Some of the best paid truck drivers in America are auto haulers. These are the drivers who make a living hauling cars for big manufacturers and classic car owners. The more valuable the cargo, the more money drivers can make. But rest assured they earn their pay. Cargo control is so unique in the auto hauling sector that it requires highly paid and highly skilled drivers to do the job correctly.
According to Overdrive magazine, an experienced driver operating a 10-car trailer can earn between $75,000 and $110,000 per year. Drivers who concentrate only on classic cars easily eclipse the six-figure mark. How much a driver actually clears depends on individual circumstances.
Special Skills Are Required
A truck driver must obviously have a CDL to drive an auto hauling rig. But to make money hauling cars, some special skills are required. Some of those skills are directly related to cargo control. Unlike other kinds of cargo, cars have to be secured in specific ways directed by shippers. There is very little wiggle room.
For example, most shippers insist that straps never come in contact with car bodies. That makes sense. You do not want a strap scratching a brand-new paint job. You don’t want to ratchet taking a chunk out of a car door. That leaves drivers with only a few ways to secure their cargo.
Mytee Products, an Ohio company that specializes in cargo control for the trucking industry, carries specialized auto hauling straps and wheel nets for this very purpose. Both are webbing straps that fit over the front and rear wheels of a car. They hold it in place without making any contact with the body.
Of course, straps can also hold cars in place via the axles or anchor points underneath. Drivers can also use chains, though many of them prefer straps. At any rate, you cannot just throw a couple of straps over your load and be on your way when you’re hauling cars.
Hauling Classic Cars
The most lucrative aspect of car hauling is the classic car market. Classic cars are typically owned by customers with money to spend, and they don’t mind paying a hauling service with a solid reputation. A good classic car hauler can charge upwards of $1,000 to move a car.
Hauling classic cars is somewhat different in that drivers take extra precautions to make sure cars are not damaged in transit. Often times this means limiting transport to just two cars in an enclosed trailer. They can move classic cars on 9- or 10-car open trailers but doing so is pretty risky.
Securing classics in an enclosed trailer is just as important. So again, drivers use straps around the wheels and/or connected to anchor points underneath. They might also use blocks for added protection against longitudinal movement.
Hauling Cars by the Season
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of car hauling is its seasonal nature. Believe it or not, there isn’t as much activity in the summer compared to the rest of the year. Thus, some car haulers only work nine months per year. They take the summer months off to enjoy with their families.
The most efficient car haulers work with brokers to ensure they are never running empty. One of the drivers profiled by Overdrive runs a continuous ten-day circuit between Wisconsin, Florida, and Detroit. He carries cars during every leg of the journey, making 33 stops along the way.
Needless to say that car hauling is somewhat unique in the trucking industry. It pays well because it requires specialized cargo control skills.