As a retail customer, like you or I, typically you will want to work with an auto transport broker that handle most of the details. You will generally provide the broker your vehicle’s year, make and model, the origination and destination of where the vehicle will be picked up and delivered to, whether you want enclosed transport or open, and finally when you want your vehicle transported. Once that information is provided, the broker will give you an estimated quote based around what the going rate other vehicles are currently moving for on your particular route, which they get from the most popular load boards.
Most car carriers, the actual people that move the vehicle on their trucks, monitor one or more load boards to find loads for their truck. Many, not all, of the car carriers are fairly small companies operating one or just a few trucks and do not typically deal direct with the retail customer - primarily because most customers do not open or maintain accounts on these load board platforms as it can be cumbersome to manage. In addition, there is some paperwork involved that usually makes it more convenient to use a broker and let them handle it all. These brokers will check the load board and see what pricing is available on your route and price the transport accordingly, while building their broker fee in.
Broker fees can vary widely from very little margin to several hundred dollars, which is why it is important to shop around. However, shopping around for auto transport can be tedious and aggravating. Many transport companies can be a bit pushy and relentlessly hound you - I know because I used to work for one.
There are some pretty cool sites out there, like TransportBids to help you find quality companies that will actually compete with each other for your business without you making or receiving a single phone call and can save you hundreds of dollars.
Some brokers carry insurance that will handle any damage to your vehicle through their policy - they will tend to offer higher priced service. You can simply ask to the broker if they have insurance and to provide you with their policy for verification if that is important to you. You should also check to make sure their MC (Motor Carrier) number is valid and active. Platforms like TransportBids monitor and validate the companies participating on their platform and will revoke their ability to bid if their MC number becomes inactive for any reason.
Overall, the process is fairly simple and can be a pleasant experience as long as your find the right company at a price that meets your budget. Platforms like TransportBids attempt to make things a bit easier for you to find good affordable service so I highly recommend a tool like that if you are looking to transport your vehicle.