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Is Enclosed Auto Transport Worth the Extra Cost?

The gleaming finish, flawless paint, and pristine interior of your prized sports car, classic ride, or luxury sedan represent a significant investment. So when it comes time to relocate your vehicle across the country, you want to protect that investment by minimizing the risks of road debris, inclement weather, and other hazards that could damage your vehicle during transit.

Enclosed car transport provides extra protection by securing your car inside a fully covered trailer or shipping container. But you’ll pay a premium for this specialized service — sometimes 2-3 times higher than standard open auto transport.

Is the additional peace of mind worth the extra cost? This article examines the pros and cons of enclosed auto transport to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your vehicle. We’ll compare enclosed and open shipping methods, analyze pricing factors, and outline key considerations like insurance, climate, and vehicle type to determine the best auto transport solution for your needs and budget.

WHAT IS ENCLOSED AUTO TRANSPORT?enclosed auto transport 16-wheeler traveling down open road

Before examining the pros, cons, and costs of enclosed auto transport, let’s clearly define what enclosed vehicle shipping entails:

Enclosed auto transport refers to shipping vehicles inside a fully enclosed container or trailer, shielded from external elements and road conditions. This contrasts with standard open auto transport where cars are loaded onto an open carrier truck and exposed to the environment during transit.

Enclosed shipping containers range from basic hard-sided trailers to more advanced temperature-controlled trailers. They feature complete enclosure via walls, roof, and lockable doors. Some also contain internal padding, straps, or other protective accessories to safeguard vehicles in transit further.

This fully enclosed structure provides vital protection from various hazards and risks inherent to open transport:

  • Weather damage (rain, snow, wind)
  • Road debris leading to chips/cracks
  • UV sun exposure damaging paint
  • Fluctuating humidity and temperatures
  • Road salt accumulation
  • Insects on the exterior
  • Unfiltered road dust settling inside cabins


Enclosed transportation provides more specialized care and protection versus open transport. But what are the specific benefits that make it worth considering?

Get Protection from Harsh Weather

One of the most significant advantages of enclosed transport is shelter from various weather hazards, including:

  • Rain and Snow: Enclosed shipping provides a barrier to precipitation and moisture. Vehicles stay dry inside, preventing any weather-related wear and tear. This is essential for classics and antiques, where maintaining flawless, rust-free conditions is paramount.
  • Wind and Debris: At highway speeds, open-transported vehicles endure blasting winds and an onslaught of debris, from pebbles to loose items falling off other cars. The barrage of projectiles can easily crack windshields or dent body panels.
  • Temperature Extremes: When shipping cross-country or through drastic climate changes, interior and exterior surfaces become vulnerable to contraction, fogging, warping, and damage from temperature extremes. Enclosed car transport with climate control maintains ideal temperature and humidity levels throughout transit to prevent weather-related wear. This ensures flawless condition upon delivery.
  • Sun Exposure: Open-transported vehicles endure extended sun exposure from all angles, often for multiple days in transit across hundreds of miles. This can fade paint, damage interiors, and degrade rubber/plastics. Enclosed shipping blocks UV rays and minimizes solar damage to vehicle exteriors and interiors as they travel sealed away from direct sunlight.

Protection from Road Hazards

In addition to weather, vehicles shipped openly face risks from road conditions themselves:

  • Flying Debris Can Pose Hazards: Roadways inherently contain loose gravel, litter, tire remnants, and debris. These materials become dangerous projectiles at highway speeds, often chipping paint or cracking windshields. They pose a significant threat to openly transported vehicles. Covered vehicle transport avoids debris damage by containing vehicles away from hazards.
  • Unsafe Roads Can be Dangerous: Grooved concrete highways, poorly paved rural back roads, and gravel shortcuts can all mar exterior finishes if vehicles are exposed. Stones and grit on unmaintained roads also tend to scatter across open trailers, scratching vehicles. Enclosed transport shields cars from direct contact with road surfaces and hazards. Only the trailer chassis encounters wear, while vehicles inside remain protected.
  • Unsecured Cargo: On highways, unsecured loads from nearby trucks or trailers can lead to flying lumber, ladders, tools, and more, wreaking havoc on openly shipped vehicles. Preventing such freak accidents is impossible on open carriers. Enclosed shipping avoids damage from unsecured loads or cargo falling from other vehicles. The trailer enclosure acts as a barrier against foreign objects on the road.

