Open vs. Enclosed: Which is the Best Way to Ship a Car to Another State?

Brantley Kendall

21 Mar 2023 1 year ago

Are you planning to ship your car to another state? Are you confused about how to proceed with the car shipping process? It is only natural to get cold feet to part from your precious car while a car shipping company transports your car to the new location. But fret not, we can help you with it through our comprehensive study on picking out the best way to ship a car to another state.

Let’s start with some basic details about car shipping that you need to know before finding the right way to ship your car.

What is car shipping?

Car shipping is the process of transporting your car from one location to another, through a car shipping company. The reason for this shipping can be of various types like job transfer, going to a new place for a long break, or simply for some other personal reasons.

There are many aspects to explore when we talk about shipping a car to another state, such as the distance between the two locations, the size and the condition of your car, and many more. The most important factor is choosing the type of transport you wish to prefer to transport your car from one state to another. Any well-established and reputable auto shipping company offers two types of transport options – Open and enclosed transport. Both of these types are used by people but the open type of transport is preferred more than the latter. Let’s dive deeper into these types of transport offered by car shipping companies to transport your car from one state to another state for a hassle-free shipping experience.

All about Open car shipping

Are you in the midst of moving or relocating and need a reliable and safe way to transport your car? Open car shipping might be the perfect solution for you. This method of car transport is becoming increasingly popular and is the preferred choice for many individuals who need to move their car or vehicle.

Open car shipping allows you to get your car to its destination without having to worry about the wear and tear of a long drive. Furthermore, it is often cheaper than other forms of transport and you don’t have to worry about the added costs of fuel and hotels. Here’s all you need to know about open car shipping.

What is open car shipping?

The term “open car shipping” may sound a bit foreign at first, but it is actually quite simple. Open car shipping involves loading cars on an open trailer and then transporting them to their final destination. The open trailer allows the cars to be exposed to the elements such as wind, rain, and sun, unlike an enclosed trailer which keeps the cars protected and hidden. This method of shipping is significantly cheaper than enclosed transport and can often be the most cost effective way to ship a car.

Under this type of shipping, multiple (up to 10) cars are loaded onto an open trailer truck to transport the cars to another location thus making it a cost-effective option.


Open car shipping is one of the most commonly used car shipping type because it is very cost-effective. If you often go for drives across states then you would have definitely crossed many large truck trailers carrying multiple cars, it is a pretty common site on express ways. Hence, proving that it is a very widely available car shipping medium.

Open car shipping is also beneficial for people who are planning to ship multiple cars at once; it will be cheaper as well as a quicker option for them.


While open car shipping is preferred by a large part of the US population, you would hardly see any high-end luxury car or any sports car over an open trailer. That’s because open transport is a cheaper option but it exposes the cars to elements like harsh sunlight, dust, dirt and debris, even mud in rainy season. These elements may impact the appearance and add to wear and tear of the car.

As open trailer trucks are high in demand, there may be chances of them getting booked in advance for months so if you have pre-defined delivery window for your car; then you might be disappointed with the bookings.

All about Enclosed car shipping

Owning a car is a major responsibility and can be a significant financial investment. That’s why it is so important to choose a reliable and secure form of transportation when relocating your vehicle. Enclosed car shipping is the perfect solution for those who need to transport their vehicle in the utmost safety and security.

It is a safe, efficient and cost-effective way of transporting vehicles. It’s an especially popular choice for those who need to transport high-value cars or require extra protection for their vehicle during the transit.

What is enclosed car shipping?

Enclosed car shipping, as the name denotes is a trailer truck that offers protection to your cars as it is covered from all sides, meaning that the process of enclosed car shipping involves loading your vehicle onto a trailer and then transporting it to the desired destination. The trailer is enclosed, meaning that the vehicle is completely protected from the elements such as rain, snow, and wind. Enclosed car shipping also provides extra protection from theft and damage that can occur during open-air shipping.


As these enclosed containers are covered from all sides, these offer maximum protection to your car especially from any external elements like harsh sunlight, dust, dirt, debris, and mud. These trailers are also designed in an advanced manner that makes them shock-proof; protecting your cars from colliding or further damage during transit.

It is a good choice for people who have to ship their special edition cars, sports cars or vintage cars that demand separate attention while being transported. An enclosed trailer will protect your precious car from any damage or wear and tear. 

The closed space also provide a sense of privacy to your car, so if allowed by the car shipping company, you can also load some of your luggage or personal items along.


An entirely closed space and better protection definitely means having to spend more money for availing it. If you have a limited budget for shipping your car then, enclosed car shipping might not be a right fit for you.

As it is an expensive choice, it is not readily available. So if you are looking for a quick transport medium then you might not get the enclosed trailer.

Enclosed trailers can have only limited number of cars in one go depending upon the size of cars, so multiple large size cars may not be shipped together using this car shipping type.

These trailers require very experienced set of carriers that may not be very easy to find and no company would ever risk giving such trailers to newbies without proper background check.

So, while enclosed car shipping may be a very secure way to transport your car inter-state, it may not be as feasible as open car shipping type.

Factors to consider when selecting a car shipping method

While both types of car shipping types have their own merits and demerits, your decision will depend upon many other factors when you decide to ship your car across the state. Here are a few factors that you must consider before choosing a final car shipping method.

  • Budget

Your budget plays a vital role while selecting a car shipping method between open and enclosed. If your car’s protection is your priority, then it is advised to have a higher budget to accommodate enclosed car shipping method along with a large delivery window. But if you are looking for a comparatively quicker delivery, then open car transport will be a readily available and cost-effective option for you.

