3 Tips for Shipping a Vehicle in the Winter

vehicle transport truck in snow

Winter vehicle shipping brings unique challenges but following a few tips can eliminate many potential problems.

Key takeaways

  • Winter vehicle shipping brings challenges
  • Creating a plan eliminates many problems
  • Mercury Auto Transport can help find a reputable carrier

Moving a vehicle from point A to point B isn’t always as simple as it seems. Sure, you could drive the car to its destination, but you might not have the time to make the journey. Contracting an auto transport carrier service is your best bet because to ensure that your car gets where it needs to be without the hassle of driving.

Shipping a vehicle in the winter months brings an entirely new set of challenges. Still, by developing a plan, preparing the vehicle for transport, and speaking with reputable shippers, you can ensure the process runs smoothly and your vehicle gets to its destination without hassle or damage.

1. Choose the right carrier

Finding the right carrier is a vital part of shipping any vehicle in the winter, especially because road conditions can throw other variables at you.

Start by going over multiple carrier’s timeline estimates. While the vehicle shipping industry generally doesn’t offer guarantees on delivery dates, you can usually negotiate a range of dates when the car should arrive. 

So, while you can’t say you need the car to arrive on a specific date, it’s possible to ask for the delivery to come around a particular day, at least within reason.

Keep in mind that road conditions can make it challenging or even impossible for the vehicle to arrive at a specific location in a hurry. For example, a snowstorm can close roads or make certain parts of the country inaccessible. Your carrier should have a plan to address these issues and stay in communication with you.

It’s also worth remembering that winter road conditions include sand and other abrasive ice-melting solutions on the roadways. Small rocks often end up in this sand and can damage windshields.

Elements like these are always a risk to damage your vehicle as it sits on an open transport carrier. That’s why it’s a good idea to select a closed auto transport when shipping your car, but that option will cost more. 

It’s up to you to decide whether shipping your vehicle inside a trailer is worth the additional expense. You’ll also want to inquire about insurance in case the car encounters damage during transportation.

Flatbed transport is available, too, if your vehicle won’t fit on regular car transports. It’s the most expensive option and takes the most effort to arrange, but it may be the only option for unusual vehicles.

Every carrier will have different offerings, so plan to put some effort into finding the one that best meets your needs. As a rule, always select a carrier that is compliant with FMCSA regulations.

2. Plan the shipment

Winter is a strange time in the car shipping industry because its volume varies month by month. For example, the first week of January is hectic, often with twice as many requests for shipments as available capacity. Demand drops in the second and third weeks of January before finally returning to normal by the end of the month. 

At the same time, February and March are far less busy than the summer, as are the last couple of weeks in December. 

One reason for this inconsistency is that people want to spend the holidays with their families. Therefore, many snowbirds (people who spend the winter months in sunnier Southern climes) won’t head south until after Christmas and need their car shipments to coincide with when they finally leave town. 

Prepare for higher costs if January vehicle shipping is necessary because there’s a great deal of demand. Even finding a willing carrier takes a bit of luck. 

Likewise, there are lower than average costs in December, February, and March.

Have clear expectations for what your winter enclosed auto transport will cost so you don’t end up disappointed.

3. Get the car ready for shipment

Before loading your vehicle onto a truck for shipping, there are a few things you’ll need to do in preparation. 

For starters, regardless of the season, you should clean the car inside and out. Remove any valuables that don’t need to be there, secure loose parts, and order a second set of keys if you don’t already have one. 

It’s also a good idea to take pictures of any vehicle damage present, pre-emptively take it to the mechanic and log your mileage.

Remember that your car should have less than a quarter tank of gas when shipping, too.

You can make some additional preparations in the winter, including topping the radiator off with antifreeze, inspecting your car’s belts, which should be part of your mechanic visit, and adjusting the tire pressure. 

Tire pressure changes with the weather, so starting with lower pressure is advisable if your car is heading to a warmer destination. 

The better you prepare your vehicle before shipping it to a new destination, the less work you’ll have once it arrives.

Finding a shipping carrier

Choosing between shipping carriers is often overwhelming because there are so many options available. This issue becomes even more pronounced in winter because capacity can vary week-to-week and extreme weather conditions may slow deliveries significantly. 

The good news is that Mercury Auto Transport is available to match you with the exact auto transport carrier to meet your needs. We only work with licensed carriers, ensuring your vehicle is safe and the service is reputable. Contact us to learn more or receive your free quote.



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We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.