Glossary for the Auto Transport Industry’s Terminology

Autos In Transit wants to help you become more knowledgeable of the auto transport and car shipping industry’s terminology. We feel this glossary of common auto transport terms will assist you in making sound, intelligent decisions regarding your car shipping needs. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our Live Support at (800) 595-2062.

American Trucking Association (ATA)
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is one united voice of trucking professionals and auto transport companies that are on a mission to serve and represent the interests of the trucking industry. They are working to advance the public image, efficiency, competitiveness, and profitability of this industry. They also provide educational programs and industry research while promoting safety and security on our nation’s highways. The American Trucking Association (ATA) strives for a healthy business environment.

Auto Logistics
A term used by automobile manufacturers as well as other entities in the automobile industry to describe the detailed coordination of a complex operation dealing with procurement, maintenance, and transportation. Auto logistics applies to all methods of auto transporting, i.e., rail, freight, or maritime.

Auto Logistics Company
A specialized service provider that applies auto logistics to help plan, organize, and manage comprehensive auto transport services.

Auto Transport
A term used to describe the process of transporting an auto as freight from one destination to another.

Auto Transport Brokers
An auto transport broker acts as an intermediary between the auto carriers and the consumer. Auto transport brokers play a vital role in the auto transport industry. A broker works on behalf of the consumer to get them a good deal on transporting their car with a reliable vehicle transportation company, all the while providing quality customer service.

Auto Transport Carriers
A specialized flat-bed truck, i.e., Hot Shot, or an open or enclosed semi-trailer that is capable of transporting one to multiple vehicles at a time.

Auto Transport Company
A business that specializes in providing comprehensive auto transport services. Professional, trustworthy auto transport companies are fully-insured, and typically have the capacity to ship a car anywhere in the United States.

Auto Transporting
The term used to define the process of transporting an auto to a determined destination.

Bill of Lading
This is a very important term you must listen for from any auto transport company in the industry. The Bill of Lading is a legal document that acts as a contract or receipt used by most auto transport companies to ensure the security of your vehicle. It is proof the company received your automobile(s) for shipment.

Car Carriers
A car shipping company or an individual car carrier that provides car shipping and auto transport services.

The process of loading more than one vehicle on a single car carrier. Consolidating loads enables the carriers to reduce their auto shipping costs. Make sure you check out the advantages and disadvantages to all auto transport services.

Cut-off Time
A term used by shipping ports or terminals to define the latest possible shipment time for delivery to its specified location.

A term used in the auto transport and car shipping industry for changing the route of a shipment from its original route. This diversion is usually caused by weather or some other road hazards.

A term that describes the pick-up and delivery of the vehicle from the customer’s home or current location to their final destination or a buyer’s destination. The vehicle is not shipped to a terminal, but to someone’s front door if the residential area allows.

Enclosed Auto Transport or Transportation
The process of transporting an automobile inside of an enclosed car hauler. Most people who own collectible or expensive automobiles use enclosed auto transport service. Anyone who would like to have their automobile completely covered and protected from outside elements should choose this auto transportation service.

En Route
A term used to classify a vehicle or shipment as “on the way” because it is in the process of being shipped to its destination.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established in January 1, 2000 by the Department of Transportation (DOT), pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (49 U.S.C. 113). Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the FMCSA’s primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. Activities of the Administration contribute to ensuring safety in car carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations; targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers; improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies; strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards; and increasing safety awareness.

Inventory or goods transported by truck, train, ship, or aircraft.

MC Number
Operating Authority (active MC Number) is unlike the USDOT Number application process. A company may need to obtain multiple operating authorities to support its planned business operations, and refers to a “MC,” “FF,” or “MX” number depending on the type of authority that is granted. “MC” Number is specific to the auto transport and car shipping industry, and stands for “Motor Carrier” number. Operating Authority dictates the type of operation a company may run, the cargo it may carry, and the geographical area in which it may legally operate. This gives the car carrier the proper authority to cross state lines.

Open Auto Transport
This auto transport method is transporting an automobile in an open car carrier, and is currently the most popular method of moving an automobile from one place to another.

Proof of Delivery (POD)
A document or receipt that establishes the fact that the recipient received the vehicle sent by the sender.

This auto transport and car shipping service gives you the option to drop your vehicle off at the terminal where it will be stored until the driver can come load it for delivery. A terminal is a facility that stores cars that are in the process of being shipped. This is an alternative service to door-to-door.

Tracking or GPS Tracking
Most auto transport companies have the ability to track their shipments through some sort of tracking system. Tracking can provide order visibility, invoicing, real-time event reporting and delivery confirmation.

U.S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.)
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966. The Department’s first official day of operation was April 1, 1967. Their mission is to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation systems that meet our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Number (USDOT Number)
Auto transport companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting other vehicles in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA, and must have a USDOT Number. All of our car shipping carriers a valid USDOT number.