How exactly do you ship a car to a new location?

By Mat Gallagher

Whether you’re relocating, vacationing or buying from auction, you need to find a way to get your vehicle from point a to point b.

When you think of car transportation, most of us imagine cars going from the factory to the various showrooms across the country. Droves of cellophane-wrapped identikit models being shipped off from Kansas City to Connecticut, Montgomery to Minneapolis or Chicago to Charlotte. Though this is big business, the largest movement is actually of used cars.


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The brokers are not the ones doing the heavy lifting. Much like when you buy a set of shoes online — you don’t expect the shop to bring it to your house themselves.

Auction houses and dealers are some of the biggest movers, trading used models across the country and delivering them to second hand car lots across the country. And now, with the growth of online sales, some dealers, such as Carvana and Car Max can arrange to send the used car you want, direct to your door — from anywhere in the US.

Perhaps equally as big though, is the personal car movement industry. This is often when families move states but want to bring their car with them. This can be permanent moves, or in the case of our beloved snowbirds, just for the winter. Because, who really wants to drive for two days?

There are various companies set up to cater to just these personal moves. A Google search will reveal hundreds of options to have your car collected and dropped off in its new location a few days later. These companies are usually brokers. Though the brokers are the ones that do the deal with you, they will not be the ones doing the heavy lifting. Much like when you buy a set of shoes online — you don’t expect the shop to bring it to your house themselves.

Once you agree to give the brokers your business, and provide all the details of your vehicle and its destination, the broker puts your journey out to tender. For this they use an online marketplace, known as a load board, where brokers and carriers make deals. If a carrier company is interested in taking your car it will accept the job (or load) and then be passed the details of the journey.

Carriers are looking to make the most money for each journey, so will be looking to fill all the spaces on the car carrier with similar pick up and drop off points. A big truck can carry up to ten cars at any one time. Once the carrier has enough cars to fill a truck, it will pass the orders on to the driver. Though often these drivers work directly for the carrier company, they may also be separate companies brought in for the job.


When the driver starts his journey he will receive all of his orders via a digital app, giving him details of the pick up and delivery information. He collects each car from its location, scanning its VIN and photographing it to confirm its condition. Once you sign the transport document, the information is uploaded and both the broker and carrier get alerted that your car is on its way.

At the end of the journey the car is unloaded, photographed, checked and signed for. As the information is transmitted via the app, the carrier and broker are once again alerted and any outstanding payments to the carrier and driver are made. What hopefully appears a seamless process is the work of at least three companies and a modern technology solution.


Tags: Industry news, Small brokers, Large brokers, Auctions, Dealers, Carriers, Owner operators

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