What is a Car Carrier?

 

Car carriers are defined at the common method of transport for most cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles. These come in various configurations and allow for multiple vehicles to travel from one location to another. They are normally two level trucks with hydraulic ramps that adjust to hold up to 10 vehicles.They are also known as an open carrier, open air carrier, or car hauler.

open carrier truck
These carriers have many uses throughout the industry. Just about everyone that has ever been on a road way has seen these huge trucks.  Many think they ship vehicles to and from dealers only, but most commonly they are hauling private cars. These vehicles are sometimes people that are relocating and are shipping a car, or seasonal travelers that stay in one part of the country for an extended period of time and it’s much more cost efficient to ship a car than to rent one long term.

Carriers also move cars for dealerships. Typically from a factory or port for new vehicles, and they move used cars between auctions, dealers for trade, and more.

The truck pulling the trailer is normally referred to as a semi truck. They are connected to the truck through a connection that looks like an upside down horseshoe, with a triangular opening. This is known as fifth-wheel coupling. The typical car carrier is usually a two story unit with several ramps controlled by hydraulics. These ramps can be adjusted in many different angles to accommodate vehicles if different lengths and heights. The hydraulics also allow for the top level to be lowered so vehicles can be driven up to the top of the carrier. Once the top level is filled it is raised and adjusted to make room for the vehicles to be loaded on the bottom of the carrier. Some carriers have what is called a headrack, which is an additional placement of a platform on over the cab of the truck to add another vehicle. The normal maximum for a trailer is 10, including the headrack.The controllers for the ramps are located on the side of the trailer.

enclosed transport truck
Enclosed carriers are for vehicles that cannot see any outside weather or risk even the slightest mark or pitt while being shipped. This is a premium service. It could be for a classic car that has pristine paint that is decades old and extremely sensitive to even sunlight. Or a high end vehicle that could cost thousands to even do the most minor repair to retain its value.  Shown here is an example of a smaller carrier that holds just two vehicles.  There are larger dual level trucks as well with various features like lift gates that will allow for the vehicle to be loaded from the ground without going up a ramp.
Full size enclosed carriers are very similar to their open counterparts with the exception that the ramps are inside of a container which is a type of box trailer. The smaller two car trailers usually can handle inoperable vehicles more easily as there are no ramps maneuver vehicles that don’t run. They are also great for short distances. There are then various different types of larger enclosed carriers. For the most part, they can be classified as “soft side enclosed”, which are a type of box trailer with tie-down and velcro sealed tarps. Then there is “hard side enclosed” which is your typical steel box truck trailer with ramps for vehicles inside. They are normally just as tall as normal box trailers are, but they have a lower clearance and smaller wheels to accommodate vehicles and the ramps that hold them. You’ve most likely have seen them on the road, but not known about the cargo inside. The smaller wheels are usually an indicator that they have cars inside.  This is a whole category of carrier that has specific uses. For a clear outline on these carriers and their uses, read this post.