Private Car Shipping Companies

Private Car Shipping Companies

Private car shipping companies are generally owner operators that run a particular route. Although some of these private car haulers can travel to various destinations, it is generally only when they have vehicles available for them to take on the trip back. Owner-operators dominate the auto transport industry.

Private car shipping companies are categorized by either an individual or small establishment that transports vehicles. Using a single carrier, private car haulers move cars on their own and can usually take a few vehicles at once.

Since private car haulers generally work for themselves or other own, they have well-established relationships. Their ability to successfully run their business is based on word of mouth, repeat service from dealers, and other referrals.

Hiring a Private Car Shipping Company

Just like any conventional auto transport, the first step in hiring a private car shipping company is to gather all the necessary information in order to obtain your cost estimate. This includes the details regarding the vehicle you are having shipped such as make, model, year, in addition to the locations that you will be shipping to and from. You’ll also want to have a general delivery timeframe in mind, as it will likely affect your quote.

If you’re considering hiring a private car shipping company, your best bet is to begin the process as early as possible. Several, often four to eight, weeks out from the dates you intend on shipping is usually ample amount of time. However, make sure to account for a couple extra days to contact prospective haulers, gather quotes, compare their services, and make a final decision.

Private car shipping companies are the ideal choice for those who need especially quick delivery times or last-minute auto transport. Although, you’ll want to keep in mind that these premium services will come at a premium price from your private auto hauler.

Private Car Shipping Methods

When it comes to the type of carriers offered by private haulers to transport your vehicle, you typically have two options. The first and most popular method is an open-air transport truck. These carriers are large vehicles that can haul anywhere from four to twelve cars at a time, usually on two levels, on an open-air trailer towed behind.

Choosing open-air transport is the most cost-effective way to ship a vehicle with a private shipping company. This primarily has to do with the fact that they allow companies and drivers to move several vehicles at once, effectively reducing the overall operating costs. In addition to being relatively affordable, open-air trailers are also the most commonly used and preferred method for shipping both new and used cars to dealerships, a sight you’ve likely seen many times on major U.S. freeways.

Your other option to ship a car with a private shipping company is an enclosed carrier. These carriers are smaller, entirely enclosed, and typically haul fewer cars at once. They offer full protection for vehicles that are being moved. However, since the cargo area is enclosed, less storage space is available for hauling cars. As a result, enclosed auto transport usually services four or less cars at a time, more often, just one or two.

Benefits of Private Car Shipping Companies

The following are some of the benefits associated with choosing a private car shipping company for the transport of your vehicle:

  • Direct access to the driver. When working with a private car hauler, you are dealing directly with the driver or the company. An added benefit to this is that you have the opportunity to negotiate the price of your shipment. You are also speaking directly with the driver throughout the entire process, as opposed to a receptionist or agent assigned to your account.
  • Easily discover the status of your vehicle. Since there is no middle man between you and the driver, you can call the driver directly to find out the location of your car. That way you can easily stay up to date on the status of the delivery, and work with them in regards to your availability.
  • Ideal for short distances and fast delivery/pickup. Private carriers are typically only driving a couple hundred miles, to and from your area daily. This offers you a pretty good chance of having your vehicle picked up quickly, should you ever need expedited transport. With private car shipping companies, vehicles can typically be retrieved within 24 hours and delivered either same or next day.
  • Pay 100% upon delivery. Private car shipping companies means there are no deposits. Since you’re not paying a broker to find a carrier for you, you won’t be required to pay anything upfront before the car is delivered. All you’ll have to do is provide the cash or certified funds at the delivery location.

Disadvantages of Private Car Shipping Companies

Just like anything, there are some drawbacks to hiring a private car shipping company. These include:

  • Limited availability and routes. Private car shipping companies generally cover a smaller radius. If they do travel longer distances, they usually need to have a few cars available that they can bring along to the vicinity of your destination, as well as a couple to bring back with them after the delivery is complete. If this is not the case, it is very unlikely that they will take your vehicle to your desired destination. Because of this reason, some private car shipping companies many not travel out of state. In fact, most private haulers only travel within 500 miles of their home base.
  • Little to no reviews or references. Private car shippers are small businesses, usually successful by word of mouth. Since these companies run their business differently, they most likely don’t have as many reviews to ensure their reliability, experience, and the safety of your vehicle.
  • No signed agreements or contracts. If the private car shipping company you are working for is run by just an individual, you may not be required to sign a contract prior to transport. However, since haulers drive for a living they will be required to have you sign at delivery. To fulfill this requirement, they will provide you with a bill of lading which documents the condition of the vehicle at pickup, drop-off, and, in some cases, has the price listed on it. These are usually very basic forms.
  • Undisclosed fees. One of the major disadvantages of hiring a private car shipping company, is the possibility of them charging you a fee that wasn’t disclosed of ahead of time. For example, you may be charged for a potential delay that occurred during pickup. If your vehicle was larger or heavier than expected, they may withhold information about added fees until your car reaches the delivery location. If these fees are indicated beforehand, you can argue against it. However, if they decide not to tell you until after the delivery has occurred, it can be much harder to dispute.


If you’re looking to hire a private car shipping company, either for domestic or international auto transport, find out how we can help! Our team of shipping experts are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we always provide fully customized, FREE, no-obligation shipping quotes. Call us today to learn how you could save up to 20% on your next auto transport.