How to Find Loads as an Owner Operator

Finding cars to haul could be difficult when you are starting out. As an auto transporter & an owner operator looking for business it is important to take advantage of all resources available to you. As your skills and customer base increase you can be more selective and find your niche to figure out what best suits your needs.

1. Load Boards

Sometimes the easiest and the most common way of finding freight is on load boards. Load boards allow mostly dealers & brokers to advertise available freight to qualified carriers. Load boards typically charge a subscription fee but also provide useful tools for order tracking, communication and a ratings system. Disadvantages of load boards is that often prices race to the bottom with surplus of trucks. Popular load boards: CentralDispatch, DATexpress, TruckStop
advantages: inexpensive, large volume of loads, ease of use, visible ratings
disadvantages: massive fluctuation of volume, prices could be low, strict requirements for membership, monthly fees of $50+, risks involved

2. Broker Portals

Major freight brokers often allow car haulers access to their without a fee. Research the companies that offer freight in the lanes you operate and get setup with those brokers. Sign up with us to get first updates when we have available loads.
advantages: no cost, build long term relationships,
disadvantages: limited volume, cumbersome websites and difficult to use interfaces, higher insurance requirements.

4. Auctions

Auto auction sells thousands of cars and constantly need trucks to bring inventory. Different auctions have different needs depending on what they sell. Salvage auctions and dealer auctions are very different in how they operate.
advantages: High volume, steady & consistent work, full truck loads
disadvantages: relatively low pay, having to wait for payment, mandatory commitment

5. Dealers

Although dealers tend to avoid shipping cars when they can, they hire car haulers on regular basis. Depending on the type of a dealer your approach
advantages: higher pay, relationship building,
disadvantages: little flexibility, having to make multiple stops, commitment.

6. Relocation

Individuals looking for move often choose to ship their cars instead of driving them. Individuals that ship personal vehicles are often college students and working professionals that need one or multiple cars transported to their new place of residence.
advantages: higher pay, flexible work schedule
disadvantages: having to make multiple stops, tight delivery schedules, personal items.

The kind of clients you can serve as owner operator will also depend on your service area. Some drivers want the flexibility to spend weekend at home, while others don’t mind traveling coast-to-coast.

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  1. Todd Driscoll
    Todd Driscoll says:

    How is pay calculated? How much per vehicle on a 3 car wedge? Thinking of being owner/operator and its hard to find info.

    • Fds Dispatch car Shipping
      Fds Dispatch car Shipping says:

      It really depends , & varies from lane to lane routes less than 300 miles consider average $ 1.10 / mile , routes 300 miles to 1000 consider $900 per car, routes above 900 to 2000 miles can be any price from $1500 to 1900


      • Fds Dispatch car Shipping
        Fds Dispatch car Shipping says:

        that was per car pricing just to correct so if you get 3 cars on your truck its triple 300 miles you take 3 cars is like $1.10 X 300 =$330 thats each car also you charge extra for some extra care , some extra services they want loading unloading, non operable vehicle is like $100 plus

        • Brian
          Brian says:

          Hello I’m very interested in getting into this line of work how do I get my own contracts as an owner operator

          • Manny
            Manny says:

            If you haul freight for $1.10 a mile you WILL be the next in line to bankruptcy, do your math and admit what is really need it to stay open for business do not listen to any of this companies on line ask the old school drivers who has been on the road for long enough and experienced the ups and downs!!!!!!!!!

          • Syed
            Syed says:

            Hello, i bought me 05 Toyota Tundra 4×4 with 18ft heavy-duty trailer. Its been used for personal need.. someone said why don’t haul cars.. it was brilliant to hear. I have started the search how it operates but i found
            pretty difficult how start search to find loads and deliver as a owner operator. Im now well stuck by not capable of finding right way to find loads. This is my first time trying to be owner operator. Anyone there willing to help me start with would be highly appreciated.

    • Jacque
      Jacque says:

      Wedges are great for instate hauling. Instate pricing is generally higher per mile since you wouldn’t have the volume of miles that you would have if you were hauling 8 to 10 vehicles across 1000 miles or more. It just depends. Sometimes one can get a few vehicle from one family for a coast to coast transport. I would set them up as an “exclusive” transport and charge well. If they planned to carry things in the cars, added fees. Nonop? Added fees. Up front of course, so that they know exactly what they are being charged, No unfair practices, which is why I did well in this industry.

  2. Kyle Winters
    Kyle Winters says:

    This is some great advice, especially considering how tough it can be for owner operators to find work sometimes. I particularly like your suggestion to go to auctions. After all, its a great way to find someone who might need something large hauled back home.

