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Shipping Made Simple: A Guide to Open Car Transport

Shipping Made Simple: A Guide to Open Car TransportShipping Made Simple: A Guide to Open Car Transport
Understanding the ins and outs of open car shipping

Published: July 4th, 2024.

Open auto shipping involves transporting vehicles on open-air carriers, which can usually hold numerous cars at once. This method is popular and low-cost, making it ideal for long-distance transportation of a variety of cars. If you want your car, SUV, or any other kind of vehicle transported without any issues, you need to be familiar with the ins and outs of open-car shipping.

This all-inclusive guide will discuss the details of open automobile shipping, including the procedure, pros and cons, variables that affect pricing, ways to save money, and how to choose a reliable transport firm. When you finish this guide, you will have all the information you need to confidently and efficiently handle the challenges of open-car shipping.


Understanding Open Car Shipping

What is open car transport?
What is open car transport?

Open auto shipping is transporting your vehicle on an open-air hauler. This method usually transports more than one vehicle at once. Open-air haulers are the most common and cost-effective mode of vehicle shipping worldwide.

The process explained

Before you can have your car shipped to the ideal destination, you must have everything in place. The following is a detailed process for shipping your vehicle using the open carrier option.

  • Get your vehicle information ready: Before contacting the ideal transport company, you should find out every detail of the vehicle you intend to transport. Most companies ask for these details when calculating a customer’s quote
  • Research the best hauling company: You will find many transport providers, but there will always be one that offers the ideal cost and terms for transporting your vehicle. Engage different companies to get their terms of service until you settle on the best
  • Get a quote: Contact the hauling company of your choice to get a quote for the whole process. You will need to explain the distance for hauling and the type of delivery for your vehicle. You will also need to know the company's safety measures. Choose the best offer that caters to your safety and cost needs
  • Prepare your car for delivery: The vehicle needs proper interior and exterior cleaning for inspection purposes. This will make it easy for the driver to document any damage and the car's condition for transparency for both parties. Taking photos of the vehicle’s condition will make it easier to prepare the bill of lading. Clear all other items not part of the vehicle since they may not be insured in case of an accident or damage
  • Issuance of the shipping information: The shipping information includes the pick-up and delivery times. You are also issued the driver’s information and the location. This is when you are notified of any updates that may arise before the vehicle is transported
  • Loading and fitting the car onto the carrier: After the inspection and documentation, the vehicle is loaded onto the carrier for transit. The hauling company fastens the car onto the carrier to ensure it doesn’t move within the carrier, which could cause damage during delivery
  • Track the delivery: The hauling company will issue tracking services that help you monitor how the vehicle is transported and the expected progress
  • Receiving your car: The company will ensure delivery within the specified time. During delivery, the receiver and a company representative inspect the vehicle to ensure it is in the condition in which it was released

Advantages of Open Car Shipping

  • Cost-effectiveness: Open car shipping is economical, saving you money while receiving reliable services. It also enables the transport of multiple vehicles simultaneously without needing separate quotes
  • Availability and convenience: Open carriers are widely available, making scheduling more accessible and flexible. This ensures that you can find transport options that fit your timeline
  • Versatility: Suitable for various vehicle types, open car shipping accommodates a range of cars, from sedans to SUVs, making it a versatile option for different transport needs

Disadvantages of Open Vehicle Shipping

  • Exposure to elements: Vehicles are fully exposed to weather conditions like rain, snow, and sun. This exposure can lead to potential damage, such as paint fading or minor dents from road debris during transit
  • Less privacy and security: With vehicles on open display, there is less protection against potential theft or vandalism. The visibility also increases the risk of damage from road debris, making them more susceptible during the journey

What Are the Factors That Determine the Cost of Open Car Shipping?

How much does it cost to transport a car on an open carrier?
How much does it cost to transport a car on an open carrier?

