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How to start a car hauling business in 8 steps

You’re here because you want to know how to start a car hauling business and that’s precisely what I am going to help you do in this post.

Starting a car hauling business will take you on an unpredictable yet rewarding journey. Somewhere in the space between being your own boss and driving cars you’ve never driven before is exciting within itself. But the path to success will be a long and hard one, especially if you have no clue what you’re doing or how you’re getting there.

It’s so important that when you decide to start a car hauling business, or any business for that matter, you start it off on the right foot. This means making sure you follow the right steps so you don’t run into any legal issues and to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible, minimizing any potential hiccups.

When I started both my car hauling business and my auto transport broker business, I made so many mistakes. I wasn’t fortunate to have someone to turn to and ask questions or have someone to guide me. You see, it’s not always about the path someone took to success, usually it’s the mistakes they made that can prove the most valuable. Making sure you do not make those same mistakes.

Deciding to become a car hauler will bring you so much joy and happiness but with that comes stress, mistakes and confusion. Although I set out to guide you on the right path by sharing my advice on how to start a car hauling business with you, it doesn’t mean you won’t slip up a time or two. Because after all, even if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet told you exactly what they did to achieve success, I would bet my last dollar that you will still find many bumps in the road. Heck, you might be the one who simply doesn’t even make it.

With that said, the important thing here is making sure you start your business off right. Doing the right tasks in the beginning so you can be on your way to car hauling success.

So in this post, I am sharing the steps I suggest you take if you’re really serious about learning how to start a car hauling business on the right foot.
 

How to start a car hauling business in 8 steps

 

With that out the way, let’s get started.

 

Step 1: Getting your CDL

Before you jump into starting your own car hauling business, you need to make sure you have your CDL A license. If you don’t yet have one, it’s worth noting that you will have a harder and more expensive experience getting insured. You might want to consider getting some experience with general trucking first and then revisit starting your own company. If you don’t mind the higher fees and are inspired by a challenge, then by all means let’s get you started. Obviously, if you already hold a valid CDL A and you have experience in trucking, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

 

Step 2: Deciding on the right equipment

Your next step is all about equipment.  You’ll need to figure out what type of truck/trailer you want and then price shop. Many people choose their equipment based on the route they plan to run. Want to go long distance? A larger carrier is the better choice whereas if you’re regional, a 3/4 car setup might be more practical. Some people want to start off with a dually and 3/4 car trailer setup and sometimes this works out for them. Financially, it’s a smaller upfront commitment. On the contrary, a 7-10 car setup might be what you’ve got your eyes set on. With a higher price tag comes higher earning possibility. Which one is right for you? Well only you can decide but definitely consider both your route plans and your finances. Either way you do need to decide and then move on to the next step.

Step 3: Getting insurance quotes

Once you’ve made a decision on the type of equipment you want, you’ll need to price shop insurance for said truck/trailer combination. As we talked about in step one, how long you’ve held your CDL alongside driving history, can make all the difference between getting insured and not.

You want to make sure that:

1) You can actually get insurance for the car hauling setup of your dreams.
2) You can afford the payment that comes along with getting insured.

 

Step 4: Getting your authority and fulfilling other legal requirements

Once you know you can afford/get approved for the truck/trailer setup and you can get approved and afford the insurance payments, you’ll need to get your legal ducks in a row. These include:

1) Incorporating your business
2) Getting your authority (MC + DOT numbers)
3) Getting your IFTA
4) File your UCR registration
5) Fulfill any other local/state requirements.

Aside from that you’ll also need a business account and legal documents for your business like your inspection sheet aka Bill of Lading. The terms and conditions found on this document and how you inspect the vehicle can make or break your new business so do not skimp here.

 

Step 5: Purchasing your equipment

Now that you’ve officially started the process, you have to do the biggest and scariest thing: make the big purchase. Within 30 days of filing your application for your operating authority, you’ll need to buy the truck and insure it. If you don’t and the DOT decides to audit you, you’ll be shut down. Let’s not let that happen, so here’s when you finally take the leap. Smile, you’re about to become a car hauler!

