How do Carriers Select the Vehicles they Transport

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Vehicle transport usually isn’t something you think about until you need it. When you do need it, chances are you don’t know much about it. Connecting with a reliable auto transport company will be your first step. The company you choose should be able to educate you on the industry and give honest feedback on your shipment and the carriers that are available to you. Not all carriers are built the same. That’s why AmeriFreight only works with carriers that have a national customer service rating of 95 or higher. 

While you will be connected with the highest caliber carriers in the industry, the carriers have checklists for the vehicles they transport as well. In this article, we’ll go over what a carrier looks for when deciding to pick up a vehicle, and how it may affect price, shipping time, and the pick-up and delivery window for your vehicle. 

Size of Vehicle

We’ll start with one of the most important items on their checklist. The size of your vehicle. Each carrier only has so much space on their trailers and, due to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, have weight limits for each shipment. They aren’t particularly concerned with the type of vehicle, as long as they know they can pick it up and drop it off; it could be a small sedan, a large pickup truck, or a spaceship. They’ll want to know how tall, long, and wide the vehicle is, as well as how much it weighs. 

For the most part, carriers already have a pretty good idea of the space and weight requirements of each vehicle. If it is modified, however, you’ll want to make sure they know the exact dimensions before agreeing to pick it up. Nothing is more disappointing than having a carrier show up only to discover that they can not fit the vehicle on their truck. 

Price Per Mile

Shipping a vehicle isn’t quite as easy as going to the grocery store and purchasing a gallon of milk. There is no set price for each vehicle that a carrier agrees to transport. One of the most important factors for the drivers is how much it costs them to drive a mile and, as a result, how much they make per mile on their trip. The amount they make per mile needs to exceed their cost per mile or the trip will not be worth it. 

So you may be wondering, “How much could it really cost them per mile?” They only pay for gas.” The answer is, you would be surprised. Start with the gas, which can add up quickly when hauling so much weight, and add the insurance they need to transport vehicles. Next, add maintenance costs needed for a vehicle that puts on thousands of miles per week as well as a reserve for unexpected breakdowns. Not to mention the yearly fees they need to pay for their business license and to stay compliant with the DOT. 

These costs add up quickly and if they can’t put together a load that will allow them to be profitable, they may be better off staying home that week and not tacking on the cost of gas.


The majority of vehicles being transported are operable and will be driven on and off of the trailer. But what about if the vehicle won’t start? What if the vehicle has been sitting for years and won’t roll, brake, or steer? Maybe it just has a dead battery. 

Sometimes, carriers need special equipment to load and unload vehicles. If they don’t have the proper equipment, the vehicle won’t be making its cross-country trip. At least not with that carrier. Much like modifications that affect the dimensions or weight of the vehicle, the carrier should be made aware if the vehicle is inoperable and updated on the condition of the vehicle so that they can determine whether or not they are able to transport your vehicle. 

Length of Route

This really all comes down to the carrier's preference. If the carrier likes to take quick trips, they will plan shorter routes that take them only a quarter of the way across the country. They may even only want to go to the next state over. Then you have carriers that want to load up and travel from Manhattan to Los Angeles. If you’re heading in the same direction, and they have room on their truck, they may take your vehicle along for the ride. 

Route Geography

Most carrier trucks are big and heavy. If given the option to push a boulder up a hill or across a flat surface, you would probably choose the flat surface as it would be less strain on your body. Trucks also experience strain. For this reason, carriers may not want to go into areas where the geography may make things difficult on their truck. This includes places like mountain ranges and even offshore islands where the weight of the truck may become an issue. However, not all hope is lost. If you absolutely need to have your vehicle delivered to a geographically challenged area, you may be able to arrange for a smaller truck to take your vehicle all or part of the way. You could even enlist the help of a local towing company to get your car across the finish line. 

Remote Areas

The distance a carrier has to travel not only plays a part in their gas consumption but also takes away from their time on the road. If they have to travel two hours to deliver your vehicle and then two hours back, that is a huge chunk of their driving time that they took just to deliver one vehicle. Because of this, many carriers do not want to stray too far from the freeway and prefer to stick to large cities for their pick-up and deliveries. 


Weather will play a major role in your vehicle transport during the winter months, but may still affect the carriers year-round. Carriers will plan their routes to avoid areas that have been hit by tornadoes, hurricanes, or any other type of weather that they believe may make it difficult for them to get in and out of. 

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