Open vs. enclosed auto transport – guide

May 11, 2020
Vasilka Atanasova
open vs enclosed auto transport

Review our short guide to learn about the difference between open and enclosed auto transport. Why and when to use either one? What is the price difference between open and enclosed car shipping? We will help you figure out how to choose and will work with budget.

What is open auto transport?

This is the standard car shipping method. Thousands of people and companies move vehicles across the country daily via open carriers. This type of carrier works for any make and model automobile, unless the vehicle has been significantly modified.

If your vehicle is too low or too high, it can still be transported via open carrier. Only in rare cases regular, multi-level, multi-car carrier may not be able to transport a car.

Shipping a car via open carrier means the vehicle is exposed to weather and road elements. Such we consider sun, rain, snow, wind, and to the road debris that may roll and hover above the road (dust and small rocks). However, as a standard choice the service more affordable and available.

About 90 percent of the carriers in the U.S. are open, which means faster shipping.

This means open carrier is 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 car carriers can I choose from?

Three main types of open auto transport carriers are 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.

auto transport sinlge level multi car carrier


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

Single-vehicle dully truck with tow trailer

What is enclosed auto transport?

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

Reasons why enclosed trailer is a more expensive option.

  • Trailers are specialized and more expensive, and so fewer truck drivers will buy them and work with them to offer the service.
  • Only about 10 percent of the carrier in the country are enclosed. This makes them less available to reserve and thus more expensive.
  • Fewer cars can be loaded in an enclosed trailer, which makes them less efficient, which additionally rises the price.

Enclosed trailer provides more protection, but the service itself includes more personal care from the driver as well. Drivers of enclosed trailers have experience with high-end automobiles, and they know how to handle them with care. These drivers often offer “white glove auto transport service“, where they truly put on white gloves.

What types of enclosed carriers can I choose from?

Two standard types of enclosed trailers are available. One is soft-sided and the other 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 this is usually the cheaper option among the enclosed trailers. Single or two-car trailers are more expensive and often used for express deliveries, or shipping special vehicles to auto shows or auctions.

Multi-car carrier enclosed trailer


Single car enclosed trailer

expedited encloosed car shipping


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

Choosing the type of trailer to ship a car is 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. Open trailers are also faster to schedule. With enclosed trailers, it may take a couple more days to get a truck assigned. So, transport 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. Enclosed trailers offer more protection. They guarantee that weather and road elements will not affect your vehicle.

Think about all of the aspects discussed and the money you are willing to spend on car shipping. Also, the time you are willing to wait and the protection you prefer. This will help you choose between open and enclosed car carrier.

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 recommend that customers collect several quotes and compare the rates. This is the way to find see what is the spectrum and what is a reasonable price.

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

Call or chat with us to discuss your service and preferences. Thank you!











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