Auto Transport Glossary of Terms

Explore the Auto Transport Glossary of Terms for a comprehensive understanding of industry jargon.

Auto Transport Terminolgy

auto transport glossary

Welcome to our Auto Transport Glossary of Terms – your essential resource for navigating the intricate language of the vehicle shipping industry. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a first-time shipper, delve into our comprehensive guide to gain a clear understanding of key terms and ensure a smooth journey through the world of auto transport.

Here’s a Comprehensive Car Shipping Glossary


  • Advanced Charges:
    • Definition: Charges for services performed by someone other than the carrier, added to the bill of lading.
  • Auto Transport:
    • Definition: The process of moving vehicles from one location to another.
  • Agent:
    • Definition: A representative who acts on behalf of the shipper or carrier in arranging car shipping.
  • Auxiliary Service (Shuttle):
    • Definition: A service considered in case the assigned car carrier is unable to make a normal pickup/delivery due to physical constraints, requiring a smaller vehicle.


  • Bill of Lading (BOL):
    • Definition: A legal document issued by the carrier that acknowledges receipt of the vehicle for shipment and outlines the terms and conditions of transportation.
  • Boat Transport:
    • Definition: The transport of boats on specialized carriers, often arranged by auto transport companies.


  • Car Carrier:
    • Definition: A specialized ship or truck designed to transport vehicles.
  • Car Protection:
    • Definition: Measures taken to protect the vehicle during transport, such as enclosed trailers, insurance coverage, and tie-downs.
  • Car Shipping Calculator:
    • Definition: An online calculator that allows customers to estimate their shipping costs.
    • Containerized Shipping:
      • Definition: A method of shipping vehicles in enclosed metal containers.
  • Consignee:
    • Definition: The person or company receiving the shipped vehicle.
  • Claim (or a Damage claim):
    • Definition: Shipper’s statement of loss or damage to their vehicle while it was in the care of the carrier or its agent.
  • Collect on Delivery (COD):
    • Definition: Shipments where the customer pays shipment charges at the time of delivery.
  • Cut-off Time:
    • Definition: This term denotes the absolute latest possible time a shipment can be delivered to its final destination.


  • Delivery Estimate:
    • Definition: An approximate timeframe within which the vehicle is expected to arrive.
  • Dealership Auto Transport:
    • Definition: Specialized shipping services tailored to accommodate dealership requirements.
  • Delivery Network:
    • Definition: The trucks, ships, and railroads comprising the automobile transport system.
  • Diversion:
    • Definition: Changing the route for a shipment while in transit.
  • Door-to-Door Service:
    • Definition: A shipping service that includes pickup and delivery of the vehicle at the specified locations.
  • Door-To-Door Auto Shipping:
    • Definition: A type of transport service when your vehicle is picked up from your residence or business address and delivered exactly to your new address.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT/USDOT):
    • Definition: The government entity overseeing federal transportation functions.


  • Enclosed Trailer:
    • Definition: A trailer with walls and a roof that protects the vehicle from the elements.
  • En Route:
    • Definition: The vehicle has left the pickup address and is on the way to the delivery address.
  • Estimated Delivery Date:
    • Definition: The specific date the vehicle is expected to arrive.
  • Expedited Shipping:
    • Definition: A service that prioritizes the transport and delivery of the vehicle for an additional fee.
  • FMCSA:
    • Definition: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; regulates laws and provides information for automobile logistics.


  • Free and Clear Title:
    • Definition: A title proving the vehicle is free from any liens or encumbrances.
  • Freight Broker:
    • Definition: An intermediary who arranges car shipping on behalf of the customer.
  • Full-Truckload (FTL):
    • Definition: A shipment that takes up the entire capacity of a transport truck.


  • Inoperable Vehicle:
    • Definition: A vehicle that cannot be driven under its own power.
  • Inspection:
    • Definition: A pre-shipment examination of the vehicle to document any existing damage.
  • Insurance:
    • Definition: Coverage that protects the vehicle against damage or loss during transport.


  • Lien:
    • Definition: A legal claim against the vehicle that grants the creditor the right to seize it if the debt is not paid.
  • Loading:
    • Definition: The process of securing the vehicle onto the transport truck or ship.


  • Motorcycle Shipping:
    • Definition: Specialized enclosed trailers for safe motorcycle transport.


  • New/Finished Vehicle Logistics:
    • Definition: Used to describe management, planning, and shipping services for automobile transport for manufacturers and others in the auto industry.


  • Open Carrier:
    • Definition: A trailer without walls or a roof, exposing the vehicle to the elements.
  • P.O.D.:
    • Definition: Proof of Delivery; shows the receipt of auto shipment.


  • Pickup Date:
    • Definition: The date the vehicle will be picked up for transport.
  • Port-to-Port:
    • Definition: A shipping service that includes transport of the vehicle between designated ports.
  • Power of Attorney (POA):
    • Definition: A legal document authorizing another person to act on your behalf in car shipping matters.
  • Quote:
    • Definition: An estimate of the cost to ship the vehicle.


  • Ramp:
    • Definition: A platform used for loading and unloading vehicles onto the transport truck or ship.
  • Registration:
    • Definition: Required documentation proving ownership of the vehicle.
  • Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo):
    • Definition: A method of loading vehicles onto a ship by driving them on and off via ramps.
  • Route:
    • Definition: The planned path the transport truck or ship will take to reach the destination.


  • Shipper:
    • Definition: The person or company sending the vehicle.
  • Shipping Cost:
    • Definition: The total cost of transporting the vehicle, including transportation fees, insurance, and taxes.
  • Single Vehicle Shipping:
    • Definition: A term used to denote the delivery of a single automobile from one destination to another.


  • Terminal:
    • Definition: A designated facility where vehicles are received, stored, and loaded onto transport trucks or ships.
  • Terminal-to-Terminal:
    • Definition: Used by high-volume auto transport companies, a cheaper way to transport your vehicle between terminals.
  • Tracking:
    • Definition: Following an auto shipment throughout its delivery process.
  • Transport Truck:
    • Definition: A truck with a special trailer designed to carry vehicles.
  • Transit Time:
    • Definition: The estimated time it will take to transport the vehicle from pickup to delivery.


  • Unloading:
    • Definition: The process of removing the vehicle from the transport truck or ship.


  • Vehicle Inspection Report:
    • Definition: A document that details the condition of the vehicle before and after transport.
  • Vehicle Logistics Company:
    • Definition: Specialized service provider with the capacity to plan and manage auto transport services.
  • Vehicle Shipping:
    • Definition: The transport or delivery of a vehicle.
  • Vehicle Transport:
    • Definition: The process of physically shipping a car.


  • Weight Certificate:
    • Definition: A document verifying the weight of the vehicle, often required by car shipping companies.

Additional Terms

  • Bill of Sale: A legal document transferring ownership of the vehicle.
  • Bonded Carrier: A transport company authorized to handle bonded cargo, typically used for international shipments.
  • Car Hauler: Another term for a car carrier truck.
  • Deadhead: The empty return trip of a transport truck after delivering a vehicle.
  • Drop-off: The location where the vehicle will be delivered.
  • Escrow: A financial arrangement where a third party holds funds until certain conditions are met, sometimes used in car shipping transactions.
  • Hot Shot: A specialized transport service for high-value or urgent shipments.
  • Multi-Car Shipping: The transport of multiple vehicles on the same shipment.

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