Glossary of Terms
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. [See Car Carrier Definition]
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. [See Full Definition of Auto Transport]
Auto Transport Company – A business that specializes in providing transportation for vehicles. (See Auto Transport, Auto Shipping, Auto Moving) To be a legal operating transporter, the company must be licensed and bonded. Nearly all auto transport companies operate as brokers or carriers. See “Auto Transport Broker”
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. [See Full Definition of an Auto Transport Broker]
Auto Transport Lead Provider– A company that sells information collected through a website or advertisement to various auto transport brokers. Often these websites appear to be actual auto shippers but are not licensed to ship cars. [See Article on Lead Providers Here]
Auto Transporting – The process of moving one vehicle from one location to another. [Refer to Auto Transport Definition]
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. [See Article Defining Bill of Lading]
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 – It is moving a vehicle on a conveyance such as a tow truck or car carrier from one location to another. Auto hauling can represent short distance towing but some use it when talking about car shipping or auto transport. [See Full Definition of Car Hauling]
Car Transport, Car Moving – These are synonymous terms with “Auto Transport” and “Car Shipping”. These are other common ways of referring to this process.
Auto Transport Carrier – A type of trailer that is loaded with vehicles in order to facilitate the auto transport process. This could also be a company that is a carrier advertising their service as such. [See Full Car Carrier Definition]
Car Shipping – The act of relocating a vehicle from one place to another on an auto carrier or flatbed. Car shipping is normally considered a term used for longer distances as “towing” or “hauling” is used more by most to represent short distances.
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.[See Full Definition of Door to Door Auto Transport]
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. (https://www.transportation.gov/) [See Full Definition for the Department of Transportation]
Enclosed Auto Transport / Covered Auto 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. [See Full Definition for Enclosed Auto Transport]
Expedited Auto Transport –This service if for those needing immediate/ rush pickup of a vehicle. This will usually result in a higher price to get faster service. [See Full Definition for Expedited Auto Transport]
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. [See Full Definition of Flatbed Auto Shipping]
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.[See Our Page on the FMCSA]
Freight – Products and goods to be moved from one place to another.
Freight Broker Bond – The necessary bond requirement to operate as an auto transport broker / Auto Transport Company. [See Full Definition for Freight Broker Bond]
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 MC Number (Motor Carrier Number) is issued by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and the FMCSA 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. [See Full Open Carrier Definition]
Operating Authority – The permission provided by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) to run a freight truck or company.
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)