Should I Ship my Vehicle Open or Enclosed?

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Should I Ship my Vehicle Open or Enclosed?
Should I Ship my Vehicle Open or Enclosed?

Should I Ship my Vehicle Open or Enclosed?

The following article will explain the difference between enclosed and open carriers, when and why should you use each one and what is the difference in price.

Open Auto Shipping

Open auto shipping is the most common way to transport vehicles across country. Open carriers are available for all vehicles, unless they have suffered significant modifications. Regardless if your vehicle is too small or too tall, it can still be transported this way, though the cost may be higher.

You can ship a Porsche, as well as a Honda with an open carrier. The downside of this mode of transportation lies in exposing the vehicle to rain, wind, sun, snow, as well as road debris and dust. This means your vehicle may arrive with some damage to its paint or other small problems. Because of this, open carrier transportation is much cheaper than the alternative.

This service is also more efficient and available. The number of open carriers is far greater than the one for enclosed ones, meaning you will find open transportation for your vehicle much easier. It’s because of this their price is lower, and it is known as the standard way to transport vehicles. 90% of all auto shippers use open carriers. This is also because just one open carrier can transport up to 10 vehicles at a time.

There are 3 types of open carriers which transport vehicles:

  1. Trailers with a single level;
  2. Trailers with 2 levels;
  3. Dully trucks, which carry a single vehicle using a tow trailer.
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Enclosed Auto Shipping

Auto transportation using an enclosed trailer is also known as covered shipping. Such carriers are often picked for sports, high end, classic and luxury vehicles. This is because the vehicles are protected from road and weather elements. Enclosed transportation can be up to twice as expensive as the open alternative.

Carriers typically come in few varieties as far as their structure is concerned. There are hard sided and soft sided trailers, multi-car, single or 2 car trailers. Multi-car trailers are the cheapest among this type of carriers, and can transport up to 7 cars at a time. 2 car and single trailers are usually used for speedy deliveries or special vehicles, making them the most expensive to acquire.

The reasons for enclosed auto transportation’s higher price are as follows:

  1. Trailer prices: Trailers for this kind of auto transportation come at a higher price, meaning truck drivers will often pick the alternative instead. Part of the reason for their higher price is their hydraulic ramps which hold your vehicle horizontal and firmly in place when loading. Thanks to these ramps, you can easily load a clearance low ground vehicle.
  2. Availability: Availability is another major factor causing enclosed auto shipping prices to rise. Only 10% of auto carriers currently on the market are enclosed. Because of this, the demand for them as well as the waiting time for one to become available is higher, causing prices to inflate as well.
  3. Efficiency: The number of cars an enclosed vehicle carrier can fit is limited, and often lower than what open carriers can transport. This makes them less efficient, and therefore more costly. At most, you can have your car shipped with up to 7 other cars inside, while open trailers can carry up to 10.
  4. Value: Unlike the standard service of open shipping, enclosed transportation is much more intimate. The cars are safer, and the drivers tend to be more professional as well. They are usually more experienced in transporting expensive vehicles and go as far as wearing white gloves during shipments, to avoid dirtying the car.

Enclosed carriers are ideal when money is not a problem. This does not mean that open carriers are unsafe. Hundreds of vehicles are successfully transported with open carriers each day. The choice comes down to your preference and budget.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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