Winter vs. Summer Car Shipping: The Differences for Seasonal Residents

Brantley Kendall

22 Jan 2024 5 months ago

Many Americans, called “snowbirds,” adopt a seasonal dual-residence lifestyle. They live in northern states in the warmer months but migrate south to states like Florida when winter hits. Shipping vehicles between these homes during seasonal moves is critical. However, significant differences exist between arranging car transportation in winter versus summer.

For example, snowbirds flocking south before winter often pay 10-20% more and face limited carrier availability, with over 31,000 older migrants coming to Sarasota County, FL alone each November-March. But winter shipping saves costs for preparation like cleaning compared to summer moves. When heat is a factor, vehicles require empty gas tanks, disabled alarms, and thorough washes beforehand.  

Shipping logistics also vary across providers. Some snowbird specialists contract directly with carriers at discounted rates for the high-demand winter season. Understanding these critical differences between busy snowbird winter and warmer summer months helps seasonal residents make informed car transportation decisions.  

Curious to learn more? Read on for an in-depth exploration of how winter and summer vehicle shipping varies for seasonal snowbirds.

Why Seasonal Car Shipping Matters? to a New Destination

With over 7 million second homes across the U.S. as of 2020, this seasonal shuffle impacts millions looking to ship vehicles between properties. Understanding key differences between warm and cold weather auto transport saves more than pennies at the pump. It also means safer transit for your car.

For example, enclosed car shipping rates often dip 10% or more during off-peak months like September and April compared to the jam-packed snowbird season from November through March. With carrier capacity stretched like jackrabbit ears during the southern migration rush, many also won’t haul RVs, exotic vehicles, or classic cars needing enclosed trailers. Saving money shipping your luxury SUV during off months just makes good sense. The importance of understanding seasonal differences in car shipping

  • Pricing Fluctuations by Season: Enclosed auto transport rates can fluctuate significantly between high-demand winter months when snowbirds migrate south and lower-volume summer seasons. Comparing seasonal relocation services’ pricing helps minimize costs.
  • Preparation Variations for Climate: From winter salt corrosion to summer heat risks, climate impacts necessary preparations before enclosed shipping. Understanding these seasonal vehicle prep differences prevents fires or other transit issues.
  • Carrier Capacity and Restrictions: Many car shipping providers limit high-value vehicle transportation like RVs or exotic cars during high-volume snowbird seasons when capacity tightens. Reviewing relocation services’ seasonal restrictions allows better planning.
  • Regional Infrastructure Strains: Popular snowbird state destinations like Arizona and Florida face heightened traffic and demands on infrastructure with huge winter population swells. Knowing these seasonal strains helps determine the best transit routes.
  • Storage Needs May Fluctuate: Storage facilities can fill up with more residents in warmth-seeking regions in winter. Checking both seasonal home locales’ storage availability reduces hassles.

Climate impacts car shipping too – summer heat makes empty gas tanks, disabled batteries, and thorough cleaning critical. Otherwise, alarm or engine fires could leave you stranded like the Joads. But for snowbirds heading south to Florida’s over 1 million second homes, extensive prep is less crucial. Their cars already escape salty, icy northern roads.

Innovative seasonal relocation Services mean leveraging the open road when it’s smooth, prices dip, and your car glides carefree to your other home. Speak to a specialty broker today about seasonal transport tailored for hassle-free cruising!

Winter Car Shipping: Challenges and Solutions

Winter car transport poses unique roadblocks compared to fair-weather moves. By understanding common difficulties with winter auto transport and deploying intelligent solutions, seasonal residents can ensure safe, seamless car relocation when the flakes start piling up.

 Key Challenges 

1. Inclement Weather: From blizzards to icy roads, hazardous winter conditions make driving dangerous for carriers. One study found over 5.8 million vehicle crashes occur annually in the U.S. due to snow, ice, and fog. These climate factors slow transit times as well.

2. Regional Road Salt and Corrosion: To melt ice, most northern states deploy vast amounts of salt on the roads each winter – over 15 million tons per year. This salt residue can damage vehicles transported long distances if carriers wait and don’t wash appropriately before enclosed shipping.

3. Limited Carrier Availability: With lakhs of snowbird households migrating southward to warmer areas each winter, huge shipment volumes strain carrier capacity nationally. Competition makes booking enclosed transport more challenging.

