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Winter Car Shipping (Podcast)

Winter Car Shipping (Podcast)

Kerri Harris from Preowned Auto Logistics talks with John Maher about shipping cars in the winter. She talks about the potential challenges and gives consumers advice on how to simplify the process.

John Maher:Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Kerri Harris of Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. And our topic today is winter car shipping. Welcome, Kerri.

Kerri: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.

Does PAL Ship a Lot of Vehicles in the Winter?

John: Sure. So Kerri, do you move a lot of cars in the wintertime?

Kerri: Yes, we do. I work in the seasonal department, so we move a really good amount of vehicles during that time. So we start, I’d say, in August, reaching out to customers and starting the bookings because there are so many people we try to get ahead of the bookings. So we start the outreach in August.

I’d say people start shipping as early as September. October is a very, very busy month for us. Then it slows down a little bit after Thanksgiving, it picks up for a week or so, week or two, then it slows down again. And then these next coming weeks, I’d say December 20th or December 17th through the second week in January, we’ll be extremely busy.

Is Winter Vehicle Shipping Due to People Who Have Seasonal Homes?

John: And is that mostly because of people who have a seasonal home and they’re moving, say, from the Northeast down to Florida for the winter? Is that why you see such an uptick during this time?

Kerri: Yes. All these customers, they’re transporting their vehicles from New England to somewhere down in Florida, somewhere south, even some of them are even going to South Carolina or in North Carolina, but mainly down in Florida.

And yes, they go, they leave, like I said, as early as September, mostly October and they stay for six, seven months and then they come back. They start coming back in February and then it picks up in March. It’s really busy in April and then May and June.

Benefits to Shipping Your Vehicle in the Winter

John: Are there actually any benefits to shipping your car during the winter as opposed to doing it in the spring or summer?

Kerri: Well, really people that are shipping their car are in the winter, it’s all about timing for them. They are leaving the cold weather up here to be down in the warm weather there. So, it’s not really optional for them to wait till the summer to ship in warmer weather.

Which Seasons Are Expensive for Shipping Cars?

John: Does it tend to be more expensive to move a car like in the late fall or early winter, or is it less expensive generally?

Kerri: It’s actually more expensive for the seasonal routes because there’s such a high volume. So in some cases, it can be more expensive. We do have flat rates, but during certain periods, such as the upcoming weeks, the last week in December, first week in January, the prices can be elevated due to the volume of cars that are going down.

When Is the Least Expensive Time to Ship Cars?

John: And so what would be the best way if somebody wanted to try to save money? What would be sort of the better time period to try to move it more in September and October, or if they can wait until like the end of January, would that be better?

Kerri: Well, yeah. So, what we do when we are booking the customers is it’s all about timing for them and when they want the car there. So, the best thing for them to do is obviously always book ahead. That way we can be ahead and know how many customers we have on certain dates and we can plan to expect large volumes, again, on certain dates.

And we do suggest booking earlier obviously, and then allowing enough time for delays and things like that. We always try to plan accordingly. We always want everyone’s cars to show up on time.

So in the winter, especially due to weather conditions, snow and whatnot, just for them to be patient and allow extra time is a good suggestion for them.

How to Prepare for Shipping Your Vehicle in the Winter

John: Yeah. So for those people that are moving it in the winter, like late December or January, like you said, are there any things that a person has to do to kind of get their car ready? Do they have to winterize their car somehow in order to prepare it for shipping?

Kerri: When they’re preparing it for shipping, they definitely want to, I mean, if they want to take it to their mechanic to get it checked, they should. Check all the fluids, make sure that there’s no anything leaking because that would affect other vehicles on the transport carrier. So, things like that. They don’t necessarily need to winterize it, which would be the draining of the fluids because they’ll need them, but they definitely want to have a full check of the car to make sure that everything is in working order, check the battery.

We require that they have a fourth tank of gas or less. For packing of items, they’re allowed to pack up to 100 pounds of items in the vehicle. And that’s like a really strict rule that we have. Then, we advise them to document any damage that they have on their car previous to shipping it. But if somebody’s worried about anything happening to their vehicle in the wintertime, another good suggestion for them is to ship it enclosed.

