When booking transport services, your shipping company will ask you to choose between open car shipping and enclosed car shipping–but which is the best option for your shipping needs? Our team will go through the differences in cost and kinds of service to expect when looking at open vs. enclosed transport.

The best car shipping companies offer both open and enclosed car shipping options. To find out which company is best for your needs, we recommend that you get a free, no-obligation shipping quote from a few different providers.


Open Vs. Enclosed Transport Overview

Open auto transport, also referred to as open car shipping or open car carrier transport, is the most commonly used method for vehicle transport. With this method, car haulers transport vehicles on an open trailer, usually loaded with several other cars. Depending on the size, weight, and current shipping demands, multi-car open carrier trailers can accommodate eight to 10 vehicles at once.

When compared to enclosed car transport, open transport is much more affordable, as more cars can be transported at the same time.

Enclosed auto transport is a method used to ship vehicles in an enclosed trailer. This transport type, often used by owners of rare and classic cars, offers extra protection from road debris and weather elements. However, enclosed transport isn’t the best option for cheap car shipping, as only two to three cars can be shipped at once. Additionally, enclosed car shipping serves a smaller consumer base, so there’s a little less available flexibility in scheduling.

Pros And Cons Of Open Vs. Enclosed Transport

Each car shipping method has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to weigh all options when booking transport.

Open Transport Pros And Cons

Pros Most affordable method of car shipping Flexible scheduling Driver can regularly inspect vehicles for damage
Cons No protection from road debris or bad weather Less secure Inclement weather can cause sudden delivery delays

Enclosed Transport Pros And Cons

Pros Safest way to ship a car Higher insurance policy limits Best for high-end vehicles and exotic cars
Cons More expensive than open shipping Ships fewer cars at a time Less fuel efficient

Average Cost Of Open Vs. Enclosed Transport

The average cost for open auto transport ranges between $500 and $1,000. Shipping via enclosed trailer usually doubles the cost of a transport, ranging between $1,000 and $2,000

Our research team reached out to the top car shipping companies to compare pricing on open and enclosed transport. Below are quotes for an operable 2018 Toyota RAV4 traveling from Los Angeles to Houston, a distance of 1,556 miles:

What Affects Open Vs. Enclosed Transport Prices

Regardless of the transport method you choose, there are a number of factors that affect car shipping costs:

  • Type of vehicle, make, and model: New cars and larger cars typically cost more to ship.
  • Shipping distance: Long-distance shipping costs less per mile but more overall.
  • Operable vs. inoperable vehicle: Cars that aren’t driveable require more labor to load onto the carrier.
  • Shipment type: Door-to-door shipping is generally more expensive than terminal-to-terminal shipping.
  • Season: Car shipping demand usually increases during January and the summer months.

Best Shipping Companies For Enclosed Auto Transport

We researched some of the top auto transport companies for open vs. enclosed transport and rated them based on reputation, cost, services, and customer reviews. Here’s how they rank:

Top Car Shipping CompaniesOur Overall RatingReputationPriceServicesCustomer Experience
Montway Auto Transport4.
Sherpa Auto Transport4.
Easy Auto Ship4.

Montway Auto Transport: Best Overall

We awarded Montway Auto Transport the designation of Best Overall shipping company in the country. The car shipping broker provides both open and enclosed transport at affordable prices by working with over 15,000 carriers nationwide. Montway ships to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as international destinations.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB)  gives the auto transport broker an A+ rating. Customers rate Montway as highly reputable, giving the company an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.0.

Discover more in our full Montway Auto Transport review.

AmeriFreight: Best Discounts

AmeriFreight works with a wide network of fully vetted car carriers providing open and enclosed auto transport to all 50 states. AmeriFreight is our choice for Best for Discounts, as it offers discounted pricing to members of the military, students, first responders, and more.

The company holds an A+ rating from the BBB and nearly 1,200 customers on the organization’s reviews section give AmeriFreight an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.

Read more in our full AmeriFreight review.

Sherpa Auto Transport: Best For Locked-In Rates

Our research team finds Sherpa Auto Transport to be the Best for Locked-In Rates. The transport broker locks in its pricing, meaning the price quote is the final price you’ll pay. Sherpa Auto Transport provides both open transport and enclosed car shipping to the lower 48 states.

The BBB rates the shipping company with an A+ and customer reviews give Sherpa an average rating of 4.9 stars out of 5.0.

For more details about locked-in pricing, read our complete Sherpa Auto Transport review.

Easy Auto Ship: Best Added Benefits

We consider Easy Auto Ship the auto transport company with the Best Added Benefits. The shipping broker prides itself on going above and beyond, offering customers extra benefits like paying for a car wash and rental car reimbursement.

Easy Auto Ship provides both open and enclosed auto shipping options to all 50 states. It holds an A+ rating from the BBB and a 4.6-star average customer rating.

Learn more about the company’s added benefits in our complete Easy Auto Ship review.

uShip: Best Shipping Marketplace

Rather than an auto shipping broker, uShip is a shipping marketplace where carriers bid on shipment requests posted by customers. Our team finds uShip to be the Best Shipping Marketplace, as the customer has the power to choose pricing.

The BBB gives uShip an A+ rating and customers rate the marketplace with 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

Check out our full uShip review to learn more.

FAQ: Open Vs. Enclosed Transport

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.