When researching how to ship a car, it’s best to learn about the various options available to find what suits your needs. If you’re concerned about the safety of your vehicle during the shipping process, you may want to learn more about enclosed auto transport. Companies that specialize in shipping luxury or classic cars, as well as alternative vehicles like ATVs, offer enclosed trailers to give your car extra protection.
Once you determine your specific shipping needs, our team of experts suggests requesting free quotes from a few of the top car shipping companies.
Enclosed Auto Transport Overview
Enclosed auto transport, considered the safest car shipping option, protects both your vehicle and your peace of mind. Open carrier shipping leaves your car exposed to road hazards and the elements, whereas shipping it in a fully enclosed trailer significantly minimizes any potential damage.
When transporting cars that need extra protection, enclosed auto shipping can be a great option. These shipments come with higher insurance policy limits, offering more coverage for high-value vehicles. Owners of upmarket vehicles, like classic or luxury cars, often prefer covered car shipping to keep their vehicles clean and free of cosmetic damage.
Alternative vehicles with larger wheels or low ground clearance often can’t fit onto standard open carrier trailers, so enclosed vehicle shipping is the best option to accommodate unique requirements.
You should keep in mind, however, that shipping your car in an enclosed trailer will give you less scheduling flexibility than open auto shipping. Enclosed carriers make up a smaller market and thus cater to a smaller customer base. It’s recommended that you leave as much lead time as possible when booking enclosed auto transport.
Enclosed Auto Transport Pros And Cons
How Does Enclosed Auto Transport Work?
Enclosed auto transport trailers are fully enclosed shipping compartments with hard-sided or soft-sided walls and soft straps. There are several different types of enclosed car carriers:
- 5-6 car enclosed carriers: These look like semi trucks and operate similarly to open auto carriers. The trucks have two tiers of vehicle storage surrounded by hard sides.
- 2-3 car enclosed carriers: Also known as a hotshot carrier, these are single-tier trailers that only hold a couple of cars.
- Soft-sided covered trailers: These enclosed trailers can transport seven to eight vehicles at a time.
- Oversize enclosed trailers: These covered transport trailers are often used to ship alternative vehicles that are too tall or wide to fit in a regular enclosed trailer.
Average Cost Of Enclosed Auto Transport
Most auto shipping companies consider enclosed vehicle transport a premium service, generally used to ship sports cars, high-end vehicles, and classic cars. Enclosed car trailers aren’t able to carry as many vehicles as open car haulers, so the service does cost more on average.
To give you a better idea of the price difference between open and enclosed auto transport, our team requested car shipping quotes from a few of the top shipping companies.
Here’s what we found for an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4 traveling from Los Angeles to Houston, a distance of 1,556 miles:
|Shipping Provider||Open Transport Cost||Enclosed Transport Cost|
|Montway Auto Transport||$929||$1,339|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||$1,300||$1,800|
|Easy Auto Ship||$1,117||$1,724|
You should expect to pay between 40 and 60 percent more for enclosed car shipping over open auto transport.
What Affects Open Car Shipping Prices
Enclosed auto transport is the safest method for transporting a vehicle, but it’s not always the best option for cheap car shipping. When budgeting for your covered transport, keep in mind that there are other factors that affect car shipping costs:
- Type of vehicle: High-end vehicles and classic cars require more insurance coverage to ship.
- Hard- or soft-sided enclosed trailer: Soft-sided enclosed carriers are often able to ship more cars at once, lowering your costs.
- Overall shipping distance: Shorter shipping distances have lower overall costs but longer distances cost less per mile.
- Operable vs. inoperable vehicle: Inoperable vehicles may require a winch to load onto the trailer, which costs more in labor.
- Time frame: Enclosed auto transport serves a smaller customer base, so to save money, it’s recommended you book your transport as far out as possible. However, most carriers will offer expedited shipping for an additional charge.
- Season: Summertime and January are typically the busiest times of year in the car shipping industry.
