Open vs. Enclosed Car Shipping: Which is Better?

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Posted on 23rd November 2023


Whether planning an overseas adventure or travelling across the country, choosing the right vehicle transport service is essential. You’ll need to decide between two shipping methods: enclosed vehicle transport and open vehicle transport. Both offer unique advantages, and your decision may depend on various factors. Below, we'll help you understand the differences between open vs enclosed car shipping so you can make a well-informed decision. 

What is Open Vehicle Transport?

Open vehicle transport involves loading vehicles onto a cargo ship, trailer, or open-air carrier, exposing them to the elements and making them vulnerable to damage. The open design allows for easy loading and unloading of vehicles and is a cost-effective and commonly used option for transporting cars, trucks, and other vehicles over long distances.

While open vehicle shipping is a popular choice, it may not be suitable for all types of vehicles. Vehicles that are more valuable, rare, or sensitive to weather conditions may face damage from the elements or road debris. The lack of protection makes it a slightly riskier option. However, it still has its benefits.

Advantages of Open Vehicle Transport

Open shipping is typically more cost-effective than enclosed transport options. The lack of an enclosure helps reduce the overall costs. Besides the affordability, open vehicle transport options are more widely available than enclosed ones. With no walls or roofs enclosing the cars, there is more space, allowing open-air carriers to transport more vehicles simultaneously.

Consider open vehicle transport if you're looking for a low-cost, readily available transport method.

What is Enclosed Vehicle Transport?

As the name suggests, enclosed vehicle transport is a shipping method that utilises walls and roofing to keep your vehicle enclosed and protected. Whether on a ship or large truck, enclosed shipping shields your vehicle from weather conditions, road debris, and potential damage during transit.

Enclosed car shipping is typically more expensive than open transport due to the additional protection and specialised features. It is a preferred choice for owners of luxury, high-end, or rare vehicles who want to prioritise the safety and condition of their cars during transit. Classic car collectors and dealerships also typically choose enclosed transport to ensure their valuable and delicate vehicles reach their destination in pristine condition.

Advantages of Enclosed Vehicle Transport

The top advantage of enclosed shipping methods is the added protection. The specialised, enclosed trailers safeguard your vehicle from harsh weather conditions, loose road debris, and other potential hazards. Additionally, enclosed trailers often feature advanced locking systems and other security features to ensure a safe journey for your car.

Although the cost of enclosed vehicle shipping is higher, it's the ideal option for those who want their vehicle to arrive in pristine condition with minimal risk.

Choosing the Best Transport Option for Your Needs

Open Vs Enclosed Vehicle Shipping - Cargo ship awaiting imported cars.

When choosing the best transport option for your needs, there are a few different areas to consider.

  • Budget: Your available budget plays a significant role in determining the best shipping method for your vehicle. A tight budget may lead you to choose open shipping options due to the lower price. You can compare vehicle transport quotes to find an option that best fits your budget.
  • Vehicle Type & Size: The type and size of your vehicle also help determine the best shipping method. Larger trucks and SUVs may require open shipping options due to the capacity restrictions of enclosed options. Antique or classic cars can benefit from the specialised protection of enclosed shipping trailers.
  • Transportation Distance: Consider how far your car will travel. Shorter distances may require less protection, allowing you to opt for more affordable open-air options. Vehicles travelling longer distances may benefit from the full protection of an enclosed trailer.
  • Weather/Environmental Conditions: The climate conditions can help you determine the suitability of open vs enclosed car shipping. For example, if you're shipping during winter and are worried about rainfall, enclosed shipping may be the better option.  

If you need help determining the best shipping method for your vehicle, contact the team at McCullough. As vehicle shipping experts, we can advise you on the best solution for your needs.

Ship Your Car with Cars2NZ

Cars2NZ is New Zealand's leading shipping company with over 20 years of experience in the industry. We take great pride in our commitment to customer satisfaction and the safe delivery of your vehicles. If you need to import a car, motorcycle, motorhome, boat, or machinery in or out of the country, we can help make it happen. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your vehicle shipping needs or get a free vehicle transport quote.


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