How to Load a Vehicle Onto a Car Carrier

One thing that can easily get overlooked when planning a move is how to get your vehicle to your new home. If you go the do-it-yourself route, which can save you A LOT of money, there are a couple options: a tow dolly or a car carrier. A tow dolly lifts only the front two wheels off the ground, while a car carrier supports the entire car, eliminating any wear and tear on your vehicle.

car carrier
A car carrier gets all four wheels off the ground.

I’m going to focus on the car carrier and explain how to load it. At first glance, it might seem pretty daunting, considering you have to drive the vehicle onto the trailer and secure it. But it’s pretty simple, as long as you follow some simple guidelines.

Before you start to load your vehicle onto the car carrier, make sure the trailer is securely attached to the moving truck or whatever vehicle will be doing the towing.

It’s a Two-Person Job. . .

Loading a car carrier is a two-person job: one to drive the vehicle onto the trailer, and another to guide them onto the car carrier. First, pull out the ramp (or ramps) on the back of the car carrier and line up the vehicle with the trailer. This is when the person outside the car can guide you onto the trailer, just be sure the guide person doesn’t stand directly in between the car carrier and the towing vehicle.

car carrier
Take your time when loading your car onto the car carrier.

Slowly drive the car up the ramps and onto the trailer. As you do so, rely on your guide person to show you if you need to move to the left or right and how far you have to go. Though it can seem as if you have a small margin for error as you approach the front of the trailer, it’s really very difficult to drive off the edge unless you really step on the gas. So take it slow and you’ll be fine. Before you get out, be sure the car isn’t in neutral and set the parking brake.

Now that your vehicle is on the car carrier, it’s time to secure it. Most rented car carriers will have straps that go over the front wheels to hold the car in place. Be sure these are ratcheted down very tight; you don’t want the car wiggling around at all during your trip. If there are safety chains on the car carrier, be sure you attach them to the frame of your vehicle, avoiding any brake lines, hoses, etc.

That’s pretty much it. Just use your common sense and take your time. If possible, load your car onto the car carrier the night before you leave, because the last thing you want to do is try to load it when you’re in a rush to leave town.

Here’s a good video that goes through the process step-by-step:

Have you ever towed a car long distance? If so, did you use a tow dolly or car carrier? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.