Car Transporting Tips for Snowbirds: The Ultimate Guide

Harish Makam

04 Jul 2023 10 months ago

You’ve spent months planning your winter escape, eagerly awaiting your snowbird destination’s warm sun and gentle breezes. But amidst the excitement, have you considered how to transport your car? Many snowbirds overlook this crucial aspect, only to face unexpected hurdles and setbacks.

Snowbirds often include retirees or individuals seeking a break from the cold and snow. They commonly travel to popular destinations such as Florida, Arizona, or other southern states within the United States or even cross-border destinations like Mexico or Canada. Auto transport services cater to snowbirds’ specific needs by providing reliable and convenient transportation solutions for their vehicles during these seasonal migrations. It ensures a seamless transition to their temporary homes, allowing them to enjoy their time away fully. 

In this ultimate guide, we will explore the vital tips and strategies for proper car transport. We’ll also shed light on the unique challenges snowbirds face when relocating their vehicles amid frosty weather. By following these expert recommendations, you can navigate the complexities of car transport and enjoy a stress-free journey to your winter oasis.

From ensuring safety and convenience to saving time and avoiding potential pitfalls, these services offer a range of benefits that make them indispensable for snowbird travellers.


Why Snowbirds Need Professional Car Transport Services

As seasonal travellers, snowbirds embark on long journeys to reach their desired destinations. The thought of driving their vehicles for thousands of miles can be daunting, not to mention the potential risks and damages that can occur along the way. That’s where the importance of professional car transport services comes into play. By entrusting their vehicles to experienced car transport companies, snowbirds can enjoy a range of benefits:

  • Safety First: Professional car transport services employ experienced drivers who are well-versed in handling long-distance journeys, including those through inclement weather conditions. By entrusting your vehicle to experts, you reduce the risk of accidents, damages, and wear and tear.
  • Expertise and Specialized Equipment: Professional transporters have the knowledge and expertise to handle vehicles of all sizes and models. They possess specialized equipment designed to secure and protect your car during transit. This ensures that your vehicle arrives at its destination in pristine condition, without the risks that may arise from self-transportation.
  • Convenience and Peace of Mind: Professional car transport services offer a convenient solution by taking the burden of vehicle transportation off their shoulders. With the logistics handled by experts, snowbirds can focus on other aspects of their journey and enjoy peace of mind knowing that their vehicle is in capable hands.
  • Time-Saving: Driving long distances can be tiring and time-consuming, taking away precious hours that could be better spent enjoying your winter getaway. By hiring professional car transport services, you can save valuable time and energy. Instead of enduring long hours on the road, you can relax, plan your itinerary, or savour the anticipation of your destination.
  • Reduced Wear and Tear: Long drives, especially during winter, can increase your vehicle’s wear and tear. Harsh weather conditions, icy roads, and the need for frequent stops can take a toll on your car’s mechanical components. Choosing professional transport services minimizes the risk of putting unnecessary strain on your vehicle, ensuring its longevity and performance.
  • Insurance Coverage: Reputable car transport companies often provide insurance coverage for their vehicles. This offers additional protection and financial security in case of any damages or unforeseen circumstances during transit. It’s crucial to inquire about the insurance policies different transporters offer before deciding.
  • Door-to-Door Service: Professional car transport services usually provide door-to-door pick-up and delivery, eliminating the need for additional logistical arrangements. This means you can conveniently collect your vehicle from your current location and deliver it to your desired destination, saving you time and effort.

Focus on Enjoyment: By entrusting your car to professionals, you can fully immerse yourself in the joy and relaxation of your winter retreat. Instead of worrying about the logistics of transporting your vehicle, you can focus on exploring new surroundings, engaging in leisure activities, and spending quality time with loved ones.

Understanding Snowbird Car Transport Options

Snowbird car transport options vary, each with its advantages and considerations. This section will explore the different methods available, including open and enclosed carriers, terminal-to-terminal services, and door-to-door transport. By understanding these options, you can make an informed decision:

Understanding Snowbird Car Transport Options

If you’re a snowbird planning your seasonal migration to warmer destinations, one important aspect is how to transport your vehicle. Snowbird car transport options vary, each with its advantages and considerations. This comprehensive guide will explore the different methods available, including open and enclosed carriers, terminal-to-terminal services, and door-to-door transport. By understanding these options, you can make an informed decision ensuring a smooth and hassle-free journey for you and your vehicle.

