Enclosed Vehicle Transport vs. Open Trailer

Are you planning to relocate to another state or cross-country? If this is true, instead of driving your vehicle yourself, you may want to have it shipped. When it comes to moving, car owner consumers usually find it difficult to get their vehicles to their new location.

However, you can as well arrange the movement of your car the same way you did for your belongings. There are some services that solve these kinds of problems.

Open and enclosed transports are the only two car shipping options available for moving your car to your new destination. All the information you need to make the right decision on which of the car shipping methods is a perfect fit for your budget and will be discussed in this post.

You may have noticed that shipping a car from one place to another involves so many processes. Both enclosed car shipping and open car shipping have both their pros and cons. While enclosed car shipping should be greatly considered if you want to prioritize the protection of your car, there are cases that may warrant you to opt for an open shipping option.

Note that unlike other car shipping methods, enclosed car shipping comes at a great cost and schedule; hence, it can also be more difficult. The difference between the two shipping options, the price difference, when and why you should choose any of the options will be explained. Read on, to discover.

Enclosed Vehicle Transport vs. Open Trailer

In this article

What is Open Trailer Transport?

This means that your vehicle will be transported in an open place on a trailer, widely opened to travel elements. Open transport is known to be a very popular and cost-effective method for shipping vehicles.

If all the steps highlighted here are followed, then the chance of your vehicle damaging on its way to your location is very slim. There are single-car trailers, trucks and other kinds of transport vehicles that have the capability of towing up to 12 cars and they can be used for open transport vehicle shipping.

UShip gives you the chance to select the best car carrier that is a perfect fit for your needs.

When a vehicle is moved with open auto transport carriers, they don’t get protection from climatic conditions such as sun, snow, hail, and rain, and as well as birds, insects, and specks of dust.

This disadvantage is a great turn off for this carrier type. Kindly note that your vehicle will not be protected from all the elements mentioned above if you are going for open auto transport carriers.

Auto transport companies, however, make sure they take good care of your vehicle and deliver it to the last location in good shape through the use of truckers that have a lot of experience and are well-trained, having the understanding of how valuable their cargo is.

In order to cause a reduction in the movement and vibrations caused by the road while transporting the vehicles, they strap and pack the cars neatly in the carrier.

The major advantage of this vehicle shipping method is that it is faster than the enclosed shipping option in most scenarios. It is also greatly demanded by the public; thus, cause more truckers to drive open car transporters.

Even though these types of vehicle transporters carry more than a single car most of the time, you are bound to think this particular characteristic makes them slower, it is easy to schedule, and that makes them faster most times.

To transport a vehicle from one destination to another in the United States, open auto transport is cheaper and also a secure means of transporting a car.

Types of Open-Air Carriers

Open car shipping carriers involves three main types, which are:

  • Two-level, multi-car carrier: This is the most recognized choice. It is cost-effective but slower than a single-level.
  • Single-level, multi-car carrier: This particular transport type is used mostly for transporting sports or luxury autos, or for quick deliveries.
  • Dully truck with a single-level tow trailer: This carrier type is generally used for local or short-distance deliveries.

What is Enclosed Car Shipping?

When there is a need for you to transport a highly expensive, custom, or classic vehicle, an enclosed shipping carrier is a great vehicle shipping option to use. This option is the opposite of the open car shipping option.

The vehicles are kept in a covered truck in an enclosed car shipping carrier. Most of the time, these carriers transport just a few cars at a time, in most situations, not up to 7 vehicles.

Although this option may be faster than the open carrier option, it is harder to schedule as there are not many of enclosed car shipping transporter on the road.

Aside from the problem of scheduling, enclosed car shipping is known to be more expensive than the open car carrier option most of the time. But unlike the open car carrier, the advantage here is that the vehicles are protected from climatic conditions such as hail, rain, sun, and others.

This option also provides the best protection ever for your cars while it’s being moved to their destination.

Types of Enclosed Transport

The enclosed car shipping consists of both hard-sided and soft-sided trailers when considering its carrier structure. The two options included in the enclosed trailer options are:

  • Multi-car enclosed trailers: This option has the capacity to contain about seven cars. If you are considering an enclosed trailer, this is basically the cheaper choice.
  • Two- or one-car trailers: This option is more costly, as they are widely used for transporting antique, high-dollar or uncommon vehicle types, or for quick deliveries.

Differences between Open and Enclosed Car Shipping

These two options (open and enclosed car shipping) can be done by transporting your vehicle using a truck.

With open car shipping, your vehicle is basically shipped using a long, 2-level trailer (popularly used on the highways to transport vehicles). This option is a perfect fit for all types of vehicles, especially when you are shipping a standard car model or a used one.

With enclosed car shipping, your car is transported in a fully covered trailer. Your vehicle gets a higher level of protection and security with this option. For owners who wish to transport an antique, collectible, a new car or a very expensive vehicle, enclosed shipping is often their preferred choice.

