Ideal Average Cost to Ship a Car Per Mile

You’ve decided to move, got a new job in a new state, need to sell your vehicle to a buyer across the country… whatever it might be, you need to transport your car now

The best way to do this quickly and efficiently is with a car transport service. You simply choose your preferred company, pay for the service, and send the vehicle to its destination.

You might be wondering if this is really the most cost-effective option, however. What’s the average cost to ship a car per mile? Is it comparable to the average cost per mile to drive the car instead?

Keep reading as we break down the car cost per mile for shipping vs. driving so that you can make the right choice.

Considering the Cost to Ship a Car per Mile

The biggest factor to consider when looking at the cost per mile to haul a car is the distance. This is generally the primary reason that a company will charge whatever amount they decide to charge because further destinations mean more work and fuel. 

Companies have to look at the delivery charge per mile closely because they still need to pay their employees, so they need a certain amount of income to make that happen. As a result, the company knows how much to charge for delivery per mile to still gain a profit.

You may pay a little bit more if you have a vehicle that takes extra effort to ship safely, such as an XL pickup truck or a cargo van, for this very reason. In general, you can anticipate a cost between $900 and $1,500 for a standard-sized car shipment. 

What Factors Impact the Cost to Ship a Car?

If you’re shipping your car from one state to the next state over, you’ll pay a lot less than if you’re shipping across the whole country. That could be a difference of a hundred miles versus thousands of miles, so this makes sense. 

Similarly, if you have a compact vehicle, this is going to cost less to load, haul, and unload than a customized, raised pickup truck. The hauling rates per mile are influenced by size because if you have larger vehicles, this means fewer vehicles can be shipped with it. It also means that the hauling trailer will require more fuel and time.

When you’re looking into shipping your car, it’s always important to be honest about your car type and the dimensions it has. If you aren’t sure, get that information before you apply for a quote.

Your vehicle might not be safe or secure if the company that is hauling it doesn’t have all of the details they need, but they also may cancel the service entirely due to the misleading information.

Whether you’re looking into how to ship a car just bought or how to ship a car that you’re planning to sell, the transport companies want to make sure that the car gets to its destination safely. 

Car Cost Per Mile by Vehicle Type

Because the car cost per mile for hauling can be so drastically different depending on the type of vehicle it is, we want to break this down even further for you.

We know that larger vehicles cost more to ship and smaller ones are typically a little less expensive. However, there are categories of vehicles that will help you know what your price range might fall into before you even request a speedy quote on our website.

If you’re not quite sure which category your vehicle falls in, there is a helpful guide online that can help you distinguish between the different specifications. 

1. Standard-Sized Cars

As we stated before, the average trucking cost per mile to ship a standard-sized car likely will fall close to a total of $1,000.

If you’re willing to transport your vehicle in open transport, meaning the car is exposed to road debris or bad weather, you’ll save some money. If you want to make sure that your car is protected from the elements, however, this costs more.

In both of these scenarios, the vehicles are still secure to the trailer, and the trained professionals hauling your vehicle will get it to its location.

2. Crossovers, Small SUVs, and Mini-Vans

Depending on the distance, the average trucking cost per mile to ship this size vehicle will be closer to a total of $1,400.

It can be tricky to know if your vehicle is in this category or the next largest one, especially if you have an SUV. Luckily, the vehicle transport service will be able to give you more information on what category they would put your vehicle in so that you can get a better idea of the price. 

3. Large SUVs and Pickup Trucks

With a vehicle this size, you can anticipate the average trucking cost per mile for the haul to fall between a total of $1,700 and $2,000. If you do have modifications, such as a lifted truck, this is going to impact the price as well. 

The worker that will be transporting your vehicle has to have precise dimensions, especially for larger vehicles. This is so that they know how many other vehicles would fit in with yours, whether there is enough clearance in the trailer, and how they can secure your SUV or truck to the trailer so that it doesn’t get damaged. 

4. Cargo Vehicles

The car cost per mile to haul a cargo vehicle will depend on the size and shape of the vehicle. If you consider high roof cargo vans specifically, think about how the top of the vehicle is so tall compared to other vehicles of the same size.

Due to these discrepancies, the cost is going to vary based on what is needed by the transport company to haul the vehicle safely.

In general, however, you can anticipate the costs to be close to $2,200 to $3,000 for this type of specialty vehicle haul. 

Breaking Down the Average Cost per Mile to Drive

As with shipping your car, the cost to drive a car per mile really does depend on where you’re going.

If you’re driving from Los Angeles to New York City, for example, that’s almost 3,000 miles. If you’re only going from Illinois to Ohio, however, that’s closer to about 400 miles.

When traveling with your family to get to the destination, if you have small children or others that need frequent stops, this means added time to the trip as well. More time on the road means more money you have to spend on food and supplies overall. 

Broken down into simpler terms, let’s say you’re planning to drive from Chicago, IL to Seattle, WA to transport your vehicle. This would be about how much you’d have to spend in specific categories.

1. Fuel

At a gas price of about $3.66 per gallon, you can expect fuel to cost between $300 and $350 one-way. Remember that fuel prices fluctuate, however, so this price might be a little higher than you thought. 

