Enclosed auto transport is an excellent option for those who want their cars to be safer during shipping. Companies that specialize in shipping high-end and exotic cars, as well as alternative vehicles like ATVs or motorcycles, offer enclosed shipping trailers for extra protection.
While enclosed car transport is the safest option for shipping, it’s generally more expensive than open auto transport. We at the Home Media reviews team suggest getting quotes from a few of the best car shipping companies to find which one offers the most safety for the best price.
What Is Enclosed Auto Transport?
Enclosed car shipping protects both your vehicle and your peace of mind by transporting your vehicle in an enclosed container rather than on an open trailer. Open carrier shipping leaves your car exposed to hazards like road debris and bad weather, whereas shipping your vehicle in a fully enclosed container greatly reduces the potential for damage.
This shipping method is especially popular among owners of luxury cars and exotic vehicles, as an enclosed trailer provides extra protection from road hazards and inclement weather. Enclosed car shipping services usually come with higher insurance policy limits.
Other types of vehicles that benefit from enclosed auto shipping are those with bigger wheels or low ground clearance, such as ATVs or motorcycles. These alternative vehicles often can’t fit onto standard open-air trucks, but enclosed auto transport carriers can more easily accommodate different space requirements.
How Does Enclosed Auto Transport Work?
Enclosed auto transport trailers are fully enclosed shipping containers. Some have hard-sided walls while others come equipped with soft-sided walls and straps. Below is a list of the different types of enclosed car carriers:
- Two- or three-car enclosed carriers: These are single-tier enclosed trailers that only hold two or three cars at a time. You may see these referred to as hotshot carriers.
- Five- or six-car enclosed carriers: These large trucks have two tiers of vehicle storage encased by hard walls.
- Soft-sided covered trailers: These enclosed carriers can transport seven or eight vehicles at once.
- Oversize enclosed trailers: These are larger covered transport trailers that are often used to ship alternative vehicles with unique measurements.
One thing to keep in mind when researching enclosed transport is that you’ll have less scheduling flexibility than you would with open auto transport. The market for enclosed carrier shipping is much smaller, so enclosed trailers aren’t as common as open trailers. If you decide to use enclosed auto transport, we recommend booking with as much lead time as possible.
Average Cost of Enclosed Auto Transport
Enclosed vehicle transport is more expensive on average than open auto transport. Expect enclosed auto transport services to cost 40% to 60% more than open shipping.
Most car shippers consider it a premium or “white glove” service, as the vast majority of those who book enclosed trailers are shipping luxury vehicles or classic cars. Because enclosed car trailers can’t carry as many vehicles as open car haulers can, transports cost more and take longer.
To better illustrate the cost differences between open and enclosed auto transport, we reached out to a few of the top transport companies for car shipping quotes.
Here’s what we found for an operable 2018 Honda Civic traveling from Reno, Nevada, to Kansas City, Missouri, a distance of 1,588 miles:
Best Enclosed Auto Transport Companies
To get the best rates on enclosed car transport services, we recommend getting free quotes from several providers. Most vehicle shipping companies offer web tools for instant quotes, like cost calculators, so you can easily compare car shipping costs from a few companies.
Montway Auto Transport: Editor’s Choice
We consider Montway Auto Transport the top shipping company overall. The company has built an excellent reputation in the auto transport industry over the past 15 years, earning an A+ rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Customers agree, giving the company an average rating of nearly 4.6 out of 5.0 stars on the organization’s website.
Montway offers competitive pricing on transports to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. In our full Montway Auto Transport review, we give the company 9.1 out of 10.0.
Easy Auto Ship: Good Cash Discount
Easy Auto Ship strives to make shipping as hassle-free as possible. The company offers a discount of up to $150 if you plan to pay the truck driver cash on delivery. Easy Auto Ship will also pay for a rental car if your transport takes more than 14 days.
Sherpa Auto Transport: Locked-in Pricing
Sherpa Auto Transport has become one of the biggest names in the auto shipping industry in less than five years. One key to its success is the company’s Price Lock Promise, which says the price you’re quoted is the price you’ll pay. The company also offers three-day pickup windows and will ship to anywhere in the Lower 48 states.
The BBB gives Sherpa an A+ rating, and customer reviews on the site give it a near-perfect 4.9-star average rating. Read our Sherpa Auto Transport review for more information.
UShip: Easy Online Marketplace
The online shipping marketplace uShip gives customers more control over the pricing process. By posting shipping requests to uShip’s jobs board, you can connect with carriers directly to find the best price available. The marketplace also offers GPS tracking so you can know exactly where your car is at every moment during the transport.
AmeriFreight: Added Protection Plan
AmeriFreight has over 17 years of experience shipping cars to all 50 states. The auto transport company is able to work with flexible schedules and offers expedited shipping. For an additional fee, AmeriFreight also offers the Allied Fidelity Total Assurance (AFta) plan, which provides three additional levels of insurance coverage on top of its cargo insurance.
Because of its added protection plan, we give the company 8.9 out of 10.0 in our Amerifreight review. The company holds an A+ rating from the BBB and a 4.7-star average rating from customers on Google.
Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car shipping companies. We collected data on dozens of auto transport providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the companies that scored the most points topping the list.
Here are the factors our ratings take into account:
- Cost (30% of total score): Auto shipping companies with affordable rates, locked-in pricing and discount opportunities scored highest in this category.
- Services (25% of total score): Companies that offer a variety of choices for car transport, strong insurance coverage and added benefits are more likely to meet consumer needs.
- Customer Experience (25% of total score): This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings and availability of extras like GPS tracking. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each transporter’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
- Reputation (20% of total score): Our research team considered availability, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
*Data accurate at time of publication.