Size matters: A look at the transportation of small vs. big vehicles

a man in the car thinking about The Transportation of Small vs. Big Vehicles

If you’ve chosen to ship your car instead of driving it during a long-distance move, this guide is tailor-made for you. We’re here to arm you with all the essential information required for shipping your car, regardless of the distance. The size of your vehicle plays a crucial role and can significantly affect the shipping cost. However, there’s no need for concern; we’ve got you covered with comprehensive insights into the transportation of small vs. big vehicles.

Advantages and challenges of shipping small vs. large vehicles

Shipping smaller vehicles, like cars and small SUVs, is often cheaper than shipping larger ones, such as pickup trucks. This is because smaller vehicles take up less space on transport carriers, allowing more of them to be shipped at once. This efficiency reduces the cost per vehicle, making it a more affordable option for customers. On the other hand, larger vehicles occupy more space on carriers, which limits the number of vehicles that can be transported in a single trip. This increases the cost of shipping larger vehicles and complicates the shipping process. In addition, bigger vehicles are heavier, which can mean extra costs due to the need for special equipment to load and unload them, changes in the travel route to handle the weight, and a higher chance of problems with the carrier.

a blue car
Choose the right car shipping option for your vehicle’s size.

When it comes to car shipping in Canada, the size and weight of your vehicle are major factors that determine shipping costs. Carriers are built to hold a certain number of vehicles and filling them up efficiently is important to keeping costs down. While there are some challenges in shipping smaller vehicles, the cost savings are a big plus.

Car shipping options for small and big cars

When it comes to the transportation of small vs. big vehicles, knowing the available options can make all the difference in ensuring your car arrives safely, efficiently, and within your budget. The right choice depends on various factors, including the level of protection you prefer, your budget, and the specific requirements of your vehicle.

  • Open transport: This is the most popular and cost-effective choice, where vehicles are loaded onto an open trailer. It’s especially suited for smaller to medium-sized cars due to its affordability and convenience. However, larger vehicles can also be accommodated, though they may affect the total number of cars the trailer can carry.
  • Enclosed transport: Providing the highest level of protection against the elements and road debris, enclosed transport is recommended for high-value vehicles, including luxury, classic cars, or larger premium SUVs that require extra care during transit.
  • Door-to-door service: The shipping company will collect and deliver your vehicle as close to your chosen locations as possible. This option removes the hassle of driving your vehicle to a drop-off point, which can be particularly beneficial for large vehicles that are difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
  • Terminal-to-terminal service: Perfect option for those looking to cut costs. You’re responsible for dropping off and picking up your vehicle at the transporter’s designated locations. While smaller cars find it practical due to easier navigation in busy terminal areas, larger vehicles can also opt for this service if space allows.
  • Expedited shipping: If you are moving from Toronto to Montreal last minute this option is the best. Expedited shipping ensures your vehicle, regardless of its size, is prioritized for quicker delivery. This option is perfect for urgent moves, offering peace of mind that your vehicle, be it a compact car or a bulky SUV, will reach its destination swiftly.

How to prepare your car for transportation

Before making the move from Ontario to Quebec and arranging for your car’s shipment, it’s crucial to prepare your vehicle. This preparation process demands attention to detail, regardless of whether you own a compact sedan or a large SUV. For smaller cars, start by cleaning the interior and removing personal items to prevent any potential damage. It’s also crucial to perform a maintenance check, including tire pressure and fluid levels, to ensure it’s in good condition for transport. Documenting the car’s current state with photos can serve as a reference in case of disputes.

For larger vehicles, the preparation process includes similar steps but demands additional attention to external accessories and modifications. Items like bike racks or custom spoilers should be removed to prevent damage during transit. Make sure that any loose parts are secured or removed, as larger vehicles might have more components that could be susceptible to movement during transit. Regardless of size, leaving only a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle can reduce weight and enhance safety.

A grandfather showing his grandchildren how to prepare for the transportation of small vs. big vehicles
Prepare your car for a safe and smooth journey.

Safety protocols and regulations for the transportation of small vs. big vehicles

In Canada, safety protocols and regulations for shipping vehicles, whether small or big, are governed by a combination of federal and provincial laws. These regulations are designed to protect both the transporters and the customers, ensuring a transparent and secure transaction.

Weight and dimension regulations

Canada enforces weight and dimension regulations primarily to protect road infrastructure and ensure safety on the roads. These regulations can vary by province, but generally, there are national standards, especially for interprovincial transport:

  • National Safety Code (NSC) Standard 10 outlines cargo securement standards.
  • Transport Canada provides guidelines for vehicle size and weight to ensure transporters comply with safe loading practices and road use.
  • The maximum allowable weight can range up to 63,500 kg for a fully loaded transport truck, depending on axle configurations.
  • Vehicle dimensions (length, width, height) are also regulated, with the standard maximum width set at 2.6 meters. The height and length can vary, with special permits required for oversized vehicles.

These regulations mean that larger vehicles, which may exceed standard dimensions or weight limits, require special handling and permits for transportation, which can potentially affect the cost and route selection.

Environmental regulations

Environmental regulations related to vehicle transport in Canada focus on reducing emissions and protecting the environment. These regulations can vary by province, with some having more stringent controls:

  • British Columbia: Has introduced the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, aiming to decrease carbon intensity in fuels.
  • Ontario: Implements Drive Clean programs to reduce emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, including those used in transport services.
  • Quebec: Adopts California’s stringent vehicle emission standards, which are among the strictest in North America, affecting how vehicles, including transport trucks, comply within the province.
  • Alberta: Focuses on reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles through the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA).

