Do you want to ship your vehicle using open auto transport or enclosed transport? Understanding the different kinds of transport options, the costs involved, and what affects those costs will help you make the best decision for your move.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common method of car shipping–open transport. Once you have a handle on the process itself, all you’ll need to do is choose a top car shipping company to get your car to its destination.


Open Auto Transport Overview

Open auto transport is the standard method for shipping a car. Not only is it the most popular way to ship, but it’s also the least expensive. Almost all shipping carriers operate an open shipping trailer, which gives you greater flexibility when scheduling a transport.

Open trailer transport trucks can carry between eight and 10 cars at once, which cuts down significantly on price. By transporting multiple vehicles at once, car haulers can make multiple pickups and deliveries in a short period of time. Additionally, the cost of fuel gets divided between the clients, so your transport stays fairly affordable even when fuel costs rise.

It’s good to keep in mind that open transport does leave your car exposed to the outside environment. Though the risk is small, your car is subject to damage from road debris, rocks, dirt, and birds. Hazardous weather can also tarnish your vehicle and sudden changes in conditions can delay your transport delivery.

Open Auto Transport Pros And Cons

Pros Least expensive shipping option Quicker processing time Most common form of auto transport
Cons Car exposed to elements Potential delivery delays

How Does Open Auto Transport Work?

Open auto transport carriers operate by loading multiple vehicles onto an open trailer. Cars are most commonly driven onto the trailer via ramps, but many open car carriers provide a top load option. Inoperable vehicles are loaded onto the trailer via winch or top load depending on the available space on the trailer.

Average Cost Of Open Auto Transport

Because open auto transport is the most commonly used car shipping method, it’s generally the most economical option. Open shipping costs are typically lower than other transport methods, like enclosed auto transport, making it the cheapest way to transport your car.

Our research team reached out to several providers for car shipping quotes on open trailer shipping. On average, open car transport costs between $500 and $1,000.

Here’s the national average to ship a 2018 Toyota RAV4 via open carrier according to our secret shopper analysis:

Shipping DistanceJanuary 2021 Average CostNovember 2021 Average Cost
503 miles$707$704
1,556 miles$1,143$1,056
3,036 miles$1,393$1,541

What Affects Open Car Shipping Prices

Open auto transport is the cheapest shipping option, but the price will fluctuate. Here are some of the determining factors that affect car shipping costs:

  • Number of cars being shipped: The more cars on the trailer, the less the transport will cost.
  • Overall shipping distance: You’ll pay less for shipping your car a shorter distance, though cross-country shipments cost less per mile.
  • Operable vs. inoperable vehicle: Inoperable vehicles require more labor to load onto the trailer.
  • Time frame: The further out you book your vehicle transport, the less you’ll have to spend. Most carriers offer expedited shipping for an extra fee.
  • Season: January and the summer months are typically the busiest times of year for car shipping services.
  • Type of vehicle: The year, make, and model of your car affect the shipping cost. Companies may ship alternative vehicles like RVs and motorcycles for a higher fee.

Best Shipping Companies For Open Auto Transport

We took a look at the major auto transport service providers and rated them based on reputation, cost, services, and customer reviews. Each of these companies provides options for open auto transport.

Top Car Shipping Companies

Our Overall Rating




Customer Experience

Montway Auto Transport






Sherpa Auto Transport












Easy Auto Ship












Montway Auto Transport: 4.6 Stars

Montway Auto Transport is an auto shipping broker that works with over 15,000 carriers across the nation. The shipping company provides open car transport to the entire United States including Alaska and Hawaii.

The company holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customers also rate the transport company in high regard, giving Montway an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.0 on the BBB’s website.

Read our full Montway Auto Transport review to learn more.

Sherpa Auto Transport: 4.5 Stars

Sherpa Auto Transport offers a Price Lock Promise, meaning that the price quoted is the price you’ll pay. In addition to its wide range of other services, Sherpa Auto Transport offers open auto shipping to the lower 48 states.

Sherpa has a great reputation in the car shipping industry, holding an A+ rating from the BBB. Customers give the transport broker a near-perfect score, with reviews on the BBB’s website averaging 4.9 stars out of 5.0.

Read about the company’s locked-in pricing and other services in our complete Sherpa Auto Transport review.

AmeriFreight: 4.5 Stars

Offering open auto transport to all 50 states, AmeriFreight is an auto shipping broker that only works with fully vetted car carriers to ensure your peace of mind. Each carrier is fully licensed and insured. AmeriFreight also offers additional insurance coverage called AF Total, covering any gaps in protection left by a carrier’s insurance policy.

The BBB gives AmeriFreight a stellar A+ rating, and customers agree. Almost 1,200 customers on the BBB site give the shipping company an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.

Discover more with our in-depth AmeriFreight review.

Easy Auto Ship: 4.5 Stars

Easy Auto Ship prides itself on going the extra mile. It offers open car transport services to all 50 states as well as international destinations. And because open carrier shipping leaves your car exposed to the elements, Easy Auto will pay for a carwash if your vehicle arrives dirty.

The broker holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau as well as a 4.6-star average customer rating.

You can read more about the transport broker in our complete Easy Auto Ship review.

uShip: 4.4 Stars

Unlike other top shipping companies, uShip is an auto transport marketplace where carriers bid on customer shipment requests. This means you can receive multiple quotes for open auto transport at the same time and choose the carrier with the most affordable service and the options that fit your shipping needs.

The BBB gives uShip an A+ rating and customers give the company an average rating of 4.6 stars.

Check out our full uShip review to learn more about the shipping marketplace.

Frequently Asked Questions: Open 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.