Open vs Enclosed Auto Transport: The Major Differences and How to Choose

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How To Choose Between Open and Enclosed Transport

Imagine moving across the country.

You have so much on your hands already and you haven’t even thought about how you’re going to get your cars to your new address.

It’s not feasible to make several trips

What do you do?

For a small cost, you can transport your car to your new home, safe and sound. The value of your car may dictate which service you go with, but there are plenty of options out there.

Read on to learn the difference between open-air and enclosed auto transport and which one best fits your needs.

Why Use an Auto Transport Service

There are a variety of situations that call for the use of an auto transport service. For that matter, there are a variety of people who can benefit from hiring such companies. Here are a few of the most common auto transport customers.

Snow Birds

For example, people who travel south to escape long, cold winters are popular, repeat customers for these companies. Most of them fly rather than drive down to places like Florida to avoid a long road trip.

However, once in Florida, they still need their car. This is where auto transport services come in. An auto transport service will ship your car where ever it needs to be for a reasonable price.


Alternatively, people who are moving across the country or even a few states away choose to ship their cars rather than drive them. Whether they’re driving a U-haul instead of their personal car or are just trying to avoid putting extra miles on their baby, auto transport services are their solution.

Additionally, if the mover owns multiple cars, it’s much easier to drive one and ship the other, rather than taking multiple trips.

Car Enthusiasts

Finally, there are car enthusiasts who purchase cars out of state and want them shipped to their home. Driving a rare, exotic, or expensive car on a long road trip is not always the best idea.

To avoid the risk of accidents on road trips, adding excess mileage, or just driving it at all, the owners will instead hire an auto transport company to ship it directly to them, keeping it in pristine condition.

What Is Open Auto Transport

Open Auto Transport is exactly what it sounds like. When you ship your car, it will be uncovered for the entire trip.


Open Auto Transport is exactly what it sounds like. When you ship your car, it will be uncovered for the entire trip.

Typically, open auto transport is run on an open-air lorry. These vehicles typically load more than one car onto the back of the trailer.

However, don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all situation! There are many different open transport options that you can choose from.

Open Transport Options

Open Transport comes in a large variety of options.

The smallest, least efficient option is a regular pickup hauling a flatbed trailer. Yours will be the only car transported. However, these are most often used for short transports.

The second option is a single-level multi-vehicle transport. These are hauled by semi-trucks and can hold anywhere from two to five cars.

Finally, the most efficient open auto transport option is a double-level, multi-vehicle transport. These are hauled by semi-trucks and can handle up to 10 cars.

What Is Enclosed Auto Transport


Again, enclosed auto transport is in the name. This option is not near as common as open transport and is generally chosen for more expensive cars.

One of the best advantages of closed transport is that your car is protected the entire journey from debris.

Just like with open transport, however, this isn’t a clear-cut option. There are several ways of transporting a car in an enclosed transport vehicle.

Enclosed Transport Options

Enclosed auto transport has two cover options, hard or soft. People generally choose enclosed transport for high-end cars – sports, luxury, classic, rare, etc.

These transports come in capacities of one, two, or up to seven vehicles. The high capacity enclosed transport option will be the most efficient and therefore, the most economical.

Single and two-car transports are generally reserved for rush deliveries and high-value cars.


While prices can sometimes be negotiable, one thing is certain, enclosed auto transport will generally cost more. Open air transport accounts for 90% of the business. Therefore, they must keep prices down to hang with their competitors.

Enclosed transport, on the other hand, only accounts for 10% of the auto shipping industry. They offer a lot more, but you will pay for the exclusivity.

When choosing the upgrade from open to enclosed transport, expect to pay around $500 more for the shipping service.


Obviously, an open-air auto transport comes with its perks. Lower prices and availability. However, open transport comes with less security for your car.

Cars shipped with open-air transports are vulnerable to wind, rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Aside from weather conditions, it is also exposed to road hazards such as dirt, rocks, and debris.

Most vehicles don’t sustain any damage during open-air transport. It’s a great option for shipping the everyday-car. However, with the risk of hail, wind, and rocks causing dents or paint chips, open-air transport may not be the best option for nicer cars.

Enclosed auto transport keeps your vehicle completely safe from the elements. The only thing that could cause damage your car would be a traffic accident, which is incredibly rare.


Availability may be a factor when choosing your auto carrier. As open-air transports are more common, they will be much easier to schedule and book based on your timeline.

Enclosed transport, however, will be less available and you may have to compromise on dates, times, and locations.

Enclosed Auto Transport X-Factors

Enclosed carriers come with many benefits, significantly out-weighing the cons if maximum protection is your priority.

However, they also come with a number of X-factors most people don’t take into account.


Hydraulic Lift

For exotic sports car and low riding luxury vehicle owners, loading ramps may not be a viable option. Not without damaging their car anyways.

Enclosed auto transports often come with hydraulic lifts, allowing your car to stay completely flat every step of the way.



Another valuable X-factor offered by enclosed carriers is their experienced drivers

These drivers spend most of their career handling and transporting high-end cars. They know how to care for them. Many of them even wear white gloves anytime they need to touch your car.

Other Auto Transport Services

Not all vehicle transport needs to revolve around moving, traveling or purchasing.

Unfortunately, our beloved cars sometimes break down and need to be towed. Worst yet, if we are involved in an accident, we may need our car professionally recovered when a tow truck won’t do.

Whatever your needs, enclosed auto transport, open auto transport, towing, or recovery, we can help! Contact us and let us know how we can assist you!

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