Cars Vehicles

Open Car Hauler vs. Enclosed Car Hauler: Car Shipping Options Compared

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost to ship a car can be between $700 and $1,200.

There is such a wide range when it comes to car shipping because there are two major ways to do it.

But which option is best for your car and needs? Thankfully, we’ll break it all down for you and answer your questions here.

Open Car Transport

You’ve probably seen open car transport on the highway at some point, although they can look different.

Sometimes it might be just a single flatbed carrying only one car, or it could be a large trailer carrying up to ten cars.

This is different than having your car towed because, with open car transport, your car’s wheels should never have to touch the ground.

However, since it’s not enclosed your car could be exposed to the elements, like sun, rain, wind, or even snow in some cases.

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport is the exact opposite because with this one your car will be enclosed and protected.

These trailers look like a box and have four solid walls all around your car to make sure it’s safer. Because there’s less room, you might not be able to find a trailer that can haul ten cars at once though.

Because of this, enclosed car transport is normally more expensive, but they are perfect if your car is worth a lot of money. While enclosed car transport is much more expensive, it ensures that your car will arrive at its final destination in the same condition, protected from adverse weather conditions and road hazards.


It can be difficult to know which option to choose, especially if you’ve never done it before.

But really, each option has its advantages.

Open Car Transport

For example, open car transport, it’s more affordable and is the standard method of shipping across many industries. There are always more open-car carriers available, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding one to move your car.

This method is also more efficient because they’ll be able to move more vehicles since there is more room on the carrier. Some of the carriers even have a second level, letting the company save fuel and mileage, which in turn saves you money.

Another benefit is that this method can also be faster since there are more open carriers that travel back and forth.

While your car won’t have as much protection during this move, since it is open to see, the driver can immediately see if something is wrong with your car or if it’s damaged.

Enclosed Car Transport

For an enclosed carrier, your car will be protected from everything, including debris and dust from the road.

They are also more secure because other people won’t be able to see what kind of car is inside the truck. The people who drive enclosed carriers normally have to deal with more expensive and unique cars, so they also have an added experience working with them, which can be perfect in case something goes wrong.

While this one is more expensive if you can find a carrier for you, the enclosed ones take fewer stops, so you might get your car sooner rather than later.


However, there are still disadvantages to both methods as well.

What method you choose will really depend on your budget and what kind of car you’re transporting.

Open Car Transport

When the cars are transported on this type of trailer, they aren’t insured individually, so if your car arrives dirty, you’ll probably need to wash it at your own expense.

It also lets everyone else around the trailer see what kind of car is on the rack, making it more tempting for them to try and hijack the transported cars.

Enclosed Car Transport

The enclosed car transport is much more expensive than the open car, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to go with the other option.

Since there are fewer of these transports, you might also struggle with trying to schedule one and get your car shipped in time. Because the drivers will also be on a tight schedule, there isn’t as much time for them to stop and inspect your vehicles since it’s not out in the open.

Factors That Affect the Price

When trying to find the best option for car shipping, you should keep several factors in mind that could affect the total cost.

One of the main things that affect it is how far the car needs to be shipped. If you are shipping your car a long distance, the cost per mile decreases. If you’re trying to ship your car only a short distance, the fuel cost will also be higher because it’s more inconvenient for the company.

The location where you’re shipping your car could also be an issue. For example, if you live somewhere that’s rural and hard to get to, it’ll be more difficult and take more time for the driver to stop by and pick up your car. The same is true if you’re delivering it somewhere remote.

The make and model of your car will also be a factor because of the size and weight. It’s cheaper to ship light cars, but if it’s heavier, they will have to weigh the car before shipping it.

The condition of the vehicle will also be an issue, especially if it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, they’ll need to bring in an additional forklift or truck to ensure it can get onto the trailer. This will also cost you more money.

How To Choose The Right Car Shipping Option For You

When choosing the best car shipping option for you, it’s crucial to determine your needs. Check the following questions you have to keep in mind to make the right choice:

  • Do you have plans to sell your car shortly? If you do, then it’s wise to ship your vehicle in an enclosed carrier to preserve its value. Open transport can be risky, exposing your car to harsh elements that can depreciate its value.
  • Do you need to transport your car over long distances and multiple locations? If your answer is yes, then you need to make sure that your vehicle sustains fewer movements, pressure, and damage through enclosed auto transport.
  • Are you transporting a luxury or vintage vehicle that you inherited from your parents or grandparents? If you do, then you need to protect your high-value and highly sentimental car through enclosed auto shipping. Car ownership of these types of vehicles is a pride. So, you need to choose the safest shipping option for them.
  • Do you just need to ship your old vehicle from one location to another? If yes, then open car transport is recommended.

Learn More About Car Shipping and Which Option to Go With

Regardless of what car shipping option you go with, you should take into consideration all of the factors that will determine the cost of the process.

If you’re shipping an expensive car you don’t want to get damaged, go with the enclosed car hauler. If you’re shipping a standard car that doesn’t need to be in perfect condition (and you want a cheaper option), go with the open carrier.

However, you won’t know how much it costs until you get a quote. So contact us for a free quote today!


  1. Very informative blog. There are plenty of factors that go into a car transport, one of the biggest being the type of transport (open/enclosed). Almost every car shipping company offers these options. So I recommend really doing your research on each company. Check different review sites, ask them specific details on drivers, how the transport to your locations usually go, and to be upfront with you about all payments and fees.

    The right company for you will stand out on how well they handle the basics, but more so the details and lengths they go to to protect your vehicle.

  2. Hi Daniel, great article! Very informative for someone looking into shipping a car.

    Whether you opt for open or enclosed, avoid getting quotes from ‘online calculators’. Online quotes are merely unrealistic estimates. In addition, most websites with ‘calculators’ are ‘lead generating’ sites that will sell your inquiry and bombard you with multiple quotes for months.

    Instead, we suggest to call an actual car shipping company and speak with a shipping agent especially if you’re working with specific details about your move. Speaking with someone about your move helps facilitate the entire process and you get the actual cost, not an estimate, to ship your car.

    Hope this helps 🙂

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