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Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: What's the Difference?

Saturday, Apr 27, 2024 by Professional Car Carriers
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Car shipping options vary across Canada; open and enclosed auto transport being two of them. Each has its advantages and disadvantages so understanding these differences will allow you to select the one most suited to your vehicle's needs.

Open Car Shipping

Open vehicle transport can be an efficient and economical means of moving vehicles from A to B, usually using a trailer equipped with two levels and capable of fitting up to 9 cars at once. Although this method exposes vehicles to elements like road debris and weather that could impact them negatively — the key advantage being reduced costs associated with transport.

Pros of Open Vehicle Transport:

  • Cost-Effective and Convenient: Open vehicle transport is often less costly because more vehicles can be moved at once. 
  • Common and Flexible: With its common availability and shorter waiting times, open car shipping service provides greater scheduling flexibility as well as shorter wait times than alternative modes of vehicle transport. 

Cons of Open Vehicle Transport:

  • Exposed a Vehicle to the Elements: Vehicles may be exposed to weather and road debris that could potentially cause damage.
  • Limited Capacity: The two-level rack system may be limited in accommodating larger or taller vehicles easily. 

Enclosed Auto Transport

Enclosed auto transport provides your vehicle with VIP treatment. Your car will have superior security and protection throughout its journey. It’s no wonder why enclosed car carriers have been the top choice by many when it comes to shipping luxury, exotic, or classic cars. With this shipping option, vehicles are concealed in a covered trailer that shields them from dirt, debris, and road hazards. 

Pros of Enclosed Car Shipping:

  • Increased Protection: Your vehicles are transported in a climate-controlled, sealed space.
  • Perfect for Special Vehicles: Offers peace of mind when transporting exotic or customized vehicles, ensuring they arrive in pristine condition—without a scratch.

Cons of Enclosed Car Shipping:

  • Higher Cost: The cost of enclosed shipping is higher because of factors like lower capacity and specialized equipment
  • Limited Availability: Fewer enclosed carriers can result in long wait times for booking.

Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: Cost Comparison in Canada

As with anything, cost is usually the determining factor when it comes to car shipping options. Open car shipping is typically less costly; it ranges between $600 to $2,200 in Canada for coast-to-coast delivery, while enclosed auto transport costs range between $2,000 to $5,000. Generally speaking, car shipping cost for both car shipping options depends on several factors including distance, vehicle condition and timing.

Factors Influencing Car Shipping Costs:

  • Seasonality: Shipping costs may increase during winter due to higher demand and potential delays.
  • Size and Weight: Heavier or larger vehicles require more space and fuel, raising the cost.
  • Urgency: Expedited shipping services are more expensive, regardless of the method chosen.

Choosing the Right Car Shipping Method

  • Consider Your Vehicle's Value: When shipping a high-end vehicle or a vehicle that is dear to your heart, enclosed transport may be the safer solution.
  • Assess the Distance: For shorter journeys, open shipping is usually sufficient and safe; however, enclosed shipping offers greater protection for longer or international voyages.
  • Determine Your Requirements: If you need to adhere to a strict delivery schedule or your vehicle requires extra protection, enclosed shipping may be a better solution.

The value, distance, and specific requirements of your car all play a part in deciding how you ship your car. Enclosed shipping offers excellent protection for high-end vehicles while open shipping is more affordable and accessible.  By carefully considering all these factors, you can ensure a cost-effective yet safe transport solution for your vehicle. Whether you are relocating or purchasing a vintage car, understanding all your options will allow you to make a truly informed decision.

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