What is the best time to ship a car
A comprehensive guide to the seasonal fluctuations in auto transport
If you’re wondering whether the time of the year has anything to do with the cost of auto transport, we’re about to put the record straight. You may have heard people talking about “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport” and wondered what it was all about. It’s not something that gets explained very often until now.
What do we mean by seasonal fluctuations?
As with many other businesses, seasons do determine the cost, speed of service and your overall experience. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you.
When we are talking about the specifics, however, things get a little more complicated. To be certain you get the complete picture it’s best if you go into more detail.
Only then will you be able to make an informed decision when it comes to booking your own car transport services.
The New Year Rush
January, or the beginning of the new calendar year, is not just a time for making resolutions. It’s also a time when many people return home after the busy holiday season.
Car shipping drivers are no different and just like you, many of them are heading back to work after enjoying their Christmas break. While they’ve been relaxing with their family and friends, shipments are still being booked, even though there are very few carriers that operate throughout the holiday period.
All these bookings make the first two to three weeks of the year very chaotic. It’s also a time of the year when snowbirds are making arrangements to head back north.
We're talking tens of thousands of people wanting to transport their cars. Throw in start-of-the-year weather and temperatures and there can be problems with schedules. People have to wait more than they’d prefer which can in turn lead to cancellations, wasted time and truck loads of frustration.
Tips for Avoiding the January Auto Transport Headache
- Book an earlier shipment: Book your door-to-door auto transport service for early December before the New Year rush. Yes, this involves planning and making sure you have a vehicle once yours is on its way to its holiday destination, but it’s still better than the alternative.
- Pay a little extra: There’s always the option of paying a little extra as an incentive to the driver. It does, however, depend on your budget.
- Wait until mid-January: If you’ve got time to spare, enjoy a few more weeks with your family and head back after the January rush is over.
Is February any better?
February is a slow month in terms of the number of shipments and costs shouldn't be too high. Be careful, however, because some car transport services don’t adjust their rates. You might pay the same as you would during the January rush.
Compare rates, talk to company representatives about the situation and make the right choice.
March, April, and May is the snowbirds season
When March arrives and temperatures begin to normalize it’s snowbird season again. This is the time when most snowbirds start heading back to their cooler homes in the north.
If you’re heading north yourself, bear this in mind because open car transport and enclosed auto transport prices for shipping a car from the south to the north will start rising. There’s also a much bigger demand for auto transport services.
Summer months are the busiest time of the year in the car shipping industry
Summer is when many people relocate because they’re switching jobs. It’s the best time for a family to move house because the kids are not in school.
It’s also a time of the year when car purchases are on the increase. College students also choose to ship vehicles in early June and late August because they’re either heading home for summer recess or getting things ready for their return to college in the fall.
Rates can increase, but there are also plenty of carriers to carry the increased load.
Things can get a little out of hand around July 4th. Just like Christmas, it’s a time when a lot of carriers choose to stay with their family's. The end result is that there are fewer carriers operating, prices are higher and service is slower.
If you can, wait a few weeks and normal service will be resumed.
One of the best times to ship a car across the country is the fall
There are a few reasons why this is true. In September, October and November temperatures are moderate and there are fewer vehicles to be shipped. What this means for you as a customer is good prices and quick service.
December is when things get complicated again
There’s lots going on in December that can impact the availability and cost of auto transport services. To begin with, there's Thanksgiving. This is another popular time for people to be traveling to stay with family. It’s also a time of the year when truckers like to take some time off. The end result is there are few carriers to ship the cars which bumps up the price.
The snowbirds are also getting ready to leave their homes in the north and head south for the warmer weather. Add in the complications of the holiday season and December is not the best time to be thinking about shipping a car.
As well as seasonal fluctuations, there’s also the weather to consider when you’re thinking about shipping a car. Is it better to ship your car in the winter or the summer?
Winter vs. summer car shipping
Not everyone has the luxury of choosing when to ship their car. If you’re relocating because of your job, for example, you can’t wait until the price is right to ship your car. Military personnel can also receive their transfer orders at short notice, which means they can’t wait months to book military car shipping.
Knowing how the season can affect your shipment means you can be better prepared. You must have heard the saying, forewarned is forearmed. This holds true for auto transport.