Enhanced Vehicle Security

Another critical benefit of enclosed auto transport is significantly enhanced security and reduced theft risks:

  • Limited Access Points: Enclosed trailers have just a few points of entry—primarily lockable loading doors at the rear—that remain closed during transit. Open trailers have vehicles accessible from all sides, day and night. Fewer access points make theft more complex and less accessible on enclosed trailers. Valuable sports cars or classics are far more vulnerable to opportunistic thieves in open transport.
  • Constant Monitoring: With enclosed shipping, vehicles are always secured inside lockable containers whenever not loading/unloading. When risks are highest, open transport leaves cars unattended overnight at truck stops and rest areas. The constant monitoring and limited overnight exposure with enclosed trailers provide owners with much of the desired peace of mind.
  • Obscured Contents: Unlike open car haulers that showcase valuable vehicles to the public, enclosed trailers conceal contents inside. This hides identifying marks and details that could attract criminals. Discreetly shipping prized vehicles in nondescript enclosed trailers reduces the chances of being targeted by thieves assessing potential payoffs.
  • Customizable Security: Beyond locks, enclosed shipping allows owners to implement additional security measures like GPS tracking, immobilizing devices, or constant interior surveillance, if desired. Such customized precautions are impossible with open transport. For vehicle owners already hyper-vigilant about security, enclosed shipping offers another layer of protection based on their specific needs.

Avoiding Cosmetic Damage

Aside from large-scale hazards, enclosed shipping also protects against joint cosmetic damage sustained in open transport:

  • Dents and Dings: Careless drivers scraping loading ramps or brushing against vehicles can easily ding body panels on open carriers. These cringe-worthy nuisances quickly detract from a car’s value. With enclosed shipping, any loading/unloading mishaps only impact the trailer.
  • Chipped Windshields: Gravel debris on highways often chips or cracks open transported windshields—an aggravating expense to replace. Again, the enclosed trailer enclosure deflects debris to prevent such cosmetic damage.
  • Leaking Fluids: Minor leaks from worn seals and gaskets can also soil exterior finishes if vehicles are openly shipped without inspection. The trailer enclosure contains leaks safely away from the vehicle’s interior.

Operational Benefits

Beyond protection, enclosed auto transport also offers some unique operational advantages:

  • Door-to-Door Service: Enclosed trailers can quickly provide door-to-door vehicle pickup and delivery, an added convenience over open carriers. With full enclosure, vehicles are protected from pickup to destination.
  • Expedited Transit: With enclosed shipping, vehicles can take more direct point-to-point routes without concerns over weather or road hazards. This allows slightly faster overall transport compared to open carriers making longer detours.
  • Vehicle Accessibility: Enclosed containers prevent access to vehicles in transit. While seeming restrictive, this appeals to owners wary of personal belongings being disturbed during shipping.


Despite the many clear benefits, enclosed auto transport has some inherent drawbacks to consider:

Limited Carrier Availability: Fewer carriers offer enclosed transport services than open carriers. This constrained supply often translates to higher rates and restricted shipping options. Scheduling enclosed transport takes more advanced planning as a result.

Oversize Surcharges: Due to reduced cargo space in enclosed trailers, long-distance shipments may incur oversize or space limitation surcharges, adding to transport costs.

No Vehicle Access: Enclosed containers cannot be accessed at all by owners or drivers during transit. Any personal items left inside are inaccessible until delivery. Open trailers allow grabbing belongings from vehicles in transit if needed.

Size Restrictions: Enclosed trailers have tighter size allowances than open car haulers regarding vehicle height, width, and length. Oversized specialty or custom vehicles may face limitations.

Delayed Loading/Unloading: Loading and unloading enclosed containers takes extra time and care compared to open trailers. This can prolong transport door-to-door.


The biggest difference between open and enclosed vehicle transport is cost. Enclosed shipping carries a clear price premium. Let’s examine these cost differences in detail:

1. Base Shipping Rates

The base rate to ship a vehicle enclosed generally ranges from 50-100 percent higher than open transport rates. For example:

  • A Toyota Camry shipping 800 miles could cost $600 via open trailer but $900+ for enclosed.
  • A vintage Porsche 911 could run $1,000 open or $1,500+ in an enclosed container.

The exact rate premium depends on vehicle type, distance, and market rates. But the enclosed surcharge averages $200-$500 more for regional transport and up to $1,000+ more for coast-to-coast.

