Everything You Need to Know About Snowbird Auto Transport

No one likes the cold of the winter months, but being in Florida or California without your vehicle is also not ideal. If you’re lucky enough to spend the cold months in a different state, then you likely want to look into snowbird auto transport services to ensure you have your vehicle with you when you need it.

Snowbird auto transport is the process of shipping your car twice each year, once to the warm destination in the fall and then once back north to your home in the spring. Many snowbirds choose to use an auto shipping service because it saves them time, money, and wear and tear on their vehicle. Plus, they don’t have to worry about the hassle of being behind the wheel for hours on end.

Are you considering becoming a snowbird and wanting to ship your vehicle from one state to another? Here at moveBuddha, we have worked with several of the best car shipping companies and are ready to help you find your car shipping match! Read on to learn everything you need to know about snowbird car shipping.

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What is snowbird auto transport?

Snowbird auto transport services are different from normal car shipping services, mainly because where you might need to ship your car once for a typical move, you’ll likely use snowbird services at least twice each year — once in the fall and again in the spring or early summer. The snowbird season typically begins in late fall around the end of October, before significant snowfall starts in the north.

Unlike those moving long-distance, snowbirds are often flying to their destination with very few personal belongings and no furniture because they will be back in the spring and their winter home is already furnished. This means they don’t have to worry about trying to pack everything or coordinate with a moving company. Oftentimes, snowbirds prefer to pay for expedited car shipping services, as they want to use their vehicle as soon as possible.

Snowbird vehicle transport usually occurs between northern and southern U.S. states, though sometimes snowbirds come down from Canada to places like Arizona, Texas, and Miami. Snowbirds are usually retirees who prefer the peace of mind of shipping their vehicle over a cross-country or long-distance drive.

Reasons for snowbird auto transport

There are several reasons snowbirds choose to ship their car door to door each year:

  • It saves time. Driving across the country can be time-consuming. Vehicle shipping saves most snowbirds days of driving time, which they can enjoy at their destination instead of on the road.
  • It reduces stress. Driving long distances is exhausting and can be scary or stressful if you don’t like to drive. Shipping your vehicle instead of getting behind the wheel is hassle-free.
  • It doesn’t require any travel spending. When you drive your vehicle on a cross-country road trip, you will spend money on gas, hotels, and food along the way. While it comes at a cost, shipping your car allows you to go directly to your winter home without accumulating travel spending.
  • It reduces vehicle wear and tear. Driving cross-country or across state lines several times a year to snowbird destinations and back home puts hundreds of miles of wear and tear on your vehicle. When you ship your car, it gets your vehicle to your other home without adding miles to the odometer.
  • It leaves the driving to the professionals. All snowbird car shipping services companies have professional drivers to get your vehicle safely from your home to your delivery location.

Options for snowbird auto transport

Like any other type of vehicle transport, you have several options when it comes to snowbird auto transport.

Open transport

Open transport is the most common and least expensive type of vehicle transport. Your car is placed on a car carrier with other vehicles, and the carrier won’t have a roof or walls covering your vehicle. As a result, your car is exposed to the elements and road hazards during its journey. Although the likelihood of damage is actually pretty low with open vs. enclosed auto transport, it can happen.

Enclosed transport

Enclosed transport is more expensive than open transport services because it is safer for your vehicle. When you book an enclosed transport, your vehicle is picked up and placed in a trailer with walls and a ceiling to protect your car in transit.

Sometimes enclosed transport trailers are shared, and other times your vehicle will be the only one in the trailer. We recommend you check out our list of the best enclosed car shipping companies if this is the type of transport you require for your vehicle.

Expedited shipping

Shipping a vehicle can sometimes take days or weeks. For those with a long journey who want their car sooner rather than later or to book last minute, they may consider booking expedited vehicle shipping services. These services can come with either open or enclosed options.

Snowbird auto transport process

The process for snowbird auto transport generally is the same for any car shipment. Below are the typical steps you’ll need to take.

1. Get a quote

Request a free quote from several snowbird car transport services, comparing to see which fits your needs the best and offers a reasonable price. We recommend requesting at least three transport quotes before making your decision.

To request an instant quote, you’ll need to have a little information about your car handy, such as the pickup and drop-off locations and vehicle make and model. You should also know what type of transport your vehicle will require.