Best Shipping Companies For Enclosed Auto Transport
Our team researched and rated the major car shipping service providers based on reputation, cost, services, and customer reviews. Each of these companies provides options for enclosed auto transport.
|Top Car Shipping Companies||Our Overall Rating||Reputation||Price||Services||Customer Experience|
|Montway Auto Transport||4.6||4.9||4.3||4.8||4.6|
|Easy Auto Ship||4.5||4.8||3.8||4.9||4.6|
|Sherpa Auto Transport||4.5||4.3||4.6||4.5||4.6|
Montway Auto Transport: 4.6 Stars
Our team selected Montway Auto Transport as the Best Overall shipping company in the country. The auto shipping broker provides affordable shipping options by working with over 15,000 carriers across the nation and provides enclosed car transport to all 50 states–including Alaska and Hawaii.
The Better Business Bureau gives the company an A+ rating and the reviews section of the BBB’s website has customers giving Montway an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.0.
Explore the company’s pricing and services with our full Montway Auto Transport review.
AmeriFreight: 4.5 Stars
AmeriFreight is an auto shipping broker that works with a wide network of fully vetted car carriers. The broker offers enclosed auto transport to all 50 states. We consider AmeriFreight the shipping company Best for Discounts, as it offers reduced rates for service members, college students, first responders, and more.
AmeriFreight holds an A+ rating from the BBB and nearly 1,200 customers on the BBB’s consumer reviews section agree, giving the shipping broker an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.
Read more in our full AmeriFreight review.
Sherpa Auto Transport: 4.5 Stars
Our team considers Sherpa Auto Transport Best for Locked-In Rates. The transport broker offers a Price Lock Promise which says the price quoted by Sherpa is the final price you’ll pay. Though it doesn’t ship internationally or to Hawaii and Alaska, Sherpa Auto Transport offers enclosed car shipping across the lower 48 states.
Sherpa has a top-notch reputation with the industry and customers alike. The BBB rates the shipping company with an A+ and customers give Sherpa a near-perfect rating of 4.9 stars out of 5.0.
Read our complete Sherpa Auto Transport review to learn more details on locked-in pricing and services.
Easy Auto Ship: 4.5 Stars
Because Easy Auto Ship prides itself on going the extra mile, we consider it to be the auto transport company with the Best Added Benefits. Beyond providing enclosed car transport services to all 50 states and international destinations, Easy Auto Ship offers amenities like paying for your car wash and rental car reimbursements.
The broker holds an A+ rating from the BBB and a 4.6-star average customer rating across over 750 reviews.
You can learn more about the broker’s added benefits in our complete Easy Auto Ship review.
uShip: 4.4 Stars
uShip is a car shipping marketplace where customers post shipment requests and carriers offer bids. Because this puts the power to choose pricing in the customer’s hand, our team finds uShip to be the Best Shipping Marketplace. With uShip, you’ll be able to find the best pricing from a provider for enclosed car shipping.
The BBB gives uShip an A+ rating and customers rate the marketplace with 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.
Discover more about the shipping marketplace with our complete uShip review.
Frequently Asked Questions: Enclosed Auto Shipping
How We Rate Auto Shippers
Our review process aims to deliver consistent and unbiased assessments of car shipping companies. While there are multiple qualities that make an auto transport provider successful, our review team focuses on those we believe are the most important for consumers:
- Cost: Cost can be difficult to compare between providers because so many factors impact auto shipping rates. To determine our cost score, we perform a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicles and routes.
- Services: Our team of experts looks at the types of services available, as well as insurance coverage and the ability to guarantee pickup and drop-off dates. Ratings also take into account whether the transport company is a broker or a carrier.
- Reputation: It’s important that a car shipping provider is able to deliver your vehicle in a safe and timely manner. Companies with a strong rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) score well in this category. Established providers with a long history of reliable service also receive positive marks.
- Customer Experience: We comb through consumer reviews on sites like the BBB to learn about customer experiences. Car transport companies with a low volume of complaints score well in this area.
*Data accurate at time of publication.