Open Auto Transport – How It Works & Much It Costs?

Posted on December 28, 2022

Open transport is the most opted method for auto transport over distant locations. As the name suggests, the carrier for available auto transport does not have any enclosure above or on the sides. This article will cover all the whereabouts of open auto transport.


1. How does Open Auto Transport works?
2. What trailer types are used for Open Transportation?
3. Pros and cons of Open Auto Transport
4. Open Car Transport Rates. How much does it costs & What affects rates?
5. How to compare Open Auto Transport quotes?
6. What documents are required for Open Auto Transport?
7. FAQs

How Does Open Auto Transport Works?

How does Open Auto Transport works

Commonly, there are two sizes of open carrier transport: a six-vehicle carrier and a nine-vehicle carrier. As they usually contain two levels, you can choose the level for your vehicle before loading. Generally, top loading is considered more beneficial than bottom loading. In top loading, your vehicle is safe from potential road threats.

Other than that, a top-loaded vehicle is safe from the leakage of a car above it. However, if you select an up-to-the-mark auto transport company, you do not have to worry about a top-loaded vehicle leaking on your car on the bottom shelf. Good auto-transport companies run a strict checks on vehicles before loading.

What Trailer Types are Used for Open Transportation?

Trailers are the most common type of mode used for open auto transportation. Types of open transportation mainly vary based on the type and number of vehicles they transport. To make an informed decision, you must know your options in available auto transportation.

What Trailer Types are Used for Open Transportation?

Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are the most common type of open auto transport trailers. A flatbed trailer varies in its loading capacity, i.e., you can use it for transporting any vehicle. The vehicle is loaded on a flatbed trailer with the help of a pallet jack or forklift.

Single Axle Trailers

As the name says, a single-axle trailer has one axle. It often has a fixed attachment to the trailer bed with the help of clamps in case there are no springs. In the other case, wheels are attached to both sides and springs. A single-axle trailer has a limited weight capacity that often ranges between 2,500 to 3,000 pounds.

Dual Axle Trailers

A dual-axle trailer is the right choice if the vehicle weighs more than the range of a single-axle trailer. It is designed for transporting cars heavier than 3000 pounds. There are two axles in a dual-axle trailer placed in the center. They are positioned close to each other so that the placement equally distributes the weight load, increasing maneuverability.

Utility Trailers

In their design, utility trailers are pretty similar to flatbed trailers. They do not have ceilings or walls; instead, they have slid sides and low railings to align with the hauling requirements. Utility trailers accommodate many vehicles, so they are well-equipped for that purpose. Most utility trailers have split gates, toolboxes, and easy-to-load ramps and can also accommodate motorcycles.

Pros and Cons of Open Auto Transport

Pros and Cons of Open Auto Transport

Open auto transport is advantageous and disadvantageous in its ways. No matter your mode, your vehicle will safely reach its destination if your transport company is trustworthy.


Less Expensive

The former is more affordable because of open and enclosed carrier auto transport. As enclosed auto transport provides more protection to the vehicle being transported, it costs more and is suitable for very high-end and expensive cars.

Wide Availability

No matter the pickup or drop-off location, you can easily find a means of open auto transport. This option is more readily available as compared to enclosed carriers.

Fast Transit

Due to their vast and easy availability, open transport carriers are a fast way to transport your vehicles from one location to another.


Unshielded Transport

The main disadvantage of open-carrier auto transport is its unshielded design. This mode of auto transport is not ideal for harsh weather such as rain and snow. Not only that but also, in open auto transport, your vehicle will be exposed to other external risk factors such as dirt, dust, rocks, etc.

Open Car Transport Rates.
How Much Does It Costs & What Affects Rates?

The cost of open auto transport ranges between $500 to $1000. It is almost impossible to give an exact price quote without the precise pickup and drop-off location and many other factors. Here are a few parameters which play an essential role in calculating the final price quote for auto transport.

Regardless of which shipping method you choose, various factors can affect the final price of your car shipment.

Open Car Transport Rates

These include:


As the distance increase, the cost per mile reduces. However, the overall price of long-distance transport is higher due to more miles.


It may not be a commonly known fact, but popular locations have cheaper drop-offs than far-off, lesser-known places.

Vehicle Model

It costs more to transport the latest Ferrari than the 2016 Chevrolet. The added cost is mainly due to added protection for an expensive vehicle.

Type of Shipment

Every shipment company offers two types of deliveries; terminal-to-terminal and door-to-door. Door-to-door delivery has added cost to it.

Vehicle Condition

Often, people do not understand how vehicle condition impacts shipping charges. But it does as an operating vehicle is less challenging to move and does not require any safety precautions as the vehicle is in good condition.

How to Compare Open Auto Transport Quotes?

To compare open auto transport quotes, you must know what the companies consider while developing those price quotes. To get value for your money, you must understand how all parts fit together to form the final quote.

The end price quote or the final amount of money you will be paying depends on the transport company. So, you must go for a trustworthy company and get a fair deal on the price quote. The following factors determine price:

Drop-off location
Vehicle size
Route of delivery
Method of delivery (open or enclosed auto transport)

The above are the factors a transport company will look for in a potential customer, i.e., you. However, it would help if you looked for the following factors.

Company Insurance

You should cross-check the company’s insurance policy and verify their policy in case of damage or an accident. Then, it would be best to decide whether you need to buy additional insurance.


An unlicensed transport company is a big no for even a short transit. You can cross-check a company’s license at

Company Reviews

A transport company’s reputation is a critical point. After all, you will entrust them with your vehicle; the transport company you select must have an excellent reputation in the market.

You can also get a price quote estimation by entering the particulars of your transit.

What Documents are Required for Open Auto Transport?

To avoid any delay in your car shipment, you should provide the company with the following documents:

What Documents are Required for Open Auto Transport

Bill of Lading

Also written as BOL, a Bill of lading is a crucial document in the shipment of a vehicle. It documents the condition of your vehicle before and after shipment. In case of any damage to your car, make a note on the Bill of Lading. Otherwise, you are ineligible to claim insurance money.


All the insurance documentation provided to you by the company is essential. Without it, you won’t be able to claim any insurance money. It also serves as proof of the terms and conditions of the insurance. Make sure you carefully read and understand them.

Apart from these necessary documents, you may also require a few additional documents, which vary from company to company. These include:

Title and Registration of the Vehicle
Customer’s Proof of Insurance
Photo ID


How much in advance should I book my vehicle shipment?

Ideally, you should make a booking one week in advance. However, it varies from company to company as well.

Can I transport a nonoperational vehicle?

Generally, it costs more to transport a non-operating vehicle. Most companies transport it, but you must properly communicate the vehicle’s condition to the company.

What should I do in case of damage to my vehicle post-shipment?

All damages caused in an auto-transport should be immediately documented in the Bill of Lading, and then contact the company.

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