Car transport companies see fluctuations in demand throughout the year Vehicle Transport. Certain times tend to be busier than others, requiring adjustments to pricing. This article explains peak season surcharges that are commonly implemented and what factors drive these seasonal price changes.
What are Peak Seasons?
Within the auto transport industry, there are typically two peak seasons where demand exceeds the normal capacity of carriers. The summer months from May through August are considered one peak season as families take vacations and relocate for new jobs or school years. The winter holiday season from late November through January is another period of high demand as people travel to be with loved ones during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s.
Why are Surcharges Applied?
During peak seasons, auto transport companies experience a much greater volume of requests than usual. To handle the increased workload, carriers need to rent additional trucks, hire more drivers on a temporary basis, and offer overtime or bonus pay to existing staff. All of these factors drive up operational costs for transporters.
Surcharges are a way for companies to recoup some of the extra expenses incurred during busy seasons. The pricing helps carriers stay profitable even when demand soars. It also encourages customers to consider transporting their vehicles at less popular times to avoid the higher fees.
Examples of peak season surcharges across other industries:
|Potential Extra Cost
|Summer, holidays, long weekends
|$50-$300 per ticket
|Summer, ski season, events
|10-50% surcharge per night
|$10-30 extra per day
|$2-10 increase per person
How are Surcharges Calculated?
There is no standard formula used across the industry. Each auto transport provider determines their own surcharge rates and dates based on their own historical data and expectations for peak periods.
Typically, surcharges will be a flat dollar amount per vehicle transported. For example, a company may add $200 to all summer bookings and $150 for trips during the winter holidays. Some large national carriers utilize a tiered system where surcharges gradually increase as pick-up and delivery dates fall deeper within peak season dates.
|May 15 – May 31
|June 1 – July 15
|July 16 – August 15
Vehicle Transport – Factors That Can Affect Surcharge Prices
The further in advance a reservation is made, generally the lower the surcharge will be as carriers have more time to efficiently plan resources. Last minute bookings made only days before a busy travel weekend may incur much steeper fees.
Vehicle size and type also impact surcharges at times. Hauling heavy commercial trucks or transporting an automobile with extra-long delivery distance requires more capacity and driver hours than a compact car moving locally within a state. Therefore, surcharges applied to larger or long-distance moves will tend to be on the greater end of published rate scales.
Vehicle Transport – Steps to Potentially Avoid Peak Season Fees
Booking well in advance of seasonal travel rush dates gives transport companies more leeway to better absorb extra costs without passing them directly to consumers. It also increases chances of securing a preferred departure and arrival date at a time that works well for move scheduling.
Consider relocating a vehicle slightly before or after core summer and holiday driving season calendars if delivery timing is somewhat flexible. Even shifting a move by just a couple weeks can potentially dodge the peak period surcharges.
Ask transport providers about any special discount programs. Some carriers offer reduced rates or even waive surcharges for active military personnel relocating under government orders or college students moving between campuses.
The vehicle transport industry operates most successfully when demand remains reasonably steady rather than peaking so sharply. While surcharges help offset extra seasonal expenses, planning moves strategically can help transport customers avoid extra fees when practical to do so.