Open Vs. Enclosed Trailer – What to Choose When Shipping Your Car

Using car shipping services is the best way to have your trusted ride with you after you move to another city or state. You can drive it yourself, of course, but that carries a whole set of potential issues and risks, especially when it comes to cross-country trips. The obvious solution is to hire professionals to haul your car to the destination. 


There are two main methods that professional auto shippers use in their business. The first and most commonly used one is transporting in an open trailer. The second one is shipping a car in an enclosed container. Let’s check both of them out.

Open Trailer Shipping

Transporting cars in an open trailer means that your vehicle will be placed on a one- or two-storied trailer and secured for a trip along with up to ten other cars. Open trailer trucks are a common sight on the roads, and for a good reason. They are affordable and require fewer preparations

However, especially in the peak of the moving season, it may be difficult to get a slot due to the number of vehicles being shipped every day. Also, because of a larger number of cars on it, a truck may take a longer time to deliver a vehicle.

Enclosed Trailer

Albeit more expensive, transporting cars in an enclosed trailer is safer for them since it offers full protection from the external elements. Enclosed trailers can be soft-sided, with some kind of tarp covering the cargo, or hard-sided, which are like regular containers. These trailers come in different sizes, so your car may travel with up to six other vehicles. There are containers for a single car, but they are much more expensive.

Costs of Transport

How much you’ll spend on auto transport depends on many factors. There is the distance, of course, but some expenses come down to your choices. If you opt for an open trailer, you’ll pay less, but your car will be exposed to weather conditions, which can sometimes pose a problem on the road. Also, there’s a constant danger of debris.

Enclosed transport is much safer, but also much more expensive. It is recommended for the transport of luxury cars and goes without saying for vintage models. In those cases, the price goes up because of the special preparations and safety measures that are required for shipping. Whatever the details, once your car is loaded into the enclosed cargo hold, you can relax knowing that your precious four-wheeler will arrive at your new home without a single scratch or dent.

It is always a good idea to buy insurance, from the shipping company as well as the additional one from another source, just in case. Even when there’s no human error, mishaps can happen. You should count this in when calculating your shipping budget.

Then there’s the matter of pick-up and delivery. If you choose the door-to-door option, you should be prepared for a higher cost and longer waiting time. It might take some time for a truck to get to your address, both old and new. This is especially true for open trailer transport because of the number of cars they are hauling.

Whatever you choose in the end, take your time to contact as many shipping companies as possible. Then compare their offers and decide based on your needs and desires, but also your budget. No matter how much you love your car, it’s not worth going hungry for it (unless it’s, say, a Cadillac Fleetwood from the 1920s; then seriously consider it).

Notes on Car Shipping

As always, some preparations are in order to ensure the safe arrival of your car. Besides the standard stuff, such as mptying your belongings and pumping out excessive fuel, there are at least two more things to be done.

The first one is to take the vehicle to the mechanic for a thorough inspection. Whatever safety measures there are in a trailer, you’d want an additional protective layer in the form of fully functioning brakes. You would also certainly want to avoid leakages.

The second task is a thorough examination of the car’s exterior. After washing the vehicle, note every scratch and dent you find, and report them to the shipping company. It’s important in any case, but it can make an enormous difference if a car is hauled on an open trailer. If you do so, you can later claim insurance for any additional damage. The company will do its own check-up, of course, but one more pair of eyes can’t hurt. When it comes to car shipping, you should always follow the golden rule that it’s better to be safe than sorry.