How Much Money Do Car Haulers Make Per Car

Val Tkachuck
Val Tkachuck
February 21, 2024
How Much Money Do Car Haulers Make Per Car

Being a profitable industry, car hauling creates for its representatives some standard challenges that only a few can cope with. First of all, we are talking about the problem of insufficient income, be it profit from the services provided or the driver’s salary, and a staff turnover related to it. So, how can you stay afloat given these obstacles? We will provide you with several tips in our article, so it will be useful to both owners of car hauler businesses and drivers as well.

The Driver Pay Structure

Low level of income is a negative aspect for all the people involved in the process of hauling cars for money. So, if you would like to receive the comprehensive answer to the question: “How much do car haulers get paid per car?”, first, you should check all existing ways to estimate the driver’s salary.

Specifically, base rate calculation can be performed according to the next rules: 

  • Cents-Per-Mile (CPM). This type of payment involves the accrual of a certain amount for each registered mile that the driver has covered. Currently, the average CPM is 50 cents, but ultimately, the rate may vary from one company to another. On a daily basis, taking into account travel of 500 miles, the driver earns about $250.
  • Percentage Pay. This type is based on calculating a certain percentage of the invoice issued to the customer. Typically, this percentage depends on the line haul cost, stop charges, and extra equipment charges (for example, tarping a load).
  • Per Diem Pay. This type of salary calculation implies a lower tax rate, which has a positive effect on the salary of drivers. Overhead costs on the part of the company include food, special clothing, and other things that will help drivers perform their job duties better and more efficiently. At the same time, drivers will no longer have the option to receive a daily allowance, although they can still submit invoices to their employers for self-paid expenses while traveling.

In addition to the base rate, drivers can also receive extra payments according to such common-used charging options:

  • Stop Pay. This type of payment involves paying for a stop, whether it is an intermediate point on the way to the final destination (for example, to load additional freight) or the final destination itself. There are no median indicators for this type of calculation since each employer has its own rate.
  • Detention Pay. With this type of contract, the employer pays every time there is a haul’s delay on the client's part. This usually happens due to delays in loading cargo, as well as stoppages. In this case, for each delay, an hourly rate or a total delay fee applies.
  • Accessorial Pay. In general, this is any type of additional payment that does not imply payment for the process of transporting the cargo itself. These could be bills for toll roads, unloading and loading services, etc.
  • Bonus Pay. Some companies have their own bonus programs for drivers, which are based on either driver experience and certification, referrals, driving hours over a fixed period, DOT checking, road safety, and so on.

How Much Do New Truck Drivers Make Compared to Experienced Drivers?

As in many other industries, new drivers have lower rates than their more skilled and experienced colleagues. In particular, with only one year of experience or less, the salary for such specialists is unlikely to reach $18 per hour, while drivers with extensive experience can earn from $35 per hour.

This is explained by the fact that to obtain the required level of qualifications and the appropriate license (CDL or a commercial driver’s license), novice drivers have to attend a truck driving school, which actually pays them an appropriate rate. After they become pros, they may request higher rates.

How Much Do New Truck Drivers Make Compared to Experienced Drivers

However, experience is not the only factor influencing driver salaries. The most profitable payment format is considered to be per mileage – cents-per-mile (and not per hour) – this explains such a significant difference in the salary range for truck drivers in the USA.

Comparing Small vs. Large Company Truck Driver Salaries

It is believed that in small companies, truck drivers usually earn less. This is partly true since such companies often hire truck drivers as independent contractors. At the same time, for new drivers, a small company can be a good starting point for their professional career, as here, they can gain the necessary experience and a better understanding of the transportation industry as a whole.

Large companies provide truck drivers with greater earning potential, but there is usually a higher turnover rate. This can be explained by higher requirements, possible fines, and other nuances specific to a particular company. Thus, even if your area of responsibility as a truck driver is minimal (unlike working in a small company), here, you risk facing all sorts of restrictions that will make your long-term employment impossible.

Highest Truck Driver Salaries by State

So, how much do car haulers make?

When checking an average car hauler salary by state, the highest paying regions are Utah, Florida, and Texas, with a car hauler pay of $0.44 - $0.58 per mile, according to Indeed. Assuming that an average mileage is about 3,000 miles per week, we obtain salary rates per year in the range of $66,000-$87,000. 

Highest Truck Driver Salaries by State

How Much Do OTR Truck Drivers Make?

Based on Indeed, the average hourly rate for an OTR truck driver is $35.16. At the same time, the range of rates for this profession is quite wide and ranges from $16.88 to $73.24. However, if you would like to earn more, you should also consider the two options below.

How Much Do Owner-Operators Make?

As for owner-operator drivers, according to Indeed, their average salary per hour is several times higher than that of OTR truck drivers and is equal to $137. At the same time, the area of responsibility of such specialists is also wider.

Grow to a Tracker Business Owner and Earn Even More

Even greater earning opportunities become opened up for trucker business owners; for example, in a week, they are able to earn $500-$2000+ per truck, which, compared to the average weekly income of an owner-operator of $5,869, provides greater potential for business owners with a fleet of +-12 vehicles.

However, you should understand that this approach to making money is very time- and financially intensive since before your company starts operating in full, you will have to hire drivers, buy trucks, organize logistics routes, and deal with various bureaucracies.

Grow to a Tracker Business Owner and Earn Even More

Optimize Costs to Earn More with Haulk

Now you know the answer to the question: How much do car transporters make?”, so you can make the right choice between the three options we described above. Specifically, if the last of these options – being a tracker business owner – is closer to you, you should think about what expenses you will have to face in the future and how you will optimize them.

In particular, in addition to driver salaries and related taxes, you will also have to pay for load board subscriptions and software tools that streamline processes in your company, such as TMS (transport management system). And, if in the case of salaries, you will not be able to save much (since anyone, even an inexperienced driver, can check the average rates on the Internet and not agree to your offer if it is objectively unprofitable), and even more so – with taxes, you will need to think about how you can reduce your costs, at least, on the software you are going to use.

As an example, you can check our customized transport management system, Haulk TMS. This comprehensive software solution with a variety of adjustable features can automate and optimize most of your business processes, and, at the same time, it will not harm your budget.

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