 

Step 6: Setting up a website

You need to have a website and a professional email address. Yes, you’ve read that right! I get it, you like your cooltrucker@gmail.com email address but customers don’t. Even though you’re a trucker, you can still have some swag and that is achieved through an awesome email address. Plus it makes you trustworthy. You need something like yourname@cooltrucker.com or whatever your company’s name is. There’s no excuse, fancy email addresses like that are free when you buy your domain. As far as a website is concerned, it’s very important that you start trying to generate your own leads from the get go. I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying, “brokers make us broke.” Well if you depend on brokers and you take whatever they give you without a fight so to speak, you will be broke and out of business. I’m sure you don’t want to rely on brokers forever… so yeah, about that website and fancy email address?

 

Step 7: Signing up for the load board

Once the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has approved your authority, you can get ready to jump for joy because it’s getting down to the wire. Your next step is to head to CentralDispatch.com and sign up for access. There is a monthly fee commitment, but we are going to say it’s the cost of doing business. Or in your case the only way to be in business. Central dispatch is a load board used by brokers, carriers and dealers. You will need to use it to find and book your loads. So get on there and start looking for loads. As a small wildcard, I want to mention software. I know it’s not something most drivers talk about but let me tell you, you won’t regret the small invest. I highly recommend that you invest in a carrier software to make managing your business easier especially with things like tracking your fuel and planning your route. I recommend carshipio.com. Totally worth the monthly investment.

 

Step 8: Start making your money

The final step is a no brainer. Once you’ve started finding your loads and getting a feel for the load board, it’s time to start making your money. In the beginning it’s going to go one of two ways:

1) You’re going to get a huge amount of money and be tempted to spend it all. (Which i advise against that)
2) You’re going to look at your first run like, what the heck did I get myself into? 

Whichever way it goes, just remember that nothing great happens overnight. Keep at it. Run legal and put your all into it!  I can’t promise that it’ll get easier with time, but I can promise that you’ll never get bored.

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So there you have it. Follow these 8 simple steps if you want to start a car hauling business. It’s not rocket science really, but it’s critical in my opinion, that you do them in the right order and within the right time frames. The last thing you want is to make a mistake that can cost you money or worst, your car hauling business before you even start.

The only thing standing in your way of your dreams is the decision to start and I think you’ve taken that step already. But if you haven’t, make that decision, follow these steps and you will be on your way to success. If you want a more detailed step by step process for starting, running and growing your business, check out the car hauling business course here.  

I hope this was helpful.

Join the Adventure

29 Comments

  1. Occonor Baker

    Great post on starting car hauling business do you have a post on starting an Auto transport broker business?

  2. My name is jeff self i am wanting to start a car hauling business and i dont know where to start.i need someone to help me that knows what there doing please help me.

  3. Alexander Cage

    Hey, thanks for posting, you have provided a really good information which is very useful and helpful for people wanting to start a business in car hauling or something related to it. I think whether it is a car hauling business or an auto transport both requires a lot of research and plannings and many things one should consider when planning to start such type of business. Me and my brother is thinking to start a business in car hauling or similar services, at present we are at the initial stage of planning and out lining things which can do and vice versa. Many of my brother’s friend works in auto shipping New Jersey company which also helps us to understand the different terms and condition professionally. Also, we are going through many articles like how to, pros and cons, etc. But your post is actually a real help. Thanks again.

  4. Tonia Murray

    Great guide, Thank you.