4. Higher Peak Pricing: Basic economics means elevated consumer demand in winter boosts car shipping rates significantly – often over 20% higher than off-months. Locking in pricing earlier curbs excessive over-paying.  

5. Increased Regulations and Restrictions: States like Colorado enforce winter traction laws or snow routes to improve safety, while carriers institute blackout dates, refuse hazardous roads, or ban trailered vehicles. This reduces options.

Smart Solutions

  • Use transport brokers with experience shipping vehicles through harsh mountain passes or snowstorm-prone interstates. They can reroute based on conditions and ensure safe vehicle transport.
  • Leverage real-time satellite tracking to monitor transit status when storms arise. GPS monitoring also deters potential theft.
  • Secure enclosed winter shipping well in advance – carriers book out faster than in summer. Build lead time and flexibility into your schedule.
  • For summer homes, arrange southbound winter transportation in October or April to avoid peak rates.
  • They’re transport experts and let carriers handle cleaning and preventative measures through their corrosion guidelines.

 Summer Car Shipping: What to Expect

The summer months are prime time for moving and shipping cars nationwide. With kids out of school and warm weather prevailing, many families relocate during this season. If you’re considering using an auto transport service, here’s what to expect with summer car shipping.

Higher Demand Leads to Higher Prices

The summer months are prime time for moving and shipping cars nationwide. With kids out of school and warm weather prevailing, many families relocate during this season. If you’re considering using an auto transport service, demand tends to be higher in summer than at other times of the year. This is simply because more people are moving – from college students to military families.

With a high demand, prices also tend to be higher, and availability is more limited, with some companies becoming booked. Plan as far as possible to get the best rate and ensure you secure a spot.

Risk of Overheating in Extreme Heat

While summer weather is ideal for transport in many ways, potential overheating of vehicles is a risk – especially in hot southern states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida. Fortunately, professional transport companies take precautions like using enclosed trailers and securing adequate ventilation. Damage from overheating is rare but still, something to keep in mind.

Dust and Rain Can Impact Your Vehicle

Even though the summer road conditions are ideal without snow or ice, dust storms, and summer rain can still take a toll on vehicles in transit if shipped uncovered. Your car may arrive with a fine layer of dust or pollen, depending on its route. Regardless of season, washing and detailing are almost always needed after a car transport.

Faster Transport Times Despite Challenges

The good news is that ideal summer conditions allow for the fastest possible transport times for your vehicle. Delays due to winter weather are nonexistent during this season. If you need to relocate your car during the summer, car shipping can be easier and faster if you account for higher demand and prices. With intelligent planning, summer car shipping can live up to its advantages.

Getting Ready to Ship Your Car in Summer

Shipping your car in the summer requires some extra planning. Here are a few essential tips:

  • Choose the Best Time: Schedule your vehicle pickup and delivery in the early morning or evening. This helps avoid the hottest parts of the day. Check the climate at both pickup and drop-off locations.
  • Consider Enclosed Transport: While open car transport is cheaper, enclosed car transport offer protection from heat. This is recommended for high-value vehicles.
  • Prepare Your Car Properly: Before shipping in the summer heat, top off fluids, fill the tires and fully charge the battery. Also, have a mechanic inspect your car beforehand to catch any issues heat could worsen.
  • Pick a Reliable Company: Ensure your auto transport company has experience handling the extra demands of summer vehicle shipping and preventing heat issues. Check reviews and ratings.

The Best and Worst Times to Ship Your Car: Winter vs. Summer

The Best and Worst Times to Ship Your Car: Winter vs. Summer

If you need to relocate across the country, one primary consideration is when to ship your vehicle. The winter and summer seasons each have pros, cons, and logistical challenges regarding car transportation. This comparative analysis will break down key differences.

Cost of Shipping a Car Seasonally

One significant variance is cost. According to transportation industry analysis, the average cost to ship a car in summer is $1,100 due to high demand as people move when school is out.

Conversely, the same shipment costs $850 in winter – a savings of $250 or 22% percent compared to peak seasonal rates. More transport companies have availability as demand drops by 30%, making it easier to find a good pace and promptly ship your vehicle despite winter weather delays.

If budget is a top concern, winter is the more affordable option. However, potential damages from winter weather can lead to unpredictable added costs.

