What is Open Auto Transport? (The Cheapest Car Shipping Option)

Open Auto Transport

By far the most common and easiest-to-find carriers in the auto transport industry today are open auto transport carriers.

We’re here to explain why open auto transport is the best option for you, especially if you need quick and inexpensive shipping. 

We’ve also listed the advantages and disadvantages of using open auto transport to help you decide what’s best for you!

What is Open Auto Transport? 

Today, open auto transport carriers are the most common and easiest to find in the auto transport industry. They are the preferred trucks for the majority of auto transport companies, transporting roughly 90% of all auto transport freight each year, and they are also the most cost-effective carriers on the road.

When a car shipping company states that it uses open-air trucks, it is referring to the type of carrier that most people associate with car transportation. This truck is generally 75 to 80 feet long and transports a two-level trailer with a row of cars on top and a shorter row of cars on the bottom. The trailer has no sides or a roof, so the vehicles are always exposed to the weather.

As previously stated, open carriers are the industry’s standard carriers. There are a large number of open carriers on the road running various routes; chances are, no matter where you are shipping from or to, there’ll be a carrier willing to move your car for you.

Enclosed vs Open Auto Transport 

Most car transport companies will offer their customers the option of shipping their vehicles in an enclosed vehicle, but this is often more expensive than using a traditional hauler.

The main reason you might be interested in it is that it offers significantly more protection while in transit.

Exposed haulers leave your vehicle vulnerable to the elements, including harsh weather and vandalism. However, enclosed haulers can protect your vehicle from the elements.

High-end sports cars, race cars, and other one-of-a-kind vehicles may be ideal for enclosed transport due to their monetary value.

While open auto transport is the most popular type of auto transport, it is also the least expensive option, has better visibility so the driver can inspect the vehicles more easily while in transport, and uses less fuel than an enclosed model, which is better for the environment.

So these two options differ mostly depending on the car that is being shipped; if the vehicle is expensive and valuable to you, it is best to use enclosed auto transport, but if you want fast, less expensive, and ready-to-go shipping, open auto transport would work best for you.

Is Open Auto Transport Safe?

While it is true that open auto transports are exposed to outside elements during the shipping process, the shipping company you choose has an influence on the safety of your vehicle. If you need to move the car a long distance, you should think about hiring a vehicle transport company to assist you. These professionals will be able to pick up your car and transport it safely to your new location while you handle the rest of the move.

Things to consider before booking an open auto transport 

When booking an open auto transport, it is best to conduct your own research on the company and the services they provide, as well as the things you should consider before booking an open auto transport, which include your budget, the type of car, the distance, and the weather.


Of course, your budget will determine which option is best for you, as open auto transport is significantly less expensive than enclosed auto transport. As we all know, enclosed shipping costs anywhere from 30% to 65% more than open shipping. 

Type of car

Your car type may also be the best way to choose the type of auto transport. If your car is valuable, an enclosed auto transport may be the best option for the security it provides, whereas an open auto transport may be the best option if you simply want to ship a less expensive vehicle from another location.


If you’re shipping your vehicle across the country, for example, and you value speed, an open auto transport would be the best option. However, if you’re shipping your vehicle over a long distance and want its safety to be your top priority, enclosed auto transport is the way to go.


The last thing you should think about when booking open auto transport is the weather. As we all know, open auto transport is exposed to the elements like dirt, rocks, and even flying debris during bad weather, which can damage your vehicle on the road.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Open Auto Transport

Advantages: Affordable and Fast Shipping 

Advantages include being the least expensive auto transport option, having better visibility so the driver can inspect the vehicles more easily while in transit, and using less fuel than an enclosed model, which is better for the environment. Another advantage is that it is much faster than an enclosed auto track.

Disadvantages: Exposure to Elements

The disadvantage is that the vehicle is constantly exposed to the elements, provides little protection from road debris, and is less secure than a fully enclosed trailer. During the shipping process, your car will be exposed to rain and snow, as well as dust and dirt, rocks, and even insects, which may cause damage.

How Much Does Open Auto Transport Cost? 

Open carriers provide the cheapest rates for several reasons.

For one, they can haul up to ten cars at a time, which means that less money is needed per vehicle. – carriers can schedule pickups and deliveries to make sure that they always have plenty of money on hand to fuel their trucks, maintain them, etc. Not only that, but because there are so many traveling along the same basic routes, many routes have carriers essentially competing for loads, trying to undercut each other and get more loads to transport.