  5. Hi Ashley, I finally got a reasonable quote back from my insurance broker. $15,400, As you progressive have made it very hard for new ventures to get started as of Oct 2016. Anyway im undecided on a 3/4 hauler verses an Ez4. Do you have any insight on the either advantage. I will be purchasing one or the other soon as i get off my ship March 1st.
    Also Thanks for your very informative forum✊

    • Deounce,

      Thanks for updating me. I like the 4 car trailer better than the 3/4. I had the 3/4 and one of my friends had the 4car EZ Loader and he was almost always able to haul 4 cars whereas for me, I only could haul 3. Thanks for being here and I am happy you find my information useful! Stay awesome!

      Ashley

  6. What are your suggestions when raising money to purchase equipment and insurance to start car hauling?

    • Simply put? I recommend you save as much as you can to help relieve some of the financial burden of starting out. Obviously this plan is different for everyone. Depending on things like your experience which can lower insurance costs or maybe you’re teaming with your partner/wife. Or maybe you have someone else handling the household bills. These wild cards can change the game financially for you.

      The biggest lesson here, is to figure out how much you need, how much you need to make and set goals. Goals for achieving success and goals for saving the money you need to make it happen. If you haven’t already check out my video I did called “How I saved $100k“.

      Ashley

  7. Great info.
    My question what is some good equipment eg,Truck,Trailer,Etc?
    How much does cost to get started?
    Where could the equipment be purchased from?
    Thanks

    • Eric,

      Thanks for writing in.

      Good equipment is subjective. It really depends on your needs and tastes.

      Are you getting a tractor trailer or are you getting a dually and 4 car trailer?

      That is a question only you can answer.

      Again not the sexy answer but how much you pay depends on too many variables. How much downpayment you have, your credit, your insurance, your driving record, your experience, your location… again too many variables to give you a definitive answer.

      As far as purchasing equipment… you can buy them from individual sellers i.e.: old truck drivers who are selling equipment, used dealerships that offer trucks at a discounted rate usually with high miles or brand new from a dealership of your choice i.e. Volvo, freightliner, kenworth, peterbilt, etc or in case of dually you have ford or dodge or chevy. It’s really up to you.

      Most people choose based on their experience. If you have experience driving Freightliners you might go that route or in case of dually you might like dodge over ford. Personal preference.

      Equipment is not what’s going to dictate success.

      Guys can have the best equipment and a crappy strategy and horrible execution. Guess what will happen? They will fail.

      Likewise, a guy can have crappy old equipment but has the right strategy and excellent execution and win!

      Hope this helps Eric.

      Ashley

  8. Ashley can you email me I have tons of questions

  9. If you will be hauling throughout the 48 states, what type of business license is needed?

    • I don’t think you will need a business license but it depends on your county where your official business address is. Even if it’s your home. Call you local town hall and ask them. Most people don’t get business licenses because they don’t know they need them but in some cases you do. So check first. Don’t assume 🙂

      Hope this helps Ashtin.

      Ashley

  10. I would like to buy my dually and a 4 car trailer. I would like to do it local in the state of Florida. I have a great credit. Is it a good idea just working local

    • Hello Lennar,

      It depends on what you mean by local. If you mean the state of Florida, then yes, you can stay within the state and still make a decent amount of money depending on your expenses. You have to figure out your break even point and consider to yourself that if you are depending on Brokers and load boards, you will probably only make about $80-125/car depending on origination/destination. If you are getting your own clients then you determine the price and can charge upwards of $2-300 per car. If your expenses fall below your potential income then it’s a go. But everyone’s situation is different. The good thing about Florida is that if you stay in the state only you won’t need ifta last I checked.

      Hope this helps.

      Ashley

  11. how is the dispatcher charge per load or per vehicle. If I have a 3/4 car carrier what is the approximately per week thank you

    • It depends on the dispatcher you choose to work with. Some will charge a percentage while others a flat fee. You gotta find the one you click with. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I can’t give you how much you can make because there are many factors.. the market day to day, your location, your route. There’s too many variables to give you an accurate number. Some drivers report thousands a week while other can barely break ground. It’s Also about who you know. If you have connections, that can help dramatically.

      Ashley

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