What Is Auto Transport?

Posted on
3 min to read

Auto transport involves a lot of different steps, people and planning.

An auto transport company, for example, provides open and/or enclosed auto carriers to ship automobiles from one destination to another. If you need to move your car somewhere, these auto shipping companies are the people that can do it for you. 

Keep scrolling to make sure you get the full scoop on how companies like Montway Auto Transport move cars safely around the country all-year-long.

Auto transport companies

There are hundreds of auto transport companies.

Companies like Montway, an auto transport management company, work with networks of thousands of fully vetted and insured for your protection car carriers. Some smaller or local companies operating smaller car haulers — or single vehicle flatbed carriers — can get your vehicle from Point A to Point B, but delivery time could be slower.

In addition, small car transporters are likely to increase the cost of car shipping for cross-country shipping. Most likely, this is because they don’t often execute these types of longer routes and might not have the resources in place to fulfill your shipping order on time.

All in all, shipping with a bigger company is usually going to be the better call.

Learn more:  Auto Shipment Brokers vs. Carriers

Auto transport process

The first step is on you. You’ll need to first get a quote and booking your order. You can get an instant price quote and book your order directly online for most companies. If you’d like to book with us, just head to our online calculator.

Next, you’ll need to prepare your vehicle for shipping. Things you might need to do beforehand include removing personal items, cleaning your car, ensure working emergency brake and reporting of any pre-existing damages or necessary paperwork.

Open transport vs. enclosed transport

While open transport is the method of choice for most customers, a good car shipping business should be able to offer everything. There are more open carriers than any other and they can handle almost any vehicle. If the vehicle you need to ship is one you drive daily, open shipping might be the way to go.

Open shipping is almost always the cheapest way to ship a car. If you’re shipping a classic, enclosed transport might make you feel a little better about your precious cargo.

How to find a reliable auto shippers

One method to check if a car transportation company is reliable or not is to check their registration through the Department of Transport’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA). They should have an up-to-date MC Docket number and USDOT number.

Legitimate auto transport companies will always be able to direct you to their six-digit MC (Motor Carrier) Docket number and seven-digit USDOT number. Most of the time, you should even be able to find it on their website. After all, car transportation companies cannot operate legally in the U.S. without up-to-date registration.

Related: How Do You Find a Reliable Car Transporter?

When looking at different car transporter company reviews, it’s important to pay attention to details. And what better place to find details than the world wide web?

You should look at websites such as BBB, TransportReviews, Google, Facebook, and TrustPilot. Typically, the best vehicle transport company will have a presence on all of the major review websites

As a little help, use these quick tips as a checklist when you start your hunt for a reliable auto shipper. But remember, you don’t need to look very far to book (wink, wink).

5 signs of a reliable auto transport company:

  1. They don’t hide online review
  2. They offer several types of car transportation
  3. They give car transport advice
  4. They don’t oversell (or undersell)
  5. They provide instant quotes

Auto shipper cost

First and foremost, most (legit) auto transport companies will be happy to give you a free quote. It should ultimately only reflect your shipping needs, your vehicle,  timetable and the overall market.

The best auto transport companies will give you a quote based on lots of factors,  including the vehicle’s make and model, the vehicle’s condition, the distance it will need to go, the pickup address, dropoff address, and finally, the type of transport.  If you do decide to ship your car, here are a couple of good rules of thumb you can be sure to depend on:

  • It’s important to get quotes from multiple shippers because prices can vary.
  • If your quote seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. Beware companies that give you a quote without requesting a good amount of information. The least expensive companies often quote extremely low prices, only to charge customers much more when it’s time to ship.
  • Make sure your quote reflects your vehicle, the distance it will travel, and the type of transport — just to ensure there are no surprises later on.
  • Lastly, don’t submit your payment through a wire transfer. Car transporters that ask you for a wire transfer may take your money and disappear. The best auto transport companies charge you once the carrier has been dispatched for your order.  In most cases, you should be able to book an order without seeing a bill.

Nutshell? If they give you a quote that’s too high, that’s bad. If they give you a quote that’s too low, that’s also bad.

Numbers and licensing requirements

U.S. auto transport companies must have proper licensing and authority from the FMCSA
to be allowed to move vehicles for customers. According to the FMCA:

“Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. Also, commercial intrastate hazardous materials carriers who haul quantities requiring a safety permit must register for a USDOT Number.”

The USDOT Number serves as a unique identifier when collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections. As you can see, the auto transport industry is very regulated and well-monitored. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s a safe option for getting your car where it needs to go, feel free to contact one of Montway’s experts on Live Chat and they’d be happy to answer your questions.


Any company that offers car transport interstate is required to have the appropriate insurance to cover any damage to the vehicles they are moving. So, while the answer is yes, you likely won’t have to worry about it. Most companies, like Montway’s auto transport calculator, for example, will include the cost of insurance into the quoted rate. As you can see, the auto transport industry is very regulated and well-monitored.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s a safe option for getting your car where it needs to go,
feel free to contact one of Montway’s experts on Live Chat and they’d be happy to answer
your questions.

Next up: 10 Cost of Car Questions, Answered

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

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