What Is The Best Time of Year to Ship a Car?

Whether you’re relocating to a new city, pursuing a career opportunity, or just travelling to your vacation home for the winter, a move will almost always come with a specific schedule. However, if you’re looking to find the best deal on transporting your car, being flexible can often work to your benefit. However, there is no perfect short answer for the best time of year to ship a vehicle across the country. The price you pay to ship a vehicle largely depends on location, weather, make/model, vehicle weight, vehicle condition, and season. Just like most industries, there are seasonal fluctuations in auto transport. As the seasons change throughout the year, the car transport industry has ebbs and flows that change along with them. Auto shippers have low and high seasons that will directly affect your quote. Being aware of when these shifts are occurring can help ensure that you get the best experience at the best price.

In this post, we’ll outline what to expect with these high and low seasons, why timing is important when shipping a vehicle, how you can benefit from having a more flexible timetable, and all the steps you should take to securely ship your car based on the season.

How do seasons affect auto transport?

The auto transport industry is largely based on seasonal changes which means that the time of year will always be factored into the quotes you receive from transport companies. Prices can increase both in summer and winter months based on demand. You can expect for summer auto transport to involve fast service with competitive prices. Whereas, transport during the winter season could include higher prices with longer delivery times.

However, the high and low seasons in the vehicle transport industry are influenced by many factors over the course of the year. These include; traffic fluctuations, demand, weather, and season. How much these factors will affect your shipping quote will depend on the location that you’re shipping your car from and where it’s shipping to.

Significant weather events that occur throughout the year can also influence shipping prices. If the shipment of your vehicle happens to overlap with any major weather events like a blizzard or hurricane, you could be charged more. An increase in auto accidents is another reason why car shippers may increase prices. Additionally, as gas prices fluctuate through the seasons, auto shipping prices are affected too.

What makes car shipping in the summer different?

Transporting your vehicle in the summer can be easier due to the weather conditions but may also end up driving the price higher because of demand. In warmer months, the auto transport industry tends to move much smoother. This is due to the fact that carriers don’t have to navigate erratic weather conditions. The unpredictable nature of winter, especially in the north, is not an issue in summer months and typically results in fewer delays.

Summer allows for safer and faster auto transport thanks to better weather conditions, roads that are clear of snow, and the existence of longer days. However, summer is a more popular time to ship a vehicle. There are more people looking to move their cars and this makes each spot on a trailer that much more valued. As a result, prices can be higher to compensate for the high demand.

The demand in the summer is especially high in major cities. Whether you’re shipping to or from a major city, most auto transport companies charge more during hotter months. For example, you will likely pay more to transport your car from greater metro areas like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Miami and to locations in the south since there is an increase of traffic in that direction. Also, the roads between major destinations tend to be more congested with tourists and this causes transport drivers to spend more time on the road depleting their fuel.

Regardless, in summer months, you should begin scheduling your transport in advance. Carriers fill up quickly and if you wait too long, you may miss your chance to get your car on a trailer.

What makes car shipping in the winter different?

Shipping during wintertime will largely depend on the destination that you are shipping to. Harsh weather conditions in the north will cause an increase in shipping times and overall delays. In some cases, haulers will completely halt transporting on routes in states with more extreme, unsafe winter conditions. Additionally, there are typically fewer drivers available to cover routes as some are not comfortable driving in winter weather. Decreasing the supply of carriers and routes will ultimately drive up the prices.

Overall, you may not always receive a discount when choosing to transport your car during winter months. However, you may have more choices when it comes to your ship date because there will generally be fewer cars transported during this time.

Although there is less of a demand in winter to ship a vehicle north, there is more of a demand in shipping to southern destinations. You could pay just as much, if not more, as you would during summer if you’re sending your vehicle southward during snowbird season. Winter is when many retirees in the north relocate to southern states like Florida, Texas and Arizona for warmer weather.

If you need to transport a car during winter, choosing to utilize an auto transport service is the way to go. It may take longer to arrive than driving yourself but, you’ll avoid having to pilot through any unsafe conditions. Haulers are trained professionals that know how to drive through winter weather and are aware of any alternate routes along the way.

How do I prepare my car for shipping with the seasons?

The steps that you need to take to prepare your vehicle are pretty much the same regardless of the season. Before you ship your car, you should:

  • Clean your vehicle, inside and out.
  • Document and take photos of any pre-existing damage.
  • Remove valuables and personal items that you normally keep inside your car.
  • Detach any exterior accessories such as spoilers and antennas.
  • Make sure your car is up to date on service and has no issues.
  • Empty your tank so that it is no more than a quarter full.

You should also consider the following additional specific prep for the summer and winter months:

  • Replace your vehicle’s windshield wipers. Faulty wipers can impair your vision in heavy rain or icy snowfall.
  • Top off your car’s radiator fluid. This can prevent your cooling system from overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter.
  • Inspect your vehicle’s belt. Any evidence of damage could end up resulting in contraction in the cold or expansion in heat.
  • Adjust your tire pressure. Correct the pressure based on the destination of your vehicle. In general, your tires will lose or gain 1 PSI of pressure for each 10-degree shift in temperature.
  • Wash your car after you receive it. During summer your vehicle may encounter dust, rain or mud on the road. While, in winter, it could be hit with dirty slush and salt.

Ready for transport?

There are many factors to consider when shipping a vehicle throughout the year. You should keep all of this in mind when booking your next transport. Since the auto transport industry is driven by seasonal changes, it’s important to understand how these changes can affect your quote. At Ship Vehicles, we recommend booking as early as possible in order to receive your desired delivery time. Speak with an expert today to help guide you through the process. We’re happy to provide you with a FREE estimate and answer any questions you may have!