    • Jacque
      Jacque says:

      Auctions are ok, but people who purchase from auctions often don’t want to pay what it takes to get their vehicles, because they aren’t attached to them. Anyone starting out, if they have assistance in loading from CD, will do better than hovering at auctions. Remember, many times you will end up with vehicles that don’t run and other scenarios that are difficult. New drivers need to understand the ins and outs of auctions. These were also some of the services I provided, making the auction calls, being certain they are paid for and have all of the information needed so that the driver could get in and out with ease. Very important! Unless you are going to get more than one vehicle at a fair price for transport, auctions are generally best for backhauls or getting vehicles that will fill space when there’s nothing much in the vicinity going to your destination.

  3. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    Hey guys, my name is Jesse. I’m looking for info on how to get started with a dually and car hauler in Arizona. How do I go about getting work?

    • Edward
      Edward says:

      Don’t do it prices are down and there is not good work right now. I would look into another type of business

  4. Jacque
    Jacque says:

    Hi, everyone! I have 8 years of experience working with auto transport brokerages and drivers. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep my name clean! haha! It’s because I choose to treat drivers and clients with the utmost respect.

    I had to stop working in auto transport for some time because I had elected to keep my mother, who was dying a very, very difficult death from cancer and I didn’t believe I would be able to properly care for my clients. I had many that still contact me because they know I will always treat them as well as their drivers respectfully. I try to make this grueling job that drivers have to do as joyful as possible (understanding the bad days too of course haha!).

    If any of you have clients that love working with you, but you’re not always on the lane they need, there is no reason to lose the money. I’ve served as assistant to some drivers and captured a lot of the money the would have had to give up because they weren’t able to carry the vehicles.

    Get an assistant (I’m available by the way haha!) to hand your clients off to. I would use that driver’s CD account to speak with the client to see what their needs were, price the transport appropriately. Explain all of the rules to the game, ie: carrying items in their vehicles, nonop vehicles and why there will be added fees. I would then price the transport, list their client’s vehicle on their CD account so that the driver could watch what’s happening. I would take the calls from drivers who ARE willing to transport to the client’s destination. Check the driver on CD, ie: doc pack information, insurance etc…and dispatch the vehicle. I would then collect a deposit AFTER contacting the client. Provide driver info to their client and remain in touch with both from pick up to delivery!

    I would then send 50% of the deposit to a PayPal account for the driver that would be immediately received by the driver and could be transferred to their bank account OR I would send a check the next morning to the address of their choice. This way, the driver makes money and never has to pay a cent to me, I pay myself!

    Some of the drivers would ask for other services, like helping load their transporter from CD in an efficient manner. In other words, get all of their pickups as close as possible and be certain that their customers were available when they arrive to pick up the vehicles. Of course, many times, the drivers must meet their clients in large parking facilities in which case, I would direct their clients to the proper location for loading and the same for offloading. I would be certain that their client was ready at delivery with COD payments.

    I would also handle other things they needed to have done, if needed. In these cases the drivers would pay a flat weekly fee for any other services outside of keeping their clients to themselves. So many people choose not to use a brokerage. If you have an assistant, it’s not necessary. And periodically I can bring people in that will make money that had nothing at all to do with your business! As well, if the driver will be delayed for any reason, I would advise the client to ensure that the the pick up or delivery will still run smooth for both parties. I watch the weather, I watch for any other situations that could make your lives miserable haha! I keep drivers and clients advised of any adverse situations or conditions.

    These things are worth doing, I’m just saying! I am preparing to move back into this industry. My Mom has passed, I’ve moved through the grieving process and I’m now prepared to work in this industry again. If you would like to discuss possibilities, contact me at, once you send an email I will send you a telephone number, I don’t want my phone number all over the internet haha!

    If nothing else, I’m sure I can offer advice. My first piece of advice would be to find a well-trained agent who could assist you, if for nothing else, taking care of those customer’s you’ve transported in the past who feel like they can’t live without you OR loved you so much that they are sending referrals! Maximize that CD account!

    • Robin Broadway
      Robin Broadway says:

      Questions: What is a good place to get work if you are a 5 rigg Auto Carrier? We are based in around Dallas just starting to use USHIP but want to build more of a clientele and saw your information.. We have noticed no free boards they all want a monthly fee. DO you know where else we can go to get more loads? We start near Dallas and are willing to go all over USA. We have a few years of military experience and looking to build our business. Thanks

  5. DeJuan L Bennett
    DeJuan L Bennett says:

    Is it a good idea to get into call hauling if I went to be home daily? Is it money in staying local?

    • Alex Marinov
      Alex Marinov says:

      Being home daily is difficult in the car shipping business, but not impossible – it all depends on where you are located. For example we work with many carriers that run between Dallas – Houston – San Antonio triangle. They are home every night and can make a decent income.

      • Terry Dean Simank
        Terry Dean Simank says:

        I live in the center of the Dallas, Houston San Antonio area and would love to start in the business. Got the 16 Duramax dually, just need a 3-4 car trailer. Any info on a first step ?

      • Terry Dean Simank
        Terry Dean Simank says:

        Hello Alex, I’m wanting to start up my transport business. Can you point me in right direction to begin.. do I just start researching load boards , I know 2 dealers personally, and will talk to them. Thanks. TDS

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