Top Reasons Auto Shippers Are Delayed
Auto transporters average over 100,000 miles per year on the road. That’s almost ten times the average yearly mileage of your standard daily driver. So, to say that auto shippers are driving pretty much all the time isn’t that far off.
When you drive your car long enough, it’s going to end up having some issues. Oil changes, tire rotations, fluid top offs, brake services – you know the drill. Auto shippers – really, all truckers – have to deal with the same things. When you blow a tire in your car, it’s a simple fix with a spare, or a quick tow to a tire shop.
When a carrier blows a tire, it’s a minimum $500 fix that will require a tow to a dealership or shop that can handle such large trucks.
That’s a big difference.
Auto shippers get delayed often because they’re driving massive automobiles ten times more than a regular car is driven. Ten times the miles, ten times the problems, right?
In this blog we’ll discuss some of the common reasons why auto shippers get delayed or why they end up canceling dispatches. While we work hard to ensure we work only with top-rated carriers on the road, we can only control so much. So, if your vehicle has to be dispatched to someone else because of an issue, it’s probably for one of the reasons below.
Reason 1: The truck breaks down
The biggest reason why pickups and deliveries get delayed is that the truck breaks down. Whether it’s a mechanical failure, engine failure, trailer failure, something broke on the truck.
Many auto transport companies operate older fleets. Auto transport is not a segment of logistics that sees a lot of rapid change. That said, there are also plenty of trucks hauling cars that are newer, built within the last 5-10 years.
Would you believe it if I told you that it’s usually newer trucks that cause issues?
It sounds strange, but it’s true. Newer trucks have to be built to more stringent guidelines, and feature a lot more technology than older trucks. It’s these new guidelines and the added tech features that often end up causing issues that lead to trucks breaking down.
When a truck breaks down, it is often off the road for at least a week. Sometimes the fix is minor and can be done in a day or two, but that’s not as common.
The reason why it takes so long is that the driver is often in an unfamiliar area and not able to get it to their preferred mechanic. When that happens, they have to search for a qualified big rig tech. Then, they have to have the rig towed or moved to the shop.
Once the truck is in the shop, they have to wait at least a few days for the tech to see the truck and diagnose the problem. If they have to wait for parts, that’s another few days, or even a week. Then, they have to wait for the fix, and then they have to pay for it!
Truck break downs suck. But, with all the miles those carriers drive, it’s always a matter of when, not if.
When a carrier breaks down, you usually have the option to wait or to relist your vehicle to find someone more quickly. We do not charge any fees for canceling a dispatch and relisting a vehicle.
Reason 2: Inclement weather
Another major reason why shippers get delayed is inclement weather. Mother Nature is unforgiving and unrelenting, and auto shippers have to constantly contend with the elements.
During the spring and fall, inclement weather isn’t as big of an issue. It’s during the summer and winter – the extreme seasons – that shippers see the most delays due to inclement weather.
It’s not surprising. Just this past summer, we saw scorching heat waves nationwide and massive wildfires in the west. Scorching temperatures can cause overheating issues for trucks, and these can cause breakdowns if the cooling system on the truck gets overwhelmed. When this happens, carrier cancelations usually come because the cooling systems are not easy repairs.
During the winter, we saw Buffalo, New York inundated with feet of snow. Just a few weeks ago, a massive cold front swept across the entire nation from Washington to Georgia, freezing routes and dumping massive amounts of ice and snow across the north. When ice and snow are that bad, nobody’s moving, least of all auto shippers.
Car haulers drive to make money. Time is money for them in a very real way. So delays due to inclement weather end up costing them a lot of money due to reroutes and delays.
Unlike a truck break down, though, delays due to inclement weather rarely result in cancellations. Just delays.
Of course, you can still cancel your dispatch and relist for free if necessary. However, when it comes to inclement weather, we advise against that because, well, we can’t control the weather. The delay will just happen to the next carrier as well, at least until the weather clears.
