Posted on 02/17/22

The Truth About Car Shipping Brokers And Carriers

The Truth About Car Shipping Brokers And Carriers


It is often difficult to understand the differences between carriers and brokers in the auto transportation industry. Many people are unable to grasp why brokers are important and how difficult it is to find the right carrier.

It is important to remember that both brokers and carriers collaborate to make auto shipping as efficient and as easy for customers as possible.

You can think of it as follows: Carriers are the companies that own the trucks that transport the cars, while brokers coordinate the shipments and help customers find the best carrier from the potentially thousands of choices.


Carriers are companies that own trucks and hire drivers to transport cars. In the United States, almost 80% of all car carrier fleets are owned by one owner. Each of these car carriers is owned by one or two individuals with their own auto haulers.

There are many of these carriers. They all have "designated routes", which are routes that make them money the most efficiently. These carriers don't divert from this limited number of routes.

Carrier shippers or brokers send their orders for car shipment to the carriers. They set the price at which they feel is reasonable by comparing their costs with national dispatch boards and evaluating their own costs. This is how they set the market price of auto transport.

This means that 20% percent of the carriers in the country work for larger companies. Some of these larger carriers realized that if they were also acting as brokers and sub-contracting out orders they couldn't fulfill to smaller carriers, they could still make money on those shipments.

It is possible to deal with a broker even though you are dealing directly with the carrier.


There has been a negative perception of car shipping brokers for years. They are sometimes called "middlemen" by some. However, their role in vehicle shipping is vital to the majority of car shipments.

A broker is responsible for facilitating, coordination, and negotiating the transaction between customer and carrier. This is something that would not happen if the customer and carrier dealt directly with one another.

The short version is that brokers act as a transport simplification partner for the customer and business partner for the carrier. They provide a platform for communication as well as the most accurate quotes, based on the current market conditions in the auto transportation industry.

Brokers negotiate pricing and terms on behalf of the customer and make sure they are on the same page with the carrier throughout shipping.

Customers would not be able negotiate the terms and rates they want if they dealt directly with carriers. Customers would not be able to maximise the number of shipments that they receive if they dealt directly with carriers.

A broker will usually offer a slightly lower price if they have multiple carriers that are competing to bid for each shipment.

Brokers are sometimes referred to by other names, such as intermediaries or non-asset-based carrier. These are simply alternate names that people use to refer to brokers in the auto transportation industry.

As a customer, imagine trying to find the fastest route with the lowest cost efficiency among hundreds of carriers. It would take a lot of work to gather information from all the carriers about routes and pricing. Imagine doing all this work and not being able to save any money. This is the difference between a broker and the job they do.

What are the main differences between a broker & a carrier?

While you may be familiar with the major differences between brokers, carriers and other agents, some might surprise you.

  • While the carriers transport the vehicles, a broker will find the most cost-effective and efficient shipping route for the customer through a network that includes hundreds of carriers. Many carriers rely upon brokers to help customers, and many brokers rely upon carriers to ship customer's vehicles.
  • Brokers can work up to twelve hours per day, while carriers typically work eight hours.
  • A broker can arrange for shipment of a car to any part of the country, while many carriers limit their ability to ship.
  • While a broker has a lot of experience in reaching customers, carriers are more likely to wait and watch for orders to arrive. Carriers spend more time fulfilling actual orders than searching for customers.

There are two main types of similarities between a broker & a carrier

Before we get into the list, it is important to remember that neither a broker nor a carrier can guarantee pick up or delivery times. If they claim that they can, it's likely a scam. Although some carriers claim they can guarantee delivery or pick-up on a certain date, others know that weather and traffic delays, as well as customer-related delays, can cause shipment delays.

  • Although both can deal directly with customers, it is more practical for brokers to do this.
  • Both must register with the Department of Transportation or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to get licensed.
  • Both can give you a quote before you make your order
  • Both can ship door-to-door, though local restrictions may apply.

Which should I choose?"

It can be difficult to find a carrier. It is not easy for carriers to find customers. There could be hundreds to choose from, each with many aspects of auto shipping to consider, such as price, reputation, and transit time.

A broker will book your vehicle for you. A broker will charge a fee for booking your vehicle with a carrier. However, they will find the best possible carrier to ship it in the timeframe you require and at a lower price than other carriers.

These carriers will have to lower their rates to win your business if you book through a broker.

Book direct with a carrier and they will most likely not lower your initial rate. You will get a lower rate if you book through a broker, even with the broker fee.

It is also more difficult to find all these carriers. Many carriers are just one person with a few trucks, as we said before. Many of these carriers don't have any kind of website presence. They rely on brokers to find customers. Then they invest their time and money in making the shipment.

It's up to you to decide what is best for your car shipment. We recommend that you use a broker to ship your car so you don't waste any time, effort, or money.


Without carriers, brokers wouldn't exist. Although carriers could still exist, only a small fraction of the business would be done by carriers and many would disappear quickly.

Although brokers and carriers are distinct parts of the auto transportation industry, they play different roles but are integral to the entire industry.

You have the option to either book through a broker or directly with the carrier. Both are important in the auto transportation process. Both have their pros and cons.

A broker is the best way to book because they take all of your legwork out of finding and coordinating a carrier. A broker can help you get the best price because there may be multiple carriers competing for the same shipment.

You can either use our free quote calculator or call us to get an estimate of the cost to ship your vehicle.