1. Open Carriers: Convenient and Cost-Effective

Open car transport are the most common and widely available option. These carriers are large trucks that can transport multiple vehicles at once. They are an affordable choice due to their cost-effectiveness. Open carriers provide convenient transportation, especially for those with flexible schedules. However, it’s important to note that these carriers expose vehicles to external elements such as weather conditions and road debris.

Pros of Open Carriers:

  • Cost-effective solution for snowbird car transport
  • Availability and accessibility in various locations
  • Convenient for snowbirds with flexible schedules

Cons of Open Carriers:

  • Exposure to weather conditions and road debris
  • Limited protection for vehicles

2. Enclosed Carriers: Maximum Protection and Security

If you have a valuable or classic vehicle requiring extra transport protection, enclosed car shipping is an ideal choice. Enclosed carriers provide a fully enclosed environment, shielding vehicles from weather elements, road debris, and potential damage. Although they offer maximum protection, enclosed carriers are generally more expensive than open carriers.

Pros of Enclosed Carriers:

  • Enhanced protection from weather, debris, and potential damage
  • Ideal for valuable or classic vehicles
  • Reduced risk of scratches or dings

Cons of Enclosed Carriers:

  • Higher cost compared to open carriers
  • Limited availability in certain areas
  • Not always necessary for all vehicle types

3. Terminal-to-Terminal Services: Flexibility and Affordability

Terminal-to-terminal car transport is a cost-effective option suitable for snowbirds with flexible schedules and the ability to accommodate additional logistics. With this option, you drop off your vehicle at a designated terminal and pick it up at another terminal near your destination. While terminal-to-terminal services offer affordability, it’s important to consider the distance between terminals and potential transportation arrangements at each location.

Pros of Terminal-to-Terminal Services:

  • Cost-effective solution
  • Flexibility for those with adaptable schedules
  • Convenient for long-term stays in one location

Cons of Terminal-to-Terminal Services:

  • Additional logistics for drop-off and pick-up at terminals
  • Limited terminal locations in some areas
  • The potential need for local transportation arrangements

4. Door-to-Door Transport: Convenience and Direct Service

Door-to-door transport is the most hassle-free option for snowbirds seeking the utmost convenience. With door-to-door service, your vehicle is picked up from your current location and delivered directly to your desired destination. This eliminates the need for additional logistics or arrangements for local transportation. However, it’s important to note that door-to-door transport is often more expensive than terminal-to-terminal services.

Pros of Door-to-Door Transport:

  • Convenient and hassle-free experience
  • Direct delivery to your desired location
  • Saves time and effort for snowbirds

Cons of Door-to-Door Transport:

  • Higher cost compared to terminal-to-terminal services
  • Availability may vary based on location

Scheduling flexibility may be limited

Researching and Choosing a Reliable Car Transport Company

 When transporting your vehicle, finding a reliable car transport company is crucial. With numerous options available, conducting thorough research and selecting a reputable provider can ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. Here are the steps to make the most of your car shipping experience.

Step 1: Determine Your Transport Needs

Before diving into the research process, it’s essential to determine your specific transport needs. Consider factors such as the transport distance, desired pick-up and drop-off locations, and any specific requirements for your vehicle, such as enclosed transport for classic cars. Understanding your needs will help narrow your options and find a company that meets your requirements.

Step 2: Research Licensing and Credentials

Ensure that the company holds the necessary licenses and certifications to operate legally. Look for the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, indicating federal regulations compliance. Additionally, check if the company is a member of reputable associations such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Step 3: Verify Insurance Coverage

A reliable car transport company should have adequate insurance coverage to protect your vehicle during transit. Request proof of insurance and verify the details, including the coverage amount and any exclusions. It’s important to understand the extent of the insurance coverage and whether it includes damages caused by accidents, theft, or natural disasters.

Step 4: Read Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials provide valuable insights into the reputation and reliability of a car transport company. Search for reviews on reputable platforms like Google, Yelp, or the company’s website. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback to comprehensively understand the company’s track record. Look for consistent praise for the timeliness, professionalism, and safe handling of vehicles.

Step 5: Compare Pricing and Transparency

While pricing shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor, it’s important to consider the cost of shipping a car. Request quotes from multiple companies and compare the prices. Be cautious of significantly lower prices, which may indicate subpar service or hidden fees. A reliable company will provide transparent pricing with no hidden charges. Additionally, inquire about payment terms and any deposits required.