Shipping your car in the summer
Shipping a car in the summer is much easier than in the winter. The auto transport industry tends to run smoothly when the sun is shining. Carriers don’t have to deal with harsh weather conditions in most locations, which means there are far fewer delays.
The demand for auto transport services is also much greater in the summer, and loads are picked up and delivered quicker.
That being said, summer is a time when prices can be higher because of the higher demand. It’s not unusual to find people willing to pay extra to ship a car during the summer. Needless to say, some auto transport companies capitalize on this fact and make up for slower services during the winter.
Shipping your car in the winter
Ship your car in the winter and you can expect to pay less because there is less demand. Carriers who operate during the winter months have to compete for business. With more spaces on trailers to fill, they’re bound to offer lower prices.
Low prices make winter auto transport very attractive for many people but you have to take into account the weather. Winter weather conditions can cause significant delays, particularly on certain routes. Routes can be closed and bad weather can make driving difficult.
In general, you can expect a shipment to take longer during the winter. Loads are picked up more slowly and certain routes won’t be covered by carriers at all during the coldest months of the year.
If you need to move a car during the winter months, an auto transport service is the best option. It’s definitely much safer than driving long distances yourself. Auto transport truckers are trained to deal with harsh weather conditions and are aware of different routes to take.
Getting your car ready for shipping anytime of the year
Whatever time of the year you choose to ship your vehicle there are certain things you need to do.
- Clean the exterior and interior: You’ll save time and effort if you clean your vehicle before it gets transported. While you’re cleaning it, you’ll also be able to check for dings and scratches as well as wear and tear on the interior.
- Visually inspect and photograph your car: You should take photographs so you can compare the condition of your car when it’s delivered. Look for dents, paint chips, discoloration, and scratches when you visually inspect your car.
- Carry out basic maintenance: Before your vehicle is transported there are some basic maintenance tasks you should complete. Check tire pressures, fluids, and that the battery has a full charge. If you know all these things are in order, you’ll be able to drive your car away when it’s delivered.
- Run down the gas tank: A vehicle with a full gas tank is much heavier. It’s recommended that you run your gas tank down to at least one quarter full.
- Removable parts should be secured: Removable parts such as luggage, ski, or bike racks should be removed or secured before transportation. Fold in any side mirrors and retract antennas. If you’ve got custom spoilers on your car consider removing them. Owners of convertible cars should ensure the top is secure.
- All personal items should be removed: You must remove all personal items from the interior of the vehicle. These include your car charger, GPS, after-market video, DVD player, and custom stereo. You can ship up to 100 lbs of personal items in the trunk of your car but these must be secured in a box or suitcase.
- Deactivate all parking passes, toll tags, and alarms: You don’t want your car alarm to go off unexpectedly so make sure you deactivate it before your car is shipped.Tolls tags and parking passes are not required during transportation so check that these are removed.
- Check contact information: It’s only natural to want to be able to check on the progress of your shipment so always request contact information from the carrier. Should there be any delay you want to be certain they can keep you informed. The contact information you request could be the auto transport driver or the company they work for.
- Bill of lading: When your vehicle is picked up you’ll be given a bill of lading. This is a receipt for your vehicle and a contract of service. The document is also used to record any damages on your vehicle and will be checked against when your vehicle is delivered.
Other important checks you should make include:
- Car radiator: Make sure it’s topped off so your cooling system doesn’t overheat in the summer or freeze in the winter.
- Windshield wipers: Replace these because rain can impair visibility should you get caught in an icy squall or a hurricane.
- Drive belt: Check this for damage because it could be made worse by contraction in the cold or expansion in the heat.
- Tire pressure: Tires can lose or gain 1 PSI of pressure for every 10-degree change in temperature. Adjust your car’s tire pressure according to the temperature expected at its final destination.
One last tip is to consider giving your car a good clean after transportation. During the summer months it may encounter rain, dust, and mud on the road, while during the winter months it may encounter sand, dirty slush, and road salt. If you want your vehicle to be completely protected from all these conditions, consider enclosed auto transport.
Whether you’re shipping your car in the winter or the summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any time of the year, consider us for your auto transport services. We’re one of the nations most reputable car transport companies.