Pros and Cons of Open Car Shipping

Pros: It is faster and cheaper to ship vehicles with open transport than enclosed shipping. Also, it is easier to schedule the shipping time and arrival time you prefer open car shipping, as there are many of them on the road.

Open car shipping is more affordable. Up to 10 vehicles can be loaded and shipped at the same time in a two-tier trailer, thereby saving cost. Additionally, there is a reduction in fuel costs as the open-air trailer is lighter in weight than an enclosed trailer.

Cons: Since open car shipping involves using an open trailer, this implies that your vehicle is not safe from the weather. During the move, your vehicle also doesn’t receive the best protection from road specks of dust. Your car may require washing when it arrives as cars transported in an open-air trailer are not covered.

Important Tip: If possible, it is advisable to request for top load for open transport, as it implies that your car will be on the upper deck of a 2-tier carrier during loading. This gives your car protection from road specks of dust flying around and other yet to known issues from vehicles that would be loaded above.

Pros and Cons of Enclosed Car Shipping

Pros: Your vehicle is protected from the weather and road specks of dust, as it is transported in a fully covered trailer.

A high level of protection and security is being offered by an enclosed shipping option, and their drivers have more than enough experience in the care of highly-valued vehicles.

A white glove shipping option with enclosed transport is also being offered by some companies. When you choose the white glove option, your vehicle will get full attention from the driver, and he will ensure total transparency and efficient customer care all through the shipping process. Services included in the white glove car are:

  • Constant communication and updates
  • Higher insurance protection
  • Single-car trailer

Cons: Just a few cars can be transported at once with an enclosed car shipping option, and this makes the option more costly when compared to an open car shipping option. The driver also gets not much chance to conduct required vehicle inspections on the move.

The fuel consumption rate is high in an enclosed car shipping option; hence; the fuel cost is higher than in open transport. Compared to open-air transport, enclosed car shipping is more expensive.

How much does it Cost to Ship a Car in an Enclosed Carrier?

It is essential to have full knowledge of the cost and factors that can affect the enclosed shipping option, as it is more expensive.

The shipping quote issued to you by the transport company is derived after considering various parts which are all joined together.

Many reputable transport companies will surely get you an accurate shipping quote at the very beginning of the process.

Factors that Determine the Enclosed Auto Transport Cost

It is important first to note that the average cost of enclosed auto transport is about $1 per mile, and this cost is almost double the amount incurred on open auto transport costs.

When finding out the exact cost, this is definitely not a point to focus on because it doesn’t result in this rate. There are other factors that determine the final cost of enclosed auto transport cost, and they include:

1. Distance:

The shipping price gets affected by the shipping distance. Fuel cost is still incurred on a vehicle transported over a short distance even though it won’t cost more per mile in long distance. This implies that shipping a car within a short distance can also cost up to transporting a car across the country.

2. Weather:

The cost of shipping a car during winter when your vehicle has to be moved in snowy and harsh weather in some parts of the country will increase in most cases when you choose an enclosed shipping option.

Due to the involvement of some risks, there are many security measures that have to be put in place apart from the fact that there are not many routes left.

The insurance and danger in driving a truck in areas where visibility is low because of snow and ice that have also covered the road is much greater.

3. Location:

If you live in a remote place or somewhere not easily accessible, the costs will also increase. If one doesn’t live close to the city, the cost of door-to-door transport is always high.

To reduce these costs in an enclosed car shipping, you can make an arrangement with the auto transport company that you would drive the car to a more accessible and cost-effective location.

4. Vehicle Condition:

If your vehicle is in good condition, then you do not need to worry, else, moving the vehicle into the trailer may require a truck or forklift and this increases the cost of shipping.

5. Routes:

If you reside in a city or close to a city where the population is high or the traffic route there is heavily used, the cost can be reduced. You get a lower cost when the area you stay is popular, as more trucks are bound to pass by or available near the area. In places with high traffic volume, shipping costs can reduce drastically by almost 50% in some cases for enclosed auto transport.

The elevation of the place is also a great part of the location that plays a huge role. You will surely get higher costs if you reside in the mountains.

The transport time will increase, and the transport truck that will be used for the enclosed shipping will have to double up on security.

For instance, when driving a transport truck on a steep road, the driving will be particularly slow to the top and bottom, most especially, during winter, and this will incur an extra charge.

Below are some of the reasons why Enclosed Auto Transport costs more than Open Auto Transport

Apart from the factors that can influence the cost of an enclosed auto transport mentioned above, below are some reasons it cost more than open auto transport:

  • It can only contain just two to three vehicles, unlike the 7 to 10 on open auto transport. The more the vehicle it holds, the cheaper it gets.
  • Enclosed auto transport companies are using special shipping containers or trailers that involve the use of special security measures and equipment (such as harnesses and ropes to reduce the movement of the car) to protect and secure the cars from elements•
  • This option is not being used by many. Due to less demand for the enclosed auto transport carriers, the cost becomes higher.
  • In order to add extra security to protect the trailer from the elements, enclosed auto transport carriers are equipped with some kind of extra layers to serve as a plus to the outer layer.

It is therefore not advisable to rely on a quote that is generated automatically from an online system used by many auto transport carriers considering the factors above.

The quote can, however, be used as a rough guide. Talking to an agent of an enclosed auto transport company is the best way to get the actual cost, but you will have to give them the details of your exact location.

Tips for Preparing Your Car for Shipping

There is not much work involved in preparing your car for shipping. To ensure your car is ready for the journey, there are just a few steps to follow.

There are many parts to the car shipping process even though it might look simple; getting your car ready for transport is a very important aspect.

  • If your car needs to be transported to another country, there are many things you need to take off the car. Any removable parts of the car that contributes immensely to the weight must be removed before the shipping as many rates issued by auto shipping companies depends on the weight of the vehicle.
  • Make sure you have at least ¼ of fuel left in your fuel tank. For safety purposes; however, this is the highest quantity of fuel that you can keep in your fuel tank.
  • When you are delivering your car at the port where it will be loaded, make sure you remove your license plates. The plate is definitely not usable in a foreign country, so it should be removed and kept inside your bag.
  • The only spare tire should be allowed in the car; other spare parts should be removed. Also, remember to remove any of your personal belongings from the car. Only floor mats, factory kits, jack, spare tires, owner’s manuals, and lug wrench should remain in the car. Other items apart from those mentioned above are not allowed by law, and many car shipping companies are not allowed by law to transport household items as well.
  • Marine insurance is a special type of insurance for vehicles that are being moved across the ocean. It is advisable that you go for such insurance. You do not have any obligation to do so, but this will give your car additional security should any damage occur as a result of storm or turbulence in the ocean. Damages to vehicles during transit on the ocean are not covered by conventional auto insurance. Not even a single part of your car is covered in case of any loss in the ocean. Obtaining maritime insurance when transporting your car in the ocean is also an important part of getting your car ready to avoid any damage.
  • When you get to the port to pick your car, as an American tourist traveling to a European country, green card insurance will be required from you. This insurance covers the lowest requirements for third party liability in any country where the green Card System works. Vehicles are allowed to move in the countries under the European Union with this system.

Choose a Professional Car Transport Service

Registration with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is required for car shipping companies and brokers that conduct business between states.

Reputable car shipping companies must possess a 6-digit MC Docket number issued after the successful registration along with a 7-digit USDOT number.

Request for these numbers from your broker or carrier and validate them by conducting a carrier search on the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) government website. This will be discussed extensively in our subsequent article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I ship my car if it has personal belongings in it?

While it is most definitely not recommended for you to ship any vehicle with some of your personal stuff still inside, there is nothing stopping you from doing so unless the items in the car are items that the company isn’t allowed to ship.

The United States Department of Transportation has never come right out and said anything against shipping personal items in a vehicle, so feel free if you want to, or if you absolutely need to for some reason. Otherwise, for the safety of your belongings, it’s probably a good idea to thoroughly clean your car out of everything inside it before you have it shipped.

What are the best companies for vehicle shipping?

There are plenty of car shipping companies out there for you to choose from, and a large majority of them are great companies that do right by their customers and get their job done right. If you’re looking to know what the most popular shipping companies are by sheer number, then take a look at some of these much-used and well-respected vehicle shipping companies.

  • Montway Auto Transport is well known for offering a guaranteed pickup date for your vehicle when you request transport.
  • Sherpa Auto Transport is known for their affordable and locked-in prices.
  • Ship a Car Direct is a great company who offers a “damage free guarantee” for your vehicle while under the care of the movers.
  • AmeriFreight is a company known for the various discounts they often give customers.

Can I ship more than one vehicle at a time?

Indeed, most vehicle transport companies have no problems at all with customers shipping more than one vehicle at a time. In fact, many transport companies welcome this, and provide multi-car shipping discounts quite often.

Depending on the shipping company and the space they have available, your vehicles might end up being transported by a few different drivers, but they will arrive right on time and in great condition. To find out if your specific vehicle transport company has any sort of limit on how many vehicles a single customer can ship at a time, just give them a call and ask them about it.

Do shipped cars get searched?

While it is very unlikely that anyone is going to be going through your vehicle, it is possible that there may be a random inspection, dependent on the route the truck is taking. While this shouldn’t be any problem at all, some folks might wonder about this if they have personal belongings in the car when it is shipped.

In the unlikely event that your car does get searched, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about unless you left something that the company is not allowed to ship inside the vehicle. If all you left in your car is everyday personal belongings, then you have nothing to worry about.

Can I customize my vehicle shipment?

Many auto shipment companies will work with you to make sure you are completely happy with how your car is being handled and transported. Owners have every right to be concerned, of course, since many people often choose to ship cars of higher value.

As such, the ability to customize the experience to their liking is important to many drivers having their cars shipped. If you simply ask them, you will find that many car shipping companies will do whatever they can to make sure you’re happy, and can match your experience, including the method of shipping, to your specified budget for the job.

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