If you're shipping a car to Florida this winter, this one piece of advice could save your sanity. "Snowbird Season" is by far the most maddening time in the world of Car Transport (mainly for customers).
Our advice is plain and simple (but I will elaborate on it below):
Do NOT place your order until the week before you want your vehicle shipped.
I know - that sounds crazy, right?
I can imagine what's going on in your head right now. - "How can that be?" "Won't I get a cheaper rate?" "I've got A LOT to planning to do and I want this off my plate!" "This guy from Ship a Car Direct is nuts!"
Bear with me, because I'm going to get a bit 'technical' first, but I'll explain why later.
It's imperative that you understand this - Car Transport is an Open Market system.
What that means is - the cost to ship a car is a result of the current conditions of any particular move. Yes, that always includes the price of gas, but in this case it has more to do with the sheer VOLUME of cars that have to be shipped within a VERY SMALL WINDOW of time on a LIMITED number of Car Carriers.
Basically, it's back to Economics 101 - the law of supply and demand. (I just heard half of you fall asleep)
In the case of "Snowbird Season", it means there are more cars that need to be shipped to Florida during the months of December & January than there are spaces on trucks to haul them. (i.e. demand for truck space - HIGH, supply of truck space - LOW)
This creates a premium for car carrier's spots, and car carriers can therefore start to charge whatever "The Market" will pay for those spaces on their truck.
SO - what does this have to do with waiting to book your order the week before?
Well, there is no such thing as 'being in line' for those spots on those car carriers, nor is it at all similar to booking a 'reservation' on the carrier the way you would on an airline. (In fact, while we’re here, you have to get over comparing car transport to airlines altogether – where booking early saves you money – that doesn’t exist in car transport AT ALL, let alone when you ship a car to Florida) When push comes to shove, if everyone is offering $X to ship their car to Florida and you appear on the scene offering $X + $100, guess who the truck driver trying to run a profitable business during a tough economy is going to view as the front of the line?
That’s why, when you call us about shipping a car to Florida (or FROM Florida in the spring) and you are still a few weeks away from your move, we will always tell you something along the lines of “Well, THIS is what it costs currently, and THIS is what it was last year at the time you are looking to ship, but what we will need to do is look at the competition (i.e. similar cars within 25 miles of you that are going to your same destination at the same time) and make sure that we are priced in line (or just slightly better) than they are."
Now, quickly (to wrap up), there are plenty of car shipping companies out there that will gloss over this aspect of the industry and let you book far in advance at a rate that will be too low in a few weeks - and you may even spend the next few weeks blissfully thinking that all is well - but when your move date rolls around and you are one of the vehicles only offering $100 less than $X, then I can assure you that when your car is still waiting and you are only hearing excuses and requests for more money from the company you chose, you are going to go BERSERK!
So, keep your wits about you, stay calm, know that there really is 'no such thing as a free lunch' & that the move may not be a cheap as you'd hoped, BUT get your car priced right when it's time to move and you'll be the one in the drivers seat (literally) while your fellow 'Snowbirds' are still waiting for their cars to be picked up.
(and, of course, you're always welcome to use our Free Quote Calculator to get some rough ideas of what the costs may be.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.