2. Lodging

The trip from Chicago to Seattle is about a 30-hour drive, and if you’re stopping more frequently than you would just for fuel, you’ll end up easily adding some time to the overall journey. This means you’ll probably have to stop at least once (but maybe twice) at a hotel to sleep. 

You can get hotels that are very affordable or very expensive, so this cost is going to vary from family to family. However, the average cost of a hotel is right around $200 per night (which means $400 if you have to stop twice). 

3. Food/Drink

This is an area you can save a little bit if you bring some food from your original destination, but you’ll have to buy food and drinks for the family along the drive. This can cost anywhere from $10 per day to over $40 per day per person depending on what type of food you’re buying for each person. 

Let’s say you have a family of four, including yourself. That means you’ll need between $40 and $160 over at least 2 days to make sure everyone is comfortable. 

4. Other

If you choose to stop at attractions, gather up extra supplies “just in case,” or need an emergency fund, these are all additional expenses. Depending on your family, some of these things may be necessities, so this will easily add to the costs of the entire road trip.

How to Ship Your Car Affordably

As you can see, it is much more convenient and affordable to ship your car for most people than it would be to drive it. However, if you’re still looking into ways to ship your car in the least expensive way possible, we have some extra tips for you.

Whenever possible, opt for the quote that offers open transport so that your vehicle can be shipped with other cars. This is going to be the least expensive option available.

Pay attention to the different quotes you have as well to see which company will provide the best guarantee of service at the lowest price. While you don’t necessarily want to automatically choose the cheapest option, you can still get good quality service from companies that are charging a little less.

How Can You Find the Best Car Transport Company? 

The easiest way to find the right car transport company is by using Carshipguru’s free quote tool. You can easily compare the rates of multiple companies at the same time to see which option is right for your vehicle.

You just put in your pickup and drop-off information, add your vehicle stats, and input your contact information to receive your quote. It’s as easy as that! 

With your quote in hand, you can review the best options available for your needs and determine which company you can trust with your vehicle most. 

Considering the Average Cost to Ship a Car per Mile

Now that we have discussed the cost to drive a car per mile, as well as the average cost to ship a car per mile, you can see that shipping your car is more affordable than you may have thought.

Remember that the car cost per mile is going to depend on different factors, but since it’s free to get a quote on our website, you aren’t taking any risk in learning about what the cost might be! 

Take the time to use our free quote tool today, and get in touch with our expert team if you have any questions about your car’s shipment resources. 

The Types of Trailers and Trucks Used for Shipping a Car

Did you know that more than 40 million Americans are moving every year? Of these people, it’s likely true that most of them have a vehicle they are bringing to their new home.

The problem, however, is how that vehicle is actually going to get there. Although you might be able to drive it, wouldn’t it be more convenient to just have it there when you arrive?

With the types of trailers available for shipping cars, you can make that a reality! Learning about what your options are (and how much it costs) gives you more power over your move.

So, if you’re curious to learn more, keep reading as we explore some of the key things you should know about car shipping trailers. 

Different Types of Trailers: Open Carriers vs. Enclosed Carriers 

You have two main options for when it’s time to ship your vehicle. You can choose between open carrier transport or enclosed carrier transport.

Open carrier transport is when your vehicle, along with others that are being shipped, is placed on a trailer that is exposed to the elements. There are no walls around the vehicles, but they are securely latched to the back of the trailer so that they get from point A to point B.

Enclosed carriers are similar to open transport, but the key difference is that they are “enclosed,” meaning there are walls that protect the vehicles during transport. Carriers of this caliber also don’t have the option to carry as many vehicles, so your vehicle won’t be with quite as many cars as it would with open transport. 

Why Would You Prefer an Open Carrier?

The biggest benefit of choosing an open carrier trailer is the price. You’re going to pay less due to the fact that other people are able to use the service as well. It also is less expensive since the vehicles are exposed rather than kept inside a small enclosure.

Open transport is also usually a little bit faster since these types of transport services run more often than the enclosed carrier options. You’ll find that more providers offer this type of service, so you’ll have more flexibility in when you get to receive the vehicle.

Lastly, the fuel costs are lower for an open carrier as well because the weight is less overall. Enclosed carriers are a bit heavier, so the fuel will be more expensive for the whole trip. 

What Are the Benefits of Enclosed Carriers?

When you choose an enclosed carrier, you can rest assured that your vehicle is protected from any bad weather or road debris that might hit the trailer.

Your vehicle is much more secure, which can give you peace of mind.

The drivers that are in charge of operating enclosed carriers are also more likely to have prior experience with high-end vehicles. This means they may understand a little bit more what it takes to care for and deliver these types of cars and trucks safely.

Are There Any Other Carrier Options?

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the size or weight requirements for these types of trailers, you may still be able to ship your vehicle. 

There are freight options available, including train, air, or ship. While these options may end up costing a little bit more, they will work for you in certain situations.

For example, if you’re trying to ship your car along the east coast of the US, Amtrak passenger trains can actually help you ship your vehicle. You’ll have to ride on the train as well as a passenger, but for about $300, this is an easy way to ship your vehicle.

