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What is the difference between open and enclosed luxury car shipping?

Published by Joe Webster.

What is the difference between open and enclosed luxury car shipping?

When it comes to transporting a luxury vehicle, the choice between open and enclosed shipping methods is crucial. Each method offers different benefits and risks, making the decision important for the safety and preservation of your car. This article dives into the details of open and enclosed luxury car shipping, helping you understand which option best fits your needs and ensures your vehicle arrives in pristine condition.

Open car shipping and enclosed car shipping are the two primary methods used for transporting vehicles. Open car shipping typically involves transporting your vehicle on an open trailer, exposed to the elements. This method is more common and often more economical than its counterpart. In contrast, enclosed car shipping uses a fully covered trailer, providing maximum protection against weather, road debris, and other external factors.

Here’s a quick overview of the key differences:

FeatureOpen Car ShippingEnclosed Car Shipping
Protection from elementsMinimalMaximum
AvailabilityCommonLess common
Suitability for luxury carsLess recommendedHighly recommended

Open Luxury Car Shipping Explained

What is Open Car Shipping?

Open car shipping is a method where vehicles are transported on large trailers without any sidewalls or a roof. This leaves the vehicles exposed to the environment during transit. Typically, these open trailers can accommodate multiple vehicles at a time, making it a cost-efficient option. It’s the same kind of transport seen on highways carrying multiple cars, often new, to dealerships.

Advantages of Open Car Shipping

The most significant advantage of open car shipping is cost. Because carriers can transport several vehicles simultaneously, the cost per vehicle is reduced, making this a budget-friendly option for many car owners. Additionally, due to its popularity, open car shipping offers flexible scheduling with more frequent departures and a wide availability of service routes.

Disadvantages of Open Car Shipping for Luxury Cars

However, the major downside to open car shipping, especially for luxury cars, is the exposure to environmental elements. Vehicles are susceptible to weather conditions such as rain, snow, and extreme sunlight, as well as road debris like dust and rocks. For high-value vehicles, this exposure can lead to significant wear and tear, potentially devaluing the car and necessitating costly clean-up or repairs post-transport.

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Enclosed Luxury Car Shipping Explained

What is Enclosed Car Shipping?

Enclosed car shipping, or enclosed auto transport, involves transporting vehicles within a fully enclosed trailer. This method offers the highest level of protection as the vehicles are shielded from any outdoor elements. Enclosed car carriers are typically equipped with advanced security features, which makes them ideal for high-value, luxury, exotic, or antique vehicles that require extra care.

Advantages of Enclosed Car Shipping

The primary benefit of using enclosed car shipping is the protection it offers. Your vehicle is guarded against all external elements, from harsh weather to road debris. This method also tends to provide better security, reducing the risk of theft or vandalism during transit. Although it comes at a higher price, the peace of mind and reduced risk of damage can make it a worthwhile investment for shipping luxury cars.

Disadvantages of Enclosed Car Shipping

The main drawback of enclosed car shipping is the cost. It is significantly more expensive than open car shipping due to the specialized equipment and service it provides. Additionally, because fewer cars are transported at a time and there is less demand for this service, finding available slots and scheduling can be more challenging than with open shipping.

These initial sections of the article introduce and break down the key aspects and considerations of open and enclosed luxury car shipping, providing a solid foundation for understanding the best transport options for luxury vehicles.


Comparing Costs and Insurance Options

Cost Comparison Between Open and Enclosed Shipping

The cost of transporting a vehicle can vary greatly between open and enclosed shipping methods. Generally, enclosed auto shipping can cost anywhere from 50% to 100% more than open car shipping. This higher cost reflects the additional protection and reduced risk associated with enclosed car transport, making it a preferred option for high-value vehicles.

Factors that influence the pricing of both methods include the distance of transport, the make and model of the vehicle, the time of year, and the current fuel prices. For instance, shipping a luxury car across the country in an enclosed trailer will naturally cost more than a shorter trip in an open trailer.

Insurance Considerations and Protections

When it comes to insurance, both shipping methods typically offer basic coverage. However, enclosed car transport often includes more comprehensive insurance due to the higher value of vehicles being transported. This coverage is crucial as it provides financial protection against any unlikely damage that might occur during transport.

Vehicle owners are advised to discuss all insurance details before finalizing their shipping arrangements. It’s important to understand what is covered by the carrier’s insurance and what might need additional coverage. For added peace of mind, vehicle owners can opt to purchase supplemental insurance to cover any gaps, ensuring their luxury car is fully protected throughout its journey.

Choosing the Right Shipping Option for Your Luxury Car

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Shipping Method

Selecting the right shipping method for your luxury car involves several considerations. The value of the vehicle is perhaps the most significant factor; more expensive or rare cars often warrant the additional protection offered by enclosed transport. Additionally, consider the sentimental value of your vehicle. If the car is a treasured asset, choosing enclosed shipping can safeguard against any emotional and financial loss.

The route and distance of the transport also play critical roles. Longer distances typically benefit from the security and protection of enclosed trailers, especially when traveling through areas with harsh weather conditions or high traffic.

Tips for Choosing Between Open and Enclosed Shipping

  • Assess Your Needs: Reflect on your vehicle’s value, both monetary and sentimental. Evaluate how much risk you are willing to accept in terms of potential exposure to elements and handling.
  • Consult Professionals: Speak with shipping professionals who can offer insights and advice based on your specific circumstances. They can provide details on the benefits of enclosed shipping versus open shipping for your route and vehicle type.
  • Read Reviews and Testimonials: Look at what other luxury car owners have experienced with both shipping types. Their reviews can offer real-world insights that help you make a more informed decision.
  • Compare Quotes: Obtain quotes for both open and enclosed transport from several carriers. This will give you a better understanding of the cost differences and what services each option offers.

By carefully weighing these factors and following these tips, you can ensure that you choose the best shipping method for your luxury car, balancing cost, protection, and peace of mind.



Choosing the right car shipping method for your luxury vehicle is crucial for ensuring its safety and maintaining its condition. Open and enclosed car shipping each have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice largely depends on individual needs and circumstances.

To recap, open car shipping is more cost-effective and offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling, but it does not provide the same level of protection as enclosed shipping. Enclosed trailers offer superior protection from environmental elements, security from theft, and peace of mind, making them the preferred option for shipping high-value luxury cars.

When selecting a shipping method, consider the value of your car, both financially and sentimentally, the distance it needs to travel, and your personal risk tolerance. Consulting with a reputable car shipping company can also help guide you in choosing the best option tailored to your specific requirements.

By understanding the benefits and limitations of both open and enclosed car shipping, you can make a well-informed decision that ensures your luxury vehicle arrives at its destination safely and in perfect condition.

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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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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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