Car Shipping 101: Should I Ship My Car Enclosed?

Apr 26, 2019

What is the best mode of transportation for your vehicle? When considering this question, there are several factors that can help you choose the right method to ship your car.

The Main Modes of Transport

There are three main modes of transportation:

1. Open Truck

Open truck transportation is exactly as it sounds; during transit your automobile will be open to the elements, dust, insects, and even birds. While open transport is the one of the cheaper methods and the most popular for transporting vehicles, there are known drawbacks tied to the fact that your vehicle is open to the air.

2. Enclosed Train

The most economical choice, enclosed railcars offer your vehicle semi-enclosed protection during transport because the sides of the railcar are not entirely solid; the metal walls have holes in them to reduce weight and therefore will allow dirt and dust inside the container which could cause light scratches in your vehicle’s paint during transit.

3. Enclosed Truck

Vehicles shipped via enclosed trucks are provided with full protection from the elements as well as privacy from prying eyes during transportation. With this added protection and reduced carrying capacity due to the confines of the trailer walls, this mode of transportation is the most expensive of the three methods.

Before you choose to transport your vehicle via open truck or enclosed rail, let’s look at some reasons why enclosed transport should really be considered, or even necessary, when shipping your vehicle.

1. Low Ground Clearance

As we read in part one of Car Shipping 101: Why Does Ground Clearance Matter?, ground clearance plays a big part in deciding how your vehicle should be shipped.

In a quick recap, if your vehicle is a sports car, high end luxury car, or has been modified to be lower than stock height, then your vehicle may have a low amount of ground clearance. This means that the vertical space between the ground and the lowest part of your vehicle may be so low that when it is being loaded onto an open truck or railcar it may damage the undercarriage of your vehicle due to the angle of the ramps. If this is the case for your vehicle, some open carriers or enclosed trains may not be able to ship it.

Enclosed trucks do not have this issue as they are equipped with a hydraulic lift gate that is capable of lifting vehicles with minimal ground clearance so that they will not damage the vehicle during loading.

Our trusted enclosed carriers can completely insure vehicles of any age.

2. The Age of the Vehicle

If you’re looking to ship a priceless antique, enclosed transport will provide you with the most benefit. Not only the door pickup and delivery service, but it will provide complete protection throughout the length of the journey. All of our enclosed carrier drivers are highly skilled with many years of experience shipping vehicles and will handle your vehicle with extreme care.

While some open and enclosed train carriers can move vehicles over 20 years old, they may not provide adequate coverage for those vehicles if damages were to occur, however, our trusted enclosed carriers can completely insure vehicles of any age. Take a load off your mind and entrust your beloved vintage vehicle to our highly qualified drivers and you will not be disappointed.

3. High End, High Value

Some open truck and enclosed carriers will have a limit for insuring each individual vehicle in the load, whereas others will have a total load maximum. These values can range from $250,000 to $2,000,000 for a single load. This means that, depending on the carrier, if you were to ship a high end vehicle on an open truck or enclosed train, the value of the vehicle could push the value of the entire load over the maximum coverage value. In the rare case of a complete loss, this would lead to a payout of less than the value of the automobile.

Enclosed trucks do not have this issue as they are not limited by the value of the vehicles being shipped. Normal enclosed trucks can insure individual vehicles with a value up to $300,000; if your vehicle is worth more than that, the carrier can simply purchase more insurance to cover the value of the automobile. This flexibility allows you to always have the peace of mind that if anything were to happen, you will be reimbursed for damages up to the value of your vehicle.

When shipping via enclosed truck, vehicles are treated with the utmost care. Securing your vehicle is done by soft straps over the tires rather than chains connected to the vehicle’s frame when shipped with an open carrier. Not only is the exterior of your vehicle protected by the four walls of the trailer, but seat covers, steering wheel covers, and floor mats are used to ensure the inside of your vehicle is not damaged during loading and unloading.

The other perk to shipping enclosed is that only the best of the drivers ever get the chance to become enclosed truck drivers. In order to even be considered for the job, a driver must have at least 5 years of experience with a clean record and strict training in how to load high end and vintage vehicles safely. You can be guaranteed that when the truck arrives to pick up your vehicle, the driver will have ample knowledge of how to take care of your prized possession.

4. One of a Kind: Rarity

There are many reasons your vehicle might be considered rare. If your vehicle one of a find or from a limited production run? Have you made special modifications to it for specific performance reasons? Is it a carefully built custom car? All of these are valid reasons to consider shipping your vehicle in an enclosed trailer.

Maybe you want to keep it from prying eyes while transporting it from your home in the city to your summer home, or maybe you are worried about attracting the wrong crowd and want to keep it safe during shipment. When shipping your vehicle enclosed, not only will it arrive in the same pristine condition as when it was loaded, it will be shipped in complete secrecy in an enclosed trailer from origin to destination, meaning you don’t have to worry about attracting too much attention.


Open trucks and enclosed trains are great options for most production vehicles, but in certain circumstances they are not the best option for shipping your automobile, particularly if it has low ground clearance. Before settling on the cheapest or most popular methods, consider the ground clearance, age, value, and rarity of your vehicle and ask yourself, “Is my vehicle worth the added cost of a fully insured, fully enclosed transport truck?” We think so.

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