Open Transport Car Shipping: Is It Safe?

Safety is everything when it comes to transporting your vehicle. After all, your car is one of your most prized possessions and is worth thousands of dollars.

So, is open transport a safe and reliable shipping option for your car? Here's what you need to know to make the right decision for your vehicle.

What Is Open Transport Car Shipping?

Open transport car shipping involves shipping a vehicle on a trailer that's open on the sides. However, there are several different variations of these open-air trailers.

For example, two-level trailers can transport up to ten vehicles. Since they can transport so many vehicles at once, they are the most popular option. They are also lighter and use less fuel which means lower fuel costs.

There are also single-level, multi-car carriers that can transport a few vehicles. This option is best-suited for expedited deliveries or luxury vehicles.

Finally, single-level tow trailers are best-suited for local or short-distance moves.

How Much Does Open Transport Shipping Cost?

The most important factors in determining the cost of your car transport are transport method and distance. So assuming that you're choosing open-air transportation to ship your car, here are the average costs based on distance traveled:

  • $630 for distances of less than 500 miles
  • $790 for distances between 500 and 1,000 miles
  • $1,070 for distances between 1,000 and 1,500 miles
  • $1,320 for distances between 1,500 and 2,000 miles
  • $1,360 for distances between 2,000 and 2,500 miles
  • $1,350 for distances greater than 2,500 miles

Is Open Transport a More Affordable Option?

Based on these cost estimates, open car shipping is definitely one of the most affordable ways to ship your car. While costs vary depending on several different factors, including the size of the vehicle, the time of year, the shipping time frame, and the shipping distance, you can expect to pay about 30% to 40% less for open car transport.

For example, if you're looking to ship a car using open transport, you can expect to pay $970 on average compared to $1,340 for an enclosed car carrier. If you're looking to ship an SUV using open transport, you can expect to pay $1,080 compared to $1,480 on average for enclosed car transport.

Finally, if you're looking to ship a truck using open transport, you can expect to pay $1,210 for open transport compared to $1,680 on average for enclosed car shipping.

Will My Car Get Damaged If I Choose Open Transport Shipping?

There's a slight chance that your car will get damaged if you choose open transport shipping. However, there's always that tiny chance, no matter which shipping method you choose.

Instead, you have to weigh the pros and cons of open transport shipping in addition to other methods of transport to see if the advantages outweigh the risks.

When Is Open Transport Shipping a Good Choice?

In most cases, the advantages of open transport shipping outweigh the risks. For example, open transport shipping is a good choice if:

  • You're looking to save money. Open transport is definitely a more economical choice since more cars can be placed within a single shipment. So instead of baring the cost of shipment alone or only splitting it with fewer cars, you're splitting it with more cars that bring the cost down substantially.
  • You're looking for fast shipping. Since open transport is the most popular option when it comes to car shipping, there are more open-air carriers available. And since there are more open car carriers available, it should be easier to find a carrier that's able to quickly pick up your vehicle and transport it to its destination in a timely manner.
  • You have a regular vehicle that doesn't require special handling. Open transport is an excellent option for regular vehicles that don't require special handling. For example, your Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Ford, and Chevy should be fine on an open carrier.

When Is Open Transport Shipping Not a Good Choice?

The only real reason not to choose open transport shipping is if you're transporting a high-end vehicle that requires special handling and extra protection. For example, luxury cars from brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Tesla, and Jaguar should be shipped in an enclosed trailer to keep them better protected from road debris, adverse weather, and theft.

What Other Options Are Available?

If open transport auto shipping isn't right for you, there are other alternatives to consider, including enclosed transport, full-service transport, and economy transport. Let's learn more about these alternatives so that you can make the right choice for your vehicle and shipping needs:

1. Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport involves shipping your vehicle in an enclosed carrier that's completely enclosed on all sides. Since the trailer is completely enclosed, the vehicle is better protected from damage from road debris, adverse weather, and theft.

This method of transport, while safer than open transport, is also more expensive. As a result, you may want to go with an enclosed transporter for high-value luxury or antique vehicles that require an extra level of protection not offered by open transport.

2. Full-Service Transport

Another option to consider is full-service transport. Full-service transport, also known as door-to-door transport, involves picking up and dropping off your vehicle at specific locations that you choose.

For example, you could choose to have your vehicle picked up by the driver at your work and have it delivered by the driver at your new home. This method of transport may cost a bit more but is usually worth it in terms of efficiency and convenience.

3. Economy Transport

Finally, there's economy transport that involves dropping off your car at an auto transport terminal, where a driver then picks it up along with the other vehicles in the load. The driver then drops your car off at another auto transport terminal, where you pick it up.

