January 19, 2023
Not every shipping load is a perfect fit for tractor trailers. Some loads are more time sensitive, need to be shipped over shorter distances or have special requirements that standard tractor trailers simply can't handle.
Hot shot trucking helps to cover the gaps that tractor trailers can't handle. Typically speaking, hot shot trucking is delivered by a medium-duty truck that has a flatbed trailer attached to it. Hot shot trucking can also be done via smaller box trucks as well, depending on the size of the load and the requirements.
Owner-operators of trucking companies can integrate hot shot trucking into their repertoire to increase their revenue and cover downtime, maximizing the efficiency of their operations in the process.
Below is a more detailed look at what hot shot trucking is.

What Does Hot Shot Trucking Do?

Hot shot trucking usually involves carrying smaller loads that are more time sensitive. They often need to be delivered in a set timeframe that other type of delivery companies wouldn't be able to handle. For instance, a load may need to be delivered the same day.
Hot shot trucking differs from expediting shipping in that it involves loads that require more specialized equipment, such as flatbed trailers. Some examples of common hot shot loads include construction materials, agricultural equipment and heavy machinery.
This type of job requires the right vehicle to haul the equipment on a flatbed trailer, and they must be available for a quick turnaround time. Shippers pay extra for hot shot trucking jobs because they often need their products delivered quickly.

Where Hot Shot Trucking Jobs Are Found

There is usually no consistency to hot shot trucking jobs. They only pop up when a shipper has a specific need they need to fulfill, often with a short turnaround time. As such, these jobs are not negotiated as part of a larger, more consistent contract with a trucking company.
Instead, these jobs are posted to load boards where hot shot trucking companies can bid on them. The load boards will list all the details of the job, and if you can meet those requirements -- including the type of equipment needed, the rate and the delivery timeframe -- you can bid to win the job.
These jobs can be very lucrative to trucking companies, so if you want to make this part of your work, you need to stay on top of the jobs boards to which they're posted. If you don't see the jobs posted right away, you could easily miss out on a great opportunity.

What Types of Vehicles are Used in Hot Shot Trucking?

There isn't a set type of vehicle that is required to be used in hot shot trucking. That being said, most are typically what the Federal Highway Administration terms to be medium duty.
Most people who take on hot shot trucking jobs will use vehicles that aren't classified as commercial, and are either Class 3, Class 4 or Class 5 (more on that in a bit). To use these vehicles for hot shot trucking jobs, you just need to have an operating authority, proof that you're a business owner, proper liability insurance as well as a number with the U.S. Department of Transportation if you plan to haul across state lines.

Class 3 Vehicles

These trucks weigh between 10,001 and 14,000 pounds. They are the most basic consumer pickup trucks such as a Ram 3500, Ford F-350 and GMC Sierra 3500.
Most of the time, these vehicles are used by delivery drivers focused on the last mile as well as general contractors. Depending on the haul, though, they can also be used in hot shot trucking.

Class 4 Vehicles

These trucks weigh between 14,001 and 16,000 pounds. These trucks are heavier but aren't classified as commercial. Common models include the Ram4500, Ford F-450 and Chevrolet Silverado 4500.
These vehicles may be necessary if the hot shot trucking loads you plan on delivering will be heavier and/or larger.

Class 5 Vehicles

These trucks weigh between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds. While there are some consumer models in this class -- including the Ram 5500, Ford F-550 and Chevrolet Silverado 5500 -- some commercial trucks are also categorized as Class 5.
These trucks are necessary if you're planning to haul large, heavy hot shot loads.

The Pros of Hot Shot Trucking

There are many advantages to integrating hot shot trucking into your company's repertoire -- or starting a separate hot shot trucking company altogether.
First, it doesn't require a major investment to begin. You can buy a relatively inexpensive Class 3 vehicle for a lot of projects, and it'll also cost you a lot less to insure than other types of vehicles. This means it's pretty easy to get your new business off the ground.
The sensitive timeframe on most hot shot trucking jobs means you'll also get a higher rate for the jobs you take. By perusing a load board, you can pick and choose which jobs you'd like to take, and which wants you want to pass on. It's possible you could even set a rate on your own, depending on the demand.
Many hot shot truckers also love doing it because no day is exactly the same. You'll almost always be delivering something different to a new destination every day.

The Cons of Hot Shot Trucking

Unlike traditional trucking jobs, hot shot trucking jobs aren't always available. This can lead to unstable income, which is why a lot of companies try to integrate it as part of their offering, rather than it being the only thing they do. In fact, it may be challenging to make a full-time job out of hot shot trucking alone, at least if you're expecting a salary in the range of a typical owner-operator.
It's also very hard to plan for hot shot trucking jobs, since they come along on an as-needed basis. This could create a lot of downtime on your end, and also make it challenging to build a solid budget.

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