Best Semi-Trucks for Car Hauling: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximize Efficiency and Comfort

First Thing to Decide: High Mount or Stinger

Car hauler trailer configurations are vital to transport operations, and choosing the right setup can significantly impact your business’s efficiency and profits. The two most popular configurations are the high-mount and stinger. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these two configurations, their costs, and which one may be a better fit for your operation.

What is a High-Mount?

A high-mount trailer setup is the traditional semi you see on our highways pulling trailers and vans (the big, long freight containers). They have a fifth-wheel over the drive axles behind the cab.

What are the advantages of going High-Mount for car hauling?

  1. Easier Loading and Unloading: The raised deck allows for easy access to the vehicles, which makes loading and unloading more efficient.
  2. Lower Chassis Damage Risk: The elevated deck minimizes the risk of chassis damage during transportation, which can result in cost savings on repairs.
  3. Reduced Trailer Length: High-mount trailers tend to be shorter than stinger configurations, which can make maneuvering in tight spaces more manageable.
  4. Flexibility on hauling: Semi’s like this can immediately be used for pulling normal 3PL freight. They can back up and attach to a wide range of trailer well beyond car hauling trailers.
  5. Most rigs will do: If your primary power unit goes down for whatever reason you could rent a truck and pull your trailer.

What are the disadvantages of high-mount car hauling?

  1. Lower Carrying Capacity: High-mount trailers typically have a lower carrying capacity compared to stinger trailers, which can impact your bottom line if you require more space for vehicle transport.
  2. Increased Wind Resistance: The elevated deck can create more wind resistance, leading to reduced fuel efficiency.

What is a Stinger?

Stinger trucks have a deck on the top of the cab where two vehicles can go, and another above the fifth-wheel. They, along with a matching trailer, have a capacity of 9-12 cars depending on the configuration. To maximize the number of vehicles being moved, a stinger configuration is a must.

What are the advantages of a stinger setup?

  1. Higher Carrying Capacity: Stinger trailers can transport more vehicles at once, which can lead to higher profits and increased efficiency.
  2. Reduced Wind Resistance: The multi-level design can help reduce wind resistance, resulting in better fuel efficiency.
  3. Load Balancing: They distribute the weight better. It is easier to be legal on axle weight. 

What are the disadvantages of running a stinger car hauler?

  1. Heavy equipment: Completely empty this configuration runs heavy, often between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds before any vehicles are loaded. Extra care has to be taken to not go overweight with heavy vehicles like electric cars.
  2. You are only hauling cars: With the stinger being semi-permanently attached to the semi, it will not be able to back up and hook up loads like dry vans, reefers, or flatbeds.
  3. Increased costs: Tires wear much faster on the semi as a lot more weight is on them. Also, depending on the vehicle loaded on the top of the rig, fuel economy may be shot.
  4. Loading and unloading: The multi-level design can make loading and unloading more difficult and time-consuming.

So high-mount or stinger?

When choosing a car hauler trailer configuration, it is essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. High-mount trailers may be more suitable for those who prioritize ease of loading and unloading and reduced risk of chassis damage, while stinger trailers may be the better option for those who need a higher carrying capacity and increased flexibility. Ultimately, it is crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each configuration to determine which will be the most cost-effective and efficient choice for your operation.

Which truck to choose for car hauling?

Now that you have decided which type of configuration, what brand and model of truck would be best?

We will explore the most popular models in car hauling here. This list, while being thorough, is not exhaustive. While not every rig can be a stinger due to height and configuration considerations, most rigs can pull high-mount trailers.

Most trucks are automatic transmissions, but some manual units are still available. Some drivers prefer manuals due to their greater control and durability, but they are less fuel efficient and less drivers know how to use them.

In addition, a decision is to be made regarding sleeper vs non-sleeper models. Sleeper models are equipped with a sleeping compartment behind the cab, providing a space for drivers to rest during long hauls. This is especially useful for car haulers who often travel long distances and require overnight stops. Sleeper models generally offer more comfort and convenience, as they can be equipped with a bed, refrigerator, and other amenities.

Non-sleeper models, also known as day cabs, do not have a sleeping compartment. These trucks are more suited for local or regional car hauling, where drivers return home each night. Non-sleeper models are typically lighter and less expensive than sleeper models, making them more cost-effective for shorter trips.

In summary, the choice between sleeper and non-sleeper models largely depends on the nature of the car hauling operations. Long-haul car haulers will benefit from the added comfort and convenience of sleeper models, while local or regional operations may find non-sleeper models more practical and cost-effective.

