Auto Transport Glossary

Auto Carrier / Hauler – Defines a carrier that can take vehicles. There are single car carriers, 2-3 car carriers , or carriers that can take up to 10 cars.

Auto Logistics – The detailed coordination of a complex operation involving the movement of vehicles. Commonly applied to all the forms of auto transport / auto shipping / car shipping.

Auto Transport, Auto Shipping, Auto Moving – The process of physically relocating a vehicle from one place to another on a conveyance such as an auto carrier.

Auto Transport / Auto Shipping Company – A firm that specializes in providing auto transport. (See Auto Transport, Auto Shipping, Auto Moving) To be a legal operating transporter, the company must be licensed and bonded.

Auto Transport Broker – Works within the auto transport company to find auto carriers available to relocate vehicles. Brokers provide trucking companies with vehicles to move.

Auto Transporting – The process of moving one vehicle from one location to another.

Bill of Lading – The Bill of Lading is the documentation used before pick up and after drop off to inventory the vehicles and their condition at pickup and drop-off.

Bonded – A performance or surety bond.  This is a licensing requirement in order to accept cars for transport. This bond is in place to protect the auto carrier from non-payment.

Car Hauling – The process of transporting, shipping, or moving a vehicle on a conveyance such as an auto carrier.

Car Transport, Car Moving, Car Shipping – These  are synonymous terms with “Auto Transport”. This is another common way of referring to this process.

Car Carrier – A type of trailer that is loaded with vehicles in order to facilitate the auto transport process.

Car Shipping Company – See Auto Transport Company.

Dealership Auto Transport – Services specifically tailored for auto dealerships to facilitate transport for their vehicles.

Driveaway Service – This is where a person pick up your vehicle and drives it to its destination. This service is not recommended.

Driver Network – The associations and relationships the auto transport company has with various carriers to distribute vehicles. These are procured over time and create a more secure means of auto shipping.

Door-To-Door Auto Shipping – Picking up and dropping off vehicles at the exact location that was requested by the customer.

Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) – They are the governing body for the transport industry. Established by Congress on October 15, 1966, the D.O.T. is responsible for all highway, air, railroad, and maritime transportation. (

Enclosed Car Transport – Specific type of auto shipping that is by design implemented to provide extra protection to vehicle from the elements. Vehicles reside inside an enclosure during shipment.

Flatbed – Defined by a truck that has a cab and a flat surface for a vehicle to reside on. Flat beds can only carry one or two vehicles and are usually more efficient for short distance moves.

FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to assists the government in regulating  the industry. The FMCSA offers a database of information that details insurance, licensing and bonding information to assist the public.

Freight – Products and goods to be moved from one place to another.

Inoperable / Inop  –  A vehicle that cannot be driven because it cannot be moved under it’s own power. There are various kinds from those that can roll, brake and steer, to vehicles that are just a frame or shell that cannot roll.

Insured – Auto shipping where the vehicles are protected by liability insurance when transported in case of damage or catastrophe.

Licensed – An auto transport company that meets the criteria of licensing and bonding requirements needed to legally transport vehicles.

MC Number – The Motor Carrier Number issued by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to an auto transport company or carrier allowing them to have operating authority. To confirm an MC (motor carrier number) visit

Open carrier transport – An auto transport carrier that is open. This commonly refers to carriers that can be seen coming in and out of dealers. They come in various configurations, however none are enclosures.

Operating Authority – The permission provided by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) to operate.

Pick-up Window – The allotted days for a pickup to occur. In many cases in the industry it is 3 days back and forth from a middle date to get a vehicle that has been scheduled for transport.

Shared Vehicle Shipping / Shared Car Carrier – These are the type of transports that are the most common. The costs are divided between up to 10 cars if it’s a large carrier, making auto shipping more affordable.

Single Vehicle Shipping – These are usually short distance transports on carriers such as flat beds. This is also the only option for large or oversize vehicles. These are usually more expensive for longer moves as with shared transport, the costs are divided.

Vehicle Shipping, Vehicle Transport – These terms are also are all similar variations for the term “Auto Transport” (See above)