car on a auto transport trailer

Best Auto Transport Solutions: Different Types of Car Transport Trailers


If you need to ship your car between Point A and Point B, you’re bound to have questions. For example, how long it takes, how much it will cost, and many more. However, the type of car trailer used to transport your car will influence these answers.

This post will explore the various types of car transport trailers that might be used for both long and short distances.

Open vs. enclosed auto transport

There are two general types of auto transport trailer used for car shipping services: open and enclosed. Each has its pros and cons.

Open car transport

This is the most commonly used car shipping service. When you’re driving on the highway, this is the type of car transport trailer you’ll see more than any other. They are very popular with the general public and car dealerships who want to transport new and used vehicles across the country.

Typically, the auto transport trailers have one or two levels, allowing the carrier to transport several vehicles simultaneously. There are several different types, but they all have one thing in common. When shipping a vehicle using an open trailer, the cargo is exposed to the elements and the surrounding environment because the trailer has no sides. 

However, this doesn’t mean your vehicle is any less safe. On the contrary, it’s one of the safest and most secure ways to transport it. 

Different types of open car trailer

Let’s look at some of the different types of open car trailers. 

Single-vehicle hotshot trailer

Car shipping companies often offer this type of service for short distances. A dually truck with a tow trailer behind is what’s used. A dually is a pickup with dual rear wheels on both sides. Behind is a goose-neck trailer that’s just big enough to haul one vehicle.

Another situation that might call for a single-vehicle hotshot trailer is when expedited service is required. On this particular occasion, it’s often used for long-distance deliveries. 

Single-level multi-car trailer

If more than one car needs to be transported, car shipping companies often use a single-level multi-car trailer to transport cars. Goose-neck car trailers are again used for this type of service. However, in this case, they’re larger and can carry between two and six vehicles which might include cars, trucks, small RVs, or a combination of all three.

Multi-level multi-car trailer

If you encounter an auto transport company when you’re out on the road, it’s more likely to be a multi-level multi-car trailer that is being used. It is the standard method for transporting vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but most commonly cars.

Car shipping companies use this type of trailer car transport for most situations because they are economical, cost-effective, reliable, and quick.

The benefits of open car transport

Open car transport is the standard shipping method for car shipping companies. More vehicles are moved using open car trailers than any other auto transport trailer. But why do so many people prefer to use an open trailer?

Let’s explore the many benefits.

Fast and efficient

Open car transport is one of the fastest ways to ship a vehicle. The reason is that 90% of auto transport companies use an open trailer. Therefore, you’ve got a much better chance of finding the right carrier whenever you need one.

Insurance is usually included

The carrier's cargo insurance covers your vehicle throughout the car shipping process. So in many cases, you don’t have to pay any extra.

Affordable option

If you’re looking for the best value option for shipping a car, open car shipping is the service you should book. Of course, your vehicle might be exposed to the elements, but that’s no different than driving it on the highway every day.

If you want to know how affordable our car transport service is, you can get an instant quote using our handy online quote calculator. Alternatively, you also have the option of speaking directly with our shipping advisors on (864) 546-5038 or using LiveChat. 

An open car trailer is a very safe method for transporting a car, and there’s virtually no chance of it being damaged. Let’s be honest, car dealerships wouldn’t choose open car transport for delivering and receiving new vehicles if it wasn’t a safe option.   

Topload placement

Topload placement is an option that’s often available. The benefit of this option is that no vehicles will be loaded above yours. Therefore, there’s no risk of fluids leaking onto your car. It’s also a little further away from the road surface. 

Popular with car dealerships

Almost all car dealerships use an open carrier service for moving new and used vehicles around the country.

It suits many types of vehicle

Open car transport is suitable for many types of vehicles. The size, weight, or model don’t matter when booking an open car transport service. 

Better for the environment

One final benefit, which is very important in an age when we’re encouraged to consider eco-friendly options whenever possible, is that transporting your car by truck is better for the environment. This is because auto transport solutions use less fuel and can haul more vehicles simultaneously. 

Enclosed auto transport

Enclosed auto transport services are a little different in that the vehicles being moved are entirely enclosed and protected from the weather and any traffic grime. It’s a popular choice for owners of custom, antique, classic, high-end, luxury, and exotic vehicles.

Different types of enclosed car trailers

When you transport a car using an enclosed car trailer, there are several options from which you can choose. 

Single-level, single-vehicle enclosed auto transport trailer

If you’ve got a particularly valuable or precious motor, you might choose to use car shipping companies that offer this service. 

Both bumper pull and goose-neck trailers are used to provide this service. A dually truck is used for pulling. As with the open version, it’s primarily used for short-distance or expedited deliveries.

Single-level, multi-vehicle enclosed car trailer

Enclosed car trailers aren’t limited to transporting just one vehicle. Some versions can carry up to three. However, when more than one vehicle is being hauled, it’s usually done by a semi.

Multi-level, multi-vehicle enclosed car transport trailer

When a car transport company needs to haul more than three motors in an enclosed trailer, it uses a multi-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer. Enclosed car transport loading takes place using adjustable deck ramps.

Hard vs. soft-sided car trailer transport

You might also be interested to learn that car shipping companies can offer various types of enclosed car trailers. They can be hard or soft-sided. 

