Auto Transport Guide

The following will help answer any questions you may have regarding your upcoming auto transport.

Car Hauler

Carnections is capable of moving cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and motorcycles 365 days a year. Most of the transports we do use a standard 10-car open hauler or carrier. You’ve probably seen these haulers on the highway. Like their name says, they can fit up to 10 cars. They are the most common and the most affordable method of car shipping. The 10-car open hauler is a tractor pulling a trailer connected by what’s known as a “stinger” hitch. It is the transport rig approved by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). There are also other common sizes of open car haulers/carriers that are approved by the DOT (ex: 3-car carriers, 6-car carriers, wedge trailers, low boy trailers).

Enclosed Hauler/Carrier

An alternative to an open hauler/carrier is an enclosed car hauler/carrier. These are semis that completely enclose the vehicles inside of them. They are either soft-sided or metal-sided. They come in various sizes, fitting 1 to 4 cars. If you need a classic, antique, high-performance, or otherwise expensive or delicate vehicle shipped, you should consider shipping it with an enclosed hauler/carrier.

Since they don’t fit as many cars as the open haulers/carriers and because these rigs are more expensive to buy, shipping enclosed is not as common and is more expensive. For short distances, the price may be as little as $100-$200 more than an open carrier. For longer distances, the price can be $500-$700 more than an open hauler/carrier. Enclosed haulers/carriers are ideal for protection against the weather, road hazards, and other vehicles on the rig below or above yours.

There are other specialty car hauler/carrier. Two common examples are hot shots and flatbeds. Hot shots usually consist of a short trailer that can fit 1 to 4 vehicles. They mostly cover short distances and are faster and more time responsive, e.g., when you can’t wait for the normal shipping time or when you need specific days for pickup and delivery. Carnections also offers hot shot service for long distances. Hot shots are more expensive than the standard open car hauler/carrier. Flatbeds are the only way to ship very large vehicles, like other semi trucks, very tall vans like Sprinters, construction equipment, buses, RVs, etc. Call us at 1 (800) 909-2330 or email us at to get a quote for a hot-shot or flatbed transportation.

Door to Door

All of our auto transports are door to door. This is opposed to terminal to terminal. Contrary to what many people believe, door to door is actually much more common than terminal to terminal. Don’t let the term “door to door” deceive you. The open car auto transporters are typically about 14 feet high and 85 to 105 feet long. This means they don’t fit into most residential areas. So you’ll probably need to meet the carrier at a nearby location (e.g., a large road or a grocery store parking lot) for pickup and delivery. The carrier will get as close to your door as possible, so in most cases you will have to travel a few miles. When the driver is in the area for the pick-up and delivery he or she will call you and the two of you will arrange the meeting location.

Insurance & Licensing

Our Auto Transport Network, Insurance, and DOT Licensing

Carnections is a nationwide auto transport company. But we don’t own enough of our own trucks to cover the entirety of the United States. In fact, nobody does. We are able to pickup and deliver to anywhere in the country because we belong to a nationwide network of bonded, licensed, and insured carriers. Not just anybody can join this network. Each carrier in the network must be federally licensed with the FMCSA, which is part of the Depart of Transportation (DOT). And to be licensed with the DOT, you have to have insurance covering the cargo (the vehicles being shipped). Carnections is part of this network, and as such, we are licensed with the DOT. We are also insured and bonded.

Textured Curve Lt shipping vehicles

Vehicle Condition

Operable vs “Inop”

Operating vehicles are less expensive to ship than inoperable vehicles. Your vehicle doesn’t have to be running or in tip-top shape to be considered operable. It simply has to start up, retain a charge(so that it doesn’t have to be jump-started), and be drivable onto the car carrier. The driver will most likely have to reposition your car on his or her truck as he loads and unloads vehicles along his route. Your car must be capable of starting up and driving up the truck’s ramp each time. A non-operational vehicle will typically cost $150-$300 more. This fee is for loading and unloading. Non-functioning vehicles need to be winched into position on the truck or towed into position by a tow truck, hence the loading and unloading fee.

Vehicle Condition Operable auto transport guide
Vehicle Condition Inop auto transport guide

Items inside your Personal Vehicle

The licensing that carriers get to legally transport vehicles does not technically allow them to haul household goods (e.g., furniture, clothes, and other personal belongings). So drivers that do haul your goods inside your vehicle are taking the risk of a hefty fine. But it is an extremely common request among our customers and most of our drivers are okay with taking the risk. If you choose to transport any personal belongings inside your vehicle, take the following into consideration. There may be a fee of $50-$200. We leave the decision to charge a fee up to the particular carrier hauling your vehicle. Try to keep the weight to a maximum of 150lbs and keep everything in the trunk or rear of the vehicle. If these two conditions are met, most drivers will not charge any fee. However, if you exceed 150lbs or cram your car full of goods, especially when they take up the back seat and passenger seat, the driver is more likely to charge you a fee. And the more stuff, the higher the fee.

