There is a subset of commercial over the road truckers saddled with the responsibility of moving cars across the country. These drivers, whom you can occasionally observe driving double-decker trucks carrying smaller vehicles on the highway, are known in the business as car hauler truckers.
In order to eliminate the stress and reduction in value that, otherwise, results from driving antique or period cars with very high value so many miles on the road, there are always people who would not mind paying a high premium for transport using a car hauler.
If you are considering a career making a living as a car hauler trucker, rest assured that it is a quite lucrative venture once you have gotten enough experience. In this article, we will look into everything you should know about how to become a car hauler.
Obtaining a CDL
As a rookie, the first step you should take in order to become a transporter is to obtain a Class-A CDL. It’s the only license that permits you to become an over the road trucker in general.
Once you have gotten a license that lets you work with 26,000-pound vehicles and heavier, it is advisable to actually get started as an OTR driver. With two years of experience and a spotless driving record, you are in good standing as far as insurance providers are concerned. Of course, if you plan to work in vehicle transporting.
Car Hauler Training
Hauling expensive vehicles would require a bit of training beyond what you might be used to in OTR truck driving. There are two ways of going about it. You could wait to get trained as a vehicle transporter at companies that train while you are on the job. Or you could enroll yourself in an auto hauling school.
If you are 21 years of age or older and have passed a background check and a DOT check, you should learn all you need to learn in about a month of car haul training including:
- The right approach to loading and unloading vehicles.
- How to go about spacing.
- How to get decks ready for transport.
- The right approach to strapping your load.
Once all of that is in the bag, you are ready to make money driving a 4 car or 3 car hauler or some other cargo carrier truck across the country.
Beyond that, there are other requirements to satisfy like having a valid GED or high school diploma. This demonstrates that you are trustworthy enough to haul such expensive cargo. As mentioned earlier, you must have a satisfactorily clean driving record and in some cases, be willing to subject yourself to periodic drug screening or random testing. It is seen as an indicator of how much you value your work and respect the lives of other drivers.
There are a number of companies that have implemented mandatory bonds to insure themselves against liability resulting from damage to cars caused by errors on the part of employees and liability resulting from theft.
If you are an owner operator working as an independent contractor, additional insurance may be required to demonstrate, albeit superficially, that you can be trusted to follow the rules while working with your trailer. Like many other OTR positions, car haulers put in long shifts and regularly make trips across the country.
The 70-hour weekly limit and 11-hour daily limit for truckers covers vehicle transporters as well. Once you have reached the weekly limit you are required to have 34 hours of rest. As for the daily limit, you are mandated to observe a 30-minute break after 8 hours of work.
Job Responsibilities of Auto Haulers
Compared to most other trucking jobs an auto hauler’s job is one of the hardest. Probably the most obvious reason for that is the fact that the cars, unlike other cargo, are at the mercy of the elements considering their exposure while being transported. As such, strapping them onto the truck in the open also means greater care must be taken to avoid scrapes, contact with debris, and scratches.
Aside from that, one of the reasons why prospective car halers do need extra training even if they have some over-the-road trucking experience is that they are typically required to load and unload on their own. You certainly can’t do that effectively without specialized training.
It stands to reason, however, that you can draw a little from any previous encounter you might have had with heavy machinery. Properly securing all the cars you are transporting cannot be over-emphasized. You must do your due diligence to avoid dangerous mishaps on the road involving loose pieces of improperly secured cargo.
If you do manage to get to your destination relatively unscathed, you also need to make sure that damage does not occur while undocking. Developing a routine with pinpoint accuracy for unloading and loading is integral to pulling this off. Physical fitness is also a factor because this process typically involves some exertion on your part.
Another challenge that comes with auto hauler jobs is the ability to meet deadlines. Success in regard has a ripple effect. Many businesses connected to the industry thrive on being able to develop an accurate schedule for cargo delivery. Auto shows, festivals, dealerships, and conventions are counting on timely delivery of cars in perfect condition.
Car Hauler Salary
Working as a vehicle transporter, according to Glassdoor, fetches a median pay of 73,000 US Dollars and up to 120,000 US dollars for the most experienced drivers. Pay starts at a little below 60,000 US dollars for those new to the business of car hauling – those with no experience.
Owner-operators, of course, are poised to make a higher car hauler salary and that is despite the fact that damaged loads, bonds, and insurance premiums tend to lower the amount they actually receive. As long as deliveries are made in flawless condition and on time, you have a shot at earning higher eventually.
There are companies that use the pay per mile salary structure and typically pay with the range of 4 US dollars and 5 US dollars per mile. If you work for such a company, the longer you drive the higher the pay. You can only maximize your car hauler pay under this system, however, by limiting your rest and home time and driving more miles.
There are also companies that opt for a system that pays a percentage of gross load per run, which amounts to 25 percent on average. So if, for instance, you haul a freight load worth 15,000 US dollars you get paid an income of 3,750 US dollars for every such load.
Contract haulers who have a stellar record in business and get hired to transport exotic, rare supercars, for instance, might benefit from the value-based commission. If you develop a reputation strong enough to be trusted with the rarest of cars you are certainly going to make a lot more money.
Lastly, a decking and undocking bonus are made available to employees by most of the companies in the industry. Safely loading and unloading cargo means you will be making extra cash in addition to your overall pay. Because it takes a high level of expertise to do that but also because doing both jobs keeps them from having to pay another person for one of the jobs.
As far as the job market is concerned, there aren’t that many jobs out there that you can get with only a high school diploma, which pays as well as car hauling. Furthermore, it is one of the highest paying trucking jobs in the industry.
If you are to succeed in this business you must be committed to safety and be willing to learn at all times. You could choose to train privately or look for local companies hiring employees they will train.
Depending on the salary structure, you may have to be away from home in order to earn higher wages at the beginning of your career. With enough experience and a solid reputation, you could eventually get your hands on loads of scarcest.
Most sophisticated exotic cars and earn a higher salary. That is not even mentioning the bonuses and commissions that you may qualify for along the way if you demonstrate the needed diligence while driving 4 car or 3 car cargo carriers.