Car Carriers: What Does a Car Transport Business Do?

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Each year about $11 billion is spent transporting vehicles across the country. We’ve all seen those huge trucks with vehicles packed on tight. 

But how does this industry of transporting trucks on trucks work? How do you transport your vehicle? 



The car transport business can seem like a confusing and overwhelming industry. But once you learn the process and your options, it becomes much clearer. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know to ship your vehicle. 

Why Transport Your Vehicle 

There are a few reasons you would need to ship a vehicle. The most common reason is if you happen to be moving. Driving your vehicle across the country may not be an option, so you ship it instead. 

Another rising reason is when you buy your vehicle online. Thanks to the internet, people now can buy their vehicle from anywhere in the country. 



Different models have widely varying prices depending on where you are in the country. So if you struggle to afford your dream car locally, look online. Once you buy your dream vehicle, you’ll need to have it shipped to you. 

Types of Shipping  

There are two main options when it comes to how you ship your vehicle. There are enclosed trucks and open trucks. 

Enclosed trucks provide the most security and protection for your vehicle. But they are also more expensive. 

Open truck shipping is going to cost less, but your vehicle is exposed to the elements and everyone. This leaves your vehicle vulnerable to road debris, vandalism, and theft. 

What to Look for in a Company 

Before you decide on a shipping company, takes these steps to ensure you pick a reputable company. Choosing a company that is cheap but not reputable puts your vehicle at risk of never reaching the destination. 

Safety Rating 

You can look online to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a “company snapshot.” This company profile will tell you their business information, safety record and rating, and crash information. 

Insurance 

Since the transport company is liable for your vehicle during shipment, you need to make sure they have insurance. This way if anything happens to your car during shipment you will have recourse for reimbursement. 

Ask what the limits are for the policy. Also, ask what the policy covers. Is it the entire car or only parts of it? 

Reviews 

Read the reviews of others who have used the company for shipping. You can ask friends and family as a place to start. If you don’t know anyone that has shipped a vehicle, you can read reviews online. 

Brokers 

Brokers are not shippers. They are a middle man. Some shady brokers won’t tell you that they are a broker. 

When you ship through a broker, you have less control over who ships your vehicle. It could end up on a less than reputable company’s truck. 

Determining a Rate 

When it comes to getting a quote, you’ll want to request one from a few different companies. Never agree to the first rate you get from one company. 

Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so while you want a good rate, going with the cheapest option isn’t always the smartest choice. 

Car hauling companies will want to know the origin and destination of your vehicle. This will determine what shipping lane your shipment falls into. 

They will also want to know the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Those that are bigger, longer, and heavier than average will cost a premium to ship. This is because your vehicle will need special accommodations during shipment.

If your car doesn’t run it may cost you more too. These cars need extra tools to get them on and off the truck.  

Prepare Your Vehicle 

As your shipment date approaches, you’ll want to make sure your car is ready. The first thing you’ll want to do is empty it of your personal belongings. 

Almost all transport companies require that there is nothing in the vehicle. This is partly because they don’t want to be responsible for your personal belongings. But they also want to keep the weight down. 

Next, you want to give your vehicle a good washing. This is so you can take the time to note any scratches or damage that your car currently has. once your vehicle is nice and clean, take pictures, so you have a record of its current condition. 

Finally, you need to check with the carrier about their gas requirements. Some carriers will want you to drain the gas as low as possible. 

When the big day arrives, have your car at the meeting point and your Bill of Lading ready. Your BOL is a detailed form that your carrier will give you that outlines the details of your shipment. 

Keep one copy for yourself and have one copy ready for the driver. 

Upon Delivery 

When your car arrives at the destination the first thing you should do is inspect it. It is vital that you mark any new damage on the BOL. If you can take pictures at delivery, this is helpful too. 

What Can a Car Transport Business Do for You?

Now that you know the basics of the car transport business, you are ready to ship your vehicle across the country. All you need to do is decide what you can afford and what type of truck you want to ship your vehicle on. 

Once you find a reputable company, you can prepare your vehicle for shipment. Remember, the more questions and prep work you do, the less risk of problems you’ll have during transport. 

Before you transport your vehicle, make sure you ask these five questions