What Is the Best Time to Ship a Car?

Cars being shipped across the country

Cars are designed to get you from point A to point B. But if you have to transport a car across the state or across the country for an upcoming move or as part of a transaction, it’s not like you can get in the car and drive it yourself. Not only will that be a huge waste of your time, but you’ll also risk accidents and other wear and tear on a vehicle that should be arriving in pristine condition. 

The best approach here is to ship that car so that someone else can worry about getting it there on time and without issue. However, if you’re flexible with timing, it’s important to note that you may be able to save some money on that car shipping endeavor. In fact, the best time to ship a car if you’re concerned about price is during the low season when demand drops. Compared to shipping that same car during the high season, you could save a considerable amount of money and time.

Timing Matters

The most important consideration when trying to work out the best time to ship a car is the timing itself. However, keep in mind that flexibility is the nature of logistics. Indeed, car shipping and pickup dates depend on a lot of other factors.

Part of it has to do with matching the right container to the vehicle — such as with enclosed vs. open car shipping — but it’s also about bringing other things along so that the trip itself is optimized for the needs of the shipper. No car shipper wants to send a mostly empty container across the country, and then there’s also weather, traffic and mechanical and other types of problems that can develop, too. That’s why it’s difficult to estimate how long it takes to ship a car ahead of time.

Location Matters

Another important aspect of car shipping is that location — both pickup and delivery — matters. You can hone in on the best time to ship a car, but if your pickup or delivery locations are well out of the way for your shipper, it’ll cost more. On the other hand, a well-traveled route will cost less and take less time. Generally, urban areas tend to be cheaper since there are more shipments going back and forth already, and it’s also easier to line up space on an open or closed container for car shipping. 

However, that also means that rural and remote pickup or delivery destinations will cost you significantly more since there may be no other shipments to help offset the cost. Think of it like flights. If you fly to and from larger cities, you’ll pay less and be able to buy a ticket at the last minute while more rural areas will charge you more and give you less options to pick from. It’s the same thing with car shippers — they have to find space on a container, and that’s easier to do in larger metro areas.

Season Matters

As mentioned earlier, there’s a high and low season when it comes to car shipping. While some companies may have different seasons than the rest of the industry, you’ll find that most shippers fall into the same seasonal ebbs and flows. Mostly, this is driven by supply and demand, though there are exceptions and deals to be found in any season if you look hard enough.

In the summer, even the best car shipping company will give you higher rates and extended shipping timelines due to the increase in demand, particularly in urban areas. While your vehicle may be traveling well-worn routes, there’s just so much demand that prices will rise anyway. Furthermore, common routes are also more congested with travelers during the summer as vacations kick up and more families hit the roads.

That said, if you want to save money, the best time to ship a car is in the fall and winter after the summer rush has died down. It can help to ship a car immediately before or after the summer high season (either spring or fall) due to increased supply, but you may also get higher rates because of the season. When in doubt, it’s best to check with your shipper before making a decision.

Keep in mind that the depths of winter may not be the best time to ship a car because supply can drop precipitously and some shipping routes may even become impassible, particularly in the north. Many truckers and shippers may also not be comfortable shipping expensive items such as cars in the winter due to the risk of treacherous roads. You’ll likely have more shipping dates open due to the decrease in demand, but you’ll have to account for the other challenges such as less supply and road closures during the winter months when considering the best time to ship a car.

If you need to ship a vehicle across the country, get in touch. We’ll give you a free quote and help you pick the right dates and route for the best price and the least amount of headaches during that shipment. Contact us today!