Reading : 3 minutes
Jan 16, 2024

When you are in need of auto transport, you will probably begin your search online. You might assume that all of the auto shipping companies are offering the same general service and choose whichever seems to have the best reviews. However, what you probably don’t know is whether or not you are dealing with a broker or a carrier. Before booking your shipment, it’s important to understand the different types of companies and the different services each provides. It can be very difficult to differentiate between brokers and carriers at first glance, so the following information will help you better understand the difference between the two and how to determine whether or not you are dealing with a broker or a carrier. 

What is an Auto Transport Broker?

An auto transport broker takes a shipping order and finds an available carrier to actually transport the vehicle. Brokers, themselves, do not own the fleet of trucks that actually transport the vehicle. Rather, they work with a variety of carriers around the country that use their own drivers and equipment to find someone that is available to ship your car at the best possible price. In other words, the broker is responsible for coordinating the logistics of having your vehicle shipped from point A to point B. 

There are several benefits to working with a broker over a carrier. For starters, brokers are more flexible since they aren’t tied to a single fleet. Rather, they can track down carriers with open spots that will be in your area and this can make for faster delivery times. In addition, if something happens to the truck carrying your car, a broker would be able to arrange to have your car picked up by another carrier with little to no delays. Brokers are also industry experts and will make sure to only use carriers that are properly licensed, registered, and insured. When working with a broker, you can be sure that your vehicle is being transported by a trusted and reputable carrier. 

What is an Auto Transport Carrier?

In order to be a carrier, that means that the auto shipping company owns their own fleet of trucks and works exclusively with these trucks and drivers to deliver shipments. While it may seem easier to work directly with the driver and have one point of contact, carriers are not as flexible. For one, you have to work within the confines of that specific fleet of trucks so it could take longer to get your vehicle. Furthermore, if the truck carrying your vehicle breaks down, your shipment may be delayed since they don’t work in conjunction with other carriers. 

How to Determine if an Auto Transport Company is a Broker?

The easiest way to determine if an auto transport company is a broker or carrier is to visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. Here you can seach trucking companies by their USDOT number and since this is a federal website, you know the information is accurate. Next to the name of the shipping company you will see either “Carrier” or “Broker.” If you are having trouble accessing this information, you can also simply ask the company directly whether they are a carrier or broker. They should be able to tell you whether they exclusively use their own fleet of trucks (carrier) or whether they arrange for shipping with other companies (broker).  

In most cases, brokers are a better option because they are able to access multiple carriers which can provide you with faster shipping and better prices. You will definitely find that availability and efficiency is better with brokers and they are also able to provide shipment with minimal delays. Just be sure to research any car shipping company thoroughly before booking. Customer reviews, research, and asking the right questions can make for a better experience and help you prevent unexpected hiccups along the way. 

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