Car Delivery Delays - 13 Reasons You'll be Left Waiting

Auto transport in the U.S. is a year-round necessity. Even though most people won't ship a car more than maybe once in their lives, this demand will be constant whether the transport is state to state or across the country. Often, car shipping delays are a common frustration for vehicle owners, buyers, and sellers.

This article explores the primary reasons behind these delays in a vehicle arriving by the expected delivery date and offers insights on how to mitigate these issues. So sit back as we go over 13 reasons contributing to delays when trying to ship a car.

Common Reasons for Car Shipping Delays

Unforeseen factors can lead to having you blow by your estimated delivery date. Knowing and understanding them will put you ahead of the game.

scam auto shipper

Unreliable Shipping Companies

By far choosing an unreliable auto transport company can wreak havoc on your desired schedule. Along with issues with delivery dates, or promising a certain date that is not realistic. There can be problems with your agreed price by asking for more, making you waste money and time. Make sure to look at the contract before you sign, carefully. Know right from the beginning what to expect.

Traffic Congestion

Unexpected traffic jams and road incidents, detours, including accidents and construction, can hinder your route, sometimes causing significant delays if drivers have to deviate.

Adverse Weather

Storms, rain, and snow can severely impact travel times, necessitating cautious driving and potentially delaying shipments. This is by far one of the largest contributors. For example, at below -10°F hydraulics freeze and can cause the ramps to not function due to thickened or frozen fluid. In flooded areas, a detour may be needed or the carrier may need to stop. During excessive heat, the carrier may overheat.

Carrier Breakdowns

Mechanical failures are part of the business. These carriers though highly reliable, travel sometimes hundreds of thousands of miles. There will come times mechanical breakdowns can occur. These can obviously cause major delays and, in some cases, damage to truck may need another carrier to come and take the load.

existing damage on car

Vehicle Condition

Vehicles that require a winch or forklifting can be a contributing factor for causing delays. At times carriers have to arrange their deliveries to accommodate for an inoperable (non-running) vehicle. Coordinating these efforts can take some time.

Multiple Delivery Locations

Transport companies often deliver multiple vehicles in one trip which is not a cause for delay on its own. However, if they are far from each other, this can extend delivery times. Carriers try to avoid this by picking up and dropping off in a small radius. But this isn't always possible.

Carrier Inspection Delays

Mandatory inspections at weigh stations can introduce delays, especially if issues are identified with the carrier. For example, the carrier being over the designated weight limit, driver exceeding allowed hours, and more.

Driver Shortages

Some routes struggle with adequate carrier availability, leading to hold ups when demand outstrips available trucking resources. This often happens on seasonal routes where peak times of year when demand is at its highest.

Seasonal Volume (Seasonality)

High demand during peak seasons can overwhelm transport companies, resulting in delays. Snowbird season, summer time, lack of drivers during holidays, and other reasons relative to seasonality in auto shipping will slow you down.

long distance

Distance of Shipment

Longer distances naturally extend delivery times, and of course unexpected events mentioned here along the route can further delay deliveries. Though an obvious one, it still deserves mentioning. Most shipping companies will provide you with a timeline for the route you are on.

Port Congestion (Overseas Shipping)

Overseas shipments face delays due to the time-intensive process of offloading ships, compounded by weather conditions and logistical challenges at ports. Somtimes carriers wait for a short time. While other times carriers stay in port locations for several hours or even an extra day waiting for entry.

Five Preventive Measures to Avoid Delays

To try and mitigate your risk of delays, consider some of these helpful strategies:

  1. Research! Do thorough research on potential auto transport companies.
  2. Clearly talk to the sales rep and inform them of your requirements. Listen for how they answer you and make the transport company offers solutions that meet your needs.
  3. Avoid overly "too good to be true" cheap quotes that might mean a subpar service.
  4. Address any pre-existing damage, modifications, and mechanical issues with your vehicle before arranging transport so you get the right driver for the job.
  5. Plan ahead. Make sure you are aware how long auto shipping will take so you can make our plans accordingly.

How NX Auto Transport Handles Delays

We've been in the game long enough to know that delays and cancellations can be a big problem, but thankfully, they're not the norm. We go out of our way to keep them from happening in the first place.

Here's how we expect the unexpected:

No Shady Business with Carriers

We've been rocking the auto transport world for a decade and have become pretty good at telling who's legitimate and who is not. We've built a solid lineup of reliable carriers over the years, and we make sure to keep our list updated to avoid anyone who might drop the ball. Our partners are top-notch and committed to keeping things on track.

Carrier Cancellations

It's rare, but sometimes a carrier might have to cancel — maybe because of overly demanding customers or logistical snags like not being able to provide door-to-door service due to narrow roads. If you're caught in this situation, we're here to talk it out and find a way to make things right.

When Carriers Make Mistakes

Everyone makes a mistake now and then, carriers are driven by humans after all, so they are included. If something goes sideways, they hit us up straight away so we can figure out a fix. We're all about open dialogue, so we'll chat with you to find a solution that works best.

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

Communication is key. If there's even a hint of a delay or cancellation, we're on the line to talk through what's happening and how we can sort it out.

In short, we're all about tackling the bumps in the road head-on, keeping you in the loop, and ensuring the trip from A to B is as smooth as possible.

Dealing with Delays Out of Our Control

We've talked about those pesky external factors that can throw a wrench in the works. Whatever the cause, if your shipment hits a snag, we're on it. We'll loop you in with the latest info and work through your options, including cancellation if that's what you decide.

Choosing the Right Auto Shipping Company

Selecting a reputable auto shipping company requires diligent research and consideration of multiple factors, including price, service offerings, and regulatory compliance. Ensuring accurate vehicle information and understanding the company's policies on cancellations and date changes are also crucial steps in the process.


Understanding the causes of auto transport delays and taking proactive steps can help minimize the impact of what happens is key to a successful transport. Choosing a reliable transport provider, like NX, makes for a smoother shipping experience for you each and every time.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.