If you’re planning to go a longer distance, you might be interested in air freight. You’ll have the option to fly your vehicle to its destination (for a large cost) so that it arrives safe and sound. 

How Does Shipping a Car Work? 

Now that you understand more about the different types of trailers out there, it’s important to figure out how you can actually book one.

You may already know that there are hundreds of companies around the US that will work with individuals, like yourself, to ship vehicles. So, to narrow that lengthy list down to options that would make the most sense for you, you would need to get some quotes.

Luckily, our website gives you immediate quotes for car transport options so that you can quickly see how much your options cost and what the logistics would look like. We also have professionals ready to speak with you on the phone about any questions or concerns you might have so that you know exactly what to look for.

Once you choose the right company for you, you can go ahead and book the service to get everything ready to go. It’s really that simple. 

Does the Vehicle Size Matter?

Different types of trucks and cars will need specific trailer requirements, so you can’t just lop your car onto any trailer out there.

The people working for these transport companies know whether your car would be eligible or not based on various factors, including size, weight, and dimensions. 

Types of Trailers for Cars

You might be thinking “so, what size trailer do I need to haul a car?” The truth is that you have more options available to you if you have a standard-size car that you’re trying to ship. 

The trailer types for cars that are most appropriate for you are going to depend on what you need specifically since there are pros and cons to each. 

The best size trailer for car hauling is going to depend on what type of car you have. If you have a high-end, luxury vehicle or a vintage sports car, you likely want to keep it safer in an enclosed transport trailer. Otherwise, you could likely ship your car on an open transport trailer without any issues at all.

Types of Trailers for Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks also have the option to be shipped on enclosed or open transport, but their needs are a little different. As we said before, different types of trucks and cars will have specific needs for safe transport, and pickup trucks have much different body styles than general cars.

Usually, pickup trucks are safest when they are shipped on hotshot trailers, which are open transport trailers that carry just one vehicle. If you imagine how a tow truck looks with the vehicle raised up on the bed, this is similar to what this type of trailer looks like.

Types of Trailers for Specialized XL Vehicles

Similarly, specialized XL vehicles will also likely need to be shipped on hotshot trailers. The dimensions likely are too particular to fit with other cars in a regular open or enclosed transport carrier. However, depending on the type of vehicle, you might also be able to get a single car enclosed carrier transport for an increased price. 

If you have a vehicle that doesn’t have standard measurements, you’re still able to ship it, but it might cost a little bit more.

The main reason for this is that the trailers provided by car transport services have specific dimensions that are designed to keep standard car or truck sizes safe. When they are required to make adjustments to fit your vehicle, that will require extra resources and labor.

In addition to this, if your vehicle is XL, it likely has larger tires and a heavier engine. These things also impact the overall nature of the transport.

Why Does the Price Differ Between These Options?

The price for shipping a car or truck is different because there are specific precautions taken so that your vehicle actually stays safe during transport. Depending on the size or type of vehicle you have, these precautions are going to be different.

Companies have to be able to pay their workers based on the amount of time, labor, and effort that goes into a transport job. If they are dealing with vehicles that require extra work, this means the employees will get extra pay. As a result, the cost to hire these companies is a little higher so that they don’t lose too much money.

If there are complex shipments, like when a company is trying to transport a vehicle that has been extremely modified or is much larger than average, it takes a lot of time and planning. Otherwise, the vehicle may not end up making it to its destination in very good shape. 

The transport companies also have the power to set the prices for themselves. This means that you, as the consumer, get the opportunity to compare different prices and determine which one seems like the fairest option for you. 

Exploring the Different Types of Trailers for Shipping

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that you have to consider when planning for a vehicle shipment. The different types of trailers are just one of many things that goes into the overall decision.

If you’re in need of car transport quotes that you can trust, look no further than Carshipguru. We are here to help you find the perfect company to ship your car, no matter the distance. 

Check out our easy-to-use quote tool today to get started. 

Shipping Your Car Across State Lines: How to Avoid Headache

We all know that cars are made to get us from point A to point B, but sometimes, especially when you move across the country, your car is the one that needs the lift. Sure, you can probably hire someone to drive your car for you, or you can drive it yourself, but that can put unnecessary mileage on your vehicle.

If you are trying to figure out how to ship a car to another state, you aren’t alone. Many others are in the same boat as you who wish to learn more about the auto transport industry.

There is no need to worry, though; we curated this article just for you. In this brief auto transportation guide, we will cover what you need to know about transporting your car to another state and who you can reach out to for more help!

How to Ship a Car to Another State

There are many different ways to ship a car to another state. You can either drive the vehicle yourself, hire someone to drive it for you, or send it by train. Although these options are viable, you may want a more convenient and affordable way to ship your vehicle to another state. This is where auto transport companies shine if you choose to transport your vehicle with an auto transport company.

How to Find an Auto Transport Company

There are many different auto transport companies online. Before you partner with any company, you will want to ensure that they have the proper licenses and insurance to transport vehicles across state lines. When you find a company you want to work with, you can check to see if they have the proper licenses on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website.

