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Open Vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: What’s the Difference? 1 year ago

When you need to ship your vehicle, you have to decide between enclosed and open car transport. Cost differences and how long it takes to ship your car with each transport type might be some of the biggest deciding factors for you. We’ll help you understand both of these shipping options and decide which is the best auto transport method for your needs.

Whichever option you choose to ship your vehicle, Sherpa Auto Transport can connect you with a carrier and make the entire process as smooth as possible.

In This Review:

Open Vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: The Basics

Open auto transport is the most common shipping method, and it’s the best option for most people. Because more vehicles can be transported at once, open trailers are less expensive than shipping in an enclosed hauler and your best starting point for cheap car shipping. Open car shipping is also faster, as open car carriers are more common and require fewer stops along the way.

Enclosed auto transport is the preferred transport option for shipping luxury vehicles, classic cars, and other high-end automobiles for its extra protection. An enclosed trailer comes with a higher cost, but it protects your vehicle from bad weather, road debris, and theft. However, there are less enclosed carriers to choose from, which can extend your shipment dates or make it harder to schedule.

Pros and Cons of Open and Enclosed Auto Transport

Before you make a decision about which type of vehicle transport you need, consider a few pros and cons of both methods.

Pros and Cons of Open Car Shipping

ProsTypically fasterMore fuel-efficient and affordableGreater availability make it easier to schedule
ConsNo protection from weather and road debrisLess security for high-end vehicles

Pros and Cons of Enclosed Car Shipping

ProsProtection from road hazards and adverse weather conditionsAdded security for luxury cars and exotic vehicles
ConsMore expensive than open car shippingLess fuel-efficientLess availability for scheduling

How to Decide Between Open and Enclosed Car Shipping

When making a decision between the two methods, you need to consider what works best for your needs, timeline, and budget. Both will get your vehicle where it needs to go, but one may work better for you than the other.

For most drivers, open car shipping is the best option because it’s cheaper and allows for more flexibility in scheduling. However, if you’re shipping a luxury car, sports car, or high-end classic automobile, you’ll have much greater peace of mind going with the enclosed vehicle transport method. The added protection and security that come with enclosed car carriers is more than worth the investment.

What to Look for in a Car Shipping Company

When evaluating your options in the auto transport industry, it’s important to consider a few key factors. Whether you opt for open or enclosed shipping, make sure to explore the following aspects of a company before making your final decision:

  • Experience: You want to work with a carrier that has a proven history of safely and successfully shipping all kinds of vehicles. If a company has a track record of successful auto transport, it’s an easier choice.
  • Positive customer reviews: You can learn a lot about car shipping companies by what customers say about them. A carrier that receives high marks for affordability, punctuality, and service is usually a safe bet.
  • Locked-in quotes: If an auto transport company can’t give you a set quote up front, it’s probably best to move on to another option. You want to have confidence in the initial estimate you receive.

Average Auto Transport Costs

No matter what transport type you choose, it’s helpful to get an idea of what you might pay for your shipment. Car shipping costs depend on a variety of factors, including market conditions, your shipping route, and the size of your vehicle. Sherpa Auto Transport offers rate ranges for open car shipping of an operable vehicle.

Total Shipment Mileage Price Range per Mile
0 to 500 miles $1.32 to $2.75
501 to 1000 miles $0.88 to $1.55
1001 to 1500 miles $0.70 to $1.23
1501 to 2000 miles $0.60 to $1.00
2001 to 2500 miles $0.53 to $0.84
2500+ miles $0.48 to $0.74

It’s important to note that enclosed auto transport will cost more than these estimates. There aren’t as many enclosed vehicle trailers as open carriers, and enclosed haulers can only accommodate a few cars at a time. Be sure to factor in the extra expense as you look into enclosed auto transport services.

Why You Should Choose Sherpa Auto Transport

Sherpa Auto Transport can connect you with the highest-rated carriers in the auto transport industry for both open and enclosed car shipping. Our accreditation and A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) show our high standing in the industry. We also have a great reputation with customers. On the BBB, customer reviews give us an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Locked In Quotes

The Sherpa Price Lock Promise means you know what you’ll pay from the beginning of your auto transport journey. If our original quote isn’t enough to contract with a top-rated carrier, we’ll add up to $300 to make sure your auto transport needs are met.

In-Depth Pricing Analysis

Our team utilizes information to give you the most accurate price possible. We factor in current market conditions, historical pricing of your transport route, and many other factors to deliver your estimate.

Clean Car Guarantee

If your car arrives dirty from the car shipping carrier, we’ll reimburse you for your car wash up to $20. After your car wash, just mail the receipt and your bill of lading to Sherpa, and we’ll send you a reimbursement of up to $20 on your original payment method.

Open vs Enclosed FAQs

Is it better to ship a car open or enclosed?

If you’re shipping an exotic car or high-end luxury automobile, enclosed car shipping is your best bet. Open car shipping is the cheaper option but doesn’t offer protection against road debris and bad weather conditions.

What is an open carrier?

Open car shipping means your vehicle will be transported on an open-air car trailer. Your car will be exposed to all weather conditions and road hazards such as dust, rocks, and other debris.

Can you haul a car with a car cover?

Most car carriers do not allow cars to be covered during transit. It’s difficult to keep a cover on a vehicle during shipping, which may cause hazards for other drivers. Enclosed auto shipping may be your best option if you want your vehicle to be covered.

What is an enclosed vehicle?

Enclosed car carriers are covered trailers that can typically hold three to five cars at a time. These auto transport carriers offer good protection against the elements and extra security during shipping.