If you are searching for an open auto transport quote, you’ve definitely come to the right place. We here at Mercury Auto Transport only work with the best open carriers in the industry to transport your vehicle, so you know that if you book with us, your car will be in good hands.

Tips Before Shipping Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is a valuable property, and you must take good care of it. When it comes time to move it a long distance, you may want to keep a few things in order to assure that everything goes off without a hitch.

Plan Ahead

If you intend to use a vehicle transport company, plan ahead of time and allow enough time between shipping the car and moving. It will not be easy to ship any vehicle. It can take some time and often requires a little more wiggle room than some of the other items you’re sending to your new home.

You will need to plan out which carrier will get the job done safely, and patience in the event of unexpected delays will be essential through this whole process.

Prepare the Car (keep amount of gas to a minimum)

You should also spend some time preparing your vehicle before handing it over to the car transport company. When you’re ready to drop it off, make sure to remove all unnecessary items. Putting items in your car is not advised.

To begin with, this increases the weight of the car and may cost you more money. It is less expensive to transport the items on a trailer or in another manner. Furthermore, if an accident occurs, the items could fly through a window and cause damage.

Also, keep the amount of gas in the car as low as possible. It doesn’t require a full tank. Also, make sure to turn off the car’s alarms to avoid problems for the transporter later.

Check the Insurance

Before shipping the vehicle, check your own insurance policy. Check into the moving company’s liability insurance coverage as well, in case the damage is their fault. Most moving companies will provide coverage ranging from $50,000 to $1,000,000, but you must always double-check this ahead of time.

Even with a reputable company, it is possible that damage will occur. Having the proper insurance in place can protect you in the event that damage occurs.

Ready to Ship Your Vehicle? 

Now that we’ve covered the pluses and minuses of open auto transport, as well as the tips you can use during the shipping process, let’s look at the questions you should think about asking when shipping your vehicle.

Things to Ask Your Shipping Company 

Here are some questions to ask your chosen shipping company.

  • How much does it typically cost to ship with you?
  • What methods of payment do you accept?
  • How much advance notice do you need for delivery?
  • What is your MC or USDOT number?
  • How is your customer service?
  • What is your company’s address?
  • Do you provide door-to-door delivery?
  • Can I leave my personal belongings in my car while it is being shipped?
  • How do you determine your rates?
  • What documents do I need to prepare before shipping my car?
  • How reliable are your quotations?
  • How long have you been in operation?
  • Why is your company the best option for transporting my car?
  • What options do I have in terms of how quickly my car is delivered if I ship with you?
  • Do I have to be present when my car is picked up and delivered?
  • What do you require of me in order for my car to be ready for shipping?

Why You Should Choose Mercury Auto’s Open Transport Services 

If you are searching for an open auto transport quote, you’ve definitely come to the right place. We here at Mercury Auto Transport only work with the best open carriers in the industry to transport your vehicle, so you know that if you book with us, your car will be in good hands.

You can fill out our free online quote request form or give us a call toll-free at 800-553-1828 to speak to one of our live auto transport agents, who can give you a quote, answer your questions, and help you book your order. With Mercury Auto Transport, you just can’t lose.

FAQs About Open Auto Transport 

How much does it cost to have a car transported across the US?

Overall, the average cost of shipping a car across the country is about $0.30 per mile for a family sedan, $0.34 to $0.36 per mile for an SUV or truck, and $1.05 per mile for a classic or exotic car. Of course, these are only estimates. Prices may vary depending on the quality of the service and the shipping company.

Can you ship a car with stuff in it?

After all, the job of an auto shipping company is to ship your vehicle, not your personal belongings. As a result, shipping a car with personal items is not a good idea, especially if you intend to fill it to the brim with items.

What should you not do when shipping a car?

Here are the five things you should not do when shipping a car. They include:

  • Hire the Lowest-Cost Shipper
  • Hiring Without Conducting A Background Check
  • Hire a shipper who makes only verbal promises.
  • Fill Your Car with Household Items
  • Incorrect vehicle information is provided. 

Do cars get damaged in shipping?

Your vehicle may sustain damage during the shipping process. Weather and accidents can occur during the transportation process; in this case, the best thing to do is take a photo of the damage, ideally from an angle similar to the photo taken prior to shipping your vehicle.

Document the damage in the vehicle condition report with the help of the car transport representative. The majority of forms will include a detailed diagram so that the part of the car that was damaged during shipping can be accurately noted.







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