How To Become A Car Hauler?

Semi Truck Driver Start Hauling Autos

Back when I was pulling a 53 Foot Dry Van trailer and after some changes that occurred to the company I was driving for.   I started wondering about how I could become an Auto Transport Truck Driver (also known as: Car Hauler, Auto Carrier, Parking Lot, many different names).

The quickest way I can answer how to become a Car Transport Driver is this.  After you obtain at least a couple of years of experience with a clean and safe driving record. 

There are numerous auto trucking companies that will hire a truck driver without auto transportation experience.  They will teach you and train you and all of these fun things in every aspect of auto transportation. 

From learning how to drive the vehicles onto and off the auto carrier, to understanding how to load what where, how to operate the hydraulics and everything in between. 

I know this is a pretty basic response to the main question.  The above is a brief overall summary to help you get started or at least pointed in the right direction.  If anything and if you do not yet have a couple of years of safe driving.  It will at least help you get an understanding of what you need to do to achieve your goals. Below is a detailed answer with steps and helpful tips if you’re interested in reading more.

Where To Begin In Car Hauling?

Before you begin finding your path into the Auto Transportation area of Truck Driving.  Let me enlighten you on a few things first.  This way you know what to expect and be prepared for.  Hauling vehicles is a very labor intense occupation.

You will work during the day and during the night.  Depending on who you drive for, and even if your planning to drive for yourself someday.  You are subject to your schedule being able to work with the customer’s schedule.

You will work in the scorching heat of Arizona, California, Georgia, and Florida for example in the summer.  You will work in below zero wind chills with heavy snowfall in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Connecticut, and places alike.

At times you will receive a dispatch stating that the next vehicle is inoperable.  Also, you may have had an operable vehicle on your semi truck or trailer.  That at some point, became inoperable.

It is your duty to in a safe manner for yourself, your semi truck and trailer.  That the inoperable vehicle is placed on or off of your semi truck and trailer, with no additional damage while in your possession, or during any of your loading or unloading processes.  During all this, you remain safe and do not do any damage to your semi truck and trailer either.

There is additional paperwork.  Each vehicle or each stop/delivery/pickup location will require a Bill of Lading.  Each vehicle must have a very specific damage report filled out completely.  This report needs to include your signature and the customer’s signature prior to moving onto the next location.

At times, you will get dirty.  You will not be able to shower for many hours at some moments.  You will in the beginning not be conditioned physically for auto transportation.  If you keep with it, your body will catch up and become accustomed to the occupation.

During this time, of becoming physically conditioned, you will become tired easily.  You may become mentally agitated and unsure if you made the right decision.

Work through it, keep your head up, and you will thank yourself later.  If any part of this does not appeal to you.  If any of this feels like something overwhelming.  Hauling auto’s is not for everyone.  There is no shame in admitting if this is not for you.

The purpose of these things being mentioned in the beginning is so that you do not waste your time.  Also so that you do not waste the time of others trying to teach something that is just not going to be learned by someone uninterested in learning.

  • As someone that has gone through this process long ago.  I can not emphasize enough how important having a clean and safe driving record is for you.
  • This is just as important as the amount of experience driving as a Class A licensed truck driver.
  • So that you know how to at least turn a semi truck without curbing the trailer tires.
  • So that you understand how to watch your semi truck mirrors as you back up so that you do not “Jack Knife” your semi truck.
  • This is so that you experience all the things you need to, prior to attempting to haul cars.
  • Once you have the 2 to 3 years of semi truck driving experience with a clean record driving record of about 5 years or more, you can now apply with some success.
  • Depending on where you live, will determine the quickest route of where to go for training and learning the in’s and out’s of auto transportation.  Keep in mind this may not be the best route or the best training.
  • When you do your search, please note that you will find more auto brokers acting as trucking companies than actual trucking companies that are auto transport carriers. Point of mentioning this is that some auto transportation brokers do not own any semi trucks.
  • Look for an Auto Transportation company that not only offers training but also requires company clothing that you must wear.  (most company clothing is designed in a way to help protect the vehicles from you being able to scratch them with your regular clothing)
  • Ask to see if the Auto Transportation Company requires any type of deposit on company clothing and additional equipment. (Straps, chains, chain bar, rear hanging red flags, and strap ratchets.)
  • After asking if any deposit is required.  If they tell you yes, ask if the deposits can be deferred in payments from your pay, or if it is required up front.
  • Make sure you ask what you need to bring with you to training.  Government Issued Identity, documentation of other things like MVR Record for any certain period of time or Social Card, Birth Certificate, and the likes.)
  • Ask if training is paid and if they provide any meals.  Ask how many meals because it is common to only provide 1 meal.
  • Lastly, ask if they pay for the hotel room and if when assigned a hotel room if you will be sharing it with another trainee.

Once you have completed the above process of making arrangements.  Most likely you would have already faxed or emailed the company of your choice a lot of the documentation, and truck driving history, employment history, and references.

I could mention a handful of Auto Transportation Companies that do training.  However, maybe in the future, I will update some sort of list to this article.  I am not doing so right now, only because I want to be able to do a bit more research.

Compared with when I started hauling auto’s over 12 years ago.  The available auto transportation companies of today, are new to me.  So I need to learn a little bit about a few of them.  So that I do not provide anyone with any bad or misleading information.

Overall, go to google an in the search type in something like “Auto Transportation Companies with training programs”.  This will help get you started in that aspect.

