Understanding Open Auto Transport: How Does It Work?

When it comes to relocating your vehicle across long distances, whether due to a move, a purchase, or any other reason, one of the primary concerns is how to transport it safely and efficiently. Open auto transport is a popular solution that offers several benefits, making it a preferred choice for many individuals and businesses.

What is Open Auto Transport?

Open auto transport, also known as open car shipping, is a method of transporting vehicles using open-air trailers. Unlike enclosed auto transport, which involves transporting vehicles in enclosed trailers, open auto transport involves vehicles being exposed to the elements during transit.

How Does Open Auto Transport Work?

In open auto transport, vehicles are typically loaded onto multi-level trailers that are open on the sides and the top, allowing for easy loading and unloading. These trailers can accommodate multiple vehicles simultaneously, making it a cost-effective option for transporting cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles over long distances.

Benefits of Open Auto Transport

Open auto transport offers several advantages that make it a popular choice for transporting vehicles across the country or internationally.

Cost-Effective Solution

One of the primary benefits of open auto transport is its affordability. Since open trailers can transport multiple vehicles at once, the cost per vehicle is lower compared to enclosed transport. This makes open auto transport an ideal choice for individuals and businesses looking to transport vehicles without breaking the bank.

Efficient Time Management

Another advantage of open auto transport is its efficiency in terms of time management. Open trailers are readily available and can accommodate a large number of vehicles, allowing for quicker pickup and delivery times compared to enclosed transport. This means you can get your vehicle to its destination faster, whether you’re moving across the country or purchasing a car from another state.

Convenience and Accessibility

Open auto transport offers greater accessibility compared to enclosed transport. Since open trailers are more common and readily available, it’s easier to find a transport company that offers open transport services. This accessibility means you won’t have to wait as long to schedule transport for your vehicle, making the process more convenient overall.

Considerations Before Opting for Open Auto Transport

While open auto transport offers numerous benefits, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before opting for this method of vehicle transportation.

Vehicle Type and Condition

Before choosing open auto transport, consider the type and condition of your vehicle. While open transport is suitable for most vehicles, including cars, trucks, and SUVs, it may not be ideal for luxury or high-value vehicles that require extra protection. Additionally, if your vehicle is in poor condition or susceptible to damage, you may want to consider alternative transport options.

Weather and Environmental Factors

Since open auto transport involves exposing vehicles to the elements during transit, it’s important to consider weather and environmental factors. While most vehicles can withstand normal weather conditions, extreme weather events such as storms or hail can pose a risk of damage. Be sure to check the weather forecast and discuss any concerns with your transport company before scheduling pickup.

Security Concerns

Another consideration when opting for open auto transport is security. While reputable transport companies take precautions to secure vehicles during transit, there is always a risk of theft or vandalism, especially when vehicles are exposed on open trailers. If you have security concerns, you may want to consider enclosed transport for added peace of mind.

Choosing the Right Open Auto Transport Company

Selecting the right auto transport company is crucial to ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an open auto transport company.

Researching Company Reputation

Before hiring an auto transport company, take the time to research their reputation. Read customer reviews and testimonials, and check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. A reputable company with positive feedback from past customers is more likely to provide reliable service.

Checking Insurance and Licensing

Make sure the auto transport company you choose is properly licensed and insured. Verify their credentials and ask for proof of insurance coverage. This will protect you in case of any damage to your vehicle during transit.

Comparing Pricing and Services

Shop around and compare pricing and services from multiple auto transport companies before making a decision. While cost is an important factor, it’s also essential to consider the quality of service and the level of customer support offered by each company.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Open Auto Transport

Properly preparing your vehicle for transport is essential to ensure a smooth and successful experience. Here are some steps to take before shipping your vehicle via open auto transport.

Cleaning and Inspecting Your Vehicle

Before handing over your vehicle to the transport company, clean it thoroughly and inspect it for any existing damage. Take photos of your vehicle from all angles to document its condition before transit. This will serve as evidence in case of any disputes regarding damage during transport.

Removing Personal Belongings

Remove all personal belongings from your vehicle before shipping it via open auto transport. Items left inside the vehicle can shift during transit and cause damage. Make sure to empty the trunk and interior compartments completely.

Documenting Vehicle Condition

Before the transport company loads your vehicle onto the trailer, conduct a thorough inspection and document any pre-existing damage. Note any scratches, dents, or other imperfections, and make sure the transporter acknowledges them in writing. This will help avoid disputes over damage that may occur during transit.

The Process of Open Auto Transport

The process of open auto transport involves several steps, from scheduling pickup to delivery at the final destination. Here’s what to expect during the transport process.

Scheduling Pickup and Delivery

Once the details are finalized, you’ll need to schedule pickup and delivery with the auto transport company. Provide them with the necessary information, including the pickup and delivery addresses, contact numbers, and any special instructions.

Vehicle Inspection and Loading

On the scheduled pickup date, a representative from the transport company will inspect your vehicle for any existing damage. They’ll note down any pre-existing scratches, dents, or other imperfections to ensure they’re accounted for. Once the inspection is complete, your vehicle will be loaded onto the open trailer along with other vehicles bound for the same destination.

Tracking and Communication

Throughout the transport process, you’ll have the option to track the progress of your vehicle and stay informed about its whereabouts. Many auto transport companies offer online tracking services or provide regular updates via phone or email. This allows you to monitor the status of your shipment and plan accordingly for its arrival.

Tips for a Smooth Open Auto Transport Experience

To ensure a smooth and stress-free experience with open auto transport, consider the following tips:

Communicate Clearly with the Transport Company

Maintain open communication with the auto transport company throughout the process. Clearly communicate your expectations, any special requirements, and any concerns you may have regarding the transportation of your vehicle.

Be Flexible with Pickup and Delivery Times

While most auto transport companies strive to adhere to pickup and delivery schedules, unforeseen circumstances such as traffic or weather delays may occur. Be flexible with your pickup and delivery times to accommodate any unexpected changes.

Stay Informed Throughout the Process

Stay informed about the progress of your vehicle’s transport and be proactive in seeking updates if needed. Regular communication with the transport company will help ensure a smooth and timely delivery.

Debunking Common Myths About Open Auto Transport

Despite its popularity, open auto transport is sometimes subject to misconceptions and myths. Let’s debunk some of the most common misconceptions:

Myth: Open Transport Exposes Your Vehicle to Damage

While it’s true that vehicles transported via open trailers are exposed to the elements, reputable transport companies take precautions to minimize the risk of damage. Vehicles are securely strapped down and protected with covers to shield them from debris and other hazards during transit.

Myth: Open Transport is Only for Budget-Conscious Customers

Open auto transport is often perceived as a budget-friendly option, but it’s suitable for a wide range of customers, including individuals and businesses alike. Whether you’re transporting a single vehicle or multiple vehicles, open transport offers efficiency and convenience at a competitive price point.

Myth: Open Transport Doesn’t Offer Adequate Protection

Contrary to popular belief, open auto transport provides adequate protection for vehicles in transit. Transport companies employ experienced drivers and utilize secure loading techniques to ensure the safety of your vehicle throughout the journey.


Open auto transport offers a cost-effective, efficient, and convenient solution for transporting vehicles over long distances. By understanding how open auto transport works, considering important factors before opting for this method, choosing the right transport company, and following essential preparation tips, you can ensure a smooth and successful vehicle transport experience.


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