Knowing these rules is essential as they influence the cost and path of transport. Talk to your transport company about how these regulations might impact your vehicle’s shipping, particularly for bigger vehicles or routes through provinces with strict environmental guidelines.

Securement protocols

The method used to secure vehicles onto transport trucks is regulated to prevent movement and damage during transit. Larger vehicles might require additional securing points or specialized equipment, which transport companies are mandated to use. You should inquire about the specific securement methods used for your vehicle type to ensure compliance and safety.

Insurance coverage

Transport companies must carry liability insurance to cover any damages to your vehicle while it’s in transit. But keep in mind, the coverage limits can differ. If you’re shipping a high-value or larger vehicle, you might want to consider getting additional insurance. Bigger vehicles can be more prone to damage because of their size and the complexities involved in securing them properly.

a white SUV
Some provinces have different environmental regulations.

Impact of seasonal weather on the transportation of small vs. big vehicles

Similar to how weather conditions can affect your move from Ontario to British Columbia, they can also have a significant impact on the transportation of your vehicle. Canada’s diverse climate presents unique challenges for vehicle shipping, affecting small and big vehicles in distinct ways. The country’s weather conditions range from heavy snowfalls in winter to hot summers, each bringing its own set of obstacles for transportation. Understanding these seasonal impacts and preparing accordingly can ensure your vehicle arrives safely, regardless of its size.

Winter challenges

  • Small vehicles: Compact cars may become more concealed under snow on transport trailers, necessitating thorough protection and securement against the elements. Ensure your vehicle has antifreeze and is winter-ready, even when being transported.
  • Large vehicles: SUVs and trucks face the risk of ice accumulation on larger surface areas, which can add significant weight. It’s vital to check that your vehicle’s battery and heating system are in good condition to withstand cold starts upon arrival.

Summer heat

  • Small vehicles: High temperatures can affect a small vehicle’s tire pressure and fluid levels. Before shipping, check these and ensure your vehicle is equipped with a sunshade to protect the interior from UV damage.
  • Large vehicles: Larger vehicles, with their more extensive metal surfaces, can experience overheating more quickly. Make sure cooling systems are checked and functioning correctly to prevent any heat-related issues during transit.

Spring and fall rain

Rainy seasons bring about wet roads and muddy conditions, which can splatter vehicles with dirt and potentially obscure visibility for transport drivers. Applying a protective wax can help keep your vehicle clean and make it easier to inspect for any damage upon delivery.

Preparing for seasonal challenges

  • Wind and dust: Especially in open transport, vehicles are exposed to wind-blown debris and dust. Protective covers can help shield both small and big vehicles from scratches and dents.
  • Visibility: Ensure your vehicle’s lights are working correctly in case transport occurs during darker hours or through stormy weather, enhancing safety.
green car
Managing the transportation of small vs. big vehicles in Canada requires understanding cost factors and regulations.

How to choose the right shipping company

Choosing the right shipping company for your vehicle is necessary for a smooth and secure shipping experience. The first thing you need to do is verify the company’s insurance coverage to ensure your vehicle is protected against any potential damage during transit. It’s vital that their policy covers the full value of your car, especially for high-value or larger vehicles.

Then consider the company’s experience with vehicles similar in size to yours. A company familiar with handling both small and large vehicles can manage the specific challenges each presents, from securement to route planning.

Another important thing you need to do is to check their reviews. Look for reviews and testimonials from previous customers to gauge their reliability, communication, and problem-solving capabilities. A company with positive feedback and a track record of resolving issues promptly will likely provide a stress-free shipping process.


What can you leave in the vehicle during transport?

You’re allowed to leave a few specific items in your vehicle during shipping, such as:

  • one set of properly stowed snow tires
  • safely secured child seats
  • a wheel wrench
  • booster cables
  • a jack
  • first aid and emergency kits
  • roof racks that fit within the railcar’s dimensions

Remember, these items should not exceed the rear setback height.

How long does the transportation of small vs. big vehicles takes?

The shipping time can vary based on distance, route, and weather conditions. Generally, it can take from a few days to a couple of weeks. We at Miracle Movers aim to provide you with a precise timeline once your shipping details are finalized. This will ensure you have a clear understanding of the transport process.

Do I need to be present during pickup and delivery?

Yes, either you or a designated representative needs to be present during both pickup and delivery of your vehicle. This ensures that you can oversee the loading and unloading process, complete the necessary inspections, and sign off on the paperwork. If you cannot be there personally, make sure your representative is fully informed about the process and has the authority to act on your behalf.

What happens if my vehicle is damaged during transport?

If your vehicle is damaged during transport, it’s important to document the damage by noting it on the bill of lading at the time of delivery and taking photographs as evidence. Immediately report the incident to the company representative. They will guide you through the claims process, liaising with their insurance to address and resolve the issue promptly. The process is designed to handle such concerns efficiently, ensuring customer satisfaction.

car seats
Trust the experts at Miracle Movers for stress-free car transportation.

Ready to move your vehicle?

The transportation of small vs. big vehicles comes down to knowing what it needs and picking the right people for the job. Make sure you’re ready for what the weather might throw at you and choose a transport company you trust. With a little planning and the right info, moving your vehicle can be a smooth ride. If you’re looking for reliable experts to help with your move, contact us at Miracle Movers. We’re here to ensure your vehicle’s journey is seamless and secure, no matter its size.