Car Shipping Brokers vs. Car Carriers: What is the Difference?


When you are looking for a car shipping service, as usual, just as with other service providers, you start looking for one online. Search engines will display different types of car shipping companies - brokers, carriers, and lead generators. 


While lead generators can only help you by providing shipping quotes, brokers and car carriers are a bit more to differentiate. So what is the difference between car shipping brokers and car carriers? Which one is the best service provider for you? In this guide, we will answer your questions that you might have regarding comparing auto shipping brokers and carriers.


Car Shipping Brokers vs. Car Carrier

What is the difference between car carriers and brokers?

In short, we can say that the main difference between both is that car carriers own and operate the trucks that haul vehicles and brokers on the other hand are usually coordinating the whole process.


In fact, most of the US car carriers are small, family-owned businesses with one or two professional drivers. Some car carriers will generally book a lot of their loads through a broker, as often, they do not have a sales and marketing department.

Professional brokers will verify car carriers and confirm if they hold valid insurance and USDOT credentials. Some professionals even run a background check to drivers to diminish any risks to hiring someone with a criminal history.

Some big car carriers manage their own fleet of trucks, but they are also operating as brokers. Sometimes, car carriers will coordinate the whole shipment, but subcontract the execution of the shipping job to another carrier.


In order to cover the whole country, brokers work with a big network of carriers. That way, they will be able to provide in time delivery to even the farthest locations. Some brokers ship vehicles via their trucks throughout the continental USA and use partners to deliver to the states of Alaska and Hawaii.

How brokers and car carriers work?

There are a lot of common touch points between both the car carriers and the auto transport brokers. The silver lining between these two types of car shippers is often softened. While there are car shipping companies that operate only as a broker or only as a car carrier, many will run their businesses as both. There are DOT-authorized brokers that also run a fleet of their own trucks. In addition, there are carriers that will work with other owner-operators, subcontracting some of the jobs they are incapable to execute. Undisputedly, in our modern world, we can expect this line to diminish even more, as businesses try to be as flexible as possible.  

Auto Transport Brokers

Auto transport brokers can adapt to current demand in the country much faster. As they have an established network of car carriers to cover routes all over the US, they can respond to the fluctuating demand much faster. A broker can find a car carrier with an open spot and arrange pickup and delivery more speedily.


Brokers have a greater capacity to respond to all kinds of emergencies. If you work with a carrier that has only a small fleet and the truck that is hauling your vehicle breaks down while en route, chances are that you will have to wait longer until your shipping job is rescheduled. You may have to pay an extra fee to get your vehicle en route as soon as possible. A broker can cope with similar situations with minimal or even without any delays.


A broker can cope with situations with minimal or even without any delays.


Brokers are said to be more experienced on the job. They usually hire the best long distance drivers. Furthermore, they will run a thorough background check and screen all professional drivers and truckers they work with. Some brokers, like TCI Logistics, will go the extra step to ensure their drivers have clean records.


Car shipping brokers have more resources to provide 24/7 customer support. A broker has the capacity to follow up with you around the clock. They can tackle even the most intricate and demanding auto transport challenges.


Furthermore, a brokerage can save you a lot of time when you are shopping for a car shipping service. Finding the best car carrier is time-consuming and involves a lot of research and you have to compare many quotes by yourself. Vetting a company is a complex process involving a few steps. Brokers can reduce the stress of looking for a car carrier by doing all the research for you. They can find the best car carrier based on your custom requirements. Auto shipping brokers can help with additional services, such as procuring extra insurance or appraisal.


Car Carriers

Working with a professional car carrier can sometimes be less expensive, because there are no middle men. Whereas it is not always true, often small car carriers will do discounts to attract more customers. Furthermore, at times local car carriers can be more efficient at the job when you are looking to ship a car short distance.


With car carriers, things seem to be simpler. They just haul vehicles. For rural areas, where they are based, they can be much faster at the job. Since car carriers are already specialised in this area, they may be able to ship your vehicle at a cheaper price rate. Brokers usually hire small carries for jobs with a pickup or delivery in rural areas.


Another benefit of working with a car carrier can be the single point of contact. You will not have to speak with different departments to find the answer to your question. Keep in mind that direct communication is always the best. Particularly in cases of emergencies or a conflict situation, communicating directly with the person involved in the problem is much better.


Small car carriers lack flexibility since they have a limited number of trailers and just a few truck drivers. Brokers invest in implementing technology to optimize their processes and they work with professional long distance drivers from all over the US. Furthermore, they can easily help you with another move related job and find the needed service provider.

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