Reason 3: Cancellations from other companies
This is not the most common reason as to why auto shippers get delayed, but it is a reason.
Auto transporters move up to ten cars in a single trip. But those ten cars are all for different people, which means they have to travel from one pickup or delivery location to the next, picking up and delivering as they go. And those loads are secured from different companies.
Sometimes, those companies end up canceling loads with the carrier. If enough loads get canceled, the driver can’t refill his truck, and ends up having to go somewhere else, otherwise they won’t make money on the original trip.
This happens infrequently, and usually on routes that aren’t popular. Auto haulers like to stick to major highways through major metro areas. Many carriers will be happy to travel on other routes, so long as they make enough money. Some companies just run bad routes and pick up freight as they can because someone has to go to Idaho and Utah, right?
But sometimes, no matter what the carrier does, things outside of their control prevent them from running their planned route.
When this happens, we work hard to get a new pickup date or to see if the carrier has any other drivers. We do it whenever a carrier cancels, but this is when it’s the hardest. Most carriers that cancel because of other cancellations don’t operate many trucks. So they don’t have other drivers that can go get it, and the original driver won’t even be in that area.
If they cannot pick up, we will relist your vehicle and find a new carrier at no charge to you. We also often put carriers on our do not use list for canceling for this reason, as the contract they sign to move your vehicle is a binding contract that they break.
Reason 4: Illness/family emergency
Illness can strike anyone at any time, auto transport truck drivers included. If a driver is too sick to drive, they are too sick to drive. If a driver says they are too sick to drive, transport companies will believe them, because the risk of forcing them to drive is too great.
Remember, these trucks are 80 feet long in some cases and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. That is a lot of metal, and when it’s moving at 55 MPH, one wrong move can result in catastrophe. Drivers have to be 100% when they are driving; mistakes can lead to a loss of cargo or even a loss of life.
So when carriers tell us that their drivers are too sick to drive, we believe them. It doesn’t happen often – usually more in the fall and winter months because it’s cold and flu season. Many times they are sidelined for a couple of days and then get back on the road thanks to modern medicines.
Family emergencies often result in full cancellations because drivers end up taking their entire truck home with them to tend to their families. In fact, one time, a driver straight up quit his job entirely because he could not tend to the needs of his family while he was on the road.
Illness and emergency can befall any one of us at any time, unfortunately, and is yet another reason why transports are delayed or even canceled. But, like always, we will happily relist your vehicle at no extra charge if the carrier cancels for this reason.
Reason 5: Other Customers
Another major factor that can cause delays is simply other customers. As we mentioned above, transporters haul vehicles for up to ten different customers at a time. That means that they have ten different vehicles to pick up in one area, and then ten deliveries in other areas near your destination.
This means there’s a fair number of points where delays can happen. A delay in pick up of just one or two of those vehicles – even by just a few hours – can lead to delays lasting days. This goes the same for delivery as well.
The most common reasons customers cause delays with pickup or delivery is their availability. Carriers keep their own hours, and while most operate during normal business hours, not all do. This means that pickups and deliveries can happen early in the morning or late at night. If a customer is not available when a carrier goes to pick up and deliver, they have to wait, or rearrange their schedule.
This waiting or rescheduling causes problems for other vehicles they have to pick up and deliver. More importantly, they cause delays. Patience with your carrier, as with all things, is appreciated by them and by us.
These situations rarely, if ever, result in cancellations. When they do, it’s on the pickup side, and usually because of cancellations like we mentioned earlier. If they cancel, we’ll relist your vehicle for free, but it’s fairly uncommon. Usually it just results in a longer waiting period for the driver to pick your vehicle up or deliver it.
Reason 6: Inspections and Weigh Stations
The last major reason for delays or cancellations is because of Department of Transportation inspections and weigh stations.
Auto shippers can only drive 11 hours a day and average about 500 miles per day. Once their hours are up, they have to stop driving and wait for their time to reset. If they have delays with other pickups or deliveries, that eats into their drive time. This lengthens the amount of time between pickup and delivery for their customers.
