Auto transport lingo got you baffled…

Have you ever been confused when trying to make sense of everything involved in auto transport? You are not alone.

A friend and I were talking the other day about the auto transport industry as a whole. She was not aware there were so many different titles for the same job or person doing the job. Another unclear matter was what each person’s responsibilities were. We decided it was time to explain what the lingo means so you have a better understanding of each job.

There are multiple positions within the auto transport industry. Each position fills a very specific niche within the scope of transporting a car. Below you will see the four major players involved when a car is transported.

Auto Transport Lingo Umbrella


Dependable Auto Shippers



By explaining each in detail, we hope it will tie the whole picture together. When we understand each person’s part, it may make reading our stories a little easier too.

Auto Transport Broker
The purpose and passion of the auto transport broker is to serve their customer. Each transport broker may do the business slightly different, but the result is the same. The person wanting to ship a car contacts them for a free quote. It is the broker’s responsibility to gather all information related to that shipment. The origination and destination of the car, who the point of contact is at both ends and all information related to the car itself.
Next they will search for and contract with a qualified owner-operator’s dispatcher. Each driver will need a background check for safety reasons. Contracts will be signed between the broker and dispatcher. Finally, they notify the client with details of the transport.
An exceptional transport broker will follow the transport to completion and ask for a review of the car-hauler. This small detail shows concern for the customer and will gain their business in the future.

The dependable auto shipper may also known by other titles. You may be more familiar with car-hauler, truck driver or even owner-operator. All of these titles refer to one in the same, the man or woman who drives the truck.

The car-hauler is responsible for physically loading the car onto the trailer. Before loading takes place, the driver makes an inspection. Once the car is loaded, it must be strapped or chained down. This keeps the car from bouncing around or off the trailer while in motion. If you have ever watched this in action, it is quite a feat.

Once the truck arrives to its destination, the driver will unload the car, inspect it and collect the transport fee. This fee is a COD, or cash on deliver.

Auto Transport Dispatcher

An auto transport dispatcher works with the owner-operator to locate cars. Dispatchers can be employees or independent contractors of the trucking company.

Using available resources, they contact the auto transport broker to accept their load. Each client’s car is a load. Each truck is set up a little bit differently and can carry a different number of cars.
The dispatcher is responsible for researching the car specifications. This enables him or her to load as many cars as possible onto the trailer. This will maximize the profit for each load and their paycheck.


A customer can be anyone wanting to move a car. Dealerships, buyers, sellers, parents, grandparents, students, military and corporations are customers to name a few. When shipping a car is high on their priority list, they look for someone to coordinate the transport for them.

You can ship your car yourself. It is a simple process if you know where to find a qualified car-hauler that runs the route you need to ship in. All you need to do is verify the insurance is in force; their authority to operate is active with Department of Transportation and their driving record free of points and down time. If you have unlimited time on your hands, doing all of the above will fill that time.

Otherwise, a customer will want to call an auto transport broker for a free quote to ship their car. The broker will then search for and contract with an owner-operator to transport their car. The dispatcher will contact the broker to complete the transaction and notify the car-hauler. Finally, the driver will pick up the customer’s car and deliver it to them at their chosen destination.

This my friends should clear up any confusion in understanding the lingo of the auto transport industry.


Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
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