What exactly is the phrase “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport”? Everybody talks about it, but hardly anybody explains it. The auto shipping business assumes that the term is self-explanatory, and to a degree, it is as the seasons change, ebbs and flows in the car transport industry change with it. But what does that mean for the customer? How does that play out in real life? And why should a customer give it any concern? Here on this page, Direct Express Auto Transport will attempt to explain.
January’s Major Auto Transport Headache
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? January. It’s a new year. The holidays are over, and everybody gets back to the regular grind. In the auto transport business, the first week of January begins with some trepidation. The truck drivers and carriers are like everybody else and want to be home for the holidays. That means fewer cars ship for over a week, they were off the road, but shipment orders continued to get booked.
A backlog of too much supply, and vehicles waiting to ship, is met with a static and insufficient number of trucks available to ship them. Retirees called snowbirds are ready by the tens of thousands to ship their cars to warm weather states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California. The highest-priced freight, called loads, will ship first.
The more competent auto transport brokers steer their customers to a higher price, explaining that it is in the customer’s best interest, which most rational people understand. The rookie or simply inept auto transport companies book more orders at lower prices without explaining that those orders will likely ship last, sometimes weeks after they were made available.
For reasons we will never understand, those cheap brokers are willing to listen to screaming customers who want to know why their car is still sitting in Poughkeepsie while they’ve been in Boca Raton for three weeks. Many waste precious time with those fumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ brokers before canceling their order and going with a more reputable firm like Direct Express Auto Transport!
The frigid weather and snowstorms in many parts of the country may also throw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. It usually takes 2 or 3 weeks in January to flush out the backlog and return to equilibrium.
February and March’s Lull In Car Shipping
February is one of the car shipping industry’s slowest months of the year. Grandma and Grandpa have already made it south. It’s too flipping cold to buy a car on the internet and ship it home. The college kids are at school. Companies are reluctant to relocate employees in the middle of a school year. Yeah, February is slow, and after that, it is slow some more.
It is also a month when rookie auto transport brokers, or the clueless ones, get caught with outdated pricing. The difference heading to Florida in January is 2-3 times higher than the reverse. If a broker doesn’t adjust his pricing in February, then some people will book orders for March or April ship dates with completely bogus pricing, which hasn’t a prayer of shipping. Experience and business ethics are essential in the auto transport business.
Toward the end of March, the weather is getting better, and some snowbirds start to make their way north. The pricing in January should be reversed in March in the warm weather states, with cheaper auto shipping rates heading to Florida, etc., and higher prices shipping from there. People buy cars, and business activity picks up. If the cost to ship your car is too low in Florida in March, it probably is. Enjoy the savings while you can.
April and May Pick Up Again In Car Transports
Spring is in the air. The baseball season begins. The snowbirds prepare to come home by the tens of thousands. Auto transport has become cheap and fast shipping to Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California. But it gets far more expensive shipping out of those warm weather states. It is also slower because more vehicles are waiting to ship than space available. It is the reverse of January.
That is what we mean by “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport.” Got a low price for car shipping from Florida in May? You’re going to wait a long time for a car transporter. Is it worth it? Probably not. Add an extra $100 (maybe more) and finish it faster.
The Summer Months of June, July, and August Are Peak Season
The hot weather months of summer are peak seasons for auto shipping companies. Companies are relocating employees because the kids are out of school, making the transition easier for families. Those people will drive one car and ship the other. College kids ship their cars home in late May and June and do the reverse in August and early September. People have more confidence buying cars online in the summer. The vehicle shipping estimates are elevated in the summer because of overall heightened demand but are generally not too onerous.
Usually, there is a fair amount of pricing based on direction. The car shipping industry is brisk and on an even keel. Except for one hiccup. The 4th of July! Like at Christmas, truck drivers and carriers want to be home like everybody else, sipping a cold one and flipping hamburgers. It’s the American thing to do. Ah, but that means another backlog develops, and cars don’t ship as fast.
Higher-priced freight goes first, which is the way Adam Smith predicted it. And just like in January, it will take 2 or 3 weeks for equilibrium to return. Again, that’s what we mean by “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport.”
The Autumn Months of September, October, and November Slow Down
The fall months of September, October, and November are good times to ship your car. The weather is still mild, and the number of car transport shipments is down from the summer, which means faster service and slightly lower car shipping rates. Sometimes the seasonal fluctuations mean a good thing for customers.
There is a flurry of college students shipping in September, but there isn’t the mad rush in the fall that there is in the summer. Things slow down for a few days Thanksgiving week but pick right back up the week after. You should enjoy reasonable prices and faster service in autumn.
December Is Trouble For Auto Shipping
Seasonal fluctuations begin to kick in again in December. Auto shipments are steady and satisfactory after Thanksgiving and early and mid-December. However, once the auto transport industry hit Christmas week and New Year’s Eve, vehicle shipments slow to a crawl. Yet the orders keep piling up. The snowbirds are getting ready to fly south. It is the worst time of year! People get emotional around the holidays. They don’t want to hear any excuses, are disappointed if a grand Christmas present doesn’t arrive on time, and are often stressed.
There is little auto transport brokers can do about it. They don’t drive the trucks and can’t get a carrier to skip the turkey dinner and mom’s apple pie to get on the road to deliver that customer’s car. It is frustrating for everybody. Sometimes even adding more money to lure a driver will not work because if nobody is on the road, nobody is on the road.
When we talk about “seasonal fluctuations in auto transport,” we think of most of the last ten days of December and the first ten days of January. Those are the three most stressful weeks in the year for auto transporters. Expect to pay more and get less. It doesn’t seem right.
The best thing to do is think ahead by having a backup plan in case your shipment goes differently than you envision. Ship in early December before the rush, pay more during the holiday onslaught of cars or wait until things calm down in mid-January after the backlog.
The Direct Express Auto Transport Quotes Calculator
So there you have it in a nutshell. Seasonal fluctuations in auto transport are natural. There are many more scenarios here and there throughout the year, but we touched on the major ones. Our auto transport quotes calculator tries to account for all the seasonal fluctuations. Our nearly twenty years of experience in the car shipping industry gives us a leg up on the competition.
This page was created by Direct Express Auto Transport founder Mike Rupers, to help the customer know how to avoid inevitable seasonal fluctuations and take advantage. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, and if you did, please remember to like us on our Google + Plus, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages. To learn more about the auto shipping industry please go here.