Car shipping trailer

The Types of Car Transport Trailers and Trucks Used in the Car Shipping Industry


If you’re thinking about shipping your car across country any time soon, you might be wondering what kind of car transport truck will be used to move your vehicle hundreds of miles. Of course, you want to ensure your car is transported in the best possible way and this post will put your mind at rest. 

When it comes to shipping a car, motorcycle, or any other vehicle to a new destination, one of the most economical ways to do it is with an auto transport company. A reputable car shipping company will have access to a fleet of car transport trailers and trucks to meet all kinds of needs.

Rest assured that our shipping advisors will choose the right car transport for you, but to make things clear, we’d like to explain what your options are. 

The standard options are open carriers and enclosed carriers

Get in touch with any reputable car transport company and you’re typically given two choices. The two types of car transporter trucks used when you ship a car are open and enclosed and these refer to the type of trailer hauled by the truck. 

Open auto transport is what most people picture when you think of car transporter trailers. Enclosed auto transport is more akin to a shipping container with wheels. The cars being shipped are inside and completely shielded from the elements and any road or traffic debris.   

Shipping a car in an open trailer

An open trailer has no sides. There are many different types, but one thing they all have in common is that the vehicles being transported are exposed to the elements and the surrounding environment. 

This is the most common type of auto transport service and it offers great value for money and is a safe and effective option. 

Most standard vehicles are shipped using an open trailer. Up to 10 vehicles can be transported simultaneously. The drivers are well-trained and know how to secure the vehicles so they’re kept extra safe while on the road.

The different types of open trucks and trailers include the following:

Single-vehicle hotshot trailers

With this car shipping option, a dually truck pulls a gooseneck trailer. The trailer is just large enough for one car or one truck. A dually truck is a pickup truck with dual rear wheels on each side and is more commonly used for hauling vehicles short distances. 

However, if express shipping is required, a hotshot trailer might be used for longer-distance deliveries

Single-level multi-car trailers

With this method of car shipping, a single-level multi-vehicle trailer hauls up to six cars, trucks, or small RVs. A dually truck might haul a multi-car gooseneck trailer or a bumper pull trailer. Alternatively, a sem might haul a larger single-deck trailer. 

This type of auto transportation is larger than a hotshot but still small enough to go where the largest trucks and trailers can’t, for example, narrow streets.  

Multi-level, multi-vehicle trailers

Most of the auto transport trucks and trailers you see on the highway are this type. Multi-level, multi-vehicle trailers are the standard form of open transport used in the car shipping industry. 

The advantages of open car shipping

Every type of trailer has its advantages, but let’s look at the more common ones for all types of open trailers.

  • It’s the least expensive way to ship a car
  • It can be a faster service because there are more carriers to meet the demand
  • Less fuel is used per car transported, making it an option that’s better for the environment 

Shipping a car in an enclosed trailer

An enclosed trailer will be used to transport fewer cars, up to a maximum of five. The trailer has sides and a top so the vehicles inside are completely protected from the elements and the environment outside. 

People who tend to choose this type of car truck transport are usually owners of very valuable vehicles. Antique cars, custom cars, luxury cars, rare cars, and race cars are usually transported in enclosed trailers.

The different types of enclosed trucks and trailers include the following:

A single-level, single-vehicle enclosed trailer

This is a very specialized type of car transportation vehicle. It is commonly used to haul valuable vehicles and trucks short distances. It is usually a dually truck that provides this type of service, using a gooseneck trailer or bumper pull trailer. 

A single-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

It’s also possible for an enclosed trailer to be used to transport more than one vehicle, up to as many as three. The enclosed trailer is pulled by a semi and the vehicles inside are in single file, high off the road. 

A multi-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer

This type of enclosed trailer is very tall but sits closer to the roadbed so that it can accommodate two stacked rows of vehicles, up to a maximum of eight in total. A powerful semi is required to haul this type of trailer. Loading and unloading are done by way of adjustable deck ramps. 

We should also point out that enclosed trailers can also be soft-sided or hard-sided trailers. Soft-sided trailers are also called curtain-sided trailers because of the flexible PVC-coated vinyl side curtains that take the place of hard walls. Soft-sided trailers are easier to load and unload because there’s more room for strapping and unstrapping when the curtains are lifted.

The advantages of enclosed car shipping  

For the majority of vehicle owners, open car shipping is more than adequate and acceptable. Owners of high-value vehicles want something a little extra, for which they’re willing to pay. Enclosed car shipping costs more than open car shipping, but it does come with the following benefits:

  • Specialty vehicles are protected from the weather and all road debris
  • Your vehicle will be delivered looking beautiful and showroom ready
  • It’s a private service so you don’t have to worry about anyone touching your vehicle

Which type of transport should you choose?

It’s really a personal choice, but you might want to base your decision on the value of your vehicle, how quickly you want to get your car from Point A to Point B, and how far from each other these two points might be. 

A high-value car that you want to transport quickly, is probably better suited to a single-car, enclosed carrier. It’s a safer option than being shipped in an open trailer and your car will get to its destination faster because the driver won’t have to stop to drop off other vehicles. 

If you’ve got a family car, you want to save money and have some flexibility, the cheapest and safest way to ship your car is using a multi-vehicle, open trailer.

No matter what type of vehicle you need shipping, no matter your auto transport budget, SGT Auto Transport can help you find trustworthy, affordable, and secure shipping. 

Use our instant online quote calculator to find out how much it will cost. 

Get a quote today!

Call us today at (864) 546-5038 and we’ll arrange for safe and affordable transport of your vehicle. Alternatively, try our Live Chat option.

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