  • Distance

The distance between the pick up and drop off place can also be a factor while choosing open or enclosed car shipping method. If you want to ship your car over a long distance, then open trailer may lead to wear and tear of your car and hence, enclosed trailer would be a better fit. So, you must go for an option that suits your requirement at the moment.

  • Type of vehicle

The size, weight and overall type of your car will be a prime factor for your decision-making. If you have a limited edition special car, then you would not wish to expose it to elements and would prefer enclosed shipping method. Whereas if your car is simple hatchback, then open transport would be a cheaper and more logical choice.

  • Delivery time flexibility

If you have a fixed delivery time set for your car in advance, then you should prefer a readily available method that is open car shipping. Whereas if you have a flexible delivery time and you can wait without any issue, then enclosed car transport can be preferred.

  • Safety

When you are shipping your car to another state, then you might have certain conflicts regarding the safety. But if you pick a reputable car shipping company, your car will be in safe hands. However, in terms of shipping method, enclosed car shipping is definitely a safer choice as compared to open car transport method.

Once you understand various ways to find the most accurate car shipping method, the main choice is about how to choose the right car shipping company to have the best possible interstate car shipping experience. Here are few things to verify to know about the credibility of any car shipping company.

Tips for evaluating car shipping companies

We all get overwhelmed when it comes to evaluating car shipping companies. In an industry that is full of competition and changing dynamics, it is essential to make sure that you select the best car shipping company that is capable of meeting your needs. Choosing the wrong one can be a costly exercise, so it is important to understand how to evaluate car shipping companies before you make a decision.

At first glance, the task of evaluating car shipping companies can seem daunting and complex. After all, what do you look for in a car shipping company? How do you know if they are the right fit for you and your car? What factors should you consider when selecting a car shipping company?

These are just some of the questions that trouble car owners when making this important decision. Understandably, many of us don’t have the time or expertise to make an informed decision. But, if you want to find the best car shipping company for your needs, it is essential to do your due diligence. Fret not, below are a few tips to help you out.

  • Recommendations and reviews

It is always suggested to go for recommendations from your family and friends, as shipping your car is a matter of giving away your asset to someone for shipping it to another state. Choosing a car shipping company through some acquaintance gives you a chance to establish trust easily in the agency.

If you don’t get any promising recommendations then go for online reviews. Check various websites and see what past customers have to say about their car shipping experience with the company. This will give you a rough idea of what you can expect from any auto shipping service.

  • Certifications

Check for a company’s credibility through various certifications that are required to operate as an auto shipping agency. You can get a sense of their industry experience through this data. Also, look for network and numbers quoted by the company on their website, this will give you an idea of their scale of business operations.

  • License and registration

In the US, every auto shipping company must be accredited from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) under the Department Of Transport(DOT) which is a legal body that governs all the processes under auto shipping industry in the country. Any reputable company will be very transparent about its legitimacy via a government body, so if you are having trouble finding license and registration details of the company, then that auto shipping company may not a right contender for your shipping experience.

  • Insurance coverage

Once you have an impression of reliability from a car shipping service, the next step is to look for insurance coverage offered by the company. This will give you an idea that to what extent can you expect a compensation from the company incase of any incident or damage that happen to your car during the interstate transport.

  • Cancellation policy

While sharing the price quote, a shipping company may look too good to be true that’s when you must have a look at their cancellation policy. You must always be prepare for an emergency, there might be times when you would wish to cancel your shipping. At times, companies levies a huge compensation fee at the time of cancellation so it is recommended that you must know all about the cancellation charges, well in advance to avoid any last-minute shocks.

We hope you got a clear understanding about the methods of shipping your car across the state. Both open and enclosed car shipping can be good fit for you depending upon other factors as discussed above. Whichever type of shipping you choose for your inter-state car shipping experience, always be sure to do a thorough background check of the car shipping company to avoid any fraud or scam. We understand that giving away your prized possession is not easy, but if you find an experienced and transparent car shipping agency like ours, then we promise to offer you with the best services. You do not have to worry if it is your first time transporting your car across state because our active team will guide you through all the steps right from deciding final price to the delivery of your car at the given address.

At the end, we would suggest that open car transport is the most preferred car shipping method available in the country and you must choose it if your car does not require any special attention. However, if you want to ship an exotic car then choosing enclosed car shipping method is a no-brainer. Any car shipping method you choose should fit your needs and budget at the given time.

If you still have trouble figuring out the right car shipping method then, connect with us and we will help you in making the correct decision for the safety of your car. 

Common Questions (PAA)

How much does it cost to ship a car to another state?

You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 for coast-to-coast transport across the country, while shorter distances may cost between $500 and $1,000.

How long does it take to ship a car to another state?

On average, if the distance is up to 2000 miles, it will take 1-2 days and if more distance, then it may take from 7-9 days.

How do I prepare my car for shipping?

You must wash your car, get a mechanical checkup, secure or remove any external accessories, look out for any leaks or fluid checks, disable all alarms and toll tags, and click pictures of your car before shipping.

Is it safe to ship a car to another state?

Yes, if you choose a reputable and well-established car shipping company and you can have a hassle-free interstate shipping experience.

Can I ship my car across the country?

Yes, through a reputable car shipping company and proper paperwork.

What is the difference between open and enclosed car shipping?

Open car shipping is when the car is loaded onto an open trailer truck whereas enclosed car shipping is when the car is loaded into a closed trailer that is covered from all sides to ensure better protection of your car during transit.

How do I choose a car shipping company?

You must go for an experienced, reputable company with proper registration and license from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA).  

What happens if my car is damaged?

You can claim insurance coverage to compensate for your loss, upon verification from the insurance agency.

Brantley Kendall