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How to choose between enclosed and open air auto transport in Los Angeles?

Published by Joe Webster.

How to choose between enclosed and open air auto transport in Los Angeles?

In the bustling city of Los Angeles, where the auto industry plays a pivotal role, choosing the right auto transport service—whether enclosed or open air—becomes crucial. If you're gearing up for a car show or planning a relocation across California, the decision on how to ship your car can significantly impact your experience. Enclosed auto transport offers a higher level of protection and security for your vehicle, shielding it from the elements and road debris. This makes it an ideal choice for luxury, classic, or high-value automobiles. On the other hand, open air auto transport is generally more economical and is a good fit for standard vehicles, especially if budget is a primary concern. In Los Angeles, a city known for its vast array of car shipping services, selecting the best auto transport company requires considering these factors to ensure your vehicle’s safety and your peace of mind during its journey.


What is Enclosed Auto Transport?

Enclosed auto transport refers to a method where vehicles are shipped within a fully covered trailer. This type of transport provides a secure, enclosed space for vehicles, protecting them from external elements such as dirt, dust, rain, and road debris. It is often the preferred choice for transporting high-value, luxury, or vintage vehicles that require extra protection.

Advantages of Enclosed Auto Transport

The primary advantage of enclosed car shipping is the superior protection it offers. Vehicles are shielded from all weather conditions and road hazards, minimizing the risk of damage during transit. Moreover, enclosed transport provides added security against theft and vandalism, which is especially important in a busy metropolis like Los Angeles. The privacy it offers ensures that high-value vehicles are discreetly transported without drawing attention.

Common Uses of Enclosed Transport in Los Angeles Enclosed transport is commonly used in Los Angeles for several scenarios:

  • Transporting Classic and Luxury Cars: Owners of classic cars, sports cars, and luxury vehicles often use enclosed transport to preserve their car’s pristine condition.
  • Auto Shows and Auctions: Los Angeles hosts numerous prestigious auto shows and auctions where collectors and enthusiasts showcase their valuable vehicles. Enclosed transport is crucial here to ensure that these cars arrive in show-ready condition.
  • Celebrity and High-Profile Moves: Given LA’s status as a hub for entertainment industry professionals, enclosed auto transport is frequently chosen for privacy and protection of vehicles owned by celebrities.

What is Open Air Auto Transport?

Open air auto transport involves shipping vehicles on an exposed trailer or truck. This method does not provide a cover or sides, leaving the vehicles visible and exposed to the environment during their journey. It's a commonly used method for transporting cars due to its simplicity and efficiency. Open carriers, which are often seen transporting multiple vehicles at once, are a familiar sight on highways.

The benefits of choosing open air transport can be succinctly summarized as follows:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Open air transport is the most economical option available, making it highly appealing for a broad spectrum of customers. By accommodating more vehicles per journey compared to enclosed trailers, the cost per vehicle is significantly reduced.
  • Increased Availability: Open carriers are more prevalent than their enclosed counterparts, leading to greater availability. This availability allows for more flexible scheduling options, accommodating customers' varying timelines.
  • Visibility of Vehicles: Vehicles transported via open air carriers are visible throughout the journey. This feature enables easier and more thorough inspections upon delivery, ensuring any transport-related damages can be promptly identified and documented.

These points collectively highlight why open air transport is a favored choice, especially when cost, flexibility, and vehicle safety inspections are prioritized.

Why Open Air Transport is Popular in LA

In Los Angeles, the popularity of open air transport can be attributed to several factors:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: In a city where costs can pile up quickly, choosing a more affordable auto transport option is attractive to many residents.
  • Versatility: Open air transport is suitable for a wide variety of vehicles. Regular cars, SUVs, and even small boats or motorcycles are often seen on open carriers, making it a versatile choice for Los Angeles’ diverse transport needs.
  • Convenience: The greater availability of open transport services in LA means quicker and more convenient scheduling for customers needing timely vehicle transport.

