Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: Which is Better for Shipping Across the Country?

Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: Which is Better for Shipping Across the Country?

Are you planning to move across the country or to a new state? Have you thought about what you’re going to do with your car? You might even have more than one car that needs moving, which raises an even bigger question. Of course, there is the option of driving yourself, but there’s a much better idea.

If you ever need to move a car from one destination to another, car shipping is a safe, secure, quick, and affordable way to do it. There are generally two options when it comes to shipping a car: open transport car shipping or enclosed auto transport.

In this post, we’ll examine the difference between the two and help you decide which is the better option for you. Two types of trailers tend to be used when it comes to shipping cars across country. They are open and enclosed trailers. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them.

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What is open car shipping?

The most widely used auto transport service is open car shipping. The carriers that offer this service use open trailers. These are the ones you see most of when you’re driving on the highway. Open car transport is popular with the general public and car dealerships who use this service to transport new and used vehicles across the country.

An open car transport trailer usually has one or two levels and is large enough to transport as many as ten vehicles at the same time. There are different types (we’ll look at these later), but they all have one thing in common. 

When a carrier ships a vehicle using an open trailer, the cargo is exposed to the elements and the surrounding environment. The reason for this is that the trailer has no sides. However, don’t think the vehicles aren’t safe. On the contrary, open transport car shipping is one of the safest and most secure ways to transport a car. 

Different types of open transport

As we’ve already said, there are several types of open transport trailers. 

Single vehicle hotshot trailer

A carrier that uses this type of trailer typically offers it for short distances only. This type of trailer is often towed by a dually truck, which is a pickup truck with dual rear wheels. Behind the truck, there’s a goose-neck trailer that’s just big enough to haul one vehicle.

Single vehicle, hotshot trailers are also used when expedited service is required. This is generally the only time this trailer would be used for long-distance deliveries. 

Single-level multi-car trailer

Single-level, multi-car trailers are used by carriers who want to be able to ship more than one car. The carrier will also use a goose-neck trailer, but in this case, it’ll be much bigger and be able to transport between two and six vehicles. 

Rather than using a dually, the carrier might use a semi instead. The benefit of using this smaller type of trailer is that it won’t have such a problem with narrow city streets. 

Multi-level multi-car trailer

A multi-level multi-car trailer is the most common and the one you’re most likely to see on the road. Most car shipping companies use this type of trailer because it’s economical, cost-effective, reliable, and quick. 

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The benefits of open car transport

Open car transport is the standard shipping method for most car owners and dealerships. They can use open trailers to transport large numbers of cars. But why is it so popular? Here are some of the benefits you can expect if you choose to ship your car in an open trailer.

Efficient and fast service

Open car transport is one of the fastest ways you can ship your car across country. As many as 90% of trucking companies provide this service which means you’ve got a much better chance of finding a carrier when you need one. 

Insurance is included in the price

You get complete peace of mind because the carrier’s cargo insurance covers your vehicle. In many cases, you pay nothing extra for this coverage. 

Affordable service

If you want to get the best-value auto transport service, shipping a car using an open car trailer is the right service for you. Of course, your vehicle is exposed to the elements, but that’s no different than driving it on the highway every day.

Open car transport is a very safe and secure way to transport one or more cars, and there’s almost no chance of it being damaged. After all, car dealerships use this service regularly, so it’s got to be one of the best options.  

If you’d like to know exactly how much it would cost to ship your car, get an instant quote for shipping your car across country today. 

Topload placement

Topload placement is one option you can choose. It means the carrier will load your vehicle on the top deck of the trailer. The benefit of this is that no vehicles are loaded above yours, so there’s no risk of fluids leaking onto your car. Another advantage of top load placement is that your car is a little further away from the road surface and the dust and grime. 

Suits all kinds of vehicles

An open car transport trailer can move a wide range of different vehicles in terms of size, height, weight, or model. 

More eco-friendly option

An open transport trailer can transport many vehicles at the same time and uses less fuel which makes it a more environmentally-friendly option. 

What is enclosed vehicle transport?

Enclosed vehicle transport is a way to move vehicles across the country, just the same as open car transport. However, in the case of enclosed auto transport, the carrier uses a trailer that is completely enclosed. What this means for your vehicle is that it’s protected from the elements and any traffic grime. It’s an auto transport option that’s a little more expensive, but it’s still very popular, particularly for owners of custom, classic, luxury, high-end, and antique vehicles. 

Different types of enclosed auto transport

Carriers who offer enclosed auto transport use a range of different trailers.

Hard vs. soft-sided trailers

Enclosed trailers can be either soft or hard-sided. Hard-sided trailers tend to be the most common, and they provide the ultimate level of protection for all the vehicles inside. However, soft-sided trailers are sometimes used as well. Also known as curtain-sided, this trailer has vinyl side curtains that are PVC-coated. The carrier can lift the curtain when a vehicle is loaded, making it much easier to secure the cargo inside. 

Single-level, single-vehicle enclosed trailer

This type of trailer can be either a goose-neck or a bumper pull trailer. The vehicle that pulls the trailer is usually a dually truck. This type of trailer is mainly used to transport valuable or precious vehicles over short distances or for expedited deliveries. 

Single-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

Enclosed car trailers aren’t just used for transporting one vehicle. There are certain types of trailers that a carrier can use to transport up to three vehicles. The pulling, in this case, tends to be done by a semi.

Multi-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

For carriers that need to transport more than three vehicles, there is the option of using a multi-level enclosed trailer. 

The benefits of enclosed vehicle transport

For most people, the standard open car transport is more than adequate. However, there are certain types of vehicles that demand a certain level of attention and care. 

Specialty, rare, custom, classic, or antique car owners tend to choose enclosed car shipping. This is because the vehicles inside the trailer are completely protected from traffic grime and debris and the weather. When the vehicle arrives at its final destination, it is just as shiny and new-looking as when the carrier picked it up. 

Several other benefits come with enclosed vehicle transport.

Increased insurance coverage

Vehicles that are shipped using enclosed auto transport tend to be of a higher value than your standard saloon. The insurance coverage offered by an enclosed auto transport carrier is much higher. If you own a car worth more than $50,000, the recommended auto transport service is an enclosed one. 

Multiple-vehicle shipping

You don’t have to limit yourself to shipping one car at a time. Multiple-vehicle enclosed car shipping is available. 

Low ground clearance

Enclosed auto transport trailers tend to use extended racing ramps and hydraulic lift gates for loading and unloading cars. This is perfect if your car has low ground clearance.

Peace of mind protection

Choose to ship your car using enclosed auto transport, and you know it’s going to arrive as clean as when you saw it being loaded into the trailer. Not only is it protected from the weather, but it’s also protected from dirt, dust, and other traffic grime. Your pride and joy is fully protected throughout its journey. 

Open vs. enclosed car shipping: The cost of shipping

Cost is often a deciding factor when it comes to choosing auto transport. SGT Auto Transport is more than happy to provide you with a free and instant quote. But how is that quote calculated?

Several factors are considered when we work out the cost of shipping a car in an enclosed or open trailer. They include:

  • Distance traveled
  • Whether you choose open car transport or enclosed auto transport (enclosed is 30% to 40% more expensive)
  • Whether the pick-up and delivery locations are in a metropolitan or rural area
  • The make, model, and year of the vehicle you want to transport
  • Whether or not the car is running

The time of year can also affect how much it costs to ship a car across the country. For example, New Year and Christmas periods are very expensive times of the year. Similarly, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July can also be more expensive.

There’s also the snowbirds season that can drive up the price to ship a car. Snowbirds season is the time of year when many people choose to head south to make the most of the warmer weather. What this means is that in the fall, prices from the Midwest and North to the South tend to increase. Conversely, in spring, when all the snowbirds are heading back home, prices in the other direction tend to be higher.  

Is shipping a car enclosed or open the best option?

For the majority of vehicle owners, open transport is the best option because it’s the least expensive, and they’re not the owner of a vehicle that requires enclosed transportation. In addition, because there are many more open car carriers than enclosed car carriers, you can also get your vehicle shipped much quicker.

The single disadvantage of open car transport is that your vehicle is exposed to the elements, weather, and road debris. Damage from these things is, however, extremely rare. The worst that can happen is that you’ll need to wash your car when it arrives.

Enclosed auto transport, on the other hand, provides total protection from the elements. So if you don’t want your car to be exposed to the elements because it’s rare, valuable, old, or very precious, you should choose enclosed auto transport. 

The main disadvantage of this option is the cost. As we’ve already mentioned, the cost can be between 30% and 40% higher. Another disadvantage worth mentioning is that it could take a little longer because there aren’t as many carriers available. 

Unless you’re shipping a rare, expensive, or restored classic car, open transport is likely to be your best option. You’ll be able to ship your car the quickest and for the least amount of money. However, ultimately, the choice depends on your shipping needs and budget. 

Final thoughts

Whether you’re shipping a car in an enclosed or open trailer, knowing you’re working with a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport is worth its weight in gold. 

Get an instant quote for shipping your car across country by telephone, Live Chat, or use our instant quote calculator!

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