Auto Transport Carriers Available to You

There are several different types of auto transport carriers in the industry today and knowing which one you will need takes knowing what’s actually available. There are three main types: open, enclosed and flatbed carriers, and they all haul different things

Open auto transport carriers

Open carriers are the main carriers on the road today. They are the most numerous and are the easiest to find and often the cheapest as well. This is due to their configuation – a standard open carrier can ship up to ten regular-sized vehicles at a time. Most vehicles will fit on an open carrier.

Customers who use open auto shipping carriers are often shipping the vehicles they drive regularly. This includes standard coupes and sedans, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, minivans and cargo vans. As a driver can fit ten loads on the truck at a time, prices are lower because costs are more evenly distributed among up to ten different customers instead of just one or two. This allows carriers to not only meet their overhead but also make a bit of profit without having to raise prices.

The biggest drawback with an open carrier is the fact that the cargo it transports is literally open to the elements. Most of the time this is not an issue, and in fact the frame of the truck often provides protection from your typical road hazards. However, due to its open nature, things such as errant rocks or debris can get kicked up into the bed of the truck and cause damage.

Damage on an open carrier is rare, but it can happen, and it is always best to understand the hazards of shipping with an open carrier. But that’s why enclosed shipping exists. Speaking of…

Enclosed auto transport carriers

Enclosed carriers are available for customers whose vehicles are too expensive or valuable to entrust to an open hauler. Not that there’s anything wrong with an open auto transport truck, but enclosed trailers provide additional protections and safeguards its cargo much better.

This is important if the vehicle you ship is valuable. Things such as antique vehicles, classic cars, exotic sports cars, or other high-end, expensive automobiles are often shipped enclosed. However, there’s not nearly as much demand for enclosed services, as the market just doesn’t have a lot of customers. This makes enclosed shipping more expensive than open transportation, but it’s only a modest increase.

Also note that due to the lack of high demand for enclosed shipping, there are fewer enclosed carriers on the road when compared to open transportation. This tends to result in longer wait times for dispatch and pickup, so it’s best to book a bit earlier if you need enclosed auto transport services.

Flatbed auto transport carriers

Lastly, there is the flatbed auto transport truck. Flatbeds are in low demand – few vehicles actually need a flatbed hauler, as most are covered by open or enclosed services. That said, though, there is a market for flatbed transportation, notably for vehicles that are simply too large for an open or enclosed truck. This includes vehicles such as motorhomes, travel trailers, lifted or extended pickup trucks, stretch limousines, construction equipment, and more.

Note that flatbed transportation is not an on-demand service – rather, your agent will likely tell you if you need a flatbed hauler. You can help your agent by having the dimensions of your vehicle on-hand if it is larger than a typical vehicle. This will streamline the quote-gathering process, resulting in more accurate quotes and faster turnaround times for finding a carrier and pickup.

If you are interested in shipping a vehicle, you can fill out our free quote form any time to get started. You can also contact an agent any time to get a quote over the phone, as well as have any questions you may have answered.


  • "Being a rather large SUV that needed shipped from California to Nebraska, there were a few challenges. The first truck that arrived refused to pickup the vehicle due to it's size. However, Mike worked diligently and within one week he had a hotshot lined up. The operators of the hotshot were incredibly communicative and accommodating. The vehicle arrived withing 3 days with no damage at all. Although there was the one hiccup, in the end the service received was top notch. I would be happy to ship with Mike in the future." - Miles/California
  • "Never needing to use an auto transport service, I was a bit nervous and overwhelmed with all of the different company/broker options. After reading tons of reviews and visiting the Better Business Bureau website, I contacted Affordable Auto Transportation. The stars aligned and Jared Z. was my main point of contact. He made this experience super easy and relaxed my anxieties. I would highly recommend this company for my family and friends. " - Jared Z/Washington