To understand how and why things are done the way they are in the car shipping business, it helps to understand the basic process. Here is a breakdown of how the car shipping industry works:
Most car shipping companies do not own any trucks, but are actually auto transport brokers. (Some companies do own their own trucks, but usually not enough to ship cars to all over the US.) So, once an auto transport broker has a customer, the broker will contract with an actual car transporter—either a trucking company or an individual owner-operator—to ship the car.
To make the most of fuel and shipping costs, car transporters want their trucks to run fully loaded and therefore look for customers that are shipping in a direction they plan to travel. Car transporters primarily use websites, known as load boards, to find loads. Auto transporters work through brokers rather than directly with consumers because it is too difficult to find enough individuals that have vehicles that need to be shipped in the same general direction.
In most cases, when a potential customer calls to request a quote, the broker will provide a price without actually having a truck lined up. This is because only a percentage of people that call for a quote actually become customers. (Typically, potential customers will call between 3 and 10 different car shipping companies before making a decision.) Once a customer has agreed to work with a broker, the broker will then find a car transporter that will take the shipment at the quoted price. Once the price has been agreed upon, the car is then scheduled to ship.
MoveCars.com is a comprehensive online directory of car shipping companies, including enclosed auto transport and international shipping companies. Even before you start looking for a car shipping company, you can find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about car moving, car shipping tips, and a glossary of auto transport terms.