The auto transport industry facilitates the transportation of vehicles across countries, states and cities. Like any other sector, it has developed its own specialized vocabulary over the years. As a consumer dealing with auto transport companies, it is helpful to be aware of common terms used so you have clarity on pricing, services and your rights and responsibilities. This article aims to explain some frequently used terminology to give readers useful background on how the auto transport business works.

Pricing Terms

Open Carrier Rate

An open carrier rate refers to the base price charged by an auto transport company to move a vehicle from one specific location to another without any additional coverage or services. This rate only covers the basic transportation costs.

Valued Service Rate

A valued service rate is higher than the open carrier rate as it provides insurance coverage up to a declared value in case of damage or loss during shipment. The additional premium charged depends on the declared value.

Auto Transport – Spot Quote

A spot quote is a price estimate provided by an auto transport carrier for transporting a vehicle based on current availability of transport equipment and capacity. Spot quotes tend to be more expensive than prepaid non-binding estimates since space is limited.

Services Offered

Auto Transport – Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport involves carrying vehicles in an enclosed trailer or car carrier to protect them from weather elements, dust, rocks etc. during transit. This method tends to be safer and more expensive than open transport.

Open Transport

In open transport, vehicles are secured but left exposed to natural elements on flatbed trucks during the journey. It poses risk of damage from falling debris but offers reduced rates compared to enclosed transport.

Port-to-Port Service

A port-to-port service means the auto transport company is responsible for vehicle pick-up and delivery only from and to the loading/unloading locations. Any additional stops requested in between ports are charged extra.

Door-to-Door Service

With door-to-door service, the transporter handles complete coordination and bears responsibility from the time vehicle is picked up from owner’s location until its delivery at the destination address. This is a premium service.

Auto Transport – Other Commonly Used Terms

Binding Estimate

A binding estimate provided by a carrier means the quoted price is guaranteed not to increase unless additional services are requested. Choosing a carrier with non-binding estimates leaves room for price fluctuation.

Per Diem

Per diem refers to additional charges applied by carriers for any delays in vehicle pickup or delivery beyond normal transit times due to reasons like waits at loading/unloading docks or customer’s unavailability. It is calculated on a daily basis.

Auto Transport – Palletization

Palletization involves securing vehicles tightly on reusable wooden platforms (pallets). So multiple vehicles can be efficiently transported in stacked rows inside truck trailers and shipping containers to maximize space utilization.

I hope this glossary of terms related to auto transport proved helpful in increasing understanding of the industry. And what to expect when working with carriers. Let me know if any other concepts need more clarification.