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How to start a car hauling business

Running your own car hauling business may be a great idea, but you need to know exactly what is involved in getting started. Before you make any permanent plans, let us help you learn how to start a car hauling business. 

What is a car hauling business? 

The term car hauling refers to transporting automotive vehicles from one place to another. Drivers engaged in this business are responsible for loading each vehicle onto a specially-designed trailer and ensuring that the vehicles are secure. They must also make sure the trailer meets all weight restrictions and safety standards. 

As a rule, vehicle manufacturers and dealerships are not involved in the transport aspect of moving vehicles. This aspect of their business is handled by the trucking industry instead. Essentially, a car hauling business acts as a middleman between the shipper and the customer.

Car hauling can also mean shipping a car to a new location for individuals who move. 

How does a car hauling business work? 

When deciding how to start a car hauling business, you can choose to work with a broker who will help you get loads, find your own customers, or work for an auto transport company. 

Pros & cons of owning a car hauling business

Owning a car hauling business sounds good in theory, but are you ready to take on the responsibility? Take a look at the pros and cons, and then decide whether you wouldn’t be better off working on your own or with a reputable company.


  • Be your own boss
  • High profit margin
  • Build your business brand
  • Open trailers offer better visibility
  • A growing industry


  • High maintenance costs
  • Rigorous licensing costs 
  • Hard to get established
  • More responsibilities 
  • Unexpected expenses

10 steps for starting a car hauling business 

Are you interested in the business of hauling cars but aren’t sure how to begin? The best way is to follow specific steps to avoid legal issues or other problems.

If you’re not sure how to start a car hauling business, here are 10 steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Get your CDL

The first step in starting a car hauling business is to obtain a CDL-A license. The license will make it easier to get insured, and fees will be cheaper. 

In addition to the CDL, you need to obtain a standard “for-hire” authority to fulfill the company’s state and federal legal requirements. 

Step 2: Create a business plan

Trying to start a new car hauling company without a business plan is setting yourself up for problems. For instance, you need to know what you’ll be hauling, where you can find customers, your goals, and how you plan to grow the business.

Your car hauling business plan will serve as a guide to help you handle unexpected responsibilities and costs. You may want to get professional help creating the business plan to make sure it’s realistic.

Step 3: Create your budget

Before starting any business, it’s important to know your overall costs. They may include initial, ongoing, and future costs. Do you know where your working capital is coming from, the daily operating costs, and how to cover unexpected expenses? Setting up a budget will help you plan for these costs.

Step 4: Get insurance quotes

In the car hauling business, the freight you carry is high-value. As such, insurance companies want to make sure you have adequate coverage. You can expect to carry about $2 million in liability insurance and $500,000 in cargo insurance.

Step 5: Learn how to load and unload properly

Loading and unloading an auto transport trailer is a complex process. It requires a lot of skill to ensure all moving parts come together properly. The driver must consider the size of each vehicle and the order in which they are to be unloaded. 

Before starting a car hauling business, make sure you gain experience in this critical aspect of the profession.

Before you can hit the road with your car transport business, you will need several permits:

  • UCR — Unified Carrier Registration fees
  • IFTA — International Fuel Tax Agreement taxes
  • IRP — International Registration Plan taxes 
  • HVUT — Heavy Vehicle Use Tax
  • DOT — Department of Transportation fees
  • MC Number — Assigned by the FMCSA

It’s important to pay the fees on time to avoid paying heavy fines or having your vehicle placed out-of-service. 

Step 7: Purchase equipment and insurance

After applying your operating authority, you have 30 days to buy a truck and obtain insurance. If you fail to complete these steps, the DOT may shut down your operation. 

Step 8: Set up contact information

At first, you may decide to work with a broker to get your business started, but it’s better to have an alternate plan. Setting up your business email and website is a step toward independence. When you generate your leads, you will increase revenues and build a reputation as a reliable, trustworthy car hauling company.

Step 9: Sign up for the load board

After the FMCSA approves your authority, your next step is to sign up for the load board. A load board is used by brokers, dealers, and carriers. You can use the board to find and book loads for a fee.

Step 10: Get to work

Stay legal, drive safely, and start making money. It won’t be easy, and you’ll make mistakes, but you’re off to a good start.

Are you ready to start hauling cars?

Hauling cars for a living can be a profitable venture if you plan well, stay up-to-date with regulations, and work hard. You may want to consider working with a logistics company to ensure that you get the loads you want, keep your company organized, and have the support and guidance you need in the early stages of your business. 


How do you make money hauling cars?

You can make money hauling cars by transporting vehicles for dealerships, auctions, or individual clients and charging fees based on distance and services provided. One satisfied customer leads to another and ensures repeat business.

How do I start a car hauling business?

Get the right equipment, licenses, and insurance, and gain experience loading and unloading vehicles. Next, create a business plan, and determine where your operating capital is coming from.

Is hotshot car hauling worth it?

It depends. Hotshot car hauling can be lucrative if you have the right setup, skills, and clientele. Research thoroughly before deciding.

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