The Different Types of Car Transport Trucks | American Auto

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The Many Different Types of Car Transport Trucks

Auto Transport Companies

There are a lot of car transport trucks on the road today. From small single-car haulers to big ten-car behemoths to flatbed trucks that handle oversize freight, there’s a lot of different options out there. Thousands of carrier companies and tens of thousands of drivers – just in auto transport!

Naturally, you want your vehicle to be protected when it’s shipped. You want quality service at a quality price, and we offer that here at American Auto Shipping. Our dispatch department works hard to ensure that you have the right truck for your needs. We make sure every carrier we assign to pick a car up is top-rated, fully licensed, and fully insured as well.

But still, there’s just so much variety in the way your vehicle can be shipped. In this post, we’re going to cover some of the more popular car transport trucks on the road. We’ll explain how they work, what they’re best for, and what you might see show up if you book your shipment with us.

How to determine which car transport truck is best

Unless it’s flatbed transport, there’s really no right or wrong answer. And even then, flatbeds are great if the vehicle you’re moving can’t fit on a standard car hauler.

But really, if you’re shipping a daily driver, any type of transportation truck is going to fit your needs. Most are shipped on an open carrier of some configuration or other, as it’s considered the standard level of service. Open transport trucks keep the vehicles they transport open to the elements, hence the name.

Enclosed transportation is also an option, but is generally reserved for more expensive vehicles. While you can ship a vehicle you drive every day on an enclosed trailer, you may be paying for a service you don’t necessarily need. Each has its pros and cons, of course, and we’ll be discussing those more in the upcoming sections.

It is generally safe to say, though, that you want the most bang for your buck. So if you’re shipping a vehicle that gets driven regularly, an open transport truck is probably just fine. It will cost less than any alternatives and will still protect your vehicle well. And, if we’re being completely honest, an open transport truck will be better than driving your vehicle to begin with. It helps avoid the wear and tear on the engine and the tires, and will likely save money in fuel and other miscellaneous expenses that come with a long road trip.

Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of the different types of trucks on the road. We’ll cover some of the different configurations as well, but those tend to be something you can’t choose. Carriers will assign trucks based on availability and proximity to you first and foremost.

The different types of open transport trucks

Open car transport trucks come in a variety of different packages. The most common is the ten-car hauler, which can be seen in the picture at the top. These are great, economical ways of shipping vehicles across the nation. They are able to haul ten at once, which allows carriers to charge less per vehicle and keep their prices competitive. It also allows them to ship a variety of different vehicles including SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks (usually).

But the ten-car hauler is not the only type of auto transport truck on the road. Three-car haulers are fairly common as well and often look like flatbed trucks. In fact, flatbed haulers will sometimes just move regular cars if they can’t find enough oversize freight on their route, which increases their pool of available freight.

Three-car haulers don’t usually run nationwide routes; they’re more regional. You see a lot more of them operating across single state lines, like, for instance, Georgia and Florida. Those routes are smaller and allow them to keep their prices more on par with traditional ten-car haulers without the need to upgrade their truck to something larger.

Five and six-car haulers also exist, and, again, tend to be more regional, though some can run nationwide routes if they get freight at a good price.

As we’ve mentioned, you don’t normally get to choose which size truck is going to move your vehicle. Longer shipments usually have ten-car haulers. In-state or single-state shipments tend to be smaller, but it all depends on what is available in your area.

Pros and cons of open car transport trucks

As we mentioned, open shipping is often best for vehicles that are driven regularly. One of the major pros of an open transport truck is the price, specifically because the vehicles they ship tend to be daily drivers.

Most people aren’t worried about dirt on their car or minor dings that can easily be buffed out. Open transport is perfect for those of you that are more concerned about price. In this day and age, prices for any kind of service continue to increase. So the cost becomes almost a prohibitive factor for a lot of people. Keeping prices down ensures a larger pool of available freight, so carriers want to go as low as they can while still making a profit.

This is why it’s always great to go with an open transport truck if your budget is tight. By hauling multiple cars at a time, carriers can charge less per vehicle while still turning a profit on the route.

However, open transport does run the risk of vehicles getting damaged. Inclement weather, such as hailstones, or things such as road debris or rocks, can dent cars on an open transport truck. So there is an increased risk of damage. Of course, there’s also a risk of damage every time you drive it yourself. By being up and off the road, damage is actually less common on a transport truck than it is driving!

All about enclosed car transport trucks

Enclosed transport trucks are, as their name indicates, enclosed – that is, they don’t leave the vehicles they ship open to the elements.

Enclosed trucks are nifty because they do indeed protect vehicles from damage better than open trucks. That being said, though, there’s usually a certain type of customer that requires one, as not all do.

That customer? The one shipping their really nice car that they only drive on weekends, for instance.

In actuality, anyone can choose to ship enclosed over open. It’s not a service that is only reserved for expensive, top-of-the-line vehicles. However, it usually is because it’s a lot more expensive to ship enclosed than it is open.

The demand for enclosed shipping isn’t nearly as high as for open – a fraction of it, really. Not only that, but enclosed trucks can only usually ship 2-6 vehicles at a time. So they can’t handle the volume that your typical open transporter can.

This is really what increases the price. Remember how we talked about how open carriers can reduce prices per-vehicle by shipping up to ten at a time? Well, enclosed haulers have to cover the same distance, and have a lot of the same expenditures. Only, they don’t get to charge up to ten different people for a spot on their truck. So to make ends meet, they have to charge more per vehicle.

This is what also usually forces people to go with an open hauler, even if they were wanting to be enclosed. The price increase is often just not economically viable for most vehicles.

Flatbed trucks and what they’re used for

Flatbed trucks, as we mentioned, are designed to haul big, heavy, not-easily-moved things and vehicles.

However, it’s not the only thing that flatbed haulers can move. Really, they can move just about anything that’s not incredibly oversized or overweight (in which case other, more special types of transportation are required).

Do flatbed carriers take regular cars? Sometimes, but not that often unless the route is short. Flatbed carriers operate under many of the same conditions that enclosed transporters do in that they have to charge a lot more for their services on a per-unit basis. There’s little demand for most flatbed services, especially long-distance because they’re designed to haul big, heavy vehicles. Think construction equipment and the like.

You see big bulldozers and stuff going on the highway on the back of a big truck? That’s a flatbed. Sure, you can fit cars on it. But most flatbed haulers aren’t going to take the time to load 2-3 cars on their bed when they can make more hauling a crane around.

But it’s an option. And, if you have to ship a piece of heavy equipment, definitely the way to go. Pricing for flatbed hauling is a lot different than standard open or enclosed shipments. That’s why we recommend calling us to get a quote if you’re trying to move a piece of heavy equipment or a pickup truck that won’t fit on a regular transport truck.

Get the best car transport trucks with American Auto!

If you’re looking to ship your car with a quality company that only uses quality carriers, ship with us! We are a top-rated auto transporter that works only with the best car transport trucks on the road. We clear each one we work with for both dependability and reliability, which means we make sure they are fully licensed and insured.

You can get a quote to ship your vehicle today via our online quote request form. One minute is all it takes to see your price instantly! You can book your shipment online as well and get started on your journey right away. Or, you can contact one of our representatives any time toll-free at 800-930-7417. They can give you a quote, book your shipment, answer your questions, help you track your vehicle, and more.

Dave Armstrong
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