How Does the Car Shipping Industry Work?

Many consumers are not familiar with how the car shipping business works. Understanding how it works gives you a better idea of how and why things happen the way they do. Here are the basics:

Most car shipping companies that work directly with consumers do not own trucks. They are known as auto transport brokers. Even if they do own some trucks, they typically do not own enough to be able to ship cars everywhere that consumers want to ship their cars. Once an auto transport broker has found a customer, the broker contracts with an actual car transporter to ship your car. The car transporter may be a trucking company or an individual owner-operator.

Car transporters look for vehicles that are shipping in a direction they plan to travel, so that their trucks can run fully loaded. Car transporters oftentimes use websites, known as load boards, to find vehicles to transport. They may also have relationships with auto transport brokers. They do not work directly with consumers, because it would be too hard to find enough customers that have vehicles being shipped along the same general route in which they have trucks traveling.

In most cases, auto transport brokers provide a price quote to potential customers without already having a truck lined up. This is because only a portion of potential customers become actual customers. (Most customers get quotes from 3 to 10 car shipping companies.) Once a customer has agreed to work with a broker, the broker then finds a car transporter that will take shipment at the quoted price.

Once it is agreed upon, your car is then scheduled to ship.

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