2. Ancillary Fees  

Beyond base rates, enclosed carriers also tend to charge additional fees more often than open transport for services like:

  • Lift gate access for residential delivery
  • Door-to-door pickup/delivery
  • Expedited shipping
  • Oversize load charges
  • Added insurance coverage

These frequent ancillary charges further drive up total enclosed shipping costs. Some fees may be unavoidable, though, if requiring home pickup/delivery.

3. Peak Demand Premiums

Popular times like summer or classic car show season raise demand and rates for enclosed shipping. Open transport pricing remains more stable year-round. When shipping any vehicle during peak seasons, enclosed transport could cost 2 times as much as off-peak. Plan shipping schedules strategically to avoid premium seasonal rates if possible.

4. Reduced Competition

The specialized equipment and certifications required for enclosed shipping reduce market competition among carriers. There are far fewer confined transport providers than open-trailer operators. Less competition enables enclosed transporters to command consistently higher base rates. Available auto transport is hyper-competitive in pricing, with thousands of carriers vying for business.

Overall, enclosed vehicle transport costs significantly more than open shipping, often 50-100 percent higher for like-kind vehicles. This premium pricing accurately reflects the increased operating costs, insurance needs, and reduced competition inherent to enclosed carriers.

For owners prioritizing protection above all else, the added peace of mind justifies the higher rates. But those shipping on tighter budgets may only utilize enclosed transport selectively for high-risk portions of the shipping route to balance costs.


Whether the elevated pricing of enclosed shipping makes sense depends primarily on your vehicle and situation. Here are some key deciding factors:

  • Vehicle value: The higher the vehicle’s market value, the more worthwhile enclosed transport becomes to protect that investment during shipping.
  • Exotic vehicles: Enclosed shipping is strongly recommended for ultra-high-value cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, or McLaren. Preserving flawless condition protects resale value.
  • Classic & antique vehicles: Vintage cars warrant enclosed shipping regardless of current value due to their irreplaceable original components. Maintaining pristine original condition is imperative.
  • Luxury vehicles: For newer high-end models like Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, and top-tier Mercedes, enclosed shipping helps uphold their elite image and status.
  • Performance vehicles: High-end sports cars often demand enclosed transport to shield their performance finishes and aerodynamics from hazards.
  • Custom vehicles: One-of-a-kind cars with aftermarket modifications, custom paint, or personalized details require enclosed trailers to prevent damage. Their unique features are irreplaceable.

Vehicle Age & Condition

Age and existing condition are also strong determinants:

  • Brand new vehicles: Those shipping newly purchased vehicles straight from the dealer may prefer enclosed trailers to keep paint immaculate during the critical break-in period.
  • Concours/show vehicles: For cars actively shown at competitions like Concours d’Elegance, enclosed transport is essential to prevent cosmetic flaws.
  • Restored/refurbished vehicles: Recently restored classics or antiques will benefit from enclosed shipping immediately post-restoration to protect expensive new paint and finishes.
  • Vehicles with existing damage: Owners transporting cars with body damage or a flawed repair may invest in enclosed shipping as added insurance against further issues.


overhead image of highways with enclosed auto transport and cars

uShip is an online transportation marketplace that connects vehicle owners with transporters. Here are some key benefits for using uShip to arrange enclosed auto transport:

  • Extensive carrier network: uShip has thousands of registered carriers, including many offering enclosed shipping services. This gives you access to more options and availability.
  • Competitive bidding: Carriers bid on your shipment, allowing you to choose the best deal for your needs and budget.
  • Added Protection: uShip’s Protection Plan provides all-risk protection at an affordable price, for total peace of mind.
  • Reputation monitoring: The uShip platform lets you read reviews and ratings for enclosed transport carriers before selecting one. This helps identify reliable haulers.

uShip simplifies the entire process while allowing you to hand-select the ideal carrier for your needs from our marketplace. Let our experience and expertise take the stress out of enclosed auto transport.


Don’t just take our word for it—here are testimonials from satisfied customers who used uShip to arrange enclosed transport for their vehicles:

“uShip helped me tremendously getting my car back home. They did a great job from start to finish. The transition was seamless. I highly recommend uShip!” – David S.

“I like the large network of carriers and the ability to review them before I accept a bid. Easy to list jobs and communicate with them as well.  Plus it’s done without exposing private information until I accept the bid.” – Richard R.