Make sure to also check out the company’s reviews on their website and on any third-party websites. Google reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings are also a great place to look. You can see what customers did or did not like about working with the company.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car?

You are typically presented with a few options when you ship your vehicle. You can either have your vehicle transported via open-air transport or enclosed transport.

Open-Air Transportation

Open-air transport, also known as an open-air carrier, is when the transporter loads your vehicle upon a trailer with about nine other vehicles. You most likely have seen an open-air carry transporter on the road before, transporting multiple brand new vehicles to local car dealerships. That is the same trailer used to transport your vehicle across states.

Many people use this option because it is the cheaper of the two options. Of course, there are other variables that we will cover later on in this article that affect the overall cost of your transport.

For the most part, if you want a more affordable transport option, you can opt for an open-air carrier. Your vehicle will be exposed to the elements such as dirt or hail, which could possibly damage your car, but the transport option is still safe.

Enclosed Transport

If you want your vehicle to have complete protection from any outside elements, you can opt for enclosed carrier transport. Keep in mind that this option does cost more than an open-air carrier would, but it is worth the price, especially if you need to transport a luxury vehicle. There are usually only about three to five vehicles transported together with this option.

Can I Ship My Car to Another State for Vacation?

Yes, you can ship your car to another state for a vacation! This is an excellent option for those who do not want to put miles on their vehicle or vacation many states away.

It is important to note that you should plan to transport your vehicle at least a month or so in advance to ensure that your vehicle arrives on time. If you plan last minute, you may not receive your vehicle on time.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Car to Another States?

The overall cost to transport a vehicle across states depends on many different variables. For example, the size and weight of your car will influence the cost of your move.

Larger vehicles take up more room on the trailer, preventing other vehicles from joining the ride. Trailers also can only carry so much weight, so if your car is heavy, that also can prevent the carrier from taking on other vehicles, increasing the cost of your transport.

Distance of the Move

The transport distance also plays a huge role in how much your auto transport will cost. As you may have already guessed, the farther the distance, the more expensive the move.

Most companies charge you about $0.60 per mile if you need to travel a distance longer than 1,000 miles. Local moves are typically cheaper than moving a vehicle across state lines. On average, you can expect to pay between $700 to $1,200 to transport your vehicle based on mileage alone.

Time of the Year

Most people like to move their vehicles and their families during a more convenient time for them. These times, or seasons, tend to be during the spring or summer when children are out of school and schedules are a bit more flexible.

Because the demand is much higher during these times, the cost of services inflates to meet the demand. If you want to save money, and if your situation allows, it is better to schedule an auto transport during the fall and winter season. During that time, demand is much lower, and more available drivers transport your vehicle.

Type of Transport

As mentioned earlier, there are two main ways to transport your vehicle, via an open-air or enclosed carrier. As mentioned earlier, open-air transport costs less than the enclosed transport option.

Depending on the company you partner with, they may also be able to provide you with door-to-door transportation. As the name states, the transporter will deliver the vehicle directly to your home or somewhere close by. That type of drop-off service also costs more than having the car brought to a designated drop-off station selected by the carrier.

Can I Move My Car to Another State?

As you may know by now, you can definitely move your vehicle to another state, no matter how far. You will want to make sure to take the factors listed above into consideration when determining the cost of your move.

How to Move My Vehicle Across States

Once you have found a reputable auto transport company, you will want to request a quote. It is best to reach out to a few different companies so that you can compare quotes and decide on which company works best for you.

Be sure not to focus too much on the cost of the transport. Focus more on the company’s customer service ratings and their experience in the industry. When you receive your quote from these companies, be sure to read over their cancellation policies and fees, claims procedures, and insurance information. If you disagree with what’s listed in the contract, contact the company for clarity before you sign anything.

Check Their Insurance

Most reputable transportation companies have insurance over their fleet, which will cover any damages done to your vehicle during transportation. Keep in mind that their policy may have exclusions such as “acts of God,” such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. If you want to purchase additional coverage, you can always reach out to your insurer for more information.

Clean Your Car

Before the company picks up your vehicle, it is best to clean out your car. Removing any valuables from your car prevents any thefts and any confusion when you pick up your vehicle at your destination.

When your vehicle is clean before pick up, it makes it easier to document what was in your car before the trip. It also helps to differentiate any damages done to your vehicle during transport and what was already there before you used the service.

If an item goes missing, you at least have documentation stating that it was in the car before the transport. It is best to remove anything valuable from the car to prevent that from happening.

Transport Your Vehicle With Ease

When you have to ship a car to another state, the last thing you want to deal with is moving it yourself. This is where auto transport companies shine. They have the logistics of safely moving your vehicle across state lines, and they can provide you with the best customer service.

Contact us now if you are ready to find out how much it will cost to move your vehicle across the states. Our team is prepared to answer any questions or concerns about the transportation process.


Types of Trailers for Cars You Should Know About

According to MarketWatch, the average new car costs $40,000. Chances are, you don’t spend that much some something you don’t care about.

That’s why the prospect of transporting your car can be stressful. It’s reasonable to want to make the best decision. Nobody wants to move across state lines, only to discover that their car was damaged, or worse, en route. 