Step 6: Contact and Ask Questions

Contact the shortlisted car transport companies and ask relevant questions to gather more information. Inquire about their experience in the industry, the estimated transit time, and the type of carriers they use. Ask about their safety measures, tracking systems, and any additional services they offer. A reliable company will be responsive, knowledgeable, and willing to address all your concerns.

Step 7: Request a Written Contract

Once you’ve narrowed down your options and selected a car transport company, request a written contract outlining all the service details. Review the contract carefully, ensuring it includes the pick-up and delivery dates, insurance coverage, terms and conditions, and any special instructions or requirements discussed. Sign the contract only when you are satisfied with the terms and clearly understand the entire process. Following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can confidently choose a reliable car transport company that meets your needs. Remember, taking the time to find a reputable provider will ensure your vehicle’s safe and secure transport during your snowbird migration.

Preparing Your Car for Transport

1. Clean Your Vehicle Thoroughly

Before shipping your car, it’s advisable to give it a thorough cleaning both inside and out. Cleaning the exterior helps identify any pre-existing damages, making assessing any potential new damages easier upon delivery. Additionally, cleaning the interior ensures that personal belongings are removed, and the vehicle is free of any loose items that could cause damage during transport.

  • Wash the exterior of your vehicle, including the wheels and undercarriage.
  • Clean the interior, vacuum the floors and seats, and remove personal items.
  • Remove any removable accessories, such as bike racks or roof racks.

2. Document Existing Damages

To ensure transparency and accountability, it’s crucial to document any existing damages before the vehicle is shipped. Take clear and detailed photographs of all sides of the vehicle, focusing on existing scratches, dents, or other damages. This documentation will serve as evidence in case any new damages occur during transport.

  • Use a high-quality camera or smartphone to capture detailed photographs of all sides of the vehicle.
  • Pay close attention to existing damages, including scratches, dents, or paint chips.
  • Store the photographs securely and make backup copies for future reference.

3. Check and Maintain Fluid Levels

Properly maintaining the fluid levels in your vehicle is important to ensure its safe transport. Check the following fluids and top them up if necessary:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Coolant/antifreeze

If you are unsure about checking or topping up these fluids, it’s recommended to consult a professional mechanic.

4. Ensure Adequate Fuel Level

Having an appropriate fuel level in your vehicle before shipping is important. Most car transport companies recommend keeping the fuel tank around a quarter full. This provides enough fuel for loading and unloading without adding unnecessary weight.

  • Maintain a fuel level of approximately a quarter tank.
  • Avoid filling the tank, as excessive fuel can add unnecessary weight.

5. Disable or Remove Toll Tags and Parking Passes

Before shipping your vehicle, it’s crucial to disable or remove any toll tags, parking passes, or similar devices. These electronic devices can be misread during transport, leading to unintended charges.

  • Disable toll tags by contacting the relevant provider or removing them temporarily.
  • Remove any parking passes or similar devices from your vehicle.

6. Review and Secure Vehicle Documents

Gather all necessary vehicle documents and ensure they are securely stored. These documents may include:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Driver’s license
  • Any relevant permits or identification required by the transport company

Store these documents in a safe and easily accessible place to ensure you have them readily available when needed.

7. Remove Personal Belongings

While most car transport companies allow personal belongings inside the vehicle, checking their specific regulations is important. Generally, it’s advisable to remove all personal belongings from the vehicle to avoid any potential damage or loss during transport. Car transport companies typically do not assume responsibility for personal items left inside the vehicle.

Booking and Scheduling Car Transport

To secure the best dates and rates, it’s important to understand the booking process and take advantage of early reservations, especially during peak migration seasons. Here you will learn how to book car transport services and the tips to navigate the process successfully.

  • Research and Gather Information

Look for reputable companies specializing in snowbird car transport with positive customer reviews. Consider their experience, licensing, insurance coverage, and pricing transparency. Additionally, check if they offer the specific services you require, such as enclosed carriers or door-to-door transport.

  • Request Quotes and Compare Prices

Once you have a list of potential car transport companies, reach out to them and request quotes for your specific transport needs. Provide accurate details about your vehicle, pick-up and drop-off locations, and desired dates. Obtaining quotes from multiple companies to compare prices and services is advisable. However, remember that the lowest price doesn’t always guarantee the best service.

