Open vs. Enclosed Auto Transport: How To Choose

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated May 16, 2023

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As you prepare to move your vehicle, you must choose the right type of auto transport to ensure a smooth and safe transportation process. However, choosing between open and enclosed auto transport can seem overwhelming.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between the two and help you choose the best one for your car shipping needs.

Open Auto Transport

Open auto transport is a more affordable and commonly used option. Your vehicle is loaded and transported on an open trailer or car carrier. This type of transport is the most popular for shipping all types of cars, including sedans, coupes, SUVs, and trucks. It is often used for shipping multiple vehicles at once, making it more cost-effective for consumers.

One of the advantages of open auto transport is that it allows your vehicle to be shipped relatively quickly. However, since your car is exposed to the environment during transportation, it is more susceptible to dings, chips, and scratches from rocks and debris on the road.

Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed auto transport, on the other hand, is more expensive than open transport, but it offers better protection for your vehicle during transportation. Your car is shipped in an enclosed carrier, shielded from the elements and possible roadside debris. Collectors or owners of luxury, classic, or exotic cars often choose this type of transport.

The latter takes longer than open transport because fewer vehicles are being transported at once. However, with extra protection comes extra care and attention. Your vehicle is more secure with an enclosed transport, meaning that damages during transit are less likely to occur.

Choosing the Right Option

Choosing the best option depends on several factors, such as the type, value, and condition of your vehicle and your budget and time constraints. Here are some scenarios where one option might be preferable over the other:

When To Choose Open Auto Transport

  •  Choosing open auto transport is cost-effective if your car is a standard daily driver or a more affordable vehicle.
  • Open transport is a good choice if you need to ship multiple vehicles. Since it can transport more cars at once, it can save you money compared to enclosed transport.
  • If you need your vehicle to be shipped quickly, open auto transport is your best bet, as it is the most common method available.

When To Choose Enclosed Auto Transport

  • If your car is an exotic, luxury, or classic car, it requires the extra protection, making open auto transport a bad idea.
  •  If you’re concerned about the safety of your vehicle during transportation, choose enclosed transport. Your car will be well-protected from outside elements, meaning it’s more secure.
  • Finally, if you have the available budget and want the peace of mind of knowing that your vehicle will be given extra attention and handled carefully, enclosed transport is the best option.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Auto Transport Options

When deciding between open and enclosed vehicle transport, consider the following factors:

  1. Vehicle Type and Value: For luxury, classic, or exotic vehicles, enclosed transport offers superior protection. For daily drivers and standard vehicles, open transport is a cost-effective solution.
  2. Budget: Open auto transport is generally more affordable than enclosed transport. Determine your budget and choose an option that fits within your financial constraints.
  3. Time Constraints: Open auto transport is more widely available, making finding a transporter with a schedule that aligns with your needs easier. Enclosed transport may have longer wait times due to limited availability.
  4. Protection and Security: If safeguarding your vehicle from potential damage during transit is a top priority, choose enclosed auto transport for added peace of mind.
  5. Shipping Multiple Vehicles: Open auto transport can accommodate more vehicles at once, reducing the cost per vehicle. Enclosed transport has limited capacity, potentially leading to higher costs for shipping multiple vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Bottom Line

Choosing whether to use open or enclosed auto transport depends on several factors. Open auto transport is the best choice if you’re looking for an affordable option and your vehicle is a standard daily driver.

However, if you’re shipping valuable or luxury cars, enclosed auto transport will offer more security and protection for your vehicle. Both open and enclosed auto transport is safe, efficient, and reliable methods for transporting your vehicle, but it’s up to you to decide which is best for your situation.

Now that you know the difference between open and enclosed auto transport, you can decide which option best fits your needs. For reliable and hassle-free car shipping, consider booking with CitizenShipper. We provide cost-effective and reliable car movers and haulers services, whether you require open or enclosed transport.