At the same time, you don’t want to over-spend on car transport. Fortunately, you can learn how to balance your budget while keeping your car(s) safe. 

Discover the differences between different types of trailers for cars. Then, learn which car transport methods are right for your vehicles. 

What is a Car Trailer?

A car trailer is an unpowered vehicle that carries cars or trucks. Since its unpowered, haulers must attach a trailer to a car or truck for transport.

Some trailers are enclosed containers. Semi-trucks pull these trailers.

Others are open. Flatbed cargo haulers pull open trailers.

Vehicle Securement

Haulers secure transported cars on a trailer to keep them safe during transport. Securement prevents jostling and damage at different traffic speeds, abrupt stops, and during loading and unloading. 

Car haulers use tie-downs that redistribute securement pressure while limiting movement. Typically, ratchet straps made of polyester webbing serve this purpose.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates high safety standards. Professional car haulers must meet these standards when securing cars to appropriate trailers.

Engineers design enclosed trailers with different securement systems than open trailers. But, while different, both systems prevent vehicle damaged en route. 

Types of Trailers For Cars

You can categorize trailers for car transport in a few different ways. First, we’ll make a distinction between tow-dollies and flatbed trailers. 

Then, you can further divide flatbed trailers by attachment. These are the methods engineers develop to connect different types of trailers for to motorized vehicles.

Finally, you can group vehicle transport trailers by whether or not they’re enclosed or not. Both open and enclosed trailers can carry different-sized loads safely.

1. Two-Wheel Tow Dollies

A two-wheel tow dolly is a short, two-wheeled trailer. The FCMSA considers a tow dolly enhanced towing equipment. It encompasses two wheels, an axle, and a tongue.

With a ball hitch, a driver can attach a tow-dolly to any towing vehicle. But, for safety, the towing vehicle must weigh 750 lbs more than the vehicle cargo. 

To tow, the driver mounts the two front wheels of the car they intend to transport on the dolly. The cargo vehicle’s other two wheels roll along the ground. 

2. Tow-Dolly Risks and Limits

Tow-dollies pose more risks than trailers do. An improperly loaded dolly may whip. Whipping is a dangerous, uncontrollable sway. 

If you transport a car with a tow-dolly, you risk damaging the car. Specifically, dolly transport poses risks if the car you’re transporting has:

  • low-hanging underside equipment
  • a low or modified suspension
  • rear-wheel drive

This transport method can drag or expose these cars’ undersides. If you choose to use a tow-dolly, follow all instructions to secure and reinforce the vehicle cargo. 

Otherwise, choose a different method. In general, a tow-dolly is best over short distances. 

3. Flatbed Trailers (Haulers)

A flatbed trailer is the more common car hauler vehicle. A semi-trailer, hitched to a semi-truck, has two axels and dual-tire hubs. So, it has eight wheels.

But, a large tractor-trailer can have up to eighteen wheels. An eighteen-wheeler can haul multiple cars at once.  

Professional haulers classify trailers by hitch type. Each car trailer hitch uses a different design to connect to the tower. 

4. Receiver Hitch Trailer

You attach a receiver hitch by bolting it onto the underside of the towing vehicle. Typically, a hauler will attach the receiver hitch to the truck tractor’s chassis or a towbar.

The receiver hitch has a tube. A hauler may attach a ball mount to the tube. The receiver hitch’s tube varies in width depending on the hitch’s class.

A commercial cargo trailer can haul ten-ton loads. As such, receiver hitch tubes in this class are 2 – 2.5 in diameter. 

5. Weight-Distribution Hitch Trailer

A weight distribution hitch shifts the point where the towing vehicle takes on the weight of the trailer. This eliminates the risk of whipping or swaying.

This hitch type reduces the wear and tear on the towing vehicle. It also reduces the ratio of the gross trailer weight (GTW) to tongue weight (TW). Reducing this ratio increases total capacity. 

A weight-distribution hitch uses spring bars, frame brackets, and a shank that slides into the trailer hitch. It attaches to a receiver hitch.   

6. Pintle Hitch Trailer

A pintle hitch connects the trailer to the truck tractor with a tow ring. The tow-ring latches a hook or secures a ball combination.

Pintle hitches are industrial strength. A high-grade commercial hauler may use a pintle hitch. 

7. Gooseneck Trailer

Open trailers often use gooseneck hitches. This strong hitch has a long, arched “neck” component on its front end. A gooseneck hitch is a popular option for a livestock flatbed trailer.

A gooseneck hitch secures the attachment with a ball and coupler. A hauler can mount a gooseneck hitch either under or over the bed. With these mounts, the ball doesn’t obstruct the cargo space when the trailer is in transit. 

8. Fifth-Wheel Trailer

A fifth-wheel hitch uses a “u”-shaped attachment mechanism. It couples with a kingpin to secure the trailer to the towing vehicle. 

Fifth-wheel trailers primarily attach to pickup trucks. These trailers rest their payload on the pickup truck’s bed. So, the truck carries the load as if it’s an extra wheel rather than towing the load. 