  • Plan and Book in Advance

Aim to make reservations at least two to four weeks in advance, if not more, to ensure availability. Waiting until the last minute may result in limited options and higher prices.

  • Consider Seasonal Demand and Flexibility

Understanding the seasonal demand for snowbird car transport is key to securing favourable dates and rates. During peak migration periods, such as when snowbirds head south for the winter, demand for car transport services increases. As a result, prices may be higher, and availability may be limited. If you have flexible travel plans, consider scheduling your car transport during non-peak times to secure better rates.

  • Review and Confirm Booking Details

Review the booking details thoroughly once you have selected a car transport company and received a quote. Pay attention to the pick-up and drop-off dates, locations, and additional services or requirements. Ensure that all the information is accurate and matches your expectations. Contact the company for clarification before confirming the booking if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Prepare Your Vehicle for Transport

It’s important to prepare your vehicle according to the company’s guidelines. Clean your vehicle thoroughly, remove personal belongings, and document any damages. Follow the specific instructions the car transport company provides regarding fuel levels, fluid checks, and other preparations.

  • Stay in Communication with the Transport Company

Maintain open communication with the car transport company before the scheduled pick-up and drop-off dates. Confirm the details, address any concerns, and provide any necessary updates. Staying in touch ensures a smooth coordination process and allows you to address any last-minute changes or issues.

Car Transport Insurance and Legal Considerations

Understanding your insurance options and verifying coverage during transportation can help protect your vehicle in case of any unforeseen incidents. Additionally, being aware of the legal considerations, such as vehicle registration and state-specific regulations, ensures compliance with the law.

1. Insurance Options for Car Transport

Before entrusting your vehicle to a car transport company, it’s essential to understand the insurance options available. Most reputable car transport companies provide insurance coverage for the vehicles they transport. This coverage typically includes liability insurance and cargo insurance.

  • Liability Insurance: Liability insurance covers any damages caused to third parties or their property during transportation. It provides financial protection in case of accidents or collisions involving the carrier transporting your vehicle.
  • Cargo Insurance: Cargo insurance covers damages to your vehicle during transport. It compensates for any loss or damage while the vehicle is in the carrier’s possession.

Ask for coverage limits, deductibles, and additional insurance options. It’s important to clearly understand the insurance terms to ensure adequate protection for your vehicle.

2. Verifying Insurance Coverage

While car transport companies may offer insurance coverage, verifying the details and ensuring that your vehicle is adequately protected is crucial. Consider the following steps to verify insurance coverage:

  • Request Proof of Insurance: Ask the car transport company to provide proof of insurance before the transportation process begins. This can include a certificate of insurance or a declaration page.
  • Check Insurance Validity: Verify the validity of the insurance coverage by contacting the insurance provider directly. Confirm that the coverage is active and up to date.
  • Review Coverage Limitations: Carefully review the insurance policy to understand the coverage limitations, exclusions, and deductibles. Ensure that the coverage aligns with your needs and expectations.

If you have any concerns, contact your auto insurance provider. Inquire about any supplemental coverage options they may offer for vehicle transport.

3. Legal Considerations for Car Transport

In addition to insurance, it’s important to be aware of the legal considerations associated with car transport. These considerations vary depending on the state and country you transport your vehicle to or from. Here are a few key legal aspects to keep in mind:

  • Vehicle Registration: Ensure that your vehicle’s registration is up to date before transporting it. Some states may require current registration documents, while others may have specific requirements for out-of-state vehicles.
  • License Plates and Tags: Check the regulations regarding license plates and tags in the states you travel to and from. Some states may require the removal of license plates, while others may have specific instructions for snowbird travellers.
  • State-Specific Regulations: Research the transportation regulations and requirements of the states involved in your car transport. Some states may have specific laws regarding vehicle transport, such as weight restrictions, vehicle dimensions, or permits.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific legal requirements of the states you travel through or relocate to. Compliance with these regulations ensures a smooth and hassle-free car transport experience.


