Recently, the east coast of the US has been watching Hurricane Irene make it’s way toward land. First, it was headed straight for South Florida.  Then it shifted north and is currently headed for the Carolinas; and may even hit the entire eastern sea board.  As I write this, Irene is still out at sea and is several days away from an expected land fall.  Still, it has been affecting auto transport for all most 7 days in subtle, but significant ways.Auto transport car haulers don’t want to get caught in bad weather.  Some will avoid operating routes that would take them through the area affected by a storm.  Because of this, customers with vehicles in storm affected areas will often experience delays and/or price increases.

Delays – Drivers will delay pick up, delivery or travel through areas affected by bad weather. While not all drivers will stop operating in bad weather areas, some or many will depending on the severity of the weather.  The reduced number of drivers operating will result in delays in pick up and delivery.

Price Increases – Like all markets, auto transport prices change with supply and demand.   When the supply of drivers drops it leaves too few drivers to meet the current demand.  When this happens prices will tend to rise as customers compete for the remaining drivers.   Those customers needing transport ASAP are most affected by this.  In some instances, prices can rise very fast.  During the winter storms in March and April of 2011, we saw prices rise as much as 30% in a matter of days in response to the record snow fall in the Midwest and North Eastern states.

Because Irene is still at sea, we are just seeing delays for customers looking to get their cars moved in areas threatened by the storm.  At the beginning of this week we heard a number of car haulers state they were staying away from South Florida and being careful about the loads they took with pick up or delivery locations on the eastern sea board states as far north as NY.   The threat has passed for South Florida but not for the rest of the eastern sea board states.  The final effect of Irene won’t be known for a while, but we expect delays to continue and even become more pronounced as the storm finds land.  Due to this, prices will most likely increase as well.

Another example of weather induced delays and prices increases was the flooding that occurred in the Mississippi river states this winter.   We saw 15% price increases for loads being transport to, from or through flood affected areas.  It took several weeks after the flooding was resolved before prices dropped back to normal.  This behavior of prices dropping several weeks after the storms effects had abated is normal.

The moral of the story is: auto transport is an outside activity.  It is affected by all things outside and especially the weather.  Drivers have no more interest to work in miserable or dangerous weather than you do.   However, there are almost always drivers that will do it if the pay is high enough.  As a customer seeking to get your car moved you should consider waiting for prices to return to normal after the events effect has abated.  If you can’t wait, be prepared pay more for your transport.  You will be competing for a smaller number of drivers with other customers needing immediate transport.   Prices will increase but the sooner you act and get your vehicle on a truck the lower the cost is likely to be.

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