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Open Car Transport: What You Need to Know 1 year ago

Open car transport is the most common and most affordable way to ship a vehicle. If you’re moving to a new location or bought a car online, open shipping is likely a great option for bringing your vehicle to its new address.

We’ll tell you what it means to ship your vehicle with open car transport, how much you can expect to pay for car shipping service, and why Sherpa Auto Transport is the ideal partner for navigating the process.

In This Review:

Overview of Open Car Transport

Open car transport ships your vehicle (and usually several others) on a trailer that is open to the elements. It’s the most cost-effective way to transport your car, but it does leave your vehicle vulnerable to bad weather and road debris.

After making arrangements with a car shipping company, your transport truck driver will set up a time to pick your vehicle up. Before loading your car onto the trailer, the driver will help you inspect the vehicle to take note of any existing dings or scratches before your car begins its journey. When your vehicle has reached its destination, you’ll inspect it once again and sign a bill of lading.

You have two options when it comes to pickup and drop-off of your vehicle:

  • Door-to-door shipping: This shipping method involves the carrier picking your car up and dropping it off as close to your home as possible. For people who are moving long distances or relocating for the winter, it’s the most convenient auto transport option.
  • Terminal-to-terminal shipping: For those with more flexibility, this type of vehicle shipping is a viable option. You’ll drop your vehicle off at a secure location and pick it up from a terminal close to your destination. If you have a way to get to and from each terminal, this could save you money.

When you choose Sherpa Auto Transport, you’ll be using door-to-door shipping, which is the most convenient option for our customers.

Open Car Transport vs. Enclosed Car Transport

Open car transport is the most common method of auto shipping, but it isn’t the only one. Customers who need to move luxury or classic vehicles or race cars often choose the more expensive enclosed auto transport option. Covered car haulers protect against road hazards and adverse weather. The extra security provided by enclosed trailers creates more peace of mind for owners of high-end vehicles.

There are a few key things to consider when it comes to open vs. enclosed car shipping. Keep the advantages and disadvantages below in mind as you prepare for your big move.

Pros and Cons of Open Car Transport

ProsFaster timelineUsually cheaperMore availability
ConsNo protection from dust, dirt, and other road debrisLess secure for luxury and classic vehicles and race cars

Pros and Cons of Enclosed Car Transport

ProsProtection from road hazards and bad weatherExtra security for high-end cars
ConsMore expensiveLonger timelineFewer enclosed carriers available

Costs of Open Air Vehicle Transport

The cost of open car transport varies and is determined by a wide range of factors, including the ones below:

  • Route distance
  • Type of car carrier
  • Size and weight of vehicle
  • Market conditions
  • Time of year

With that in mind, Sherpa offers the following vehicle shipping price ranges based on open-air car transport.

Shipment Mileage Price per Mile
0 to 500 miles $1.32 to $2.75
501 to 1,000 miles $0.88 to $1.55
1,001 to 1,500 miles $0.70 to $1.23
1,501 to 2,000 miles $0.60 to $1
2,001 to 2,500 miles $0.53 to $0.84
2,500+ miles $0.48 to $0.74

Popular Auto Transport Routes

Sherpa also provides these cost ranges of popular routes for shipping vehicles. Even if you’re not transporting your car the same routes, these ranges are helpful for understanding what you might pay for a similar shipment. The same factors from above will influence prices.

Route Price per Mile
New York City to Los Angeles $0.56 to $0.72
New York City to Miami $0.98 to $1.20
Los Angeles to Miami $0.48 to $0.66
Los Angeles to New York City $0.48 to $0.71
Miami to New York City $0.65 to $1.20
Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles $0.49 to $0.69
Chicago to Los Angeles $0.61 to $0.88
New York City to Houston $0.80 to $1
Los Angeles to Atlanta $0.48 to $0.74
Chicago to Phoenix $0.68 to $0.92

Enclosed auto transport and expedited car shipping services are more expensive than the rates shown above. The best way to get a firm idea of how much you’ll pay for your auto transport is to get car shipping quotes online.

What You Should Look for in a Car Shipping Company

Finding the right auto transport service can be stressful. You can give yourself peace of mind if you look for the following attributes before choosing a shipping provider:

  • Good reviews: Look into online customer reviews and the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. If a car shipping company has high marks across the board, you make your vehicle transport decision with confidence.
  • Experience: It’s best to look for a car shipping company with experience when you’re considering transport service, even if it’s for a short distance. Knowing your vehicle is in good hands can alleviate a lot of stress.
  • High-quality insurance: Sherpa only works with carriers that hold a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage and $100,000 in cargo insurance. This goes beyond industry requirements and gives our customers additional peace of mind.

Why You Should Choose Sherpa Auto Transport

Sherpa Auto Transport is a great choice for a hassle-free car shipping experience. We’ve built a trusted network of carriers through our in-depth vetting process. We work with you to find the best car transport company for your needs, and then give you an all-inclusive, locked-in quote.

Our Clean Car Guarantee is especially useful if you choose open car transport – we’ll reimburse up to $20 for a car wash after your vehicle is delivered. Add in top-notch customer service and it’s easy to see why Sherpa is your best ally in the auto shipping industry.

Open Car Transport FAQs

Is open auto transport safe?

Open auto transport is a safe and reliable way to ship most cars. If you own a luxury vehicle, classic car, or other high-value automobile, the added protection of an enclosed car carrier is a good investment.

What is an open carrier?

An open car carrier is a trailer that leaves your car mostly exposed to the elements. Open auto transport is more affordable and much more common than enclosed car shipping, and it’s generally faster. However, an open carrier does leave your vehicle vulnerable to bad weather, dirt, and road debris.

What's the difference between open and enclosed car shipping?

Open car shipping involves loading vehicles onto an open-air trailer, while enclosed car shipping sends vehicles in a covered trailer. Enclosed auto transport is best for high-end vehicles. Open auto transport is the preferred method for most cars.

Can I fill my car when I ship it?

Most car shipping companies – including Sherpa Auto Transport – require you to remove personal items from your car before you ship it. See our vehicle shipping tips for more information.

How long does it take to ship a car?

Auto transport companies typically take about seven to 10 days to ship a car across the country. The timeline will vary depending on the weather, the route, and road conditions.