This method of transport is also known as terminal-to-terminal shipping and is a less popular, albeit cheaper, method of transport. While this method may be cheaper, it can often take longer since drivers tend to wait for a full load before actually hitting the highway. It may also be less convenient if you don't live near auto transport terminals that are typically located close to big cities and airports.

Should I Choose Enclosed Transport for Long Distance Shipping?

Theoretically, longer distances mean more time on the road, increasing the risk of damage. However, that's not really how it works. Damage while on the road isn't something that can be easily predicted. If damage does occur, it's likely due to other factors besides distance alone.

Furthermore, it's important to consider cost when making these decisions. Since most car shippers charge based on the mile, they're likely going to charge more per mile for enclosed auto transport than for open auto transport carriers. While the difference may seem small, it quickly adds up if you're shipping your car thousands of miles.

For example, say that you're looking to ship your car 2,000 miles. It would cost about $0.68 per mile or $1,360 total for open transport. It would cost about $0.93 per mile or $1,830 total for enclosed transport.

How Can I Keep My Car Safe During Open Transport Shipping?

While there are risks involved with open transport shipping, there are things you can do to minimize these risks and help keep your car safe during its journey. Here are five tips to help keep your car safe during open auto transport:

1. Read Reviews

For starters, you should read online reviews to make sure that you're choosing the best car shipping company. Car shipping companies should have positive reviews showcased on their website, but it's still important to check out third-party sources as well.

For example, you can check out reviews on Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB even allows customers to submit specific complaints against a company, which the organization processes and resolves.

A few bad reviews shouldn't automatically rule out an auto transporter, but multiple bad reviews should definitely be a red flag.

2. Check Insurance Policies

Next, you need to check out the insurance policy of your chosen transport company. Most transport companies offer some form of insurance to cover your vehicle during transport. However, it's up to you to make sure that this insurance coverage is high enough to cover your vehicle in the event of extensive damage completely.

3. Ship With Reliable Companies

Perhaps the best way to keep your car safe during transport is to work with reliable and reputable auto transport companies. In addition to checking customer reviews, you should also check the registration of the company in question with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Furthermore, you can check their insurance information with the FMCSA as well.

4. Read Carefully

Before you sign on the dotted line with an auto transport service, you need to carefully read the provided contract so that you fully understand what you're signing. That way, you know what's expected of you, and you know what to expect from the transport company as well.

For example, you may be expected to pay a certain amount of money upfront to reserve your spot. On the other hand, the carrier may be required to honor your shipment date, timeframe, and price. These are important details to verify ahead of time.

5. Prepare Your Car Properly

Finally, you can actually protect your car by preparing it properly. It's always a good idea to remove all personal belongings from both the inside and outside of the vehicle.

For example, you should remove dashboard cameras, sun shades, trash bins, and phone mounts that could potentially get dislodged during transit. You should remove things like roof racks, tow hitches, running boards, and grille guards in terms of exterior accessories. In addition, you need to inspect your vehicle before it's loaded onto the open trailer. Take plenty of pictures and videos to document the condition of your vehicle. Make a note of any existing damages, such as scratches and dents.

What If My Car Gets Damaged?

Even if you do everything right, there's still a small chance that your car gets damaged during transport. So what do you do if this happens? For starters, don't panic. Instead, contact the transportation company immediately and inform them of the damage. Document the damage with photos and videos. Provide this proof to the transportation company along with the photos and videos you took during your initial inspection to show that it wasn't pre-existing damage.

From there, the transportation company will likely work with their insurance company to reimburse you for the cost of repairs. Take your vehicle to a repair shop for an estimate, and provide it to the proper party so that you can get your money and repairs completed promptly.

The Bottom Line

If you've decided that open transport car shipping is the right choice for you, reach out to Carvaygo for a quick and easy car shipping quote based on your type of car and shipping distance. However, if you've chosen to go with enclosed car shipping instead, Carvaygo also offers this specialized service for our clients. So whether you're moving for work, school, or the military — Carvaygo has the car shipping services and network necessary to get your car from point A to point B.

To begin the process, visit our website for a valid quote for 30 days with our price lock promise. If you love our quote, then you can go ahead and book your shipment with the peace of mind that you can cancel up to 48 hours before the scheduled pickup date. From there, we will match your load with a vetted and monitored carrier that will handle the entire process from pickup to drop-off. It's that easy with Carvaygo.

Sources:
How Much Does It Cost to Ship A Car? | Move.org
Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping | Retirement Living
Licensing & Insurance Carrier Search | FMCSA

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