These trailers are strong. Most can bear up to 30,000 lbs. But, they have limited utility without a pickup truck. 

Enclosed vs. Open Car Haulers

Enclosed trailers and open trailers can both carry vehicles. Enclosed trailers keep cargo safer from the elements. But, an open car trailer costs less. 

Consider a few tips to determine what works for you. Each option offers nuanced pros and cons. 

Open Auto-Transport: Overview

In the United States, open trailers are standard for hauling vehicles. Multi-vehicle open trailers are by far the most common.

Open trailers can transport cars safely and efficiently. Cars are secured to the trailer bed. Their sides are exposed.

Highway debris and weather may pose a risk to exposed cars. So, some commercial haulers cover cars with tarps. 

Typically, transporters categorize open trailer options by how many cars the trailer carries. So, you may choose from three trailer styles. 

1. Single-Vehicle Open Trailer

Some haulers call single-vehicle open trailers “hotshot trailers.” Most hotshot trailers use a gooseneck hitch. Typically, they only carry cars a short distance. 

That said, a flatbed trailer with a high load capacity can transport a single car. In this case, it’s critical to secure the vehicle completely. It’s also vital to ensure the towing vehicle weighs at least 750 lbs more than the trailer. 

2. Single-Level Multi-Car Trailer

Many professional car-hauling services use these trailers. A single-level multi-car hauler loads cars single-file. It requires a semi-tractor pull.

Most single-level trailers carry up to six cars. Or, they pull up to two small RVs. These trailers often use gooseneck or weight-distribution hitches. 

3. Multi-Level Car Carriers

A multi-level car carrier is a pintle hitch trailer. These carriers load cars on multiple decks. Haulers access the second level with in-built specialty ramps.

Typically, using an open, multi-level car trailer is the most cost-effective transport option.

Enclosed Auto-Transport: Overview

Enclosed car carriers are a luxury option. They completely cover a car during transport.

This protects the car from dirt, debris, and inclement weather. Unlike tarp-protected cars, enclosed trailers cannot come loose and expose cars to the elements. 

This total coverage is expensive. So, it’s typically only worthwhile for truly high-end cars. 

Many enclosed car carriers use trailers with built-in securement systems. In the United States, E-track and L-track are both popular securement systems for enclosed car haulers. E-track is more industrial, while L-track has greater versatility.

Hard-Sided vs. Soft-Sided

A soft-sided enclosed trailer does not have metal sides. Instead, the sides are polyurethane-vinyl curtains. Typically, these curtains are accordion style. 

When the curtains are raised, the hauler has more room to secure each vehicle. This lets loading and unloading go smoothly.

However, hard-sided enclosures are thoroughly sealed. This completely protects cargo from dirt and debris. 

1. Enclosed Single-Level Multi-Vehicle 

Enclosed single-vehicle trailers are few and far between. So, in most regions, a single-level multi-vehicle trailer is the least expensive enclosed option.

Now, you do not need to supply all cars in a multi-vehicle trailer. A cargo hauler may accept shipments from multiple locations. 

A hauler loads vehicles into the enclosed trailer one at a time. They are stored in a single file. There is no second level in this trailer.

2. Enclosed Multi-Level Multi-Vehicle

The final option is an enclosed, multi-level, multi-vehicle trailer. In the United States, these trailers are also loaded single file. 

Some multi-level trailers utilize deck ramps. But, currently, most of these trailers use hydraulic lifts. These lifts raise the vehicle so the driver can load it into the first or second level.

Car Trailer Considerations

Once you know what type of trailer you want to haul your car, consider other elements. Ramps, trailer size, and materials all affect how a car shipper carriers your vehicle. 

Tilt Trailer vs. Ramp

A tilt car trailer has a slanted bed. This makes it easier for a hauler to load or unload a car gradually. This is particularly useful for low-clearance vehicles.

Flatbed trailers solve this problem with ramps. Today, most professional-grade car haulers have built-in ramps.

Many ramps use hydraulic power to extend and retract. This gives cars an incline when loading and unloading. Yet, a hauler can secure the car to the flat trailer surface for transport. 

What’s the Best Car Trailer Size?

The best car trailer size can carry your vehicle safely. Classic cars typically weigh more than contemporary vehicles–although not always. 

Weight Specifications

To determine the best car trailer size for you, keep track of a few specs. Then, you can compare across trailers. The details to know are:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
  • Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
  • Maximum Payload Capacity

The GVRW is the maximum load heaviness a trailer is capable of carrying. To find a trailer’s maximum payload capacity, subtract the trailer’s weight from the GVRW.

Make sure the car you want to transport doesn’t exceed this capacity. This is particularly critical for a single-car trailer.

When using a multi-car trailer, each transported car should not weigh more than the payload capacity divided by the total number of cars. 

Size Options

The length x width of the car trailer is essential. Trailers that are too long can be hard to tow. Long trailers risk whipping.

But short, narrow trailers make loading and unloading cars challenging. Even a small car hauler requires a buffer. Without a space buffer, a hauler may scratch or ding vehicles in this process.

A small car trailer may be 8’x16′. But, many are larger.