They also have to deal with electronic timecards. They have to fill them out and submit them at every weigh station along the route to maintain compliance. Electronic timecards have recently become mandatory, replacing the old system of manual timecards. Every time they stop at a weigh station, their logs are checked. This takes time, and they’re usually idling for it – we’ll talk about why this is important in just a moment.
Let’s talk about DOT inspections. Inspections pop up all the time, especially at weigh stations. When DOT inspections occur, drivers are on the clock during the inspection. This means that they’re sitting at a weigh station idling eating their driving time.
Let’s give an example. Say a carrier starts their day and drives two hours, then waits four hours at a weigh station for an inspection. The inspection takes an hour, maybe. After that, they’re back on the road. Great! But they’ve spent 7 of their 11 hours already – that leaves just four hours of drive time for the day.
Five hours sitting idle hurts trucks and causes delays. Not only that, but when DOT inspections crop up, they’re usually at multiple weigh stations. These weigh stations often have lines, and even if they already passed an inspection they still need to be weighed and show their compliance to the DOT officials.
If a carrier is found to not be in compliance with DOT regulations, their operating authority will be revoked until they comply. Oftentimes carriers get non-compliance revocations because of nit-picky things such as brakes or tire pressure. These are easy fixes that only take a few hours to a day.
If a carrier is found to not be in compliance for other, bigger issues, such as licensing issues, that can result in cancellations. We work hard to ensure all our carriers maintain compliance with all DOT regulations. We have strict requirements for carriers as well. But sometimes, the DOT will pull compliance from even the best carriers.
How bad the infraction is will determine whether it’s a delay or a cancellation. If it’s a delay, we’ll let you know. If it’s a cancellation, we’ll relist your vehicle at no charge and likely put the carrier on our do not use list for not maintaining compliance with DOT regulations.
We take our customers’ vehicles seriously. We only work with the best to ensure our customers are in good hands from booking to delivery.
How we handle delays and cancellations
We don’t like it when carriers cancel. When they accept a load, they are signing a contract that we do our best to make them fulfill it. Unfortunately, though, we cannot compel them to keep their contracts when things happen. If they are unable to pick a vehicle up and cancel, we have ways of dealing with that.
First and foremost, we need a reason. Many times the reason is sound, like the ones listed above. Most carriers will let us know and will work to either find another carrier or let us know how long the delay is. When they do, we go to our customers and ask what they want to do – wait or relist.
But sometimes we can’t get a straight answer from the carrier, or their answer is unsatisfactory, or they’re belligerent, or they cause issues with our customers. This is why we maintain a robust do not use list that we can and do add carriers to regularly. We don’t work with liars, we don’t work with bad companies, we don’t work with carriers that give us headaches. This is good for you and good for us as well.
So, if a carrier cancels your pickup, rest assured that we work diligently to ensure that does not happen again. Sometimes, however, it just can’t be avoided. We deal with issues as they arise and make calls on what to do about the carrier on a case-by-case basis, but we always have our customers’ best interests in mind when we do.
You can also rest assured that we maintain transparency when it comes to delays in pickup and delivery. When carriers tell us they’re delayed, we call our customer and let them know immediately. Communication is important, and we want everyone on the same page. So if a delay occurs, we’ll let you know.
Ship today with American Auto Shipping
If you’re interested in shipping your vehicle, we can help! We have been in business for over 20 years working to help our customers transport their vehicles, and we can help you too.
We know all the ins and outs of the auto transport industry, so we can help you get your vehicle moved to or from wherever you’re shipping it. We can do it on time and on budget.
Not only that, but we know how to deal with carriers, and we only work with the best in the business. We have stringent requirements – far above many others out there – that demands excellence. This means that your vehicle will be in safe hands from the time you book to the time it’s delivered.
So go online to get a free quote, or give us a call at 800-930-7417 to speak to a representative. They can answer your questions, give you a quote, book your order, and much more. So no matter what you’re shipping, let American Auto Shipping help you get it moved.
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