Auto Transport Guide: Shipping a Car with an Open Carrier

Auto Transport Guide: Shipping a Car with an Open Carrier
Published on March 10, 2023 at 11:15 am GMT

People might need to move their vehicles cross-country for several reasons, so they resort to hiring a trustable auto transport company. From relocating and vacationing to moving online purchased vehicles, people are mostly concerned with having their vehicles shipped with no mistakes made.

There are two popular types of auto shipment in the auto transport industry. People either haul their vehicles using enclosed trailers or by using open carriers. With each method, the shipped car will reach its destination intact.

Yet, people keep wondering about the difference between each auto-hauling method. Thus, this guide looks at the open auto transport method from different areas. Here are the main topics this guide discusses:

  1. What is an open-air trailer?
  2. Types of open carriers
  3. Open auto carriers pros and cons
  4. When to use open auto transport and when not to use them?
  5. How long does open auto transport take?
  6. Open auto shipment costs

Now, let’s dive deep into each topic so readers learn about everything related to open carrier auto shipping.

What is an open trailer?

Open trailers are the standard shipping method for loading vehicles into an uncovered carrier with no sides and roof coverage. This type of auto transport is the most common in the auto-hauling business. Usually, when customers ask for an auto shipping quote, they will be given the shipment cost using an open carrier unless they specify another method of car shipment.

Almost 90% of the entire fleet in the U.S. is open carriers, which makes it a faster and easier car-hauling method. Open carriers’ availability allows more flexibility when scheduling auto-shipping dates and enables shorter pick-up and delivery times.

It goes without saying that open auto transport carriers are fully insured, licensed, and registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. They are regulated by the same law enforced by the USDOT and FMCSA and follow the same safe and efficient auto shipping standards.

Types of open carriers

Open carriers come with different types, sizes, and weight capacities. Open carriers can generally carry up to 12 vehicles at a time, and other open auto carriers can haul fewer vehicles. Here are the three types of open carriers found in the auto transport industry.

Double-level multi-car carrier

Double-level multi-car carriers are the most popular option for open carriers. They can haul between 10 to 12 vehicles at once and are also the most efficient and economical option.

Open car carriers are designed to be lighter than other carriers, so they consume less fuel and, consequently, require fewer fuel costs. Most modern carriers have hydraulic ramps for easy and fast vehicle loading and unloading.

Single-level multi-car carrier

Single-level multi-car carriers can load from one up to three vehicles at once, making them a good option for hauling luxury, sports, and classic automobiles. This type of open carrier is perfect for expedited services. Despite being designed for short distances, they are also used to haul cars over long distances.

However, they are less popular than the standard double-level carriers, but these single-level carriers are a faster option since they can load cargo quickly. Hence, the fewer hauled vehicles on single-level carriers, the more auto-hauling prices will increase.

Dully trucks with a single-level tow trailer

Like the single-level multi-car carrier, trucks with a tow trailer can haul between one and three vehicles. Such open carriers are easy to operate, providing express deliveries and ensuring faster service. In addition, as with the previous open carrier, less cargo capacity leads to fewer bookings and auto-hauling waiting times.

Furthermore, dully trucks are ideal for local and short-distance deliveries. They are also perfect for low-clearance vehicles, vehicles with special modifications, SUVs, and inoperable cars.

Open auto carriers pros & cons

Having introduced open carriers and their different types, we will now dive deeper into what differentiates open auto carriers from other carriers by listing the pros and cons of using them for auto hauling.

Open carrier pros

Open carriers provide several advantages, such as:

  • Cost-effective: open auto carriers are cheaper and more affordable for auto shipment due to three main factors. First, they are lighter in design and require less fuel, thus reducing overall fuel costs. Second, most open carriers are designed to haul 10 to 12 cars, which allows for splitting fuel costs between the hauled cars, leading to reduced costs. Finally, because open carriers are a standard and common auto-shipping method that the majority of customers use, they are a cheaper option.
  • Flexible scheduling: many available open carriers on the road facilitate finding a carrier and scheduling pick-up and delivery times, allowing for more convenient shipping options.
  • Suitable for all types of vehicles: open carriers can accommodate any type of vehicle, whether it has special modifications or not. Being open from the sides, open carriers make room for vehicles with special modifications, large or heavy vehicles.

Open carrier cons

On the other hand, there are still some downsides to using open auto transport.