A multi-level trailer and an enclosed trailer also rate height. Often, an enclosed car trailer’s interior will be six feet high. 

Choose a car transport service with a size range that works for your cars. 

Steel vs. Aluminum Car Trailer

Engineers have designer car trailers out of aluminum and steel. An aluminum car trailer weighs much less than a steel one. So, it’s often a better choice to stay within the legal and functional weight limit. 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) prohibits vehicles with a gross weight of over 80,000 lbs. And, no cargo hauler may set over 34,000 lbs on a single axel group.

Low-weight aluminum trailers help haulers stay legal–and safe. Moreover, aluminum lasts longer than steel, as it doesn’t rust.

But, steel trailers cost less than aluminum ones. For a single-car trailer, aluminum may be a better bet.

Interestingly, steel and aluminum trailers are equally strong.

Pure steel is more robust than pure aluminum. But, aluminum car trailers are technically an alloy of aluminum and other trace metals. This blend offsets aluminum’s comparative weakness. 

How Many Cars Fit on a Car Carrier?

A typical car carrier service transports five to nine cars at once. This is in the United States, of course. In China, double-decker car haulers carry up to twenty-four cars.

Get Car-Shipping Quotes Today

There’s more than one way to ship a car. At Carship Guru, we can sort through all types of trailers for cars to find the best method for you.

Then, we search car-shippers across the country in real-time. This way, you find the rates you want in seconds. Ready? Get quotes now

Open Carrier Car Shipping: Everything You Should Know

Are you moving across the country? Maybe you bought a vehicle in another state and can’t figure out how to pick it up.

Figuring out vehicle logistics can add stress to already stressful situations. How can you get to your vehicle without being in two places at once?

Easy, you can book a car shipping company to get your car where it needs to go. The car carrier transport company can get your vehicle where it needs to be via open transport or enclosed transport.

Great solution, but how much will it cost? The answer depends on several different factors. Keep reading to discover more about the ins and outs of shipping a vehicle.

What is Open Carrier Shipping?

Open vehicle carriers transport multiple cars or trucks on an unenclosed trailer. This is also referred to as open carrier auto transport. With open carrier shipping, your car or truck will be trekking across the country on a trailer with 10 or more vehicles.

What is the Difference Between Open and Enclosed Transport?

Enclosed transport shipping refers to cars and trucks road-tripping in an enclosed carrier. These vehicles could also be sharing their trailer with others.

Car and truck owners may not want their vehicles exposed to weather and road elements during the ship trip. For this reason, they select a car carrier that shields their auto-baby from external forces that have the potential to cause harm; such as gravel, wind, and rain.

What are the Advantages of Open Auto Carrier Service?

Open car transport service is less expensive than enclosed carrier shipping. It’s also more efficient. Open auto carriers can fit more cars and trucks per trailer load.

Open transport is more popular than enclosed transport. This causes more competition among carriers. This often results in better rates for you as the competition increases.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship a Car?

The cheapest way to ship a car is to hire an open transport carrier. These haulers take an average of ten cars and trucks per trip. Dividing the associated costs with ten different clients means more savings for you.

Open transport doesn’t always mean savings, though. If your vehicle is on a single or double transport hauler, it will cost a lot more to ship.

How Does Car Shipping Work?

The logistics involved in shipping a car might feel overwhelming. Some car owners feel more comfortable working with a car carrier transport company themselves. Others would rather use a broker, someone who arranges details and communicates with the carrier on their behalf.

Step-1 Find a Broker

It’s important to research car shipping companies to find the one that’s best for you. Read more about spotting fraud and checking insurance below.

Some car carrier transport companies offer an online quote generator. Other times you’ll need to speak with a broker to get a cost estimate. Brokers usually gather your info, shop around for quotes, and contact you with the best options.

A car shipping broker will provide you with a cost estimate. This is subject to change but you’re usually not responsible for payment until you decide which carrier you’re using.

Brokers will probably ask you for your vehicle’s drivability status, pickup and drop-off site, desired dates, and your vehicle’s model, year, and make. They will also need to know if you’d like an open transport or enclosed transport carrier.

Step- 2 Pick a Carrier

Once you’ve gathered all the info you need, you can choose the open carrier car shipping option that’s best for you. At this time, you’ll get real numbers cost quote and may be asked for a down payment.

Step- 3 Inspect and Prep

Thoroughly inspect your car or truck for any existing damage. This includes chips, dents, and any other issues. Take pictures of your vehicle’s outside and interior.

Clear any personal items out of your car or truck. Make sure nothing heavy is left in the vehicle. Lighter loads sometimes cost less to haul.

Leave about 1/4 tank of gas in your vehicle for its journey.

Step- 4 Send It Off

If you’re using door-to-door service, the open transport carrier will come to you. If you’re using another site, you need to get your car or truck to the pickup terminal.

You and your driver will go through your car or truck’s existing condition. You will sign a document stating you agree to the condition of the car and the terms of the transport.

Step- 5 Wait

Depending on how far your car has to travel, you may be waiting a while. Demand, distance, and other factors can cause delays in car shipping. The transport company should be able to give you an idea of when your vehicle will arrive.

