Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping

There are two common kinds of car shipping in the auto transport industry. One is open transport, (also known as open carrier or open-air transport) and the other is enclosed car shipping (also known as covered car shipping or enclosed car transport) for your vehicle.

What is Open Car Shipping?

Open car transport is the most common and cost effective method for shipping a car. It utilizes an open-air trailer that can accommodate up to 10 cars at once, allowing for considerable savings on delivery expenses.

During transit, your vehicle is being shipped "out in the open", which means it is exposed to the elements.

However, it is very safe for most vehicles. Open car shipping is best suited for vehicles that are in good condition. And don't think that just because you didn't choose enclosed auto transport does it mean your car will absolutely see some kind of damage.

Open car shipping does have a small risk of scratches or damage that is minimal. It is possible for the occasional rock chip or nicks and scratches along the way. However, it's not the usual outcome.

enclosed truck transport in parking lot

What is Enclosed Car Transport ?

With enclosed car shipping you are offered additional protection from the elements while traveling. It utilizes a fully enclosed interior that guards your car against dust, dirt, weather exposure, and even prying eyes.

Enclosed car shipping is the safest way to ship a car, and it ensures that your special vehicle arrives in its original condition.

Enclosed trailers come in different shapes and sizes. There are the larger 6-8 car enclosed carriers and there are also single car enclosed trucks.

It is more expensive to ship enclosed rather than open car transport. The difference is usually between 40-60% more. So, it may not be suitable for all budgets.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car with Enclosed Transport?

The quote for transporting your vehicle in an enclosed trailer will likely go up by 40-60% higher for this method.

You can easily use our car shipping calculator to get yourself a free instant estimate which will take this into account. Just select the enclosed trailer method when putting in the details on the quoter.

Should I Ship My Car with Open or Enclosed Trailers?

Many opt for open car shipping due to its affordability and the fact that not all vehicles actually need the added layer of protection that comes with enclosed transport. The availability ofopen carriers also makes it very appealing, as this means faster shipping customers like you.

The main drawback of using open transport is the exposure of your vehicle to elements and road debris. Although damage claims are uncommon, they can occur. At most, your vehicle might be dropped off needing a quick wash, which is a minor inconvenience.

Enclosed car shipping, on the other hand, shields your vehicle completely from the outside world, making it perfect for shipping luxury cars, high-value exotics or classic cars that you absolutely want to protect from any potential damage.

However, enclosed shipping comes at a higher cost, typically about 40%-60% more than open shipping, and can take a little longer due to the lesser availability of enclosed carriers.

For regular, daily-driver vehicle shipping, open transport often comes out winning as the preferred choice, as it offers the quicker and more cost-effective service. Ultimately, the decision between open and enclosed shipping is up to the vehicle owner and what they want, regardless of the vehicles monetary value. Keep in mind however, that some open trailer carriers do not have enough insurance for high value cars, so verify insurance carefully.

No matter which option you decide on, rest assured that your car will arrive in its original condition at its destination.

Choosing the Right Auto Transport Company

Choosing the right auto transport company is step one before anything else. Regardless of whether open auto transport or enclosed auto transport, third party reviews are ultimately the most important first step in getting your vehicle shipped. Like those received in multitudes with NX.

The auto transport companies that make your shortlist for both open air and enclosed shipping should be rated like we are and at minimum above 4 stars on platforms like Google or Transport Reviews.

Always look at the comments for each car shipping company. Look at the negative reviews and focus on reports of damage or lack of communication on both open car shipping and enclosed car shipping.

In Conclusion

Open air auto transport offers cost savings but may cause minor scratches on the vehicle, while enclosed car shipping provides extra protection from debris and theft.

Ultimately, no matter which option you choose, open air car shipping or enclosed auto transport, National Express will deliver your car safe and sound.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.