  1. Exposure to the elements is a major drawback of open auto carriers. When shipping cars with an open trailer, they will be exposed to various elements on the road. Debris, dust, and severe weather can cause damage to the hauled vehicles. Still, exposure to external elements shouldn’t be an issue for standard vehicles driven regularly, as they are often exposed to the same elements on the road.

Customers who are greatly concerned about their cars’ safety can request a ‘top load’ service where vehicles are loaded on the upper deck of the carrier. This option also protects the vehicle from leakage from other vehicles on the same carrier. Another useful tip is using a protective cover for the car to keep it clean and in proper condition.

In all cases, open carriers provide enough insurance coverage if the vehicles sustain damages while in transit. So, customers can file a claim with the auto shipping company responsible for the damage to be reimbursed for full repair costs.

  1. Less security: with open carriers, cars won’t receive optimal security measures and will be exposed to external elements and the preying of thieves’. So, hire a company that takes the necessary precautions to prevent such accidents.

When is it recommended to use open carriers?

While open car carriers are not always the ideal option, there are still several occasions when using open auto transport can be a good and efficient method. First of all, open carriers are perfect for regular family vehicles that are not of a high value or require careful attention while handling.

Also, open auto transport is good for people on a tight budget who cannot afford the more expensive auto-hauling services and want to save money. Fortunately, open auto transport charges reasonable prices for a convenient and efficient service.

Finally, people in a hurry or booking at the last minute can choose open auto shipping, as they won’t have to wait long to find an empty spot for their vehicles on an open trailer. Open car carriers guarantee the immediate booking and fast scheduling.

When not to use open carriers?

In some cases, open auto transport is not the best choice on the market. This is especially true when shipping high-end vehicles for long distances. Vehicles with sentimental, historical, or collector value also need special hauling equipment, special handling, and great care and attention. Of course, no one owning such valuable assets would want to expose them to road elements or theft.

How long does open auto transport take?

The duration of auto transport depends on many factors, including shipping distance, the routes that auto transporters need to take, the stops they need to make to load and unload vehicles, weather conditions, route availability, etc.

In any case, expect a faster auto shipment when using open car carriers because they are more common and available. Generally, vehicles transported over 2,000 miles could take four days to reach their destination, as open carriers drive roughly 500 miles daily.

However, distance is the major determinant of auto-hauling time. Short-distance trips could take a couple of days, while the period for longer-distance auto shipping could take weeks.

After all, those looking for faster deliveries can either book reasonably ahead of time – say 2-4 weeks in advance – or choose an auto shipping company that offers expedited auto shipping services.

At Tempus Logix, we pride ourselves on providing timely auto shipping services. We also provide both auto transport options and work with over 25,000 insured and licensed carrier companies. Our customers are always satisfied with our services, and we seek to make more happy customers. If you have never used our services, give us a chance to make you one of our happy clients.

Open auto shipping costs

The costs of shipping a car using open carriers are also subject to several factors. Again, distance and shipping locations play a role in determining the shipping costs. While shipping for short distances costs less as costs per mile decrease for shipping over long distances.

Other factors include the vehicle’s size, weight, condition, make, and model. Heavier or larger vehicles could cost more than smaller ones because they take up more space on the carrier. Also, shipping inoperable vehicles come at higher prices, requiring special equipment and additional labor.

Nevertheless, shipping vehicles via open car carriers is still the cheapest option, as open auto transport prices range between $500 and $1200 and more depending on the covered miles and the previously mentioned factors. Hence, the costs of auto shipping using open carriers are less than 30% to 40% than other auto shipment methods.

Knowing open auto transport costs

To obtain an accurate auto shipping cost, customers can simply contact an auto shipping company by phone or use an auto transport cost calculator that most reliable auto shipping companies provide on their websites, such as the calculator provided by Tempus Logix.

Our auto shipping quote calculator is AI-based and gives accurate instant and no-obligation auto shipping costs for free. You only have to fill out shipping locations, provide your vehicle’s details, and choose the preferred transportation type to get a free auto-shipping quote.

Moreover, customers are recommended to obtain multiple auto shipping quotes from several companies, compare them, then choose the most reasonable one. This way, they can find the best price and service that match their needs.

Wrapping up

All in all, customers gain several benefits when using open carriers to haul their vehicles. Open carriers are the first means of auto transport used in the industry, and they are more popular, convenient, faster, and economical. Still, the auto shipping experience can only be perfect when hiring the right auto transport company that makes relocation easy.

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