Some auto transport companies send text updates or GPS tracking info to vehicle owners.

Step- 6 Pick it Up

Pick up your vehicle at your door or the transport terminal. The first thing you should do is look it over for any new damage. After that, you will sign a bill of landing.

You may also be asked to pay any outstanding charges when you collect your vehicle.

What is the Bill of Landing and What Does it Have to Do With My Shipment?

A Bill of Landing (or BoL) is your receipt from the shipping company. It’s a legal document the car carrier transport company gives to the driver. A BoL details what the carrier is transporting and where it’s going.

The BoL must be signed by you or an authorized representative when your car or truck is delivered. It serves as proof that you, the driver, and the car shipping company agree on the terms of services rendered.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Car Open Transport?

Open car auto transport is the most popular way to ship a car. It’s also the most economical. It can cost up to 60% more to ship a car closed transport than open transport.

Costs involved in open carrier car shipping depend on the type of vehicle, distance, route, and season.

1. Type of Vehicle

Larger vehicles take up more space on a car carrier. As a result, carriers aren’t able to fit as many on their open transport carriers. For this reason, large vehicles cost more to transport than smaller ones.

2. Distance

Most vehicle transport companies charge by the mile. Trips 200 miles or less cost an average of $2.92 per mile. This would add up to about $584.00 for a 200-mile trip.

Vehicles transported 1,000 or more miles have an average cost of $0.78 per mile. A 1,500 trip at this rate brings the total to about $1,170.00.

Clearly, the shorter trip is less expensive. However, the longer trip gives you more bang for your buck. The further you travel, the less you’ll pay per mile.

3. Season

Summer seasons through early winter are the most popular times for car shipping. With increased demand comes increased prices. During these months, you can expect to pay a little more for car shipping.

4. Pick Up Locations

Most car carrier transport companies have central pick-up locations. If vehicle owners can meet their car or truck at these locations, it saves time and money. This is called terminal-to-terminal shipping.

If you’d like your vehicle delivered to a specific address, like a home or office, it will cost more. This is called door-to-door shipping. Vehicle transport companies don’t always offer terminal-to-terminal shipping.

5. Vehicle Condition

Cars and trucks are usually driven onto a vehicle hauler before hitting the road. If a car or truck is not working, it takes extra effort to get it on the transport trailer. There are additional costs associated with loading inoperable cars and trucks on an open transport carrier.

6. Path Traveled

Larger metro areas are more likely to be on an open transport carrier’s route. Locations close to interstates and major cities are a little less expensive.

If you need car carrier transport to a more remote location, you’ll likely have to pay more for that service.

Is Open Car Shipping Safe?

There’s always some level of risk involved with car shipping. That being said, open transport shipping is generally a very safe process. In fact, fewer than 1 in 20 vehicles are damaged on open transport trips.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your open carrier car shipping experience is as safe as it can be.


The car carrier transport company you choose should be fully insured. You can ask the company if they are insured. Most car shipping companies carry $50,000 to $100,000 coverage in their liability insurance policies.

Most companies require vehicle owners to have insurance before booking an open transport. It’s a good idea to contact your auto insurance agent. An insurance agent will be able to help you

If you’re working with an auto transport broker, they may have supplemental insurance. However, brokers are not required to carry insurance as they’re arranging transport, not carrying it out.

When to Choose Enclosed

If you consider your vehicle a child or an extension of your person, open transport may not be for you. Usually, a good car wash will get off any results from open transport trips. Being on the open road may result in an occasional rock dent or small paint chip.

Car collectors or those with luxury rides often choose enclosed carrier transport. Those kept up at night by the thought of their vehicle strapped to an open transport hauler will rest easier knowing their vehicles are safe from the elements.

Watch for Fraud

There are great car carrier transport companies and some bad apples in the industry. Make sure the company you contact is legitimate and not trying to rip you off. Start by asking for the company’s USDOT number.

Do Some Research

Of course, not ALL things on the web are true. By going to the right sites, you can find out if the open car transport carrier you’re going to book is legit. You can also search reviews sites to see what other customers have to say about their experiences.

Check out some of these sites to help you research:

  • US DOT Dept of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Some online review sites like Google and Angie’s list can be helpful but aren’t 100% accurate


Contact several different car carrier transport companies. Ask some questions about rates, policies, and procedures for open transport options. If they’re all in the same ballpark of price and policy, it’s a good sign they’re the real deal.

Keep in mind, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Is one company much less expensive or making promises the other companies won’t? Do some major research before booking. 

What is the Best Car Transport Company?

The best car transport company depends on what you need. Vehicle owners looking for a safe option at a fair price will likely use an open transport option. For the best savings, choose a carrier hauling many other vehicles, not just yours.

There are many different car transport companies to choose from. Using a broker will help you decide which company is best for your open transport trip.

Unfortunately, scammers and fraudsters sometimes use car shipping companies as a part of their schemes. Don’t fall victim to fraudulent claims. Shop around and look up each car carrier transport company by their USDOT number.

At Car Ship Guru we want to help you find the best company for your open auto transport. Check out our website to find which company is best for you.