Open car trailer loaded with cars

How Much Does Open Car Shipping Typically Cost?


If you ever need to move across the country, having a car shipping company to count on can be helpful. The average cost to ship a car is between $0.58 and $2 per mile, depending on the length of the journey. But is the cost of open car shipping worth it?  

In this post, we’ll answer that question and a few more. 

What is open car transport?

Open car shipping is one of the most common forms of vehicle transportation in the US. According to statistics, around 90% of vehicles are transported in this way.

An open car shipping company will ship your car from one location to another using an open trailer. In other words, the trailer has no sides or roof. This does mean that your vehicle is exposed to the elements during transportation, but it’s no different than driving your car on the highway.

There is an option, known as top-load which provides a higher level of protection for your car. In this instance, your car is transported on the top level of the trailer, further away from the road. There is also no risk of oil leaks dropping on your car from other vehicles.  

There are various variations of these open trailers such as single-level, multi-car carriers that can transport a few vehicles. Another type is two-level trailers that can transport up to ten vehicles.

When carriers can transport several vehicles at the same time, it allows for more affordability and reduces the cost. In addition, it’s also a more flexible option because a wider range of pick-up and delivery times are available. 

How much does open car shipping cost?

The cost of open car transport can be anything between a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, depending on the distance and a variety of other factors that we’ll look at next.  

What are the factors that affect the cost of open car shipping?

The best way to find out how much it might cost to ship your car using open car transport is to compare shipping quotes online from several auto transport providers. 

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Companies typically take the following factors into account when calculating car shipping quotes:

  • Shipping distance: You’re likely going to pay a higher price for cross-country car shipping from Los Angeles to New York compared with Los Angeles to Albuquerque. However, the price per mile for longer distances is generally lower.    
  • Pick-up and drop-off locations: Terminal-to-terminal shipping is one option. This involves having your car picked up and dropped off at centralized locations. It’s one of the cheapest ways to ship your car, although not as readily available as it once was. The other option, which is far more common, is door-to-door shipping. With this auto transport service, your vehicle is moved between specific addresses of your choosing. The location of the pick-ups and drop-offs also makes a difference. It tends to cost more for rural locations compared with metropolitan areas. 
  • Type of transport: Shipping your car using open auto transport is cheaper than using enclosed car shipping. Open auto transport is a more common method. However, owners of classic, luxury, and high-value cars often choose enclosed shipping because it offers extra protection against the weather and road debris. Enclosed shipping is between 30% and 40% more expensive. 
  • Type of vehicle: If you want to ship a pickup truck or SUV it will be more expensive than shipping a sedan or another type of small car. 
  • Vehicle condition: Inoperable vehicles are more costly to ship because loading and unloading them requires specialist equipment and skills. 
  • Time of year: The timing of your vehicle shipment plays a signification role in the overall price of shipping. During the summer and at holiday times you can expect to pay more. 
  • Gas prices: If gas prices are high at the pump, expect the cost of shipping your car to be higher as well.

How to get an open transport car shipping quote?

If you want to ship your car, the first step you have to take is to get a selection of vehicle shipping instant quotes. With so many auto transport companies, it pays to get request quotes from several different providers. You’ll be able to make comparisons and choose the service that meets your needs and matches your budget.

Getting quotes is a quick and easy process as most auto transport companies offer online shipping quote calculators on their websites.

When you’re using one of these tools, you must input the correct information. The details you provide determine the shipping rate you pay. Some of the details you’ll be required to provide include:

  • Pick-up and delivery locations (city or zip code)
  • Whether you want open or enclosed car shipping
  • The vehicle details including make, model, and year
  • Whether the vehicle is running or not  

If you use our instant quote calculator, you’ll find the calculator has handy drop-down lists for choosing the make, model, and year of your car. If your car is missing from the list, our shipping advisors will be able to help if you contact them directly. 

You’ll also need to provide your contact details and an email address. This is because we like to email copies of your quote for your records. One final detail is the first available pick-up date. This is the earliest date your vehicle will be reading for shipping. 