Preparing and Protecting Your Vehicle

To ship a car in winter, extensive preparation is required, including checking antifreeze levels, battery charging, detailing for salt protection, and installing winter tires. This winterization protects against snow/ice damage but takes 2-3 hours plus part costs.

Summer preparation is less intensive, including a fluid check, visual inspection, and cleaning, which takes 1 hour to counter road debris and heat. Enclosed shipping and added insurance may also be prudent to protect against weather threats – snow and salt in winter or excessive heat in summer. However, These precautions add $200-300 to the total shipment cost.

Here is a table comparing the cost of shipping a car in winter versus summer:

Cost FactorWinterSummer
Average base transport cost for sedan$850$1,100
Additional winterization/preparation costs$150$50
Enclosed shipping upcharge$200$200
Additional insurance fees$100$100
Total Estimated Cost$1,300$1,450
Potential unforeseen costs due to weather delays/damagesHighLow

As this table shows, winter has cheaper base shipping rates. However, additional preparation costs and higher risk of weather delays make it the pricier option for cross-country vehicle transport overall.

The estimated cost for a typical sedan transport in winter is $1,300 versus $1,450 in summer – without accounting for potential unforeseen costs from winter weather that could add hundreds more. Summer is the best season for the safest and most reliable vehicle transport despite nominally higher base shipment rates.

Shipping and Delivery Speed

Winter weather notoriously causes delays due to storms, wind, and icy roads. Most companies quote 1-2 week delivery for a California to Florida shipment, but delays can extend this to 4-6 weeks in severe weather – adding weeks of unpredictable variability.

Summer features more predictable nationwide weather, allowing for consistently faster transit times. The same CA to FL shipment takes 8-10 days in summer. However, delays are still possible if storms or heat waves happen anywhere along the route. But generally, summer allows for the quickest shipping turnaround.

As this analysis shows with real data examples, both seasons feature distinct advantages and challenges. Preparing your vehicle properly based on seasonal realities, booking in advance, and working with an experienced transport provider can help ensure a smooth shipment regardless of when you need to relocate your car.

Cost of Shipping a Car Seasonally: Winter vs. Summer

The cost of transporting a vehicle long distances varies greatly depending on the season. Shipping a car in the winter often costs more and requires more preparation compared to the summer months. However, some services are more readily available in the colder months. Here is a comparative analysis of winter versus summer car shipping.

Shipping a Car: Why Winter is Cheaper than summer

The cost of hiring an auto transport company varies quite a bit between the peak summer and winter months. The main drivers of these seasonal pricing differences are supply and demand.

In the summer, more people are relocating or traveling with their vehicles. Kids are out of school, the weather is nice for road trips, and there is an overall increase in shipping demand. However, the number of car carrier trucks and available drivers stays fixed. This summer’s demand and capped supply spike have led transport companies to raise their rates, sometimes as much as $200-300 per shipment. Urban routes like New York to Miami or Los Angeles to Chicago tend to see the most significant seasonal markups.

In contrast, demand declines in the winter as fewer people undertake moves or long-distance travel. With fewer customers vying for carrier services in cold months, transport companies have excess capacity in their fleets and staff. This use-it-or-lose-it position motivates them to offer deep discounts and incentives to attract winter business. Rates might dip as much as 20-30% below summer costs.

The exception is in Southern snowbird states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida. As Northerners transport cars south to escape the winter, local route demand rises instead of falling. So, while the rest of the country sees savings, Southern route carriers can charge premium pricing.


If you have flexibility in timing, plan long-distance auto transports for November-February to capitalize on off-peak winter discounts. Just beware of southern routes that are popular with snowbirds. And avoid summer peak dates for the best savings overall.

How Weather Impacts Car Shipping Timelines

Transporting a car long distances takes longer in the winter than in summer for several reasons:

  1. Icy, snow-covered roads reduce average speeds where a carrier may safely travel 60-65 mph on clear highways in July that could drop to 40 mph or below in a Minnesota blizzard.
  2. Shortened daylight hours in winter limit daily driving time. For example, a truck leaving Seattle at sunrise might cover 600 miles in the long summer days. That same truck covers only 400-500 miles in the darker winter hours before the driver must stop at sunset.
  3. Some mountain or rural roads become impassable in winter. For instance, routes through the high Rockies or Upper Midwest are too hazardous for car carriers between November and March. Companies must reroute vehicles on longer paths to avoid closed roads.
  4. Driver shortages occur in winter as some workers take leave rather than face harsh conditions. With fewer available drivers, transport times could be faster. A car might ship the next day in summer but require 5+ days in winter.

