When is The Best Time to Ship a Car?

You might be puzzled if you've heard the term "seasonality in auto transport" and what that has to do with the best time to ship a car for both your time and money. However, it's quite straightforward once broken down. This is one of the many factors when choosing a car shipping service that determine the cost to ship a car with auto transport companies. It's what you pay depending on the time of year. Picking the best time to ship a car can save money and save time.

So, what is the best time of year for car shipping?

Fall - The Best Time to Ship a Car

By far, fall is the best time to ship a car, September and October specifically. This is for both open car shipping and enclosed auto transport. Temperatures are favorable nationwide, and there is a steady amount of auto shipping across all routes throughout the U.S. where demand isn't overwhelming and carrier availability is great. This means you save time as it's a faster service with a quick turnaround. Not only that you enjoy competitive rates. If you can, schedule your car shipment during fall.

Seasonal Fluctuations - Other Times of Year That Are Less Ideal

Let's talk about the seasonality and why this leaves fall as the best time to ship a car. Although the shipping company facilitating the shipping, usually a broker keep the same fees usually all year round, the carriers hired for shipping a car however charge different amounts of money during different times of year like early June, late August, and in winter months.

truck driving south snowbird as cold weather begins

Snowbird Season Southbound - November, December

Snowbirds are getting ready, packing up to leave the colder northern regions before the snow comes in to replace the bitter cold for the warmer southern locales.

Since they stay for so many months, shipping cars is cheaper than renting long term. So they will all take up the available carriers.

These retirees come in literally by the hundreds, making a smorgasbord of car shipping business for truckers. So much so that truckers leave their normal routes to take advantage of the amount of business they can get. This will greatly reduce the amount of carriers available on other routes as well, causing delays and price hikes on elsewhere.

december holiday car shipping

December Shipping

December proves to be a challenging time for arranging car shipments due to the complications brought on by the holiday season as many carriers begin to wind it down to spend the holidays with their families.

Trucks stop, bookings don't. These can pile up and you will wait longer due to slower service. Although some carriers stick around to take advantage of the vehicle shipping inventory available, they will up the price to work through these days to take your car to holiday destinations, especially if your route has severe weather conditions.

car carrier in snow

January Shipping

January isn't just the month of new years resolutions and the start of a new year. It's also when many people settle back into their everyday routines after the bustling holiday season. As you can imagine auto transport services also land here in this group.

Car shipping companies, just like you and everyone else gear up for business as usual after the end-of-year break and festivities. Despite a slowdown in active carriers during the holidays, bookings don't pause, continuing as car shipping drivers step away from their driver's seat.

This surge in reservations makes the first three weeks of January particularly busy and slow, with bottlenecks in car shipping. It's also the period when "snowbirds" begin to organize their yearly run back to the north.

With countless people needing to transport vehicles, the fluctuating weather and cold temps inpartds of the country add another layer of complexity, leading to scheduling woes. Delays are more than just inconvenient; they often result in the need to rearrange plans, wasted time, and significant frustration.


February can be a better time of the year to ship a car, because it's a very slow month for auto shipping. However, pricing can be hit or miss. February is considered part of the low season. You may see low prices in some routes. They can vary depending on location. Compare rates around this time. Many carriers can't gather enough vehicles if they have a larger carrier on certain routes so pickups may be slow as they wait to fill up. This could make those without the luxury of time pay more than they want to.

car shipping snowbird in florida

Snowbirds Season Northbound - March, April, and May

As March arrives and temperatures up north become more favorable, it's time for snowbirds to head back home due north. With the climate warming up, a significant number of these seasonal travelers start their migration northward.

Since they stay for so many months, shipping cars is cheaper than renting long term. So they will all take up the available carriers, from south to north, therefore bumping prices up going in that direction.

If you're considering a northern car shipment during this time, try to keep in mind that both enclosed and open car transport prices will be on the rise, mirroring the typical increase observed when vehicles are moved from the north to the south.

Summer Car Shipping

Summer, for example is most popular but an also be the priciest because of the amount of people needing car shipping services. The summer months are far the busiest time. Especially during July and August, it's everyone's time to ship vehicles. It's like the summer blockbuster season for car transport.

But remember, with popularity comes having your car shipped at a higher price. If you're looking to keep some of that hard-earned cash in your pocket for your next long distance car shipment, you might want to plan around these peak times.

Final Thoughts

The price you pay for shiping a car depends on several factors, with timing being one of them. When you ship a car can have an impact on your cost. Higher demand caused by seasonal fluctuations can have you paying more than you have to if you have the luxury to pick the time of year. In any case, always do research on the company you want to hire to assure they are a reputable car transport company and compare rates so you can make an informed decision.

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.