Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: Which One Is Best?

Deciding to ship a car can be a complicated and confusing for people who are likely already overwhelmed by the rest of the moving process. There are tons of different terms to research and understand along the way. A couple of those terms include open transport and enclosed transport. So what do these terms mean, and which one is best for your client’s vehicle? Here’s everything you need to know so that you can help them make an informed decision:

What Is Open Car Shipping?

Open car shipping involves shipping vehicles on an open trailer. Odds are that you’ve seen these trailers on the road before. They are open on the sides and are able to transport multiple vehicles at the same time. Some of these trailers are actually double-deckers that are able to transport up to ten vehicles depending on size and weight variations.

Pros and Cons of Open Car Shipping

Some of the pros of open car shipping include:

  • Cheaper costs
  • Greater availability
  • Faster service

Some of the cons of open car shipping include:

  • No protection from the elements
  • Decreased security while on the road
  • Car will likely arrive dirty

What Is Enclosed Car Shipping?

Enclosed car shipping involves shipping vehicles in an enclosed trailer. You wouldn’t necessarily know if you’ve seen these trailers on the road before since they are completely enclosed, and you can’t see what’s inside. Some of these trailers are designed to transport a single car by itself or a few at a time.

Pros and Cons of Enclosed Car Shipping

Some of the pros of enclosed car shipping include:

  • Completely protected from the elements
  • Improved security measures
  • More personalized service options

Some of the cons of enclosed car shipping include:

  • Higher costs
  • Limited availability
  • Longer shipping timeframes

How Do I Know Which Option Is Correct For My Client?

As you can see, both open transport and enclosed transport have their own set of pros and cons. So how can you weigh out these different factors and help your client choose the right option for their vehicle and shipping needs? Here are some different factors to consider:

Cost

The first thing that your client needs to consider when deciding between open transport and enclosed transport is cost. If they’re looking for a more affordable option, then they should consider open transport.

Open transport is cheaper than enclosed transport because open trailers are designed to transport several different cars at the same time — meaning that fuel and labor costs can be split up into ten different ways — decreasing the individual cost burden placed on your client.

Enclosed transport, on the other hand, can be quite expensive. Instead of splitting the cost with nine other cars, you’re only splitting the cost with one or two. With a single enclosed trailer, you’re solely responsible for the entire cost.

The average cost for enclosed transport is around $1,500, whereas the average cost for open transport is around $1,080. This means that you can expect to pay about 40% more for enclosed transport depending on distance, type of vehicle, time of year, etc.

Convenience

The second thing that your client needs to consider when deciding between open transport and enclosed transport is convenience. If your client is looking for the most convenient shipping option, then they should consider enclosed transport. This is because, with enclosed transport, you pay premium prices for premium service.

This means that enclosed car shipping often comes with door-to-door service — meaning that the car is picked up directly from the driver at a location of the client’s choosing and dropped off at another location of their choosing.

Enclosed car shipping also often comes with “white glove” service — meaning that the client is provided with real-time updates and locations throughout the journey.

It also means that the client is provided with a dedicated customer service representative — or even the actual driver — to contact with any questions.

Speed

The third thing your client needs to consider when deciding between open and enclosed transport is speed. If your client is working with a tight timeframe, then they should consider open transport.

Open transport is often the quicker option since more open trailers are available on the road. This means that it’s easier to place the load with the preferred delivery date.

Weather

The fourth thing that your client needs to consider when deciding between open transport and enclosed transport is the weather.

While it’s nearly impossible to predict the weather, if there’s a possibility that weather will be an issue along the way, they should consider enclosed transport.

Potential weather issues can include rain, hail, dust, and snow.

If the weather doesn’t seem to be an issue, your client should feel comfortable going with open transport. If they express concerns about vehicle safety and condition, you can remind them that in most cases, they will only need to give their car a quick wash to have it looking as good as new.

Spending $15 on a car wash is definitely better than paying $500 more for enclosed transport. And if anything does happen to their car while on the road, that’s what insurance is for.