Now you have your set time to arrive at the auto transportation company.  Maybe you would like to do a little bit of practice prior to actually arriving at training in a few days.  The best type of practice training I can suggest is this.

Find an abandoned parking lot in the day time that still has the spaces for parking visible on the ground.  If you are able to drive a manual transmission in a car, if you have one or if you know someone with one, ask them to bring it to this location.

In addition, the vehicle with the manual transmission, if you can have an automatic be there as well, all the better.  Also if you can have someone come with you to help you be safe, all the better.  Once at your new favorite practice location.  With either transmission type, now’s where the fun begins.

What your going to want to do is look at the painted parking lines in the parking area.  Parking lots are painted with one parking space facing another.  Between the 2 parking spaces is a solid line that conjoins the 2 parking spots (in my picture I made some green marks).  This line usually runs the length of the row of parking spaces.

This is the line we want to pay attention to.  The red circles indicate rows that have obstructions within them.  These rows are not viable for this training.  We need a row that is open, without obstructions or obstacles.

Get inside of your practice automobile.  Drive up to the long line, facing the end of the row.  The point here is that we have to slowly drive forward and backward on this long line, with both our front tire and our rear tire a 1/2 inch away from this line the entire length proceeding forward and in reverse.

Seems really easy right?  Easier said than done.  When traveling, go slow, the best speed is at idle speed.  When moving, try to lean out of your door window if possible, so that you can peek your head out to see the sidewall of both your front and rear tires.  Seeing your sidewall precisely 1/2 inch off of that line at all times.

While in a forward motion, reference the front, watch it for a little bit, then glance back at your rear tire to ensure it is traveling off your reference line at the distance you need.  (Some vehicles have bent frames, so understanding this and calculating everything is key to saving you money on damages.)

While doing this also pay attention to your surroundings.  It may or not take a bit of practice.  At the Auto Transportation training location, they will also do something similar to this type of training.  Or I would at least hope they do.

What this does is it gets you familiar with referencing a line on the floor of your trailer and the semi truck.  To reference the entire time of loading and unloading of vehicles.

Another good option you can practice while here at your new all exclusive training lot is traveling through the parking spaces as normal (as if you were going to park at a mall).  Travel up to the parking space (without entering the parking space), put the vehicle in park.  Get out, walk around and see if you can tell if your vehicle is centered evenly within the lines of the parking space.

This resembles your ability to be centered while approaching the entry point of your trailer.  Trailers have hydraulic hoses and frame bars and hydraulic cylinders and lots of other things that could entangle you and damage the vehicles you load and unload.

To see if you are centered, just use your foot with the shoe or boot that your wearing.  Measure from the sidewall of your tire, to the edge of the parking space line.  Then do the same for the other side.  There is no room for a difference of more than a 1/2 inch.

If your sides do not equal or are a greater difference than a 1/2 inch.  Back up and try again.  A key hint on how to pull up and position yourself successfully is by using the same method from above.  Lean and look out of your window and look at the area near the side walls of your tire where the tread meets the ground.

After as many times as it may have taken you to become within the requirement of centered.  Go slow, go forward through the parking space at a slow pace, and maintain your distance away from the reference line (parking space line).  If you have someone with you.

Have them watch your passenger side for you.  Have them yell at you (Hey you’re off your mark!!!!) if you do not maintain distance on the passenger side.  This is going to provide you with 2 things.  1, scare the crap out of you just as if you heard a loud bang from running into something and damaging the vehicle.  2, acknowledge to you, that you are off center.

If you are yelled at by the person with you.  Or if you notice you become off-center on the side you are focused on.  Exit out of the lane and start all over.  This sounds repetitive, maybe even aggravating to start over.  This is how it will have to be when you are dealing with real customer vehicles inside of a real Auto Transportation Carrier Semi Truck.  There are no short cuts.

The only difference between this and on the real thing.  Is that here you can actually start over.  Whereas on the Auto Transportation Trailer or Semi Truck, the damage is already done.  The most you can do is hope that you can go in the opposite direction you were just traveling and not do any additional damage in the process of realigning yourself.

Once you have mastered these two types of things to practice.  The next thing to practice is being able to do all of this, all over again, without the help of anyone.  So do everything again.  Except for this time, keep your sidewalls on your tire no more than 1/16th of an inch from the parking long row long line.

If you go more than a 1/16th away from the line, or if you drive onto that line.  Have someone yell at you.  Just think, Hummers are really wide vehicles, just as full-sized pickup trucks are.  You are lucky if at times you have a 1/8th of an inch of spacing on both sides of the customer’s vehicle while loading or unloading it in your Auto Transportation Semi Truck Carrier.

Do this in both forward and reverse.  If you are able to do these few exercises with both an automatic and manual transmission type of vehicles.  This will greatly help you more than just about anything else that I could say.

If by chance you are short like I am.  I am 5’6″ with boots or shoes on I forget.  Anyways, if you are.  In automatic vehicles.  I use to sit on my left foot in a way to help me lean out of the driver side window.  When I was inside of customer vehicles.  I would take my boot or shoe off.  So that I did not get any dirt on or damage the driver seat in any way.

Here’s a PRO CAR HAULING TIP for you.  Make sure you have clean socks on and you wash your feet often because no one wants to smell that later.  Really, nobody does.  Not even a little bit.  I’ve been tipped before, $300 bucks just because my customer’s car smelled good and not like smelly feet.  Just saying, it’s your wallet, not mine.


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About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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