When you first start your car shipping journey, there are a few different types of companies that you can choose to deal with: auto transport brokers, carriers, and quote providers. Here we explain what each type of company does and does not do and which one ultimately is best to deal with to ship your vehicle.
Auto Transport Brokers
An auto transport broker is a company that handles everything but the physical relocation of your vehicle. Typically you want to book with a broker. We here at American Auto Shipping are a brokerage. We work to find you a carrier at a reasonable rate and to get your vehicle moved on time.
Brokers are a lynchpin in the auto transport industry and are an integral part of your auto transportation experience. They handle just about everything regarding the shipment of your vehicle except for the actual, physical relocation of it. Suffice it to say, you want to book your auto shipment with a broker as opposed to anyone else.
Auto transport brokers:
- Find you auto transport carriers in your area
- Handle the paperwork and customer service
- Are required to register with the FMCSA
- Are fully licensed and bonded
Typically, you’ll want to book your shipment with a broker and not a carrier. Brokers, as we mentioned, facilitate the transport of your vehicle. They find a carrier for you, they ensure they are fully licensed and insured, and they take care of payments and paperwork. They also act as your go-to contact if you have questions or concerns about your shipment.
Brokers help carriers connect with customers as well. Many carriers rely on brokers for loads, not having time to handle all the customer service themselves. Brokers make their money via their deposit, which is a fee for their services. Most brokers offer flat fees (such as $200) that is typically paid when you book your order or when they find you a truck. When you pay varies from company to company, but every one of them will have a deposit or a fee of some kind.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that brokers handle all the customer service aspects of your shipment. They will book your shipment, find a carrier, and let you know when they’ve found one. They’ll give you all the driver’s contact information and can help you reach them if you cannot while your vehicle is in transit.
They keep you appraised of your shipment from booking to delivery. This means they’ll update you whenever the status of your shipment changes.
Overall, brokers keep track of your shipment from start to finish, streamlining the process. They make it faster, easier, and cheaper than booking with a carrier.
If you are worried about the legitimacy of a potential brokerage, we recommend that you look up their license number via the U.S. Department of Transportation.
You can also read reviews of all the different brokers out there on sites like Transport Reviews. Reviews can be a great tool for determining the efficacy of a company you may be looking at booking with. We’ll discuss this more in future sections as well.
Auto Transport Carriers
Auto transport carriers are the companies that actually move your vehicle from point A to point B. They handle the physical relocation of your vehicle and rely on brokers to keep their trucks full of loads. For the most part, you don’t want to book directly with a carrier.
Auto transport carriers use several different types of trucks to ship your vehicle on. These include:
- Open transport trucks. Considered the “standard” auto transport truck, open haulers can typically ship up to ten vehicles at a single time. These are great budget options and are the go-to method of shipping for most people.
- Enclosed transport. Enclosed trucks are commonly used to ship more expensive vehicles, such as sports cars, restored classics, or high-end luxury vehicles. They are often used to transport vehicles that don’t see the road all that often, though they can usually fit any type of standard vehicle. Enclosed transport is more expensive than open.
- Flatbed transportation. Flatbed haulers are on-demand shippers that typically haul vehicles open and enclosed trucks can’t fit. This includes heavy equipment as well as damaged and other inoperable vehicles.
Auto Transport Quote Providers
Auto transport quote providers are different from brokers and carriers. What they do is in their name: they provide quotes. These quotes normally come from brokers and are designed to get you in contact with a broker. They can be useful, but quote providers don’t provide any actual shipping services; rather, they act as a liaison between you and potential brokers.
These kinds of companies are great when it comes to comparing prices and services. Getting multiple quotes is a great way to start your auto transportation journey. Good quote providers will clear any company that sends you a quote ahead of time. This way you’ll know that your vehicle will be in good hands.
Quote providers do not do any part of the shipping; they are simply a service that helps you find companies that do. However, they do offer some nifty things to customers, including:
- Comprehensive information about the auto transportation industry
- Reputable and reliable auto shippers
- Advice on who you can book with and what to watch out for during your search
While generally we recommend getting multiple quotes, quote providers are notorious for allowing their brokers to spam their customers. So you should be aware that you will likely get lots of calls and emails if you use one.