Once we’ve got all the details, we can provide a quote. There will be a price together with all the details that we need to check carefully. 

Is open transport car shipping worth it?

In most cases, open transport shipping is worth it and the benefits far outweigh the risks. For example, open car shipping is a viable choice if:

  • You want to save money. Open vehicle transport is by far a more economical choice. More cars can be shipped simultaneously, so the carrier can pass on any savings to you, the customer. Rather than having to shoulder the cost of shipment alone or splitting it with just a couple of owners, the cost is split with more which brings down the cost.   
  • You’d prefer a fast-shipping service. Open-carrier car shipping is the most popular auto transport option, so there are more open-air carriers available. With more carriers available, it’s easier to find a carrier that can pick up your vehicle quickly and transport it promptly.  
  • Your vehicle doesn’t require any special handling. Open vehicle transport is an excellent option for vehicles that require no special handling.  

Tips for booking open vehicle transport

If you want to keep your car safe during its transportation journey, here are some tips that will help:

Read reviews

When it comes to choosing an open car transport company, you can get a good feel for the level of service by checking customer reviews. Companies tend to feature them on their website, however, there are lots of third-party sources you should check as well.

Good review sites to check include Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau. One good feature of the BBB is that it allows customers to make specific complaints against a company. The organization then processes the complaint and hopefully, there’s a resolution. 

Check insurance coverage

The second thing to check is that your chosen transport company has insurance coverage. You can ask whether a company is licensed and registered with the Department of Transport as a requirement for registration is to provide cargo insurance. 

Most companies offer some form of insurance coverage, but it’s down to you to check that the level is sufficient to cover your vehicle in the event of any damage. 

Ship with reliable open car shipping companies

The best way to keep your car safe during open shipping is to only work with reliable and reputable auto transport companies. As well as checking customer reviews, check the company’s registration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Read the shipping contract carefully

Before you finalize your booking and sign on the dotted line, read the contract carefully so that you fully understand the process and what you’re signing. 

Our helpful shipping advisors will happily answer any questions or go through any points you don’t understand. 

Make sure your car is properly prepared

One final step to take is to make sure your car is properly prepared. It’s a good idea to remove all personal possessions from both the inside and outside of your vehicle. 

Items such as sunshades, dashboard cameras, phone mounts, and trash bins could potentially get dislodged during transit. Other things you should remove include tow hitches, roof racks, grille guards, running boards, and other exterior accessories. 

In addition, you should inspect your vehicle before it’s loaded onto the open trailer. Take lots of pictures and videos to document your vehicle’s current condition, making note of any existing damage, dents, and scratches. 

How to save money on the cost of open carrier car shipping

Open transport car shipping is an affordable option if you ever need to ship a car, however, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look to make further savings. Here are a few tips that might help.

  • Be flexible with your shipping dates: If you can choose a larger time frame for picking up your vehicle, you’ll likely find cheaper rates. Make your arrangements in advance and it also opens the door for better prices and potential discounts. 
  • Look for discounts: You might be eligible for a discount on the cost of car shipping, for example, if you’re a member of the military, a snowbird, or a student. 
  • Pick the right time of the year: If you’re concerned about cost, the best time to ship your car is during a non-peak time of year. Holiday times, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, are best avoided. 
  • Ensure your car is running: A car that can move under its own power is cheaper to ship than one that’s not running. 
  • Ship more than one car: If you can book multiple cars on the same trip, a shipping company might give you a discount.
  • Ask about hidden fees before booking: Some auto transport companies include hidden fees that are only revealed once you accept a quote. Such fees might include terminal handling fees and fuel surcharges. Always ask upfront about any hidden fees to avoid getting caught out. Here at SGT Auto Transport, our quotes are fully inclusive. 


Whether you want to ship a large SUC, pickup truck, motorcycle, or standard sedan, SGT Auto Transport offers some of the most competitive prices. Call (864) 546-5038 or use Live Chat and speak with our shipping advisors. 

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