What to Expect During Car Transport

Car transport involves a series of procedures that ensure your vehicle is safely transported from one location to another. Understanding the typical timeline and common procedures can help you have a smooth experience. Here’s a concise overview:

  • Booking and Scheduling: Contact a reputable car transport company and provide pick-up and delivery details and desired dates. Book in advance during peak seasons.
  • Vehicle Inspection and Preparation: Conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle’s condition, noting any existing damages. Clean your car, remove personal belongings, and ensure it’s mechanically sound.
  • Pick-up and Loading: The carrier will arrive on the scheduled day to pick up your vehicle. They will inspect it again, noting any additional damages. Be present during pick-up to address any concerns.
  • Transportation: Your vehicle and other vehicles will be securely loaded onto the transport carrier. The carrier will follow a designated route, making stops for other pick-ups and deliveries.
  • Communication and Tracking: Maintain regular communication with the car transport company. Provide accurate contact information and ask for updates on your vehicle’s transport progress.
  • Delivery and Inspection: Upon delivery, carefully inspect your vehicle for any damages that may have occurred during transport. Note any condition report discrepancies and promptly address them with the carrier.

Payment and Feedback: Settle the balance with the car transport company per the agreed terms. Consider providing feedback to help others make informed decisions.

Car Delivery and Inspection

When your vehicle is delivered after car transport, conducting a thorough inspection and documenting any damages is important. Here are some guidelines for snowbirds to follow:

  • Be Present: Be available during the delivery of your vehicle and inspect it in person. If you can’t be there, arrange for a trusted representative to inspect.
  • Check for Damages: Carefully examine your vehicle for any signs of damage, including scratches, dents, or mechanical issues. Inspect both the exterior and interior of the vehicle.
  • Take Photos: Take clear and detailed photos of any damages you observe. Capture multiple angles and close-up shots to provide a comprehensive record.
  • Note Details: Make written notes of the damages, including the location, size, and nature of each issue. Be as specific as possible to ensure accuracy.
  • Condition Report: Compare the current condition of your vehicle with the condition report provided by the car transport company. Note any discrepancies and ensure they are documented.
  • Communicate Immediately: If you discover any damages that were not present before transport or discrepancies between the condition report and the actual condition, contact the car transport company immediately.
  • File a Claim: Follow the car transport company’s procedures for filing a claim. Please provide them with documented evidence, including photos and written notes, to support your case.
  • Be Professional: Maintain a professional and respectful tone when addressing any issues. Clearly state your concerns and expectations for resolution.
  • Seek Compensation: Depending on the extent of the damages and the terms of your agreement, you may be entitled to compensation for repair costs. Work with the car transport company to find a satisfactory resolution.

Remember, documenting damages and addressing any issues promptly is crucial for a successful resolution. By following these guidelines, snowbirds can protect their interests and ensure their vehicles are delivered in the expected condition.


In conclusion, following these tips can make a significant difference in ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience when it comes to snowbird car transportation. By preparing an emergency car kit, maintaining proper fuel levels, and communicating with the car transport company, snowbirds can minimize potential issues and enjoy a worry-free journey to their winter destinations.

Professional car transport services, such as those offered by, play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of vehicles. Their expertise, commitment to customer satisfaction, and tailored solutions for various vehicle types make them the ideal choice for snowbirds seeking reliable car transport. So, whether you’re a seasoned snowbird or embarking on your first winter migration, explore the car transport services offered by and experience the convenience and peace of mind that professional car transportation provides. Trust the experts to handle your vehicle carefully and maximise your winter escape.

Most common questions People Also Ask (PAA) 

How much does snowbird car transport cost?

Snowbird car transport costs vary based on distance and vehicle size.

What is the average delivery time for snowbird car transport?

Delivery time depends on distance and route, typically from days to weeks.

Is snowbird car transport insured?

Snowbird car transport is usually insured for damage or loss.

Can I ship personal belongings with my car during the snowbird migration?

Some companies allow shipping personal belongings with your car during snowbird migration.

What should I do if my car gets damaged during transport?

In case of car damage during transport, notify the transport company and document the damage for insurance.

How far in advance should I book snowbird car transport?

It is recommended to book snowbird car transport several weeks in advance to secure a spot.

Are there any specific requirements for snowbird car transport?

Specific requirements for snowbird car transport may vary among companies, so it’s important to check with them.

How can I track the progress of my car during transport?

Many car transport companies like SAKAEM offer tracking services to monitor the progress of your car during transport.

Can I transport my car if it’s not running?

Yes, you can transport your car even if it’s not running, but additional arrangements may be necessary.

Are there any hidden fees associated with snowbird car transport? Hidden fees are uncommon, but reviewing the transport company’s terms and conditions is essential to ensure transparency.

Harish Makam