Peterbilt 389

Peterbilt 389 semi truck

The Peterbilt 389 is a flagship model of the Peterbilt brand, known for its durability, reliability, and performance in the trucking industry. This class 8 heavy-duty truck has evolved over the years to offer increased efficiency and improved aerodynamics, making it a popular choice among truckers. In this review, we will take an in-depth look at the Peterbilt 389 with a specific focus on its ability to be used for car hauling.

Engine and Performance

The Peterbilt 389 comes equipped with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, delivering a power output of 405-510 horsepower and a torque range of 1,450-1,850 lb-ft. The MX-13 engine is known for its fuel efficiency and reduced weight, making it suitable for car hauling applications. Coupled with an Eaton Fuller manual or an Allison automatic transmission, the 389 provides smooth shifting and dependable power delivery.

Cab and Interior

The 389 features a spacious and ergonomic cab, designed for comfort during long hauls. The interior offers ample storage, easy-to-read gauges, and conveniently placed controls. The sleeper options range from a 44-inch low roof to a spacious 72-inch high roof, providing drivers with the flexibility to choose the configuration that best suits their needs.

Chassis and Suspension

The Peterbilt 389’s chassis is built using high-strength steel, which provides a sturdy foundation for car hauling applications. The truck is available with various wheelbase options and suspension systems, including the Peterbilt Low Air Leaf, Air Trac, and Flex Air suspensions. These options allow drivers to optimize their vehicle for the specific car hauling application, ensuring a smooth and stable ride.

Car Hauling Capabilities

The Peterbilt 389 is a versatile truck that can be easily customized for car hauling applications. Its powerful engine, sturdy chassis, and variety of suspension options make it suitable for transporting a wide range of vehicles. In addition, the 389 can be outfitted with specialized equipment, such as car carrier trailers and headramps, which allows for efficient loading and unloading of vehicles.

Many car haulers prefer the Peterbilt 389 for its reliability and durability. The truck’s long-lasting components and extensive service network ensure minimal downtime, which is crucial in the car hauling industry. Furthermore, the fuel-efficient MX-13 engine allows haulers to save on fuel costs while maintaining the power needed to transport vehicles over long distances.

Safety Features

The Peterbilt 389 offers a variety of safety features that are essential for car hauling operations. These include anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and collision mitigation systems. In addition, the truck’s large windshield and well-positioned mirrors provide excellent visibility, reducing the risk of accidents while maneuvering or backing up with a full load of vehicles.


The Peterbilt 389 is an excellent choice for car hauling applications, thanks to its powerful engine, durable chassis, and customizable suspension options. With a comfortable and functional cab, fuel-efficient performance, and essential safety features, the 389 provides a reliable and efficient solution for car haulers. If you’re in the market for a truck that can handle the demands of car hauling, the Peterbilt 389 should definitely be on your shortlist.

Western Star 4900

Western Star 4900

The Western Star 4900 is a highly customizable heavy-duty truck that has garnered a solid reputation in the trucking industry. It is suitable for a variety of applications, including car hauling. In this review, we will thoroughly examine the Western Star 4900’s design, performance, and features, with a particular focus on its ability to be used for car hauling operations.


Design and Build

The Western Star 4900 is a robust and well-built truck, featuring a high-quality, galvanized steel cab that is both lightweight and durable. The modular design of the cab allows for easy customization to suit a variety of car hauling applications. The truck’s chassis is reinforced with a sturdy steel frame, ensuring it can withstand the demands of heavy loads.


Engine and Performance

The 4900 offers a range of engine options, including the reliable Detroit DD13, DD15, and DD16 engines, with horsepower ratings from 350 to 600 HP. These powerful engines provide ample torque and efficiency, ensuring optimal performance for car hauling. The truck also comes with Eaton Fuller manual and Allison automatic transmission options, allowing for a customized driving experience tailored to the needs of the hauler.


Suspension and Brakes

The Western Star 4900 features a heavy-duty suspension system that offers excellent ride comfort and stability, even when hauling a full load of cars. The truck comes with front and rear air suspensions, as well as various axle configurations for optimal weight distribution. The braking system is equipped with ABS and an engine brake, providing reliable stopping power and reducing the risk of accidents during car hauling operations.


Fuel Efficiency

While the Western Star 4900 is not specifically designed for fuel efficiency, its powerful engines and streamlined design contribute to relatively good fuel economy for a truck of its size. Implementing proper maintenance and driving practices can further improve fuel efficiency, helping to minimize operating costs for car haulers.


Interior and Comfort

The 4900’s cab is designed with driver comfort in mind, featuring a spacious and ergonomic interior. The truck offers several sleeper cab options, providing ample space for long haul drivers to rest during breaks. The cab is well-insulated, ensuring minimal noise and vibrations, while the air conditioning and heating systems keep the interior comfortable in varying weather conditions. The truck also comes with various infotainment options, such as a touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio, ensuring drivers stay entertained and connected on long journeys.