“uShip has been my Go-To for several years and I a always 100% satisfied with the service. fair pricing and a sound shipping structure.” – Phillip R.


Is enclosed transport always more expensive?

Enclosed shipping does cost more than open transport—often 2-3 times as much. But the bids you receive through uShip may be more affordable than expected. With thousands of carriers competing for your business, uShip facilitates competitive pricing.

Is my car 100 percent protected in an enclosed trailer?

While enclosed trailers provide much more protection than open carriers, they cannot prevent all damage. Cars may still shift or rub together. However, the solid walls and roof minimize risks from road debris, weather, and other factors.

How do enclosed carriers load cars without scratching them?

Reputable enclosed carriers use protective coverings and padding when loading and securing vehicles gently with straps. They are very experienced with keeping cars scratch-free.

Do I need extra insurance with enclosed shipping?

While your transporter should carry adequate insurance coverage to cover any damages, you can also purchase an all-risk uShip Protection Plan for an added level of security.

How do I know if a carrier has good reviews?

The uShip platform makes it easy to view ratings, read feedback, and research carriers before selecting one. Focus on pages with 4 stars or higher.


Enclosed auto transport offers definitive advantages for vehicles requiring utmost protection during shipping. Though costing 50-100 percent more than open transport, for owners of classics, exotics, customs, antiques, and delicate vehicles, the benefits of enclosure far outweigh added expenses.

The sheltered environment shields against weather hazards, debris, road hazards, cosmetic damage, and theft—all inherent risks of open shipping. This specialized handling preserves resale value and originality key to collectors and investors.

When transporting a prized vehicle or new purchase needing impeccable care, enclosed shipping is money well spent. Though open transport fits most cars, evaluating your specific situation is essential. The ideal choice balances protection needs with budget.

With access to Tier 1 enclosed carriers across America, uShip simplifies finding tailored enclosed transport solutions for your vehicle. Our team leverages decades of experience shipping high-value automobiles to ensure your car receives the care and respect it deserves. Contact us today to receive your free enclosed auto transport quote.


What is the difference between enclosed and open auto transport?

The main difference between enclosed and open auto transport is that enclosed ships are vehicles inside an enclosed trailer, while open ships are uncovered on an open carrier. The fully enclosed trailer provides the following:

  • A barrier from road debris
  • Weather elements like rain or wind
  • Other external hazards that could damage the vehicle’s exterior

How much more does enclosed auto transport cost compared to open transport?

Enclosed auto transport costs about 2-3 times more than standard open auto transport. However, the bidding process on uShip can result in very competitive pricing from carriers vying for your business. The final cost depends on vehicle type, distance, destination, and demand. But enclosed auto transport through uShip may be more affordable than you think.

Are luxury and classic cars better off with enclosed auto transport?

Luxury vehicles, vintage classics, custom cars, and other high-end or rare vehicles are better candidates for enclosed auto transport. When exterior appearance and preventing any cosmetic damage is a priority, the extra protection of enclosed shipping is recommended. Open carrier leaves vehicles more vulnerable.

What are the risks associated with open auto transport?

Risks of open auto transport include:

  • Exposure to road debris like rocks or dirt that could chip paint or crack glass
  • Weather elements like rain, wind, and snow that could damage upholstery
  • Unsecured straps rubbing against paint or finishes
  • Shifts or bumps during transport cause nicks and scratches

Enclosed auto transport minimizes these risks.

How do I choose the best auto transport service for my vehicle?

To choose the best enclosed auto transport service for your needs, use uShip’s platform to get competitive bids, view carrier profiles and reviews, check ratings, and compare options. Focus on carriers with excellent ratings and feedback. Consider pricing but also reputation and care for vehicles.

Can enclosed auto transport protect my vehicle from weather damage?

One of the main benefits of enclosed auto transport is protection from weather conditions during transit. The fully enclosed trailer shields vehicles from rain, snow, wind, and other elements that could otherwise damage the exterior surfaces. This makes enclosed transport ideal for long distances.

Is enclosed auto transport faster than open transport?

Enclosed and open auto transport generally takes the same time for the same routes. Transit timelines depend more on distance, location accessibility, and demand rather than the shipping method. Both enclosed auto transport and open carriers aim to deliver vehicles as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Ready to ship your car via enclosed auto transport? Create your free listing today.