Open vs Enclosed Car Shipping: Find which Option is Right For You

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Car shipping is not as simple as carrying a suitcase on a plane. It comes with certain terms, technicalities, and types, all of which have their own effects on automotive transport. This is why it’s important that you choose the right method for your needs.

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In this article, we’re going to focus our discussion around Open vs Enclosed Car Shipping. These are your main choices when it comes to car transport methods. We’ll talk about their differences, respective pros and cons, and all the other things that you will need to know.

Difference between Open and Enclosed Auto Transport

Despite being contrasting car shipping methods, open and enclosed auto transport still have some similarities. Both of the deliveries are initiated by a truck and they are compatible with most car models.

The main difference between open and enclosed auto transport, is how they are placed in a shipping truck. With open transport your car is delivered through open-air trailers, while with the enclosed transport, your car is shipped in a fully enclosed transport vehicle. However, note that their differences are much more than their physical attributes.

Open transport is also known as a method that leaves vehicles downright visible in an open area. Cars are exposed to natural elements like wind, sunlight, and even light rain because the trailer doesn’t come with any covering or protective exteriors. Open auto shipping delivers automotive just as it is through a multi-level placement. This feature makes it more flexible since it is compatible with most car models and sizes. The method is cheaper because car shipping companies can transport more cars at the same time.

You can learn more about open auto transport services here.

Enclosed transport keeping a vehicle “trapped” in a closed space rather than exposing it. The trailer that will transport the automotive is fully equipped with ceilings, walls, sturdy flooring, and all the other necessary external protection.

This type of auto transport can be a lot more expensive and may also take more time since three to five cars would be the most in one truck. It can’t deliver as many vehicles as open auto transport, nor will it be compatible with all models. Some brokers reserve this for cases when an auto is too heavy for open transport.

Nevertheless, this is usually the more common choice for safety-focused car owners. Take the collectors of vintage cars, for instance. Those with newly-bought cars may also prefer this over the former method.

You can learn more about enclosed auto transport services here.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Car Shipping Method

Since the choice between enclosed vs. open trailers comes with differing qualities and characteristics, expect that each method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. This is most especially when we look at aspects like the price, delivery time, and safety.

Pros and Cons of Each Car Shipping Method
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For a better overview, refer to the following:


At present, the average price for a 300-mile open transport would be $300 and $500 for 500 miles. On the other hand, enclosed transport can amount to $900 to $1,500, respectively. This means that open car shipping is much more budget-friendly compared to enclosed transport.

There are a lot of reasons behind this. First, the truck that will transport your car is significantly lighter and thus, will need less fuel compared to heavier enclosed trailers. Technically, you will also be “sharing” the payment with a lot of other auto owners who chose open shipping as their primary auto transport method.

Of course, the lack of safety-related properties also plays a part in an open transport’s lower price range. Since enclosed car shipping offers a relatively higher quality of delivery, it’s understandable why it can have such high rates.

Note that this won’t always be the case. Things like the distance, carrier type, car model, and requirements will still affect the total price of your chosen service. Make sure to assess these to land on the more cost-efficient choice rather than just the cheaper ones.

Winner: Open Car Shipping

Delivery time:

Open car shipping can take around 5 to 7 days for a 300-mile route and 7 to 10 days for a 500-mile course. On the flip side, enclosed car shipping take around 3 to 5 days for a 300-mile and 4 to 7 days for a 500-mile course.

Since an open auto transport usually has more cars to deliver, expect that it will need to take a longer route. This does not yet include reruns for possible missed auto-deliveries. That said, it’s evident that this will take a longer time before it can bring your car to you.

For reference, an enclosed auto transport will evidently take a shorter time since most trailers used in the process can only bring 3 to 5 cars. This means shorter reroutes and, thus, less waiting time.

Keep in mind that there are some cases where the former can take a shorter delivery time despite the distance. This happens when there is high demand for enclosed car shipping despite the few trailers designated for the process.

Winner: Enclosed Car Shipping


You may have already guessed it, but enclosed car shipping ranks first when we talk about your car’s safety. Since the transport vehicle is enclosed, your car is protected from all sorts of possible events that could happen outside. If there’s bad weather, your car is protected. Enclosed car shipping also avoid road debris from getting into your car, unlike the open car shipping option. 

Because of the numerous security features installed in an enclosed trailer, your car will surely have a higher chance of staying safe throughout the delivery period. You won’t have to worry about extreme heat, unforeseen rain, and other weather conditions to take a toll on your auto’s condition. Dirt and other external environmental factors won’t also be able to stick on its surfaces that easily.

When you compare it to open car shipping that basically exposes your vehicle to everything throughout the ride, enclosed auto transport will surely be able to provide you with a better guarantee.

Note that this doesn’t mean that open transport is not safe or will put your car in unnecessary danger. This will still depend on the shipping service and the quality that the brokers offer. That said, make sure to take a thorough look at this factor before hiring a courier to avoid vehicular issues.

Winner: Enclosed Car Shipping

Is it Better to Ship Cars Through Open or Enclosed?

If you’re looking for a cost-efficient transportation service for your basic auto needs, then it may be a better choice to opt for an open carrier.

However, if you have the budget and you want to make sure that your very special vehicle stays safe and issue-free, then enclosed transport will be better for your needs. Basically, the key will lie in your budget and priorities when shipping your car.

When to Ship with Open Car Carrier

Here are some instances when you should consider availing of an open car carrier:

  • Your car is a regular model used for everyday activities
  • You want to save money on car shipping costs
  • You don’t mind waiting for more or less than a week for your auto to arrive

Get a free quote for your open car transport service.

When to Use Enclosed Auto Transport

If you have higher requirements, then enclosed auto transport will offer a lot more pros. Here are some instances when the shipping method will be the better choice between the two:

  • You own a vintage or luxury car
  • You want to avail of the highest level of safety for your car’s transportation services
  • You need your car to arrive as soon as possible

Get a free quote for your enclosed auto transport service.


There’s actually no definite answer on which will be better between Open vs Enclosed Auto Transport. There are variable you need to consider so that you can find the answer to the main question of which one you should choose.

The right choice for you will depend on factors like your car type, target location, and shipping and requirements. Thus, it’s just right that you assess your needs first before fully committing to an auto transport method.

Alternatively, you can always ask shipping and transport experts for advice if you have zero ideas about which type of car shipping will suit you best. They will be qualified enough to give you an overview of what to expect from each process. Not only that, but you can also expect to be able to get a clear price rate through free quotes and well-planned packages.

Contact us for a quote or
call now at (630) 415-1881
Contact us for a quote or
call now at (630) 415-1881
Contact us for a quote or
call now at (630) 415-1881