Guide to Winter Vehicle Transport: Tips for Safe Car Shipping

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As the winter months roll in, you might find yourself needing to transport your car, truck, SUV or other vehicle. Whether you’re relocating to a warmer climate, escaping the winter chill for a long vacation or buying a car from an out-of-state seller, moving a vehicle during winter comes with its own set of considerations.

Unpredictable snowfall, icy roads, corrosive road salt and reduced visibility all impact travel. Maybe these weather conditions are the reason you’re considering shipping your car rather than driving it yourself—there’s no need to risk a treacherous drive when you can use a professional auto transporter instead.

In colder months, there are certain things to consider when selecting an auto transport service. From vehicle readiness to selecting the best transport method, these steps can make all the difference in safely and efficiently shipping your car in winter’s harsh conditions. In this blog, we’ll outline everything you need to know about shipping your car in the winter.

Choosing the right transportation method

With winter comes freezing conditions, snow, sleet, slush and road salt. These elements make your chosen transportation method matter more than it might during other seasons. 

When shipping your vehicle, you’ll have the choice between open and enclosed carriers. Open transport is safe, popular and cost-effective but exposes your vehicle to the elements. If you transport your vehicle on an open trailer during winter, it will potentially accumulate a bit of dirt, which is to be expected.

Enclosed transport provides additional protection but comes at a higher cost. When you ship in an enclosed trailer, your vehicle will be covered with a roof and sides to block it from outdoor elements. This service does cost more, but it goes a long way in keeping your vehicle cleaner and more protected while in transit. This is an especially popular choice for owners of exotic, luxury and collector vehicles.

Additionally, vehicles with low ground clearance often need a lift gate or extended ramps to be safely loaded for transport. These are usually only found on enclosed transport trailers. So if you’re shipping your Corvette somewhere warm for a winter joyride, there’s a good chance you’ll need an enclosed trailer.

Pre-transport vehicle preparation

Professional auto transporters will handle most of the work to get your vehicle safely to its destination. But there are some steps you should take before pickup to ensure a smooth journey.

  • Inspection: Before transport, clear your vehicle of any snow or ice and conduct a thorough inspection, documenting any pre-existing damage. This serves as a reference point for assessing the vehicle’s condition upon arrival.
  • Personal items and valuables: Remove all personal items and valuables from your vehicle before transport to prevent damage or loss during transit.
  • Fluid and battery check: Make sure your vehicle is winter-ready by topping off any fluids like antifreeze. Be sure to charge your vehicle’s battery before transport—one of the most commonly reported issues during winter months is dead car batteries. If you’re shipping an EV, make sure your battery is charged between 45 and 65% to prevent cold-related issues during transport.
  • Tires: Check and adjust tire pressure as needed and assess the overall condition of your tires.

Continue reading for more tips to prepare your car for shipping

Finding an experienced auto transporter

Not all transport companies have equal experience. When shipping a car in winter, make sure the auto transport company has proven experience in safely transporting vehicles. Here are some simple actions you can take to find a quality car shipping company:

  • Check online customer reviews. Read what people are saying on Google Reviews and other online review platforms. See if customers have good experiences during winter months or places with harsh, snowy conditions. Take note of the company’s average rating compared to the number of reviews it has.
  • Look up the company’s Better Business Bureau rating. The BBB will rate a company based on the quality of the product or service they provide. This rating will give you a good idea of what kind of service you can expect to receive from your auto transporter of choice.
  • Make sure the company’s drivers have proper training. A reputable company will be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have their registration numbers easily accessible, either on their website or by request. If this information isn’t readily available, you might consider looking elsewhere. 

You’ll probably be keeping an eye on the weather to plan your winter activities, but that’s not something you need to worry about when it comes to shipping your car. A reliable transport company will monitor weather and road conditions, adjusting routes as needed to ensure a safe journey. Keep in mind that in the event a transporter has to re-route their travel, some delays may occur.

For even greater peace of mind, follow these tips to keep your vehicle secure during transport

What to expect when your vehicle is delivered

Upon delivery, the driver will conduct a thorough post-transport inspection and review the Bill of Lading (BOL) with you. This is where your pre-shipping inspection and BOL will come in handy. Compare the condition notes at the time of pickup, and if there are any discrepancies, document them immediately.

After your shipment has been completed it’s a good idea to wash your vehicle. Removing road salt and winter residue will help maintain your vehicle’s appearance and prevent corrosion. Cold temperatures can affect your tire pressure, even when it’s parked on a trailer.

Winter car shipping cost considerations

While it may be tempting to face the snowy roads on your own, that’s not always the safest choice. The cost of gas adds up quickly, and costly repairs can outweigh the price of shipping should anything go wrong during your drive. 

While car shipping costs are a consideration, the safety of your vehicle is a top priority. Evaluate the balance between cost and safety. Sometimes, it’s smart to spend extra on a dependable transport service to relieve the stress of travel and ensure a safe trip.

Ready to book winter car shipping?

Make your winter travels safe and easy this year by shipping your car with Montway. With service in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii, our extensive carrier network has drivers with the equipment and expertise to ship all kinds of vehicles—from cars, trucks and SUVs to motorcycles, ATVs, EVs, golf carts and more.

Learn more about how auto transport works or get started with a free instant quote today. Our dedicated staff are available 365 days a year to answer your questions. Give us a call at 888-666-8929 or start a live chat.

Ready to transport your car with Montway?

Our car shipping advisors are available by calling (888) 666-8929 to answer all your questions.

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