factors to consider for making the right choice.

The above points are explained a bit as below:

  • Self-drive – Since you are already planning to travel to your new destination, why not drive the car to the location?
  • Hired drivers – Driving on the highway, especially for long hours, is not a safe plan, especially if you are a newbie driver. Thus, you can hire drivers who would drive your car to the said location and drop you and your vehicle at your new home.
  • Train – You can transport your car as a parcel in certain freight trains.
  • Trucks – You can find large trucks with provisions to move cars and bikes.
  • Open trailers – Large trailer trucks can carry multiple vehicles. It is commonly used by car dealers and those who want to move numerous 4-wheelers simultaneously. 
  • Enclosed trailers – In boxed trailers, your car would be latched secure from multiple directions. It is the safest option as your vehicle will be inside an enclosed container. This method is most common for transporting new as well as old cars.

A few comparisons between the above options are as below:

Self-drive vs hired drivers

Driving on a highway for hours together, especially at night, is risky. The reflection of the lights makes it hard to calculate where and at what speed the other vehicles are approaching you. Even a tiny bump with another car on the highway could be fatal as the vehicles will be running at a very high speed. Thus, hiring trained drivers who can drive for multiple hours at a stretch without any problems is best.

When driving, you tend to get exhausted quickly, and you might have to spend money on lodging and refreshments. In addition, there are other costs like fuel, toll, and more along the way. Moreover, you would sacrifice several work days in driving and resting after the drive. Therefore, you can save energy, money, and time by hiring a competent driver who is used to long-distance driving. You would have to pay the return train fare along with daily wages for the duration of the project to the driver.

The safety of the car is quite a dilemma in this comparison. Even if you hire a driver from a reputed auto transportation company, keeping track of your vehicle throughout the drive is tricky. What happens between the start point and destination would be a little foggy. This situation is nail-biting if you are sentimentally attached to the car or if it is luxurious/ vintage.

Driving vs truck transportation

truck-

The main elements to consider when comparing driving and truck transportation are the distance and the type of car. If you are moving a couple of hundred kilometres, you can drive it personally or hire a driver. On the other hand, moving your vehicle a few states, say from Gujrat to West Bengal, away on the road is going to be quite challenging for a regular person who works a different profession for a living.

The wear and tear and the mileage imparted during the drive would be high, reducing your car’s value. In addition, certain cars are not designed for long-distance trips, and when you put such a vehicle through this expedition, you might end up damaging your car, leading to more spending than hiring a truck.

Distance of transportationThe average cost of hiring an auto transportation companyTime Taken
Less than 400 kmApprox INR 4500/-2 days
Between 400 to 800 kmApprox INR 7500/-4 days
Between 800 to 1300 kmApprox INR 10000/-6 days
Between 1300 to 1900 kmApprox INR 11500/-8 days
Above 1900 kmApprox 12.5k-15k 10 days

There is another cost element in choosing auto transportation service providers. Any commercial vehicle crossing the state line must pay a permit fee. The permit fee varies from one state to another. Thus, it is best to choose any service provider with a national permit so that this would not be a significant additional charge in your invoice.

Transportation by train

Freight trains running on specific routes allow transportation of cars. One container can only transport five wagon cars or flat cars. It costs INR 494 for 100 kgs for 1000km.

Type of carMinimum car weightCost of train transportation for 1000 km (Minimum)
A small car like Maruti Alto1200 kgINR 5,928
A mid-size car like Audi A41600 kgINR 7,904
A large car like Audi A82000 kgINR 9,880
Small SUVs like Hyundai Creta1500 kgINR 7,410
Mid-size SUVs like Tata Harrier2400 kgINR 11,856
Large SUVs like Tata Safari3000 kgINR 14,820

Source: [IRFCA] Indian Railways FAQ: Freight Trains

How Much Does A Car Weigh? (Average Weight By Car Type) (mechanicbase.com)

The cost of train parcel services varies with time, route, train, and more. Thus, visit the official IRCTC website to learn about the current rates. Moreover, the chances of damage and scratches during travel are pretty prominent, and IRCTC would provide no guarantee for safe handling. There is also no guarantee for the time duration and you would have to leave it to their sweet will for delivering it as per their convenience. Plus, you would have a torrid time moving between various desks at the railway station for booking your car, as red tape is common. You could experience the same lackadaisical attitude while taking delivery of your car at the destination station.

Transportation by trailers

trailers

A trailer is the standard option among people to transport cars. There are several types of trailers based on your car size and distance.

Type of trailerBest forSafety factor
Normal truckUsed for cities where car carriers are not available. Lot of work has to be put into securing the car inside the truck else it will certainly get damaged.
Single vehicle trailerBest for a luxury car for any distance. It will be expensive but worth it. Lot of work has to be put into securing the car inside the truck else it will certainly get damaged.
Multiple car trailer – single level (general car container)Best for transporting multiple cars at once. Can also be used for transporting a single car. Will be less expensive as economies of scale kick in. It has specially inbuilt latches to secure the car and is very safe.
Multiple level trailers (full sized car containers)Commonly used by car dealers and those who want to transport tens of cars at once. Also used for sending a single car. Cost will be least and time consumed a bit more, but it is the best option for an average Indian person with budget pockets.It has specially inbuilt latches to secure the car and is very safe.

The thing is, these car containers are run between fixed points. Their point of origin is usually a place which has a car manufacturing facility. These car containers are manufactured for the specific purpose of taking new cars from factories to distributors across the country, according to their respective contracts. So during this side of the journey they are already fully loaded with new cars from their factory contracts. On the return leg, they try to take a load of old cars/ household items to recover their return journey expenses. 

If they don’t do that or aren’t able to secure return journey load, then it’s a loss making proposition for them. They have to report to the factory once again as production is continuous and deadlines must be met. They also generally ply to fixed destinations where wholesale distributors appointed by the car manufacturers have their base. So such trailers are available at select cities in India. People living in other cities have to manage using other regular trucks or other options as listed above.

How to pick a suitable auto transportation company?

  1. First, check for the essential elements like experience, brand reputation, and online reviews. 
  2. Second, talk with the service provider about hidden costs, safety precautions, type of trailers available, delivery time, and more.
  3. Then, go for the most critical element, the insurance. Car shipping insurance and your car insurance are quite different. Any licensed auto transportation company should have a vehicle shipping license. Check the liability and cargo insurance amount of your service provider. These amounts will help them cover any damage that might happen. 

The transit insurance also covers damages due to natural calamities during transportation. It is also essential to check whether the service provider has an overnight vehicle insurance policy to cover damages occurring when the cars are stored overnight inside the trailer or truck.

In unfortunate circumstances where you need to claim the insurance, you need the original transit invoice, landing bill, correspondence between you and the carrier, insurance copies (if any), and the survey report.

  1. The last thing to check is the contract and the contingency clauses. First, check whether your service provider can put all these promises in the contract. Next, check whether the company offers any compensation for delays in delivery time or other issues. 
  2. Pay no more than 50% advance and get your consignment note, money receipt and insurance copies.

The best way to haul a car is by hiring an auto shipping company. First, however, choosing a reliable and licensed service provider with a solid insurance policy and reasonable cost is vital.