Car Transporter: Everything You Need to Know

You’re driving along on the freeway. Suddenly, you see a double-decker car transporter go by, piled high with gorgeous new cars on their way to an automobile dealership. Car transporter, vehicle transporter — they’re all super impressive!

How does all of that metal get transported at once? It seems to defy the very laws of physics.

Have you ever wondered how vehicle transport trucks work? Or do you have questions about auto transport in general? Either way, this blog’s definitely for you!

Keep reading for a detailed lowdown on car transporters and how they work.

What Is a Car Transporter?

Let’s start with a basic question, “What is a vehicle transporter?”

Car transporter companies haul vehicles from one location to another. You’re likely most familiar with the large open car carriers which fill our highways.

How many cars fit on a car transporter? The answer to that question depends on the type of vehicle transporter we’re discussing.

Double-decker car transporter vehicles can haul between ten to twelve cars at a time, making them one of the most efficient auto transportation methods out there.

Besides open vehicle haulers, you may be surprised to learn there are also enclosed car carriers. These move between one and seven cars at a time.

Who uses enclosed vehicle carriers? For starters, NASCAR transport teams. But you’ll also need an enclosed car carrier if you’ve just won an auction at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California.

Enclosed automobile carriers facilitate the movement of high-end cars such as exotics, classics, and collectibles. While you may think you’ve never seen one of these before, you most likely have in traffic or during road trips.

This is because enclosed car carriers are hard to discern from other trucks on the road. Why? Because their contents remain hidden on the roadway.

How Do Cars Get Transported?

Let’s get into the brass tacks of how auto transport works. Today’s auto transport vehicles can haul up to a dozen vehicles. The frame of the open car carrier evenly distributes weight for the most efficient haul possible.

Tractor-trailers rely on hydraulic ramps to situate vehicles optimally. These ramps permit the driver to raise and lower the ramps, providing a smooth approach for clearing and loading vehicles until the trailer meets its capacity.

Who’s in charge of filling a car transporter? The driver. Highly experienced drivers are masters of fitting cars onto their transport in the most efficient manner.

Want to hear something incredible? An experienced driver can fully load their trailer with comparably-sized automobiles in little more than 90 minutes!

Considering the complicated nature of organizing what amounts to a 3D model, that’s quite a feat! That said, when car sizes differ, drivers must rely on their expertise to adjust accordingly.

For example, larger cars usually end up on the top level. What’s more, drivers must bear in mind the order in which vehicles get delivered.

If the first car scheduled to come off the transport also happens to be the first vehicle on the trailer? Then, the offloading process will get time-consuming quickly. Great drivers avoid such costly mistakes.

Factors Associated with a Car Hauling Quote

Imagine for a moment that you’re setting up an auto transport service. How much should you expect to pay? It all starts with a quote from a car transporter company.

For a company to provide a quote, they’ll have to consider a variety of factors. These factors include:

  • The type of vehicle transporter
  • A vehicle’s make and model
  • A vehicle’s condition
  • The pickup address
  • The dropoff address

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and how they impact the final price that consumers pay to get a car hauled.

The Type of Car Transporter

The first thing you need to decide about is the type of auto transport you’d like to use to move your vehicle. The two main types of car hauling services are terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door.


Terminal-to-terminal service requires you to drive your car to a shipping terminal. There, it gets stored until an auto transport going in the same direction as your final location picks it up.

Once your car arrives, it gets offloaded at another terminal, where it’ll wait until you can pick it up. You won’t find more affordable quotes than those for terminal-to-terminal shipping.

That said, this form of vehicle transporter comes with some cons you need to bear in mind. For starters, you need to factor in the time and gas expenses you’ll accrue while driving to and from terminals at each destination.

These can prove significant, depending on how far each terminal is from your residence. What’s more, you’ll need to arrange transportation (e.g., Uber, Lyft, taxi) to get where you need to go after dropoff and before pickup.

You’ll also need to remember that terminal-to-terminal quotes don’t usually factor in what you’ll get charged for car storage at both terminals. Add to this the fact terminals don’t have 24/7 security, and door-to-door service looks better and better.


Yes, door-to-door shipping quotes are more expensive upfront, but you’ll enjoy the convenience of having your car picked up and dropped off as close as possible to each of your residences.

You’ll also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your car stays on the same car transporter it gets loaded onto throughout the trip. And you won’t have any costs or concerns with terminal charges or theft risk.

It remains a better option for car owners while still coming in at an affordable price point.


The make and model of a given vehicle will also impact how much it costs to transport it. In general, larger cars cost more to move than smaller ones.

The condition of a vehicle also plays a role when it comes to the quote a car owner receives from a transporter. It costs more to transport non-operational vehicles.

Why? Because they require extra equipment and elbow grease on the part of the driver to move on and off the car transporter.


A door-to-door vehicle transporter service proves highly convenient because the hauler brings your vehicle as close as possible to the addresses that you stipulate.

If those addresses happen to be off-the-beaten-path, requiring your driver to venture well away from the established network of highways and byways? Be prepared to pay more money.

How Much Does It Cost to Transport a Car 100 Miles?

Barring the factors listed above, you can expect to pay about $50 for every 100 miles to have a car shipped. Of course, this figure also differs by company.

The best way to know what your final bill will be is to contact a reputable, reliable company. Get a free, no-obligation shipping quote now.

How to Choose a Vehicle Transporter

Now that you’re more familiar with how a vehicle transporter works, you may have questions about choosing the right company for your vehicle hauling needs. Start by looking for an experienced brand that puts customers first.

They should have an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau and check out with the US Department of Transportation (US DOT). Drivers should also maintain an excellent safety record.

Besides meeting all of these factors, the car transporter should provide you with a complimentary quote. No strings attached.

Still have questions about the best way to ship your car? Find out whether an airplane car transporter or tractor-trailer carrier is right for you.