2. Book your shipment

Once you have found the best car shipping company for your auto transport, call the phone number on their website to book your transport. Some companies do require a deposit at booking so ensure you have a method of payment on hand.

3. Prepare your vehicle for pickup

Once your shipment is booked, you’ll want to prepare your vehicle for pickup. You’ll need to clean out all personal items unless you have arranged in advance to leave some inside the vehicle. You will also want to take pictures of your car and ensure it has at least a quarter of a tank of gas.

The contracted company will arrive to collect your vehicle, load it on the truck, and have you sign a bill of lading. They will advise you when and where you can expect it to be delivered. You can now start your journey to a warmer climate!

4. Your vehicle is delivered

When your vehicle arrives at the destination address, the driver will unload it from the truck and ask you to sign a bill of lading. You’ll want to inspect your vehicle before you sign anything to ensure there isn’t any damage. After you sign, you will need to pay for your shipment in full if you haven’t already.

Cost of car shipping for snowbirds

Your car shipping cost during snowbird season will vary depending on the type of car you own, type of transport you desire, and the distance it needs to be shipped. Those shipping longer distances — like from Pennsylvania to California — will pay far more than someone shipping from New Jersey to Florida.

Additionally, if you have a specialty vehicle or something larger like an SUV, this will cost more than shipping a basic sedan. Those choosing enclosed transport will also get a higher car shipping quote than those who choose open shipping.

The last thing to keep in mind is some snowbird routes are more popular than others, and they carry a premium cost due to the increase in demand. New York to Florida is a popular snowbird car shipping route and it will likely cost more than shipping from Idaho to Arizona.

How to find the best snowbird auto transport company

Because snowbird car shipping happens multiple times per year, you will want to spend the time to find a company you enjoy working with.

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Here are some things to look for as you search for the best snowbird auto transport company:

  • Door-to-door service: Snowbirds ship their car frequently, and needing to pick it up at a terminal or industrial area can be a hassle. Look for a company like Montway Auto Transport that will pick up and drop off your vehicle at your door.
  • Returning customer discounts: Since you’ll be using this company multiple times, it would be nice if they offered you a discount for booking in the future!
  • Excellent customer support: You will be using your snowbird auto transport company multiple times, and there is always a chance that something will go wrong. It’s best to choose a company with excellent customer service that you can call when you need to.
  • Years of experience: The needs of snowbirds when it comes to car shipping are different from other types of vehicle shipping. You should choose a company that has at least a few years of experience in the snowbird car shipping industry or promotes snowbird auto transport as an area of focus.
  • Guaranteed pickup dates: Snowbirds don’t have time to be waiting for days for their vehicle to be picked up each year. Try to choose a company with guaranteed vehicle pick-up dates so you can migrate south on your own time.
  • Good insurance coverage with easy claims: Because your vehicle will be shipped more than once, you want to choose a company with a good insurance policy and an easy claims process so you can get your car repaired if it is ever damaged in transit.

FAQs about car shipping for snowbirds

What is the difference between a snowbird driver and a car transporter?

A snowbird driver is a service that provides a professional driver to drive your vehicle from one location to the other, while a car transporter is a company that will collect your vehicle using a car carrier and your car will then be transported via a truck. Booking a car transporter is better for your vehicle than a snowbird driver because it keeps your vehicle from accumulating wear and tear, but hiring a driver is often cheaper than a car transport service.

How much does it cost to have a car transported to Florida?

The cost of having a car transported to Florida will depend on the state where the vehicle is being transferred from and whether or not you prefer an open or enclosed transport for your vehicle. Most customers spend $500–$2,000 to ship their vehicles to Florida.

What are the benefits of shipping a car in January?

Shipping your vehicle in January is often cheaper than in the fall because there are fewer bookings, as most snowbirds and seasonal travelers have already shipped their vehicles. Plus, you’ll get to avoid driving on the poor road conditions that plague much of the northern states during the month.

What is the average car transport time?

The number of days it takes to ship a vehicle will depend on the distance the car is being transported, road conditions, and what order your vehicle is placed on the truck. In general, most car shipments take five to 14 days.

Is it cheaper to drive across the country or ship a car?

In some cases, it is cheaper to drive your car across the country than to ship it. The costs of a long-distance drive, however, can pile up, especially if you need to stop in lots of expensive areas or stay in hotels along the way. In these cases — and factoring in the wear and tear on your vehicle — it is often cheaper overall to ship your vehicle.

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