Avoid putting large and heavy items inside your vehicle. If you add too much extra weight, the driver may simply choose not to transport your vehicle. And the most important fact to keep in mind is that any and all personal items inside your vehicle are not covered by insurance (this is because the auto transport licensing supplied by the DOT doesn’t cover the transport of household/personal goods). Theft or damage is basically unheard of, but anything is possible. You load items inside your vehicle being transported at your own risk.

Bill of Lading & Vehicle Condition Report

Upon pick-up and delivery of your vehicle, pay attention to the Bill of Lading (BOL), sometimes called the “Condition Report with Disclaimers” page, and make sure the driver supplies you with your own copy. There are two BOLs for each auto transport, one for pick-up and one for delivery of your vehicle. The BOL contains sketches of all 4 sides of a generic car & SUV. On these sketches, the driver will mark places where she/he sees damage. This allows both you and the driver to know if there was any damage incurred on your car during the shipping process.

Your vehicle must be clean for the report to be accurate. If it’s not clean, the driver will likely indicate it’s too dirty to mark damage. If your car is too dirty to clearly see all of the scratches, dents, chips, etc, then you cannot claim new damage on or after the time of delivery. We wish it weren’t this way, but there are dishonest people out there who try to get their car shipped for free by making fraudulent damage claims. Most of the time these claims are innocent mistakes. Most of us don’t regularly walk around our vehicle looking for any new damage, so we are surprised that there were dings on our vehicle prior to shipping it. If the walk around doesn’t happen at pick-up (because the vehicle is too dirty), you might be indignant, really believing all dings you see were incurred during transport. It’s possible (but very unlikely) that they did happen during transport, but if there was no original inspection, there’s no way to tell for sure.

Damage does occasionally occur. If it does happen during the transportation, make sure to clearly mark it on the BOL at delivery. Usually, there will be an area labeled “exceptions” on the BOL where you can clearly indicate the damage that was present on delivery but not on pick-up. Most of the time it’s small, but you still want the cost of repair covered. That’s why insurance exists and why you want to use a federally licensed company like Carnections.

We take care of your car shipping needs!

Call (800)-909-2330 to get a free quote.

Quotes & Payment

Reputable car shippers will always quote a total, all-inclusive price. This price includes insurance, taxes, fuel charges, extra for enclosed shipments, and add-ons like the fee for inoperable vehicles. A deposit of $200-$500 (Carnections usually charges $300) is standard. The legal term for the deposit is “consideration”. When an auto transport company (like Carnections) makes an offer to ship your car and you accept the offer, you pay the deposit as consideration. This arrangement has specific advantages for you, the customer, and the auto transporter. The transport company is obligated to immediately begin the process of getting your vehicle shipped. And when the carrier of the auto shipping company drives perhaps hundreds of miles to pick up the customer’s vehicle, the customer cannot then say they were not serious or not ready without having to forfeit the deposit.

The contract agreed upon when the deposit is paid contains the terms and conditions under which the vehicle will be shipped. The deposit is not in addition to the quoted total price; instead, it is subtracted from the total. For example, if you are quoted $1000 and you’ve already paid a $300 deposit, you will only own the balance of $700. The deposit is usually paid by credit card and must be paid to get the transport process started. The balance is due on pick-up or delivery (delivery is by far the most common) and is usually paid directly to the driver in certified funds (cash or cashier’s check). Personal checks and credit cards are usually not accepted for the balance. Sometimes business checks are accepted (for well establish companies). Carnections sometimes makes exceptions for repeat customers, e.g., we will allow the whole amount to be paid by credit card if we’ve done business with you in the past. To ensure that the price doesn’t change and that we are able to transport your car, make sure to be thorough in indicating any alterations to your vehicle.

The Quote can change for the following reasons:
  • The price you are quoted will change or the driver may refuse to transport your vehicle if it is different from what you stated it to be.
  • If it is inoperable, but was indicated to be operable, the carrier may refuse to transport it, or the price will go up (typically by $150 – $200).
  • If your vehicle was stated to be of a certain size when it is actually larger, the carrier may refuse to transport it or the price will increase.
  • If your vehicle’s windows are broken, the driver will usually refuse to transport it, because he/she will not be able to protect its interior against the weather.
  • If alterations have been made to your vehicle that you did not accurately indicate, e.g., lifted or larger tires, the price may increase or the carrier may refuse to transport your vehicle.
  • Other issues are specialty wheels, canvas or soft tops, vehicles only partially restored, wrecked or non-road drivable vehicles, high antennas, spoilers, etc.
  • There may be other issues that will prevent Carnections from being able to transport your vehicle or will change the price.

Note: Throughout this document, the word “truck” refers to a car hauler/carrier. The word “carrier” refers to the person or company that owns the truck. Usually this is the same person who drives the truck. The word “driver” refers to the person who drives the truck. Since the same person who drives the truck usually also owns it (owner-operator), “driver” and “carrier” are often synonymous terms.