Open air auto transport is a reliable and efficient choice for many vehicle owners in Los Angeles. The openness of the transport method does not mean a compromise in service quality but rather offers a practical and budget-friendly solution for everyday transport needs. Whether it’s moving a family car, an SUV, or even lighter recreational vehicles, open air carriers provide an essential service that balances cost, convenience, and accessibility for the vibrant city of Los Angeles.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Auto Transport

When choosing an auto transport option, several critical factors must be considered to ensure that your vehicle's specific needs are met. Here’s a list of important considerations:

  • Understanding Your Vehicle's Needs: Evaluate whether your car requires special handling. For instance, luxury cars, sports cars, and classic cars might need enclosed transportation to protect against road debris and environmental factors.
  • Assessing the Value of Your Car: The higher the value of your vehicle, the more you might lean towards using enclosed transportation services. Luxury vehicles and valuable cars benefit from added protection against potential damages that can occur during transport.
  • Weather and Environmental Considerations in Los Angeles: Given the city's variable climate, considering how weather could impact your vehicle during transport is crucial. Open trailers expose vehicles to the elements, making enclosed options preferable during adverse weather conditions.
  • Visibility and Accessibility of Drop-off Locations: Ensure the transport company offers convenient drop-off locations and transparent transportation processes. This is particularly important in bustling areas like Los Angeles.
  • Evaluating the Transportation Service: Choose a shipping company that has a robust track record of safely transporting cars. Whether you decide to ship a car using open car shipping or enclosed methods, the reliability of the transport company should be a top priority.
  • Frequency of Shipping and Handling: If your vehicle needs to be shipped frequently, as with car manufacturers or dealers, open air transport can be a cost-effective solution. However, for single transports of high-value vehicles, more secure options might be justified.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right vehicle transportation service that aligns with your needs, ensuring your car arrives at its destination safely and in pristine condition.

Comparative Analysis: Enclosed vs. Open Air

When comparing enclosed and open air auto transport options, a side-by-side evaluation can be extremely helpful to illustrate the differences and aid in making an informed decision. Below is a detailed comparison chart including key factors such as cost, time, security, and suitability for various vehicle types:

FactorEnclosed Auto TransportOpen Air Auto Transport
CostGenerally more expensive due to additional protection.More economical; costs less due to higher capacity and fewer amenities.
TimeMay take longer to schedule due to less availability.Often quicker to arrange because of higher availability.
SecurityOffers high security and protection from environmental elements and potential theft.Less secure; vehicles are exposed to weather and potential road debris.
Suitability for Vehicle TypesBest suited for luxury vehicles, classic cars, sports cars, or any high-value or delicate vehicles.Ideal for standard vehicles, durable cars, or when budget is a higher priority than extra protection.
Protection from ElementsComplete protection from weather, dirt, and road debris.No protection from environmental elements; vehicles are exposed.
PrivacyHigh privacy, as vehicles are not visible to the public during transit.No privacy; vehicles are visible and more accessible throughout transit.

Pros and Cons of Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed auto transport provides an elevated level of protection and security, making it a preferred choice for transporting high-value vehicles in Los Angeles. Here are the detailed advantages and potential drawbacks to consider:

Advantages of Enclosed Auto Transport

  • Protection from the Elements: Vehicles are completely shielded from weather conditions such as rain, sun, and wind, as well as road debris. This is particularly advantageous in Los Angeles where weather can change unexpectedly.
  • Increased Security: Enclosed carriers offer enhanced security features. Vehicles are not visible to the public, reducing risks of theft or vandalism.
  • Preservation of Vehicle Condition: Ideal for luxury cars, classic cars, or sports cars that need to maintain pristine condition. The controlled environment prevents potential damage, ensuring the vehicle arrives in showroom condition.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Higher Cost: Enclosed auto transport is typically more expensive than open air options due to the specialized service and reduced capacity of enclosed carriers.
  • Limited Availability: Fewer enclosed carriers are available, which can lead to longer wait times for service arrangement.
  • Less Flexibility: Due to the precise scheduling and routing required for enclosed transport, there may be less flexibility in terms of pickup and delivery times compared to open air transport.

Pros and Cons of Open Air Auto Transport

Open air auto transport is a popular and economical choice for many vehicle owners in Los Angeles. Here's a look at its key benefits and possible disadvantages:

Key Benefits

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Open air transport is generally less expensive than enclosed transport. It's more cost-efficient, especially for standard vehicle models.
  • Greater Availability: There are more open carriers available, which often translates into quicker and more flexible scheduling options.
  • Easy Inspection: The open nature of the transport allows for easy monitoring and inspection of the vehicle upon delivery, ensuring any damages are quickly noticed and addressed.

