Common Terms Used in Car Transport That You Should be Familiar With

Car Transport Company

This is a company that aids people in moving their cars from one location to another. They have special, open, or closed-air trucks designed to ship different types of automobiles. They can be a carrier or a broker.

Car Transport Broker

These are companies or individuals that coordinate shipments using a network of auto transport companies. Usually, brokers don’t have their own fleet of car-carrying trailers. They coordinate with carrier companies to fulfil car shipment orders .

Car Carrier

Also known as a car hauler or car-carrying trailer, the auto transport carrier is an open or enclosed trailer. They are specially designed to transport vehicles. An auto carrier has built-in hydraulic ramps or lift for loading and offloading vehicles.

Door-To-Door Service

This is a service offered by most car shipping companies, allowing your car to be picked and dropped from/to your preferred location. Door to door service is not more expensive, and usually preferred.

Depot-To-Depot Service

Unlike the door-to-door service, depot-to-depot service was a cheaper option. It’s a lot harder to find. With the evolution of auto shipping, terminals have gone away. Nowadays ,terminal shipping can cost more because the carrier has to find a storage facility for you. That location will charge their own fees.

Drop-Off Window

This is the period you are expected to drop off your car for hauling.

Open Multi-Car Hauler

This is the most common, budget-friendly option for vehicle transportation that allows for multi-vehicle transportation from state to state. While vehicles are loaded on an open carrier and are exposed to weather elements. This includes rain, hail, and snow. However a professional auto transport company takes measures to protect your car from damage.

Enclosed Car Carrier

If you have an exotic, prestige vehicle, or rare car that needs extra care, and attention a “white-glove-level” service is the answer. The enclosed car carrier service is your best bet. This is a safer option that protects your car from dust, dust, grime, and other road elements.

Enclosed car carriers cater to a smaller market for rare and exotic vehicles and come at premium rates of up to 40-60% or more than the cost of an open carrier – depending on availability.

Bill of Landing

Also known as the BOL. The bill of lading is the documentation issued by the car auto transport company. It’s purpose is outlining the condition of the vehicle as well as proof of both pickup and delivery..


This is the most common and cost-effective mode of car transport. Co-loading allows car transport companies to load more than one automobile in a single carrier, hence cutting the total transportation cost significantly.

Cut-off time

This is the latest date that the hauling company needs to have delivered your car.


This is a term used to signify the changing of a route for a shipment in transit.

In Transit

This is a term used to show that your shipment is on the road to your preferred pick-up point.

Car transport can sometimes be overwhelming and complicated. By being familiar with these terms, you’ll be able to understand what you’re dealing with. Your preferred auto transport company should provide you with these details to help you make an informed decision.

Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more