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Car Hauling Jobs - How To Make Money With Your Diesel

Part One: Car Hauling

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Welcome to the first installment of our three part series titled: "How to Make Money With Your Diesel." We often extol the virtues of diesel power and reliability, as the same vehicle that can tow a trailer might also be able to run down the dragstrip or get good fuel economy. This got us thinking, why not write a series about people who are using those advantages to actually make money?

Los Angeles is one of the most vehicle-intensive locations on the planet. With more than 12 million people living in the L.A. area, the need for new cars is immense. Lots of vehicles also means lots of accidents, and lots of used cars and trucks. All of these factors make Los Angeles a prime spot to start a car hauling company. You know those big rigs on the freeway that carry 10-12 vehicles at a time? Well, the same thing can be done with a regular diesel truck on a much smaller scale. The new '08 Ford F-450, for instance, is rated to tow 24,500 pounds by the factory, which is easily the weight of a loaded three-car trailer. Older trucks can also be used, though in many cases, the factory tow rating will be exceeded by a good amount. This could mean parts breakage ranging from transmissions to rear axles, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. One of the most common vehicles we see here in Southern California towing heavy loads is the '94-and-up Dodge Ram 3500.

Why would you want to do this? Well, for starters, the money can be pretty good. With diesel prices the way they are now, the shorter your run, the better. Long distance towing (500 miles or more) can be pretty hard on the pocketbook. San Francisco is another area where automobiles are always being shuttled in or out, so let's pretend we are hauling cars from L.A. to S.F. with a distance of about 400 miles. It can be completed in about 6 hours, or 8-9 hours if you're more realistic about traffic. The good news is that each car that you deliver on that run will get you at least $300. If you're able to transport three cars, that means a $900 gross for a day of work. But wait, there are expenses. Insurance, tires, brakes, oil changes, axle bearings, repairs to both truck and trailer, flat tires, and cracked windshields are all common costs that will need to be factored in. Fuel alone will range from $100-$200 a day depending on the number of miles traveled. Even with all those expenses, the profit margin can still be pretty high.

If it's that easy, why don't more people do it? Well there are other physical and emotional drawbacks as well. Long hours, stressful situations, no guaranteed pay, licensing requirements, and startup costs all contribute to making this a hard profession to get into. We'd expect the initial cost to start this type of business to be $20,000 at the very least (with a used truck and trailer), and you'd better make sure you have a client base by the time you're ready to start hauling. Clients range from auction houses to junkyards to dealers. Often, many car dealers will buy multiple vehicles at auctions, then transport them to their location. If there's a shortage of cars in the area, boats, trailers, and industrial equipment are all alternative transport options that can get you paid.

* Drive slow if you can stomach it. Driving 55 mph instead of 70 mph can prevent traffic tickets, and can save thousands of dollars a year in fuel costs.

* When you're starting, make sure there is plenty of room between the cars. Many trailers will fit 3-4 vehicles, but only put three on to start until you get used to how much they will move around.

* While they do make two-car trailers, you'll need one that can haul three or more to make good money; a heavy-duty flatbed used to haul industrial equipment is another option.

* Buy the best hitch you can! Hitches rated at 24,000 pounds can sometimes crack if you're hauling four cars, so use a 30,000-pound capacity hitch if at all possible.

* Buy the newest, lowest-mileage vehicle you can afford. The last thing you want is to spend your money replacing parts on your truck. Remember, if you have down time, that means you're not making money.

* Shop around for insurance before you start. Also, remember that since your truck and trailer will be overlength, you'll need a Class "A" license in most states.

* Try to get as many steady clients as possible. If you are in a bind and need money, can be a good place to find business.

* Last but not least, SAFTEY FIRST! The last thing you want to do with your new profession is to get into an accident. Remember that stopping distances will be longer, acceleration slower, and turning much more difficult.

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Casey Macy Jones
Casey Macy Jones

Awesome idea on making money with your diesel!  I never thought about using it for towing before.  I am one of those guys with more money than sense and I bought a giant diesel truck that I really didn't need.  My wife will be happy to see me putting it to good use.