Car Transport Glossary of Terms
auto hauler - trucks that are specifically designed to haul vehicles. This can include trucks that can haul up to 10 vehicles or much smaller trucks that only haul 2 to 3 vehicles at a time.
auto rack - a specialized type of railroad car used for car transport. There are both open and enclosed versions.
auto train - a train service for car transport on open or enclosed auto racks (see above)
auto transport - the act of car transport or other vehicle via truck, train, ship, or drive away to get it from one location to another. This includes state to state as well as international shipping.
auto transport company - a company that arranges the car transport, either on their own trucks, trains or ships, or by contracting to a third-party auto hauler.
bonded - when an auto shipping company says they are "bonded", they have a performance or surety bond. Auto transport brokers are required to post a surety bond before they can be licensed to accept cars for transport. The bond is given to assure that the broker properly pays the auto hauler for any orders they have placed on behalf of customers.
broker - within the context of car transport, an auto transport broker matches vehicles that need to be shipped with auto haulers who have space to transport them. Brokers are typically the main contact for the person shipping the vehicle except at the time of vehicle pick up and delivery where you deal directly with the driver of the car carrier (who is contracted by the broker to ship your car).
car carrier - a specialized trailer that can be loaded with vehicles that are to be transported. It can also refer to the truck connected to the car carrier as well.
car moving or car shipping - see auto transport
COD (cash on delivery) - payment for shipment of your vehicle is made upon delivery of your car or other vehicle. Typically, payment must be made via cash or certified funds (e.g. money order, cashier's check) unless other arrangements have been made.
COP (cash on pick-up) - payment for shipment of your vehicle is made upon pick-up of your car or other vehicle. Typically, payment must be made via cash or certified funds (e.g. money order, cashier's check) unless other arrangements have been made.
drive away - a service where an individual drives your vehicle from your origin to destination rather than shipping it on a truck.
drop-off window - the time period within which your vehicle is scheduled to be delivered. This is typically a 3-day period, but could be more under certain circumstances.
enclosed carrier/transport - a car carrier that is covered on the top and sides to protect vehicles from the elements, dirt, rocks, etc. This type of transportation is typically used for luxury cars as well as antiques.
flatbed - a truck with a single level bed that is attached to the truck cab. Flatbed trucks are often used in place of tow trucks and for moving vehicles shorter distances, as they can only carry one or two vehicles at a time.
inoperable - a vehicle that cannot be driven onto a truck under its own power. This includes any vehicles that cannot start. Additionally, a vehicle that does not include keys would be considered inoperable, since the vehicle cannot be driven onto the car carrier. Some carriers, but not all, have equipment that allows them to load inoperable vehicles. So, it is important to specify if your vehicle is inoperable when getting quotes.
insured - when an auto transport company states that they are insured, this typically means that they have insurance to cover any damage that may occur to your vehicle while they are transporting it. However, it is always a good idea to confirm that their insurance is still valid and if there are any deductibles. See our car Transport Tips for more suggestions.
licensed - to transport vehicles or broker the transport of vehicles, individuals or companies must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and issued an operating authority, known as an MC Number.
MC Number - identifying Motor Carrier Number issued by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to an auto hauler or auto transport broker when they have been issued operating authority. MC Numbers and other information about an auto transport company can be looked up at http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_menu.prc_menu
open carrier/transport - a car carrier that is open on the sides and top (as opposed to an enclosed carrier). This is the standard type of car carrier used for transporting most vehicles and is typically the most economical option.
operable - a vehicle that can be driven onto a car carrier under its own power (in contrast to an inoperable vehicle).
operating authority - see MC Number
oversized vehicle - a vehicle that is larger than most standard-sized vehicles. This may include very large SUVs and pick-up trucks. The precise definition of oversized can vary by company.
pick-up window - tthe time period within which your vehicle is scheduled to be picked up. This is typically a 3-day period, but could be more under certain circumstances.
rail service - Car transport via train.
terminal - a vehicle storage location where a car carrier can pick up or deliver your vehicle.
Scam - a strategy for gain, a swindle. Due to the high competition between brokers, the word is used to create distrust normally between the customer and the broker company that the customer had already contracted for the transport. Therefore the contending broker would use the word scam with the intent of gaining the customer's trust.