Shipping a car via an open carrier is popular and cost-effective, but several factors can influence the final price. Here's a detailed look at these factors:

  • Distance: The farther the car needs to be transported, the higher the cost. This is because longer distances incur more significant fuel and labor expenses. For instance, shipping a vehicle across the country will be significantly more expensive than transporting it a few hundred miles
  • Vehicle size and weight: The size and weight of the vehicle play a crucial role. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, take up more space on the carrier and add more weight, leading to higher shipping costs. In contrast, smaller and lighter vehicles are generally cheaper to ship
  • Condition of the vehicle: If the car is inoperable, special equipment for loading and unloading is required, increasing the cost. Operable cars are easier and less costly to handle during the shipping process
  • Route popularity: Shipping routes that are frequently used and have a high demand for car transport tend to be cheaper. This is due to economies of scale and the availability of carriers on these routes. Conversely, less common routes may be more expensive due to lower demand
  • Season: The time of year can affect shipping costs. During peak moving seasons, such as summer, demand for car shipping increases, driving up prices. In contrast, shipping a car during off-peak times may result in lower costs
  • Shipping speed: If you need expedited shipping, you can expect to pay a premium. Expedited services prioritize your vehicle for faster delivery, which requires more resources and coordination from the shipping company
  • Fuel prices: Fuel costs are a significant factor in transportation expenses. Fluctuations in fuel prices can directly impact the cost of shipping a car. When fuel prices are high, shipping costs tend to rise as well

How to Save Money on Open Car Shipping

First, place your order early to get the lowest price on open-vehicle shipping. Additionally, you can save during off-peak hours if you are flexible with the pickup and delivery dates. Furthermore, shipping between terminals is more economical than door-to-door delivery, although there are specific locations where you'll need to bring your car for pickup and drop-off.

To get the best price, use internet comparison tools to compare numerous quotes from different auto transport firms. Also, check with shipping firms for any deals, including student, veteran, or seasonal discounts. Open transport is typically more affordable than enclosed transportation because it can carry multiple automobiles simultaneously while spreading costs among many customers. To prevent extra charges and damage, ensure your automobile is free of personal belongings.

Moreover, opt for standard shipping unless you need expedited service, as expedited options often come at a premium. Additionally, keep your car operating well to prevent additional fees for handling inoperable vehicles. Finally, plan your shipment during off-peak months like fall and winter to take advantage of lower costs.

How to Choose a Reliable Open-Car Shipping Company

The guide to choosing a reliable auto transportation company
The guide to choosing a reliable auto transportation company
  • Research and reviews: It is essential to research and study reviews from previous customers before choosing an auto transportation company. Ratings and reviews posted on platforms like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can reveal much about a company's dependability and service quality
  • Credentials and licensing: Verify the company’s credentials by checking for FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) licensing and ensuring adequate insurance coverage. This ensures that the company meets industry standards and can legally operate
  • Questions to ask: When evaluating potential transport companies, ask essential questions such as:
    • How much experience do you have with open-car shipping?
    • What kind of insurance coverage do you provide, and what does it cover?
    • What are your contingency plans for delays or damages during transit?
    • Can you provide references or testimonials from previous customers?
    • Are there any additional fees I should be aware of?


Open-car shipping is a cost-effective and efficient choice for budget-conscious individuals wishing to transfer their cars. This technology enables the simultaneous transfer of many automobiles, making it inexpensive. Understanding the procedure, benefits, and potential pitfalls of open-car shipping will help you make educated decisions. 

You can reduce your expenses by evaluating the elements impacting shipping rates and applying measures to save money, such as reserving early and selecting terminal-to-terminal delivery. Additionally, researching and picking a trusted transport provider provides a seamless and secure shipping experience. This information lets you easily manage the vehicle shipping procedure and decide your budget and goals.

Looking for an auto transport company? Check out our in-depth reviews and use our comparison tool for deeper insights into each company. Furthermore, visit our blog page for more information regarding the industry.

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