When booking with a car transport company, you will most likely have the option of choosing between enclosed car shipping and open car shipping – but which is the best option for your needs? This article will explain the costs and services to think about when looking at enclosed vs. open car shipping.

Both enclosed and open carriers are both commonly used by the best car shipping companies, and we have reviewed the country’s top-rated auto transport brokers based on cost, service, and customer experience. We recommend that you take the time to get a free, no-obligation quote from a few providers below.

Difference Between Open and Enclosed Car Shipping

Open car shipping, or open auto transport, is a commonly used method for vehicle transport that is either “out in the open” or in a multicar trailer without an exterior covering. This shipping style can accommodate up to 10 vehicles at once, though this often depends on:

  • Car size
  • Car weight
  • Demand

Compared to enclosed car shipping, open car shipping is far less expensive, as more cars can be transported at once.

Enclosed car shipping, or enclosed auto transport, is a method used for vehicles that need protection inside an enclosed trailer. Enclosed trailers are smaller and can’t accommodate as many cars as an open trailer – on average, only 2-3 cars can be transported at once. Enclosed auto transport carriers tend to cost double that of open carriers, so this shipping method is less popular among consumers unless they own luxury cars that need more security.

There are more options for open car carriers than enclosed carriers among auto transport brokers, so those considering how to ship a car with enclosed vs. open car shipping gravitate toward the latter. The open car shipping method is also quicker, as open car trailers are more common than enclosed car carriers and require less stops during transport.

Open vs Enclosed Car Shipping Comparison

If you’re still trying to understand these two transport types, you should take the time to consider the pros and cons of enclosed vs. open car shipping. There are many aspects of each method that can either positively or negatively impact your experience, so it’s important to make yourself aware of everything upfront before making a decision.

While enclosed shipping may be the best option for valuable cars, it can be quite expensive and usually takes longer to transport than open shipping.

Enclosed Pros and Cons

Pros Provides security and protection during transport Opens up access to carriers that are more experienced with high-end vehicles Removes the potential of damages due to flying road debris or bad weather
Cons Costs twice the amount of open car shipping Less fuel-efficient Car transport can take longer

Open car shipping is a more common method and is less expensive, but you may worry about your vehicle being exposed to weather elements. Your car may also be very dirty upon arrival, as an open carrier doesn’t protect the car’s exterior from dirt or debris.

Open Pros and Cons

Pros Faster and more affordable Fuel-efficient More open transport options, making it easier to book your preferred shipping date and time
Cons No protection against debris or bad weather conditions Less security and protection for expensive vehicles

How Much Is Enclosed Vs. Open Car Shipping?

The average quote for enclosed car shipping ranges between $1,000 and $2,000, while open transport usually costs between $500 and $1,000. You will pay anywhere from 50 to 100 percent more per mile for enclosed vs. open car shipping.

Regardless of which shipping method you choose, there are a variety of factors that can affect the final price of your car shipment. These include:

  • Distance: Long-distance transport generally costs less per mile but is more expensive overall.
  • Destination: Popular shipment locations may be cheaper.
  • Type of vehicle, make, and model: Expensive and new cars tend to cost more to ship.
  • Shipment type: Terminal-to-terminal is typically cheaper than door-to-door shipping.
  • Condition of vehicle: Operable vehicles cost far less to move.

Enclosed car transport, of course, also bumps the price up. This is to be expected. The shipping method offers peace of mind for customers who need their vehicle to arrive in perfect condition. While it may not be the best method for cheap car shipping, there are situations when you should choose enclosed over open car shipping.

Should I Ship My Car Open Or Enclosed?

Even though open car shipping is a faster and cheaper way to transport your vehicle, it’s not always your best option. Realize that your vehicle will be exposed to weather conditions with open transport and won’t be protected from road debris. For owners of luxury vehicles, classic cars, and sports cars, this is something you should consider.

If you’re trying to choose between enclosed vs. open car shipping, balance your vehicle’s value with enclosed transport’s higher price tag. Since fewer cars can be moved at once, enclosed transport will be more expensive than open car shipping. Also, open-air trailers tend to require less fuel than enclosed transport trailers, so fuel costs for enclosed car shipping will increase your car shipping cost even more.

The car transport option you choose depends on a number of factors, and taking the time to understand the pros and cons of each will help you determine which would be best for your auto transportation needs.

Enclosed Vs. Open Car Shipping: Conclusion

In this review, we talked about all the differences between open and enclosed car shipping. If you’ve made your decision on which is better for you, take a look at some of the best car shipping providers:

Best Companies For Enclosed And Open Car Shipping

We reviewed some of the most reputable auto transport companies for enclosed vs. open car shipping and ranked them based on overall cost, quality, and customer experience.

Each company has thousands of positive reviews from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot, and all provide top-rated service for both enclosed and open car shipping. We have also written reviews based on customer feedback and experiences, which are listed below.

The chart shows our ratings for each company based on cost, service standards, and customer satisfaction.

Car Shipping CompanyOverall Star RatingCost RatingService RatingCustomer Experience Rating
Montway Auto Transport4.
Sherpa Auto Transport4.

To learn even more, you can get free, customized car shipping quotes online from these recommended providers below.


Open Vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about open and enclosed car shipping: