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How to Transport Your Christmas Tree Safely by Car

tree travel cover pd scaled jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

CARS.COM — Christmas trees are an enchanting, beautiful symbol of the holiday season, but the magic comes crashing to a halt the second one slams into your car. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways between 2011 and 2014, and some of them were Christmas trees.

Related: Turkey Trot: Transport Your Holiday Foods Safely

Before you overload the family truckster with the perfect tree, take a few precautions to make sure it — and you — arrive home safely. With approximately 25 million to 30 million Christmas trees purchased every year, there are a lot of opportunities for damage — not only to your car, but to the car driving behind you. How do you get that Tannenbaum home intact?

Aside from finding a tree lot that delivers, Rick Dungey, spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association, has some sage advice. “If someone at the farm or lot where you buy the tree offers advice on the best way for you to transport your tree, take it,” he told “Those folks deal with thousands of trees per year, and you deal with one.”

Here are some more tips from the National Christmas Tree Association for getting your tree home without diminishing your holiday cheer.

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  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable, and if it’s going on the roof, the tree’s trunk should be pointed toward the car’s front end. Both of these tips will help reduce wind damage to the pine needles.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your car’s cargo area or, if you have a roof rack, on top of your roof properly. Also ensure that you have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to the cargo hooks.
  • Place a tarp or blanket over the cargo area to protect the interior from loose needles. If you’re going to place the tree on the roof, place a tarp, plastic sheet or blanket between the tree and the roof rack to protect the roof from scratches.
  • If you are transporting a tree in a pickup truck, there could be hot spots in the truck bed — from the exhaust pipe, for example. This can damage the tree’s needles, so put something under it like an old blanket.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it’s secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway, especially if you’re not used to hauling heavy objects on your car’s roof. They affect your vehicle’s center of gravity and emergency handling.
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Let’s not forget the not-as-fun part of having a real tree: Taking it out of your house and to the recycling center. Those extra-dry needles love to scratch a car’s exterior and lodge themselves into carpeted floor mats. Use blankets to minimize damage and to keep cleanup time shorter.

And whether you’re bringing the tree home from the lot or heading to the recycling center with it, do not put your tree on your car’s roof unless it has a roof rack.

With a little forethought and tips from the pros, your tree should bring you a season of bliss.

img 16444061 1447707047830 1 jpg illustration by Paul Dolan’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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