Customization and Car Hauling Specifics

The Western Star 4900 is highly customizable, making it an ideal choice for car hauling operations. The truck can be easily outfitted with specialized car hauling equipment, such as stinger trailers or auto transport trailers, and its powerful engines can handle the weight of multiple vehicles with ease. Additionally, the truck’s reinforced chassis and heavy-duty suspension system ensure that it can withstand the demands of car hauling without compromising performance or safety.


Maintenance and Reliability

Western Star is known for its durability and reliability, and the 4900 is no exception. The truck’s modular design and high-quality components make it easy to maintain and repair, reducing downtime and ensuring longevity. With proper care and maintenance, the Western Star 4900 can provide years of reliable service for car hauling operations.


Safety Features

The Western Star 4900 places a strong emphasis on safety, incorporating numerous features designed to protect both the driver and the vehicles being hauled. Some of the key safety features include:

  • ABS with an engine brake, offering reliable stopping power and reducing the risk of accidents during car hauling operations.
  • Stability control systems, helping to maintain the truck’s balance and prevent rollovers, especially when hauling heavy loads.
  • A high-visibility cab design with large windows, providing the driver with an excellent view of the surrounding area to better monitor the load and traffic conditions.
  • Optional advanced driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and collision mitigation systems, further enhancing safety during car hauling operations.

Versatility and Adaptability

Another key advantage of the Western Star 4900 is its versatility and adaptability. Apart from car hauling, the truck can be used for a wide range of applications, including construction, logging, and heavy hauling. This adaptability makes the 4900 a valuable asset for businesses that require a multi-purpose heavy-duty truck.


Resale Value and Cost of Ownership

The Western Star 4900 has a reputation for durability and reliability, which contributes to its strong resale value. The truck’s quality components and ease of maintenance make it an attractive option for buyers looking to invest in a used heavy-duty truck for car hauling operations. The cost of ownership for the 4900 is competitive within the industry, especially when factoring in its longevity and resale value.


Warranty and Support

Western Star offers a comprehensive warranty and support package for the 4900, ensuring that car haulers have access to expert assistance when needed. The warranty coverage includes a standard 1-year/unlimited-mile base warranty, with extended warranties available for purchase. Western Star’s extensive dealer network provides prompt and efficient service, minimizing downtime for car hauling operations.



The Western Star 4900 is a powerful, reliable, and versatile heavy-duty truck that is well-suited for car hauling applications. Its customizable design, robust build, and powerful engines make it an excellent choice for haulers looking for a dependable and efficient vehicle transport solution. With its emphasis on safety, comfort, and performance, the 4900 provides a comprehensive solution for car hauling businesses. By carefully considering the specific needs of your car hauling operations and choosing the right configurations, the Western Star 4900 can be a valuable addition to your fleet.

Freightliner 114SD

freightliner truck

We are reviewing the new 114SD which is a sleeper model. The Freightliner Cascadia is a very popular model, but it is a day cab. We believe most people looking to become a car hauler will be looking to make overnight runs to maximize profit.


NOTE: Freightliner trucks that are aimed to become stingers will need to have work done prior to delivery to a company like Cottrell or Lohr for installation of a 3-car head unit. Fontaine specializes in modifying the rigs to be compatible. Reach out to Fontaine for more information. It takes them 2-3 months to perform the modification and runs around $25k.

The Freightliner 114SD (Severe Duty) is a versatile heavy-duty truck that is designed to handle the toughest jobs with ease. It has gained popularity in a variety of industries, including construction, waste management, and most importantly, car hauling. In this review, we will dive deep into the 114SD’s features and performance, with a focus on its ability to serve as a reliable car hauler.

Engine and Performance

The 114SD is powered by a Detroit DD13 engine, which offers a horsepower range of 350-505 HP, depending on the specific configuration. With its maximum torque rating of 1850 lb-ft, the truck is capable of hauling heavy loads with ease. This engine is known for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and reduced maintenance costs, making it an ideal choice for car haulers that require long hours on the road.


The truck is equipped with either an Eaton Fuller manual transmission or an Allison automatic transmission. Both options provide smooth and efficient gear shifting, making it easier for drivers to navigate through traffic and different road conditions. The automatic transmission can be particularly beneficial for car haulers, as it simplifies the driving process and reduces driver fatigue.

Chassis and Suspension

The Freightliner 114SD features a sturdy and robust chassis, designed to withstand heavy loads and harsh environments. Its high-quality steel construction provides a strong foundation for car hauling operations, ensuring that the payload remains secure throughout the journey. The 114SD also offers a variety of suspension options, including Hendrickson and Freightliner’s own proprietary AirLiner suspensions, which ensure a smooth ride and improved handling even with a full load of vehicles.

