Car Hauler Life, Part 1: What does it look like to be a car hauler for USAL in 2023?
Updated: Jul 14
Auto transport is a specialized role in the trucking industry. If you're considering a career as a car hauler, you may have a few questions.
Note: This is part 1 of a five-part series. We often get questions about a career in the auto transport industry—company expectations, lifestyle, earning potential, career growth, etc. In the next few blog posts, we'll share honest, straightforward information about these topics.
July 5, 2023
You've probably seen the posts online about truck drivers' mission-critical roles in our supply chain:
"Truck drivers say 'goodbye' to their families to supply the needs for yours."
"If you're eating it, wearing it, sleeping on it, or driving it, you should thank a truck driver for bringing it."
"While you're soundly sleeping, truck drivers are busy hauling."
While there's no denying that professional drivers spend long days behind the wheel bringing us the goods and products we enjoy, there are a lot of great benefits to the career.
Demand for Drivers
In 2021, the American Trucking Associations indicated the driver shortage had risen to 80,000 and by 2030, the shortage could peak at 160,000 drivers. This means that safe, talented, professional drivers are in high demand. Drivers have many choices to explore for their driving careers. We will always need food and consumer goods and there will always be a need for professional drivers to bring them to us.
The same holds true for the cars, trucks, and SUVs we love to drive every day. When a consumer makes the big decision to purchase a new vehicle, they have an expectation that it will be handled with care and delivered in pristine condition. A car hauler plays a big role in that process! At USAL, there will always be a need for professional drivers who have a mind and a heart for being the best car hauler they can be—always demonstrating safe behaviors, taking care of one's transport equipment, showing attention to detail, and ultimately, having pride in one's career. (Hint: These characteristics are in high demand at USAL.)
A Typical Day as a Car Hauler
One of the benefits of being a professional car hauler is the variety in daily routines. Every successful driver at USAL has developed their own way to manage the aspects of their day. While there are activities that must be performed according to federal laws and company requirements, USAL drivers have ultimate control over their day-to-day routines.
A typical day for a USAL car hauler consists of the following:
Performing a pre-trip inspection - A car hauler's day begins with an examination of their truck and trailer to ensure it is safe, secure, and ready to deliver vehicles.
Unloading the trailer - Since the driver has already pre-loaded their trailer the day before, they will travel to the destination(s) and work with dealers' associates to complete the delivery (e.g., navigating the location, unloading/staging vehicles, obtaining electronic signatures).
Driving - A driver will start their trip to their destination once their load (i.e., a trailer full of vehicles) is loaded or unloaded. A trip can last a few hours to several days and may include several stops, depending on their route.
Taking breaks or resting - A car hauler must take breaks throughout the day in accordance with FMCSA regulations. These breaks may involve eating, stretching, using the restroom, or sleeping.
Completing documentation - A driver must electronically document their activities at various points throughout the day (e.g., starting their trip, loading, unloading, providing ETAs). USAL provides all of the necessary devices, apps, and instruction to facilitate the documentation process.
Planning the next day - Trip planning helps a USAL car hauler make the best use of their day. Planning for the next day may include knowing where deliveries will be made, establishing the safest and most efficient route, reserving a hotel, pre-planning fuel stops or breaks, and knowing who to call if a need arises. When a driver maximizes their available hours, they are maximizing their earning potential.
Staying the night - In many cases, a driver will stop overnight to rest before continuing their trip. Drivers will also use this downtime to check-in with family, check email, or read company news on USAL's mobile communication app.
How to Become a Car Hauler
Obtain a Class A commercial driver's license. A Class A CDL can be earned at any number of technical driving schools.
Get some driving experience. At least 1-2 years of over-the-road, interstate driving experience with a clean driving record is essential. Experience can be dry van, freight hauler, flatbed, reefer, or related experience with a trailer length of at least 41 feet. Since auto transport is a very specialized service, it's important to have a good understanding of the many aspects of transporting valuable cargo (e.g., driving compliance, safety, load securement).
Get auto transport experience. USAL provides paid, on-the-job training for professional drivers who do not have auto hauling experience. The training program lasts five (5) weeks and covers all of the necessary topics to be a successful and productive car hauler.
The Benefits of Driving for USAL
We firmly believe that being a company driver for USAL is the best professional driving opportunity available. Here's why:
Excellent Pay - The average annual commission for our driving workforce is $105,000. The top 20% earn between $116,000 and $145,000 annually. These figures can go up $10,000-$15,000 when safety, quality, and productivity bonuses are achieved.
Great Benefits - While base, commission, and bonus pay opportunities are important, they are certainly not everything. Our health benefit options and extra perks are designed to help you live your life to its fullest potential. And, a career in auto transport is a fantastic way to keep your mind sharp and body in great shape! See a complete list of benefits.
A Welcoming Environment - Whether you're a seasoned car hauler or new to the industry, chances are, you're a newcomer to USAL. Our Training Extension Program (TEP) brings together a collaborative team of associates—lead drivers, yard coordinators, safety specialists, and fleet managers—to help ensure the new driver is emotionally supported and equipped to grow their skills.
A Supportive Place to Work - We insist on maintaining a company that cares about its associates' well-being. We support a values-based work environment that is nurtured with cooperation, ownership, respect, and empathy. If something doesn't feel right, we need to know.
Leadership by Example - Our operations leadership team is staffed by many former car haulers. These fleet managers, terminal supervisors, yard coordinators, and lead drivers create a picture of what's expected and they communicate why it matters.
Driver-Specific Benefits - While not an exhaustive list, USAL drivers enjoy a culture of safety and safe driving; a fleet strategy that brings in new transport equipment every year; five maintenance facilities in our operating network; predictable work schedules; "truck-to-office" career opportunities for those who wish to expand their experiences beyond driving; and robust technology and mobile communication tools to get the job done.
Are you interested in becoming a necessary part of America's need for reliable cars, trucks, and SUVs? Apply today.