Many people have limited experience when it comes to the ins and outs of automobile shipping. My guess is if you’re reading this blog, then you’re likely in the midst of research to find the best car shipping company to work with.

If you’ve been conducting research for any length of time, you’ve likely also noticed that there are many factors to consider. Among the most important of these considerations?

The perennial question: Should I ship my car on an open auto transport or go with an enclosed auto transport hauler?

Before you can make a decision that you feel comfortable about, you must understand the pros and cons of each of these approaches to automobile moving.

After all, you get what you pay for, and open versus enclosed car haulers come with very different experiences. Here’s a full breakdown of both methods so you can find the best one based on your vehicle and transportation needs.

What Is Open Transport vs. Enclosed Transport?

Open and enclosed vehicle transport are both safe, effective, and efficient ways to professionally ship a car from one location to another. In short, open car shipping is executed with an open trailer that exposes your car to outside factors such as rain, wind, and dust.

On the other hand, enclosed car shipping is executed with a sheltered trailer that protects your car from such factors.

There are more differences to discuss between the two forms of shipping, so we’re here to give you the unbiased lowdown.

First, let’s take a look at the most common form of car transport -- open vehicle hauling.

What Is Open Car/Auto Transport?

Open car/auto transport relies on a lightweight, double-decker trailer. (These are common sights on many American roadways.) Because they’re so lightweight, they get better fuel efficiency. This means greater affordability for you as the customer.

Are Open Car Carriers Safe?

Compared to enclosed car transport, your car faces a higher level of risk during open car hauling. During open car transport, your vehicle will get exposed to the elements. The open trailers provide very little in the way of protection from weather and road debris. For many car owners, this proves an acceptable trade-off because it is the most common and affordable way to ship a car.

For those moving a daily driver, open auto transport is an expedient and cost-effective option. And in all honesty, it’s rare for significant damage to be incurred during open car shipping. If you’re looking to save money and ship a car with no fuss, it’s definitely in your best interest to choose open hauling over enclosed vehicle transport.

Before we delve deeper into the other side of the open vs. enclosed car shipping conundrum, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of open auto transport.

The Pros and Cons of Open Auto Transport

Is open auto transport right for your impending vehicle move? The answer to this question depends on many different factors. These factors include how much you want to spend, the value of the car getting moved, and how quickly you need it transported.


Make no mistake, open auto transport is, by far, the most common method for getting a car from one location to another. It’s an effective, practical, and relatively safe way to transport commuters and daily drivers.

In other words, vehicles that already get exposed to the elements and the wear and tear of the road regularly.


What do I mean? When your vehicle gets loaded on a trailer, you must remember that it’ll have no protection against:

  • Sun

  • Rain

  • Hail

  • Snow

  • Dust

  • Insects

  • Birds

  • Road grime

  • Gravel and rocks

These are all things that you've grown accustomed to every day you drive your automobile. If you don't have a problem with more of the same, then save yourself serious money by going the open carrier route. After all, it's how 90 percent of auto shippers roll.


Because of the popularity of this form of car hauling, you’ll also enjoy the best insurance coverage, the most affordable prices, and the pick of the litter when it comes to scheduling pickup and dropoff dates.

Reputable, well-established auto transportation companies that put their customers first will still take great care while moving your car. Their drivers are thoroughly trained to understand the value of the cargo they’re hauling.

What’s more, the cars will remain neatly strapped down to reduce the risk of mobility and vibrations in transit. Overall, open auto transport remains a highly reliable and effective option. One that will help you keep your vehicle shipping cost lower.

That said, for specialty vehicles, like exotic cars, antique cars, and classic cars, you'll want to consider opting for enclosed car transport instead.

Get a car shipping quote in seconds!

What Is Enclosed Car/Auto Transport?

Enclosed car/auto transport is less common than open shipping. It requires a personalized touch and extra care when it comes to handling vehicles. As a result, the service is more expensive.

When does enclosed auto shipping make sense? When you need to move a luxury, classic, or exotic car. Enclosed carriers usually transport no more than seven vehicles at a time.

Is Enclosed Car Transport Worth It?

For the most valuable and precious of vehicles, you can find companies that use one- to two-car enclosed vehicle transport trailers. Fewer vehicles during enclosed transport car shipping lead to a much more personalized service experience for you and your beloved vehicle.

If you’re the kind of car owner that spares no expense and you have a special car that’s worth the added attention, then the open vs. enclosed car shipping debate is no debate at all.

With all of this taken into account, let’s explore the pros and cons of enclosed car transport.

The Pros and Cons of Enclosed Auto Transport

Are you the proud owner of a Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster, a fully restored 1964 Aston Martin db5, or a 1939 Ford Deluxe? Then, the thought of exposing your beauty to the elements in an open carrier probably makes your skin crawl.

And with good reason! One-of-a-kind cars demand unique carrying options. That’s where enclosed auto transport comes into play.


Enclosed auto transport represents the ideal solution for moving custom and classic vehicles. Unlike an open carrier, your prized ride will never see the sun, much less the elements, with this option.

Vehicles get housed in a covered truck. As a result, fewer automobiles get transported at any given time. Most have a carrying capacity of about five units, so you don’t have to worry about your car getting lost in the mix, either.

The best shipping companies provide thorough training to their drivers. In other words, you can rest assured your driver is well aware of the value they’re hauling. They also have the experience to get it there safely.


Some people assume that they’ll get their vehicle more rapidly when they opt for an enclosed auto hauler. While you might get lucky, it’s more likely that shipping will take a bit longer.

Why? Because there are fewer enclosed car shipping transporters on America’s roadways. In turn, this makes them trickier to schedule.

You’ll also need to get ready for a bigger bill when it comes to going this route. After all, they transport fewer vehicles at a time, and so costs for fuel, the driver, travel, etc., get distributed among a much smaller circle of car owners.


That said, if your car’s like a child to you, then you won’t mind these extra expenses. Instead, you’ll rest assured your ride never gets exposed to weather, sun, grime, or debris.

Yes, it’s a posh form of car transport, but when you’ve got a highly expensive or even priceless vehicle to move, I wouldn’t recommend any other option.

The peace of mind you’ll enjoy, coupled with the safe arrival of your favorite hot rod, will make it well worth the added expense.

Is it Better to Ship a Car Open or Enclosed?

As we said before, it just depends on the car you're shipping and the car transport services you're looking for. Open car transport is great if you want efficient, affordable vehicle shipping services for a common passenger car or truck. Enclosed car transport gives you that special something more if you want added protection for a vintage or high-cost automobile.

If you’re unsure which service you want to use, feel free to contact one of our car shipping experts at any time. We’ll help you find the vehicle transportation services that’ll work best for you.

The Differences Between Open and Enclosed Car Shipping

When it comes to choosing between open auto transport and enclosed auto transport, the type of vehicle and the value of that vehicle remains paramount to your final decision.

For the vast majority of car owners, open auto transport represents a generally safe, reliable way to go. Of course, you must feel “okay” exposing your vehicle to the same types of elements you do when driving. And in 99.9 percent of cases dealing with daily drivers, that’s just fine.

However, if you’ve got an exotic, luxury, classic, or antique vehicle, don’t skimp when it comes to car hauling. You wouldn’t store an automobile of this caliber in the driveway. And you wouldn’t use it for long commutes, so forego the open carrier.

Now that you’ve got a better concept of the differences between open auto transport and enclosed auto transport, are you ready to get a complimentary, no-obligation quote? If so, get started by using this auto shipping calculator.

Get a car shipping quote in seconds!