It’s Best to Deal With An Auto Transport Broker
There are several reasons why you should book your shipment with an auto transport broker.
They are your point of contact from start to finish
Don’t underestimate how important it is to be able to get a hold of someone easily. While you are given the driver’s name and number when your vehicle is dispatched, those drivers are driving. They are not allowed to be on their phones while operating their transport trucks. This can make getting updates on your shipment difficult if it is in transit.
Instead, brokers act as your first point of contact when shipping your vehicle. They can reach out to carriers and their dispatch departments to get status updates for you. They handle paperwork and answer questions for their customers. They offer discounts and ensure your vehicle is dispatched to a reputable carrier.
They save you money
Believe it or not, this is one of the few instances where a middleman actually saves you money.
The reason is fairly simple: carriers want to make as much as possible. Brokers, however, are the ones setting the prices (usually) and the ones who have the loads. So carriers have to work with brokers in order to keep their trucks loaded.
While there are times of the year where prices go up and carriers have the power, for the most part, they have to abide by prices set by brokers. Too low a price and a vehicle won’t move, of course. But brokers do end up saving their customers money when shipping, as they force carriers to compete.
They save you time
Brokers, at least most of the time, actually help you to save time when you ship your vehicle.
This is because brokers can search truck space for you. You don’t have to spend a lot of hours trying to find the right carrier company for you. While we do recommend researching the brokers that you are interested in shipping with, especially customer reviews, your broker handles most of that for you when it comes to finding a carrier.
But, by being able to search for carriers for you – as well as field calls from carriers – they find you a carrier more quickly than without them.
Between saving time and saving money, it’s hard to imagine not booking with an auto transport broker. and as far as auto transport companies go, they are definitely the ones you want to be in contact with once you’re ready to start shipping your vehicle.
Why You Should Avoid Dealing Directly With Carriers
There are several reasons you should avoid booking a shipment directly with a carrier.
They likely aren’t in your area.
Carriers travel across the entire United States. They are rarely in the same city for more than a single day and they make their money by driving.
This means that, at any given time, the carrier company you call to book with won’t be in your area. This in turn results in longer wait times, often of upwards of two weeks or more, as that company’s drivers work to get back to where your pickup location is.
They will likely charge you more.
Carriers are notorious for trying to get more than their fair share. It’s not surprising – operating an auto transport truck is expensive and tiring. Long hours, hard work, lots of driving…you’d want to be paid, too.
But the problem is that there is a going rate for their services. As we’ve mentioned, brokers work to make sure they keep your prices as low as can be. If you book directly with a carrier they can charge whatever they’d like, and it will almost always be more than the going rate.
They may not be fully licensed or insured.
One thing that some carriers try to get away with is letting their license or insurance lapse and still trying to move cars. It’s not that common, but we’ve caught a few in our time in the industry. With a broker, you know that they are fully licensed and bonded. More importantly, though, part of their job is to make sure any carrier that moves a vehicle for one of their customers is fully licensed and insured.
By booking with a broker instead of a carrier, you avoid all these issues.
Book Your Auto Transport Today With American Auto Shipping
If you’re looking for a quality auto transport company with decades of experience, we can help. Here at American Auto Shipping, we believe in honesty and integrity. Our prices are built to move your vehicle on time and on budget, no matter what your timeline is or what your budget is.
We work with only top-rated carriers as well. This means that, in addition to ensuring they are fully licensed and insured, we also make sure that they have no black marks in their history. This includes damaging vehicles, late pickup or delivery, stringing customers along, it doesn’t matter. We do our homework so you can rest easy when you ship with us.
If you’d like to get started, take a minute to fill out our online quote request form. It’s free and easy and will get you an instant quote immediately. Our prices don’t change, so the price you see will be the price you pay.
You can also contact one of our representatives any time toll-free at 800-930-7417. They can answer questions, give more information about our services and the auto transport industry in general, and much more. So no matter what you need, see what American Auto Shipping can do to help.