Car hauling is a specialized trucking niche, and it can be a lucrative one.
How else would new cars get to dealerships without tacking on miles? We all know that they’re shipped on trucks but how much does one consider that sector as a career path? It takes hard work and dedication, but many drivers who are in the hauling business wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re thinking of getting into the car hauling business, you may be wondering how much you will earn and how to get your foot in the door.
Our car transport business FAQ will answer these basic questions and more.
What Job Responsibilities Do Car Haulers Have?
Car hauling is more than just transporting vehicles from one place to another.
Auto transport drivers have quite a few other responsibilities, such as:
Inspecting vehicles for damage and noting any damages on pre-inspection reports. Damages that are unreported or unnoticed will be deducted from the driver’s pay.
Examining the load to determine which cars should be placed on each deck.
Loading the vehicles properly.
Ensuring the load is DOT legal.
Ensuring vehicle VIN numbers match the numbers from the dispatch trip package.
Car haulers have to take special precautions when transporting vehicles.
Most car carriers sit just 8” off the ground, so drivers must take care to avoid curbs and drive safely on gravel roads. Like other truckers, they must also be aware of low bridges, low hanging trees and low hanging wires that could damage the vehicles.
The job of a car hauler can be stressful at times. If the weather is exceptionally cold, it’s possible for the decks to freeze, which can make it difficult to load or unload vehicles. Drivers also have to be concerned about wind and hail, which can damage vehicles. Some vehicles are wrapped in special plastic that must be maintained throughout the haul.
In most cases, car hauling is OTR. You may find regional jobs, but for the most part, you can expect to travel long distances hauling loads.
How Much Do Car Haulers Make?
Car haulers have a complicated job and move specialized, expensive freight. For this reason, they typically earn more than the average trucker.
According to Glassdoor, the average car hauler driver earns $60,000 per year. Some drivers earn much more, with the highest salary listed at $109,000.
Data from ZipRecruiter shows that the average salary for a car hauler is $80,188 (12% of jobs) per year. Salaries are as low as $42,000 (7% of jobs) and as high as $119,000 (5% of jobs) per year.
Location will affect how much you earn as a car hauler. Experience will also affect your salary. Those with more experience will be trusted to haul more expensive, exotic vehicles, so their salaries may be much higher.
These salaries are for drivers who work for a carrier as a company driver. An owner-operator car hauler salary will likely be much higher.
Pay for car haulers has been steadily increasing. According to BLS, the median annual salary for a car hauler was $43,680 in 2018.
How Much Do Owner-Operators Earn Hauling?
If you plan to operate your own car hauling business, you can earn as much or as little as you want. It’s impossible to determine exactly how much you will earn because it will depend on how much you want to work, where you are located, your contacts and other factors.
However, the average range for hauling vehicles can range anywhere from $300-$700 per vehicle. The value of the vehicles you will be hauling will also affect your earnings. Distance will impact your earnings as well. The farther you haul the vehicles, the more you will earn. The more vehicles you can haul (legally), the more you will earn.
How Do You Become a Car Hauler?
If you’re interested in becoming a car hauler, the first thing you need to do is get your Class-A CDL and some over-the-road (OTR) experience. Many companies prefer drivers to have at least 2 years of OTR experience before they start hauling cars. Some carriers will only require one year of experience, but you must have a clean driving record.
If the plan is to run as an owner-operator, you will almost definitely need two years of experience.
Insurance companies want at least this much experience before they allow drivers to haul cars.
Once you have the experience under your belt, you can start training for the position. Keep in mind that to work as a car hauler, carriers will want you to meet the following requirements:
Be at least 21 years of age (at minimum)
Pass a background check
Pass a DOT check
Specialized training is required when hauling vehicles. The job is more complicated than conventional OTR jobs, and you’ll be responsible for very expensive cargo.
Some carriers provide on-the-job training. You can also attend training classes at a trucking school. Many programs have affordable tuition and financing options.
During training, you will learn:
How to load and unload vehicles properly
How to space vehicles
How to prepare decks for transport
How to strap your load properly
If you enroll in a training course, you should walk away with all of the skills you need to get started in the car hauling business. If you plan to work for a carrier, your employer may reimburse you for the cost of tuition.
If you plan to enroll in a car hauling training course, you may be wondering how long it will take to get through the training.
Classroom training takes about 4-6 weeks on average. Some carriers offer on-the-job training, which may be longer or shorter, depending on the employer.
What is the Outlook for Auto Transporter Jobs?
The job outlook for auto transporters is positive. According to BLS, employment in this sector is expected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028. As demand for vehicles continues to rise, the demand for car haulers will also continue to rise.