Possible Disadvantages

  • Exposure to Elements: Vehicles are exposed to environmental factors such as sun, rain, and road debris. This can be a concern for those transporting high-value or delicate vehicles.
  • Less Security: The vehicles are more vulnerable to theft and vandalism since they are visible and accessible throughout the transport process.
  • Potential for Cosmetic Damage: Although rare, the open exposure means there is a slightly higher risk of cosmetic damages from road debris or weather during the transit.

These pros and cons highlight the considerations that must be weighed when choosing between enclosed and open air auto transport in Los Angeles. Each option offers distinct benefits and drawbacks, making it important to align the choice with your specific vehicle needs and circumstances.

How to Choose: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Evaluate the Importance of Vehicle Protection

Choosing the right auto transport depends significantly on the level of protection your vehicle requires. For high-value or vintage cars, an enclosed carrier is preferred. These carriers shield the vehicle from external elements and maintain privacy. Enclosed trailers are especially suitable for vehicles that need to be kept in pristine condition throughout the entire process of shipping your car. Consider whether your vehicle’s finish could be adversely affected by environmental factors such as sun, rain, or road debris, and choose an enclosed option if protection is a priority.

Step 2: Consider Your Budget

When selecting a shipping service, budget plays a crucial role. Open carriers typically offer a more reasonable cost compared to enclosed car carriers. However, the lower price point does come with increased exposure to potential damages. Evaluate your financial flexibility and determine if the savings with an open carrier justify the potential risk to your vehicle, especially if it's not an exceptionally high-value vehicle type. Remember, the cheapest option isn't always the best option if it compromises the safety and integrity of your car.

Step 3: Think About Transport Speed

The need for speed in transporting your vehicle can influence whether you choose open or enclosed transport. Open carriers generally provide more expedited services due to their higher availability and flexibility in routes and scheduling. If you need to ship your car quickly to or from Los Angeles and are less concerned about exposure to elements, an open carrier might be the right choice. Enclosed carriers might take longer to schedule but are worth the wait for valuable cars needing protection.

Step 4: Reflect on Weather and Environmental Factors

Los Angeles’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes that might affect your vehicle during transport. If you opt for an open carrier, consider seasonal variations—like the rainy season—which might expose your vehicle to moisture and debris. For those in coastal areas or places with harsh weather conditions, an enclosed trailer offers peace of mind by safeguarding your car against environmental threats.


What to Expect From Auto Transport Services in Los Angeles

Auto transport services in Los Angeles offer a suite of features designed to cater to a diverse client base. Standard services typically include:

  • Door-to-Door Delivery: This convenient service ensures your vehicle is picked up and delivered to the exact locations you specify, eliminating the need for you to travel to distant drop-off or pick-up points.
  • Insurance Coverage: Comprehensive insurance coverage is standard, protecting your vehicle against any incidents during transit.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Many companies provide tracking options, allowing you to monitor your vehicle’s journey through various stages of the shipping process.
  • Professional Handling: Vehicles are handled by professional drivers and logistics personnel trained in the safe loading, unloading, and transportation of all types of vehicles.
  • Add-ons might include:
  • Expedited Shipping: For an additional cost, expedited services are available if you need your vehicle transported quickly.
  • Top Load Service: Ensuring your vehicle is placed on the top deck of an open carrier, minimizing exposure to road debris and leakage from other vehicles.

Los Angeles residents benefit from customized options that cater to the specific needs of the local environment and customer preferences, such as:

  • Enclosed Car Carriers: For high-end, luxury, or classic cars, enclosed carriers offer enhanced protection from the weather and road debris.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Given LA's busy lifestyle, transport services offer flexible pick-up and delivery schedules to accommodate even the busiest calendars.
  • Special Handling: Special services for oversized vehicles or those requiring unique care during transit, ensuring that every vehicle type is appropriately managed.


Choosing the right auto transport service in Los Angeles involves balancing cost, convenience, and the level of care your vehicle requires. Consider the type of vehicle you have, your budget constraints, and how quickly you need your vehicle transported. Reflect on the added benefits of each service, such as insurance and professional handling, which provide peace of mind throughout the transport process.

By understanding the typical features and customizable options available, you can make an informed decision that best fits your needs, ensuring your vehicle arrives safely and efficiently at its destination. Whether opting for the affordability of open air transport or the heightened protection of an enclosed carrier, the key is to choose a service that aligns with your specific requirements and expectations in Los Angeles's dynamic environment.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them... Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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