By contrast, summer shipping benefits from safer roads, longer daily driving ranges, plentiful drivers, and direct routing options. Vehicles transit faster with less delays or downtime in summer.

Preparation also varies by season. In winter, cars may require:

  • Antifreeze level checks to prevent engine damage
  • Snow chains for drive wheels
  • Protective wraps to avoid road salt corrosion

During hot summer months, carriers focus on:

  • Adding extra ventilation padding to prevent heat damage
  • Applying sun shields to interiors
  • Checking fluid levels more frequently

No matter the season, customers should book car shipping 3-4 weeks in advance and be flexible on exact transport dates. This helps buffer against weather-related shipment delays.

Choosing the Right Season for Your Car Shipping

The late spring and summer months are prone to peak-level demand for auto shipping as household relocations and road trips surge, leading to supply shortages, delayed transit times, and premium seasonal rates. For significant cost savings, customers aiming to ship vehicles long distances should target the slower autumn and winter periods when carrier demand declines noticeably. Transport arranged outside of June-August peak dates can net 10-40% wintertime discounts.

Snowbird Rush Hours 

One unique seasonal force that can upend travel in shoulder seasons is the phenomenon of over 40 million retiree snowbirds migrating with their vehicles southward ahead of winter. Critical interstates in southern regions like Arizona, Texas, and Florida face massive congestion from September to November and April to May. Carriers and routes popular amongst snowbirds can observe shortened capacity and peak-like shipping challenges during these odd biannual events.

Weather Delays 

From searing heat waves to blizzards and ice storms, extreme weather poses random events that disrupt carefully planned transport schedules in any season. However, accounting for statically higher probabilities of winter storms or summer temperature delays based on regional climates and seasons can help inform realistic shipping timetables and alignment of transport dates.


In conclusion, seasonal weather patterns directly impact transit times and preparation requirements when shipping vehicles long distances. Winter’s road hazards lead to slower speeds, more precautions, and potential route challenges. Hot summer conditions also carry risks of overheating and sun damage during transport.

Yet carriers have deep experience navigating local conditions year-round. They alter departure times, trailer protections, driver assignments, and shipment routing to smooth transportation in extreme cold or heat. While perfect weather supports the fastest, most direct car shipping, seasoned transporters know how to compensate when Mother Nature throws curves each season.

The most reliable way to mitigate the effects of weather is to book in advance – ideally 4+ weeks before the desired transport date. This builds a buffer for potential delays from snowstorms, heat waves, or other events. Carriers can then keep customers apprised of schedule changes due to forecasted conditions.

For personalized assistance and flexible planning tailored to upcoming seasonal weather, contact SAKAEM Logistics today. Their shipping specialists help customers compare carriers for optimal cost savings and transit times. They even advise the best shipment dates to avoid overpaying in peak summer rates. With deep connections across top national auto transporters, SAKAEM Logistics simplifies navigating the seasonal vagaries of long-distance vehicle moves. Visit or call (888) 725-0005 to get custom winter or summer car shipping guidance.

People Also Ask (PAA)

What are the main differences in car shipping between winter and summer?

The main differences are that summer sees higher demand, longer transit times, and more expensive rates, while winter has lower demand, shorter shipping times, and much cheaper pricing.

How does the cost of car shipping vary by season?

Costs typically run 10-40% higher to ship during peak June-August months versus lower-demand winter months when carriers discount rates to fill excess capacity.

What are the biggest challenges in shipping a car in winter?

The biggest winter shipping challenges are potential delays from snow and ice, shorter daylight hours, seasonal driver shortages, and some temporarily closed transport routes.

What should I consider when shipping a car in summer?

When shipping in summer, consider added preparations like checking fluid levels more often, adding ventilation padding, using covered transports or enclosed trailers to prevent overheating, and shipping early to avoid extreme heat exposure during transit.

How do I prepare my car for seasonal shipping?

Year-round preparation basics include checking antifreeze, fluid levels, tire pressures, and battery levels. Add snow chains and protective wraps to shield from road treatment chemicals for winter, and reduce fuel levels below a quarter tank to prevent freezing. For summer, ventilate interiors before transport and ensure cooling system integrity.

Brantley Kendall