Cab and Interior

The 114SD’s cab is designed with driver comfort and convenience in mind. The spacious interior offers ample legroom and headroom, as well as ergonomically designed controls that reduce driver strain during long hauls. The truck is equipped with a state-of-the-art infotainment system, featuring a touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio capabilities. These features contribute to a more enjoyable driving experience, which is essential for car haulers who spend long hours behind the wheel.

Safety Features

Safety is a crucial aspect of car hauling, and the Freightliner 114SD does not disappoint in this regard. The truck comes with a suite of safety features, including an advanced braking system, stability control, and traction control. Additionally, it offers options such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and collision mitigation systems, further enhancing the truck’s safety profile. These features help ensure that both the driver and the valuable cargo remain safe throughout the journey.

Customization Options

The 114SD’s customization options make it a versatile choice for car hauling operations. Its wheelbase can be configured in various lengths, accommodating different car hauling trailers and load capacities. Freightliner also offers a range of specialized equipment, such as car hauler-specific headracks and tie-down systems, which can be tailored to suit individual business needs.


The Freightliner 114SD is a reliable, versatile, and powerful heavy-duty truck that excels in car hauling applications. Its robust engine, durable chassis, and comfortable cabin make it an ideal choice for businesses in the car hauling industry. With a range of customization options, the 114SD can be tailored to meet specific operational requirements, ensuring that it remains a top choice for car haulers in the years to come.

Kenworth T680

The Kenworth T680 is a popular Class 8 truck that has been gaining traction in various industries, including car hauling. In this review, we will delve into the features and capabilities of the T680 that make it a strong contender in the car hauling sector. We will discuss the truck’s design, fuel efficiency, technology, safety, and comfort to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your car hauling needs.

Design and Build

The Kenworth T680 features an aerodynamic design that not only helps reduce drag and fuel consumption but also contributes to its striking appearance. The truck is built with lightweight materials, including aluminum and high-strength steel, which help lower the overall weight and increase payload capacity. This design aspect is crucial for car hauling, as it allows for the transportation of more cars while remaining within weight regulations.

Powertrain and Fuel Efficiency

The T680 offers multiple powertrain options, including PACCAR MX-13 and Cummins X15 engines, which provide ample power and torque to handle heavy loads with ease. The engines are paired with either a 12-speed automated transmission or a 13-speed manual transmission. The T680’s powertrain options are designed to maximize fuel efficiency, making it a cost-effective choice for car haulers who cover long distances.

The T680 is also equipped with Predictive Cruise Control and Neutral Coast technology, which help optimize fuel consumption by adjusting speed and shifting patterns based on terrain and road conditions. This feature is particularly useful for car haulers, who often need to travel through varying terrains with different loads.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

Car haulers spend long hours on the road, and the T680’s spacious and comfortable cabin helps reduce driver fatigue. The truck features an ergonomic design with adjustable seats, ample storage, and easy-to-read gauges. The optional rotating table and fold-down bunk beds in the sleeper cab provide added convenience for drivers who need to take breaks during long hauls. The T680’s quiet cab, thanks to its excellent insulation, further contributes to driver comfort.

Technology and Connectivity

The T680 is equipped with Kenworth TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics, which helps monitor the truck’s performance and preemptively identify potential issues. This feature can be especially beneficial for car haulers, as it minimizes downtime and ensures optimal performance throughout the journey. The T680 also offers a 7-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity, allowing drivers to stay connected and entertained during long trips.

Safety Features

Safety is paramount in car hauling, and the T680 doesn’t disappoint. It comes with various safety features, such as the Bendix Wingman Fusion advanced driver assistance system, which includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, and lane departure warnings. These features can help prevent accidents and ensure the safe transportation of cars.

Customization for Car Hauling

While the Kenworth T680 is not specifically designed for car hauling, it can be customized to suit the needs of car haulers. By working with specialized body manufacturers, you can equip the T680 with a suitable car carrier trailer that meets your specific requirements.


The Kenworth T680 is a reliable and efficient truck that offers numerous features that make it suitable for car hauling. Its aerodynamic design, powerful engine options, and advanced technology contribute to its overall performance and cost-effectiveness. The comfortable cabin and safety features help ensure a pleasant and secure driving experience for car haulers. With customization options available, the T680 can be a solid choice for those in the car hauling industry.

So which one?

We are partial to the Peterbilt 389 ourselves. It is ready out of the factory for becoming a stinger from both Lohr and Cottrell. Is it the most comfy? Nope. The most up to date? Not really. But it is a workhorse that can be worked on by most shops around the country and looks good.