How Auto Shipping Works

Auto shipping is the transfer of a vehicle from one location to another using a car carrier.  To begin the process, a quote can be obtained from an auto transport company.  Then the quote is followed by reserving the transport according to the dates and locations placed on your auto shipping order. When a carrier is scheduled for pickup, you will receive notifications by email and phone informing you of the scheduled pick up, followed by a call from the driver bringing the carrier.  

what is auto transport

From there the vehicle is taken and depending on the distance, a timeframe will be given for the delivery. At the pickup and delivery, the carrier will have a bill of lading. This is the inspection report signed by the parties at the pickup and delivery locations, certifying the condition of the vehicle. 

Who Uses Car Shipping Services?

It may come as a surprise, but most auto shipping is done by individuals.  Customers like you that ship with us for a variety of reasons. Moving/relocating is usually at the top of the list, followed by anyone buying a vehicle, usually out of state like auto trader or Craigslist. And of course, our seasonal shippers (snowbirds),

We also service dealers, auctions, classic car collectors, exotic vehicle owners,  overseas shippers going to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska (with more locations to come).

Steps to Shipping A Car with National Express Auto Transport

We ran through a quick summary on how auto shipping works.  But how do you get a rate and book with National Express?


Step One - Pricing

First, you’ll need an instant and accurate quote to ship your car anywhere with our calculator. No phone number required. You get your rate in moments thanks to our instant car shipping calculator. Since we don’t require personal information, it takes seconds. We are one of the few companies that understand you want to make your choice, not have one pushed on you. We never bombard you with phone calls or emails. We do not sell your information.

Step Two - Place Order for Transport

After receiving your quote, you can book your transport. At this point, we’ll need some more information about you and your vehicle(s). This will include the pickup and drop-off information, as well as billing information for when we set up the carrier to come get you. Remember, the great thing about working with National Express is that you never get charged a penny until we have a carrier scheduled to come get you.

Step Three - Vehicle Pickup!

auto transport carrier driver

Then comes the part you’ve been waiting for! When we schedule your pickup. Once your vehicle is assigned a carrier, we’ll send you a dispatch notice. This is an email with important information such as the date of pickup, expected delivery, and the driver’s contact information. The driver will then reach out to you to confirm dates and times. When they show up they will perform a pick up inspection with the bill of lading

Step Four - Vehicle in Transit

The vehicle is in transit on its way to your destination. While the carrier travels you can always call and check status confirm travel time. In your dispatch notice, you received the estimated date of arrival. As the driver nears your destination, they will call to update you if they are meeting their projected time. We also follow up with drivers to make sure they are on schedule and update you accordingly.  

Step Five - Delivery!

Then comes the best part. The arrival of your vehicle, safely and expediently to the destination.  As the driver nears, they will each out to you to confirm you are ready to meet them. When they show up they will perform a delivery inspection with a copy of the pickup bill of lading and compare the two in order to absolutely make sure not a single mark or scratch is on your vehicle. If your order is COD (collect at delivery) , you will pay the carrier the remaining balance of your shipping with them directly

Types of Car Transport Trucks And How They Work

open carrier truck
smaller car carrier pulled by full size pickup

Most auto shipping is organized on to large car transport carriers like the one pictured above. Usually for local and shorter distance (especially those traveling under 500 miles) a smaller carrier is used to transport your vehicle, as also pictured above. There are many configurations, makes, and models for both the larger and smaller carriers, however the examples above are representative of what is most typical.

All transporters are required by the FMCSA to be licensed, bonded, and insured. The average insurance for our carriers is a million dollars. Carriers are required to maintain licensing and insurance or could face civil, even criminal penalties.

Open Carrier Transporters

You’ve probably seen these two level trailers on the road hauling a number of vehicles that are traveling from one place to another. That’s what you get with what is called open carrier car transport. Your car will be shipped on a truck and will be going to its destination elevated and protected. Open carrier is the more affordable shipping service and the most common used by nearly everyone. It is suitable for all kinds of cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, and more. Unless your vehicle is a show car or does not ever see rain and snow, then open is the safest and best option. 

Enclosed Car Transport Services

This car transport service will provide your car with additional protection during the shipping. Your car will be shipped in an enclosed trailer that has a roof and all four walls so you will not have to worry about your car getting scratched or dented if the shipping truck happens to encounter, rocks, debris in the air, snow, rain, or hail during the shipping. Although a regular carrier deflects most of the air and dust away with it's massive size, in rare cases a rock or weather event can leave a blemish you won't want to see on your valued vehcile. In these cases, enclosed transport might be a worthwhile investment if the car you are shipping has a high value. That value can be monetary or sentimental.  If you you would like to avoid any risk of slightest damage this is the choice for you. It is also the best option for exotic or rare vehicles

Travel Times and Driving Schedules

The average car transport carrier can cover around 300 miles a day on a full load and if the route is planned efficiently. Some coast to coast auto transports occur very quickly because there are no pickups or drop-offs in areas between both locations. A great example would be A car shipping route going from Los Angeles to Miami or West Palm Beach to New York City. There are safety rules that each carrier must abide to.

An auto transport driver can only drive a total of 11 consecutive hours if they have rested 10 before that run. He or she may not be on duty more than 14 hours. That can include driving or other tasks having to do with the transport. Again they must have rested 10 hours to work the maximum of 14. The driver of the carrier must stop driving after 8 hours since the last sleeper berth break of at least 30 minutes. (Berth means on a bed or bunk that can be on in the transporter’s cabin.) Most driving is limited by the 60/70-hour limit. Driving time is to be no more than 60 hours within seven back to back days, or can drive up to 70 hours if working 8 days nonstop.

Expedited Car Transport Services

If you would like to avoid the inconvenience of spending too long of a time without your car, or you would like your car pick up quickly  for an event or other commitment, you can choose to go with expedited shipping. With this option, you will be able to see your car at the destination faster with almost immediate pickup. Expedited shipping will cost a little more but this will be a small price to pay for the added satisfaction and convenience that comes along with it.