Vehicle Price and Rarity

The final things that your client needs to consider when deciding between open transport and enclosed transport are vehicle price and rarity. If your client is shipping a particularly rare or expensive vehicle, then they should consider enclosed transport. The extra cost of enclosed transport is well worth it to protect an expensive or rare vehicle.

Antique vehicles, classic vehicles, custom vehicles, exotic vehicles, and luxury vehicles should be shipped in an enclosed trailer. On the other hand, regular cars purchased from auto dealerships like Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, etc., should be perfectly fine being shipped on open trailers.

Other Factors to Consider When Shipping a Vehicle

Open vs. enclosed transports are only two factors that your clients need to consider when shipping a vehicle — countless other decisions need to be made and things that need to be done throughout the process. To help things go as smoothly as possible, here are some other factors that your clients need to consider when deciding to ship a vehicle:

Terminal-to-Terminal vs. Door-to-Door Service

Your clients also need to choose between terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door delivery services. Terminal-to-terminal services involve the client dropping off the vehicle at an auto transport terminal.

These terminals are large lots, often located near large metropolitan areas, where drivers can pick up and load multiple vehicles simultaneously so that they can quickly get on the road.

If your client is looking to save money, they should consider terminal-to-terminal service since this option will be cheaper than door-to-door service. If your client lives in or close to a large metropolitan area, this service is likely going to be more convenient. However, if your client lives in a more rural area far away from an auto transport terminal, this might not be the best option for them as they would have to arrange transport after dropping off the car at the terminal.

Door-to-door services involve your client choosing specific pickup and drop-off locations convenient to them.

These locations are often home addresses or work addresses where the driver comes directly to the client to pick up the car.

That way, the client doesn’t have to drive out to a secondary location and arrange transport from there. The car is then dropped off directly to the client at the designated drop-off location.

While door-to-door delivery service is certainly more convenient, it’s also more expensive because drivers have to drive to multiple different locations to load the trailer. For instance, if you’re using a ten-car open transport trailer, the driver would have to go to ten different locations in a specific order based on the best arrangement for the load.

This takes time and can definitely extend your delivery timeframe.

Auto Transport Company

Deciding to ship a car can be scary. After all, a car is an incredibly valuable asset that requires a special level of care.

Clients need to have the peace of mind that their car is in the best hands and that it will arrive at its destination safely and soundly. 

A company like Carvaygo offers that. A wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM, a leading finished vehicle transportation provider that moves over 30,000 vehicles a month for some of the world's largest automotive companies, Carvaygo is built from the ground up to be a consumer-focused company dedicated to moving personal vehicles. 

 

Preparing a Car for Shipment

Now that your client has made all the necessary car-shipping decisions, you need to help them prepare their car for shipment. Although this may be the last step in the process, it’s still incredibly important.

Remind them that they need to remove all personal belongings from the vehicle before picking up by the driver or dropping them off at the terminal. Also, remind them that they need to remove any and all exterior accessories from the vehicle.

It’s also a good idea to have them ship the car with a mostly-empty gas tank to limit the amount of weight on the trailer — whether enclosed or open.

You should encourage them to complete any necessary vehicle maintenance before it’s put on the trailer by booking things like oil changes, fluid flushes, etc.

Finally, encourage them to conduct a pre-shipment inspection of the vehicle — taking plenty of pictures and videos of the vehicle to document its condition before it hits the road.

Conclusion

Carvaygo has a network of 40,000+ independent car haulers across the country who provide fast, safe and effective transport of personally owned vehicles. A wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM, an award-winning vehicle logistics provider trusted by some of the world's largest automotive manufacturers around the world, Carvaygo was designed to be a technologically advanced vehicle shipping operation. Carvaygo's contract with RPM lets our customers benefit from RPM's strength and experience.

Carvaygo was built from the ground up using the latest technology to make your experience fast and frictionless. Carvaygo is an easy and reliable way to have your vehicle shipped affordably anywhere in the continental U.S.

Sources:
Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping | RetirementLiving
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Car Across the Country? | Forbes
How to Prepare Your Car for Shipment | Move.org

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