It’s a little bit more money. But if they’re really concerned about elements and salt or snow having an effect on their car, they can certainly ship it enclosed, which is a higher service, a little bit more of a premium to ship, but it definitely keeps the vehicle secure from any elements.

Should You Put Winter-Grade Oil in Your Vehicle Before Shipping?

John: So you mentioned making sure that you top off or check your fluids, that sort of thing. I expect antifreeze, of course, in the wintertime would be especially important. Should somebody get their oil changed or maybe put a winter-grade oil in their car to make sure that it’s going to run correctly for whoever’s shipping it?

Kerri: If they’re shipping it down south, they might want to prepare it for the warmer weather, I think. Because we’re not going to be driving it. We’re just going to be getting it on and off the carrier, but they want to prepare it for being down in Florida. If they were shipping it north, then that’s when they would definitely want to check their antifreeze, check the weather up this way, see if it’s colder. If it is colder, then they’d want to get an antifreeze that is weather regulated, that doesn’t freeze. They have certain antifreeze that you can buy for that and things like that definitely.

John: That’s a good point to make sure that you prepare your car for the location that it’s going to end up in …

Kerri: That it’s going to. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Do Delays Happen With Winter Shipping?

John: Right. Is there a possibility that your car shipment could be delayed because of weather, if snow storms come up and things like that?

Kerri: Yeah. Absolutely. So it’s all about safety. If there’s bad weather, our drivers, they’re very safe. So they’re going to definitely not take a chance and try to drive through some sort of bad storm. They’re going to pull over to a safe location and rest until it’s safe to drive again. So there could definitely be a delay due to snow. And that’s why when we’re booking these customers, we factor that into the booking so that if there is a delay, the car’s still going to get there on time. And we explain that to them.

John: Okay. So, you tell them like, okay, it’s going to take X number of days, assuming that there’s a delay of a couple of days or something like that.

Kerri: Yeah. So we just say, we like to plan that there could possibly be a delay and we don’t want your car to arrive late for you. So we always suggest that they drop it off seven to 10 days prior to the date that they want it there. And then in some cases, even a little bit earlier, if the holidays fall in there, like these next coming weeks, Christmas, and then New Year’s. So we have different scenarios for those dates.

How Does PAL Update Customers About Delays?

John: Right. How do you communicate with a customer if there is some sort of a delay because of the weather?

Kerri: Yeah. As soon as we find out about any delays, we call them right away and let them know what’s going on. We like to keep them informed at all times. That way, they’re not guessing and they can still plan. Because if they’re expecting the car on a certain day and it’s not going to be there, they need to know as soon as possible. Some of them have people that watch their homes and they’re going to be receiving the car and they need to organize it. So it’s just all about communicating with them. So yeah, we let them know right away.

Other Safety Issues With Winter Car Shipping

John: Are there any other sort of safety considerations that either customers or drivers need to be thinking about in terms of winter weather?

Kerri: Safety wise, just make sure that you remove all items, personal items out of the vehicle, anything that could be flopping around in the car. That’s why we don’t allow things to be packed in the vehicle, such as golf clubs. Those could, in transport, possibly bang into the window and damage the vehicle.

So, we don’t like anything to be inside the vehicle. If the customer wants to store items, they can put them in their trunk safely. Safety wise, make sure that the tire pressure is not low or too high. It needs to be at the right level so when they’re pulling it on and off the carrier there’s no issues. If they have any special type of special wheels or a lowered vehicle, let us know in advance so that we can plan accordingly.

John: Yeah. And then in terms of like, again, that winter weather, you said that the drivers are always very careful when they’re using their own discretion, if the weather is too bad for them to be driving they’ll pull over or wait for the bad weather.

Kerri: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. They’re not going to take a chance with nine cars on the back of the carrier to drive through bad weather.

Contact PAL to Ship Your Vehicle in Any Season

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Kerri. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Kerri: All right. You’re welcome. Thank you so much.

John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, you could visit the website at or call 877-542-1955.