What Is Hot Shot Trucking?

March 28, 2024

Team ACV




What Is Hot Shot Trucking?

ACV facts & figures

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A white car is getting hauled by a Hot Shot Truck

There are various ways of transporting goods to and from manufacturers, retailers, and customers. We’ve covered the differences between the types of trucks and trailers that can be used, but there are also different service types to consider. One popular method for fast shipping and trucking is hot shot trucking. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about how it works, so you can take advantage of hot shot trucking opportunities as a driver. 

Hot Shot Trucking & Loads Explained

While standard trucking typically involves a semi-trailer, hot shot trucking provides an alternative way of moving goods. Whereas a semi-truck will deliver full shipment loads in Class 8 tractor-trailers, hot shot trucking uses smaller vehicles to transport time-sensitive deliveries that are LTL (less than a truckload) quickly. 

Typically, a hot shot load can fit in a pickup truck, trailer, or box truck so that it can be transported by drivers who do not have a semi-trailer. Distances can vary and deliveries may be nearby or require crossing (several) state lines. For the transporter, there is less overhead with the vehicle and insurance, and for the customer, there is the opportunity to have a faster, catered service.1 

How Does Hot Shot Trucking Work? 

Hot shot trucking is often used in industries where parts and materials are needed to avoid delays (like manufacturing or construction). Often, clients are willing to pay a higher fee to the driver to avoid losing time on a project and to ensure that deliveries on specific timelines are met. Drivers will find their own gigs, and in turn, customers can reach out and find their own drivers to request the transporting of a shipment.2 

Who Can Be a Hot Shot Driver?

Hot shot drivers have Commercial Driver's Licenses (CDLs) but are freelance drivers who own and operate their vehicles. Because drivers are finding their own jobs and completing deliveries themselves, they can choose to take on as much or as little work as they want, and therefore, work full-time or part-time. 

For some entry-level drivers, hot shot trucking gives them the chance to build up their professional experience and save up to purchase a semi. For other drivers, it is a stable source of income that can serve as a long-term career.1 

What Vehicles Are Used for Hot Shot Trucking?

Most hot shot truckers use trucks that fall into three categories:

  • Class 3 (10,001-14,000 lbs.): These include large pickup trucks, box vans, and walk-in trucks. 
  • Class 4 (14,001-16,000 lbs.): These include super-duty pickup trucks, large passenger vans, and city delivery trucks. 
  • Class 5 (16,001-19,500 lbs.): These include large walk-in trucks, bucket trucks, and delivery trucks. 

Additionally, they may haul the following types of trailers: 

  • Gooseneck
  • Tilt deck
  • Bumper pull 
  • Dovetail 
  • Lowboy3

Pros and Cons of Hot Shot Trucking

Pros: Hot shot trucking offers many benefits for the transporters and customers alike. For truckers, the vehicles can be more affordable with fewer startup costs, and the fee per job can be higher since the deadlines may be more pressing. For the customer, you can choose a driver with the right vehicle and arrange a tailored shipment according to your timeline. It provides you with the security that your items won’t be delayed due to external factors or other stops and gives you the option to make a last-minute request with a tight turnaround. 

Cons: For drivers, the downsides can include instability of work and a fluctuating income—plus the responsibility of maintaining the vehicle and all associated costs. For a customer of the trucking service, a tailored service always comes with a higher price, so the only downside you’ll find is a higher cost than you may expect with more standard transport services.2 

Partner With ACV Transportation for Hot Shot Trucking Jobs and Loads

If you’re a driver looking for hot shot trucking jobs and loads, work with us at ACV Transportation. We offer the chance to deliver vehicles to and from dealerships across the US locally, regionally, and over the road (OTR). We have thousands of loads daily, and we make it efficient and seamless to sign up as a carrier. Join our carrier network today to learn more


  1. DAT. 2023. “What is hot shot trucking?” DAT Freight & Analytics. Retrieved March 11, 2024. https://www.dat.com/resources/what-is-hot-shot-trucking
  2. Truckstop. 2022. “What is hot shot trucking?” Truckstop.  Retrieved March 11, 2024. https://truckstop.com/blog/what-is-hot-shot-trucking 
  3. Prime inc. “What is hotshot trucking? Is it a good way to gain experience?” Prime Inc. Retrieved March 11, 2024. https://www.primeinc.com/trucking-blogs/what-is-hotshot-trucking