Open vs. Enclosed Auto Transport Guide

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Customers often wonder about the difference between the two types of auto transport. In our guide you will find all about open and enclosed auto transport carriers. Why and when to use either one and what is the price difference. We will help you figure out how to choose the best method for your vehicle and budget.

Open vs. Enclosed Auto Transport

Our recommendation, for those who are not sure in their driving skills, is to hire an auto transport company. Booking an auto mover means you will have to choose between two methods of transport – open and enclosed auto transport.

What is an open auto transport service?

This is the most popular method of transporting vehicles. Thousands of people and companies move vehicles across the country daily, and most of them choose an open car transport. This type of carrier works for any make and model, unless the vehicle has been significantly modified. If your vehicle is too low or too high, it can still be transported via open carrier. It will just cost more. In rare cases regular, multi-level, multi-car carrier may not be able to transport a car.

Shipping a car via an open carrier exposes it to weather elements such as sun, rain, snow, wind, and to the road elements such as dust and road debris. This means that there is a chance of a chip on the paint or anything else the weather or the road can cause.

The other two major options that make the service more affordable are availability and efficiency. By availability, we mean that there are more open car carriers on the road than enclosed, which makes them readily available as soon as you book. That is why we call it the standard method of car shipping.

About 90 percent of all auto carriers in the US are open. This means open carrier is usually faster to schedule, as well as more efficient. Efficiency is when more cars are transported with a single haul. Most of the open car carriers can fit anywhere from 7 to 10 vehicles.

What types of open carriers can I choose from?

Three main types of open auto transport carriers are most widely used.

  1. double level multi-car trailer
  2. single level multi-car trailer
  3. single-vehicle dully truck with a tow trailer

Double level multi-car carrier – the most popular type.



Single level multi-car carrier – often booked for expedited deliveries or more special cars, such as sports or luxury automobiles.

single level multi car carrier trailer

Single vehicle dully truck with tow trailer – often used for local deliveries.

Single-vehicle dully truck with tow trailer

What is an enclosed auto transport service?

Enclosed car transport carrier is also called covered. This type of carriers are a preferred option for high-end, sports, luxury and classic vehicles. Enclosed auto transport protects from the weather and road elements. However, this comes at a price.

Enclosed car shipping is more expensive – usually it costs about $400 to $500 more than what would cost to book an open carrier.

Reasons why enclosed trailer is a more expensive option.

  • One reason is that the trailers are more expensive, and this means that fewer truck drivers will buy them and work with them to offer the service.
  • Most enclosed trailers have hydraulic ramps to hold the vehicle in a horizontal position while loading. Such ramps facilitate loading of low clearance vehicles.
  • The other reason is the availability. We already said that about 90 percent of the carrier in the US are open, which leaves us with only 10 percent enclosed. This makes them less available to reserve and thus more expensive, especially when demand is high on a certain route.
  • Reason number three is efficiency. Just like with open, enclosed car carriers can fit certain number of cars. With enclosed fewer cars can fit inside, which makes them less efficient that open and again more expensive. Customers can get their car shipped via enclosed trailer with five other cars inside, or with seven, but never with ten as it is with open trailers.
  • Enclosed trailer provides more protection for the cars inside, but the service itself includes more personal care from the driver as well. Drivers of enclosed trailers have more experience with high-end vehicles and they know how to handle such automobiles with care. These drivers often offer “white glove auto transport service“, where they put on truly white gloves.
If money is not an issue for you when it comes to shipping your car, then we recommend enclosed auto transport.

For most people, their car is a big investment and when it comes to shipping they prefer the most secure mode of transport. Yet, open vehicle transport is safe as well. Hundreds of new cars are transported via open carriers daily. It is often simply a matter of personal choice and the amount of money you can spend.

What types of enclosed carriers can I choose from?

Two standard types of enclosed trailers can be found on the market in terms of trailer structure. You can have soft-sided and hard sided. In terms of car spots, there can be multi-car trailers and single or two car trailers.

A multi-car trailer can load up to seven vehicles and these are usually cheaper among the enclosed trailers options. Single or two-car trailers are more expensive and often used for express deliveries or shipping of some very special vehicles.

Multi car carrier enclosed trailer

Auto Transport Florida


Single car enclosed trailer

classic car transport enclosed trailer


How much does vehicle transport cost?

The final cost to ship a car depend on several factors, including the type of trailer you choose. Other prominent and important factors are, of course, make and model of the vehicle, and distance. We always recommend that customers collect several quotes and compare the rates.

Request a car shipping quote now online or call us. We are here to help you choose your service and ship your car with peace of mind.

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Call us now to discuss your options and budget. We will explain how auto transport works and what is a realistic price that will ship your vehicle in a timely manner.

How do I choose the best type of transport for my vehicle?

Choosing a type of trailer to transport your automobile is entirely a personal preference. Many high-end cars are transported on an open trailer and many everyday sedans in enclosed.

Most people opt for an open trailer because it is cheaper and faster.

Open trailers are more easily booked, which means your car gets picked-up faster. With enclosed trailers, it may take a couple more days to get a truck assigned due to their availability, as we discussed. So, time is one reason for people to choose open trailer services.

The other aspect that usually matters most to customers is protection. Check out our info-graphic to review the main difference between open and enclosed auto transport.

As explained, enclosed trailers offer more protection. They guarantee that weather and road elements will not affect your vehicle. Also, the truck drivers of such trailers have experience with high-end.

Think about all aspects we discussed in our guide here about open vs. enclosed auto transport. The money you are willing to spend, the time you are willing to wait and the protection you prefer will determine your choice.

For more questions, call us to discuss your service and preferences. You can request a quote online or by phone. We are here to help you ship your car safe and sound to your destination. Thank you!











About the Author:

I am the co-owner and marketing director of Corsia Logistics. I believe in creating useful content for our customers and readers. If you would like to contact me please do so via our contact us form or any social media channel. Thank you.

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