A soft-sided car transport trailer, also known as curtain-sided, will have vinyl side curtains that are PVC-coated. Because these curtains can be lifted when a vehicle is loaded and unloaded, it makes securing the cargo much easier. That being said, enclosed car shipping trucks tend to be hard-sided.

The benefits of enclosed auto transport

For most people, shipping your car by truck in the standard way is more than suitable. There are, however, certain types that require a certain level of care and attention.

Owners of rare, specialty, custom, classic, or antique motors tend to choose enclosed car services. This is because the transported vehicles are completely protected, not just from the weather but from traffic grime and debris, throughout the length of the journey. The hauled vehicle will arrive at its chosen destination looking shiny and new.

Several other benefits come with enclosed auto transport.

Peace of mind protection

If you want your car to arrive as clean as when you left it, enclosed auto shipping is the service to choose. Not only is it fully protected from the weather, but it’s also protected from dust, dirt, and other traffic grime. 

An enclosed auto carrier keeps your pride and joy protected throughout its journey. When they deliver your car, it’s spotless. 

Low-ground clearance

Hydraulic lift gates and extended racing ramps are necessary when loading and unloading cars with low ground clearance. Unfortunately, these are only available with enclosed auto transport. 

Multiple-vehicle shipping

Choosing enclosed auto transport doesn’t mean you’re limited to one. Multiple-vehicle enclosed auto transport is also available.

Increased insurance coverage

Vehicles being shipped using an enclosed auto transport trailer are usually of a higher value than your standard car. If your car is worth more than $50,000, you should choose covered vehicle transport because the insurance coverage is much higher.

The cost of shipping a vehicle

An essential factor for anyone looking to ship their car is the cost. Any self-respecting car transport company would be more than happy to provide you with a free and instant quote. You’re probably wondering how car transport rates are calculated. Let’s explain.

Several factors impact the cost of any auto transport service. They include:

  • Whether you choose open car transport or enclosed auto transport (enclosed is a little more expensive).
  • If your final destination is in a metropolitan or rural area.
  • The make, model, and year of the vehicle being transported.
  • Whether or not the car is running. 
  • Distance traveled.

The time of year also affects car shipping rates. As you might expect, around the Christmas and New Year periods are bound to be costly. The fourth of July and Thanksgiving can also be more expensive times to ship a car.

Let’s not forget the ‘snowbirds’ season. You might not have heard of it, but it’s a time of the year when many people choose to move south to enjoy the warmer weather. For example, in the fall, prices from the Midwest and North to the South tend to increase. Then, when the snowbirds return home in the spring, prices in the other direction tend to cost more. 

Finding the best car shipping rates

It’s only natural to want the best bang for your buck, but how do you go about finding the best door-to-door auto transport rates?

Auto-shipping rates often differ from company to company, even when you take all the factors mentioned above into consideration. To ensure you get the best possible price requires a certain amount of research. Google will be very helpful in finding auto transport companies. Once you’ve got a few companies to choose from, get in touch with each of them and request a quote. 

When comparing auto transport companies, check what’s included in the price. Will you have to pay extra for insurance coverage, for example? Also, check whether any discounts are being offered. For instance, military car shipping is one service that’s often available at a discounted rate. 

What other car shipping services might be available?

Open and enclosed auto transport aren’t the only options available if you want to ship a car from state to state, city to city, or coast to coast. Let’s give you a few examples. 

Express auto transport

If you’re on a tight schedule and can’t wait for the standard 5 to 8 days for a pick-up, express auto transport is an option, although it will cost a little extra. With express auto transport, a pick-up can be arranged with a window of between 24 and 48 hours after the reservation has been made.

Guaranteed pick-up service

So many variables come into play when organizing auto transport. Making guarantees is a challenge, to say the least. It is, however, possible with guaranteed pick-up service. Not all companies offer this service, but those that do, guarantee to make your booking with a 24-hour pick-up window.   

Door-to-door car transport       

Not so very long ago, terminal to terminal transport was the only option if you needed to transport a vehicle. Nowadays, companies offer a door-to-door auto transport service. Pick-ups and deliveries are made as close to your chosen location as is safe and legal to do so. It might be outside your home, your place of work, in a shopping mall, a parking lot around the corner, or anywhere else of your choosing. 

Cross country car shipping

If you’re the kind of person who likes to do their shopping online, you might be wondering whether buying a car online is an option. After all, how would you go about getting it home? Using a cross country car shipping service it’s possible, and it’s not as complicated or expensive as you might think. 

If you want to know anything else about auto transport services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 

For the latest prices, use our online instant quote calculator.


FAQs about car transport trailers

What are the different types of car transport trailers available?

As this post has explained, the two main types of transport trailers for auto transport are open car transport trailers and closed car transport trailers.  

What are the variations in open car transport trailers? 

Single-car “hotshot” trailers are commonly used for short distances. Single-level multi-car trailers and multi-level multi-car open transport trailers are also available for longer trips. These are usually the types of trailers used to transport cars by shipping companies as they are secure, stable, and allow for the best cost-efficiency to be passed along to you, the customer. 

Why choose open car transport?

Speed, efficiency, affordability, and relative environmental friendliness. 

Why choose closed car transport?

Extra protection for exotic vehicles or classic cars. Extra protection from weather and the elements. Potential increased insurance available for high-end cars.  

How do I get the best car shipping rates?

Research and compare different car shippers. 

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