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Rental Trucks and Trailers:
Everything You Need To Know

Moving to a new place or stowing extra stuff in a self storage unit? Your friends with pick-up trucks have probably stopped returning your phone calls, texts and tweets. Keep your friends and make short work out of it. Uncle Bob's includes a free moving truck rental with your mini storage rental, so you won't need to beg that friend who has a pickup truck. Here's everything you need to know to get your move rolling with a rental.

Trucks, an apartment finding service, offers these tips for selecting a rental truck or van:

  • Rent something you will feel safe and comfortable driving. If you've never managed a truck before, you might be better off with a van, even if it means more to-and-from trips.
  • Inspect the vehicle before you leave the lot and document any dings, dents or damages. Also make sure brakes, lights, locks, windows and other features work properly.
  • Call your insurance company to find out if the rental is covered or if you'll need to buy supplemental coverage.

What Size Truck?

Elite Moving Labor, which provides labor for do-it-yourself movers (another good way to keep your friends from avoiding you), provides some general guidelines for choosing the right size truck:

  • In most situations, you'll have between three and five size choices. The smaller size (10 to 12 feet)is the best choice if you're moving a studio or small one-bedroom with minimal furniture (or boxes that would easily fit in that size room). Anticipate nine to 14 miles per gallon for small rental trucks.
  • Choose 14 to 17 foot trucks (medium size) for one to two bedroom apartments and small homes and expect to get eight to 11 miles per gallon.
  • If you're moving out of anything larger than 1,200 square feet, you'll want the large rental truck. Most large trucks take diesel fuel.
  • When in doubt, Elite offers this advice: Remember the golden rule, if you're ever unsure you should always defer to a larger truck size.


Don't want a truck? Rent a trailer. The do-it-yourself experts at Moving Insider narrow your choices to cargo trailers and utility trailers. Cargo trailers are entirely enclosed and provide the most protection because they can be locked, which makes them the right choice if you're traveling long distances and take restroom, restaurant, or sleep breaks. They're also good if you're moving when it's raining or snowing. Utility trailers, on the other hand, are open on top. That makes them great for short distances and hauling bulky or oversized items.

If you opt for a trailer, you'll need something to tow it with. Before you decide on a trailer size, you'll have to determine your vehicle's towing capacity. You'll find that in the owner's manual that came with your car, truck or van, or in the door jamb where tire pressure info is listed. Moving Insider makes this important note: The weight of the trailer itself must be included in the total weight that your vehicle will be carrying and should never exceed the maximum capacity under any circumstances. Overshooting the maximum will put undue strain on your vehicle.


The other consideration when choosing a trailer is your hitch. There are entire websites devoted to the topic of hitches and towing, but basically if your vehicle isn't already equipped with a rear-mounted hitch, you'll have your choice of five classes when shopping. Each class is determined by the amount of weight it can safely pull. Class I will tow the lightest loads (up to 2,000 pounds) and Class V, the heaviest (up to 13,000 pounds). According to Guide Dale Wickell, important terms to keep in mind when shopping for hitches are gross trailer weight; the total weight of the railer, plus everything it's holding; and tongue weight, the weight forced down on the hitch ball. The maximum is usually about 10 percent of the maximum gross trailer weight. Wickell advises, "Be sure to check the tow rating for your truck, because installing a Class V hitch doesn't mean the vehicle can handle that type of a load."


Whether you're moving across the country or just hauling extra possessions to a self storage unit, you'll want to take care to get there safely. Penske Truck Rental offers these basic safety tips:

  • Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the vehicle's features, adjust the mirrors, and understand how to turn on lights, wipers, emergency flashers, etc. before you hit the road.
  • Ask about height and width limitations before you leave the lot.
  • Pay attention to road signs pertaining to trucks and trailers.
  • Use your turn indicators, never tailgate, and avoid sudden stops and lane changes.
  • Don't pass any vehicle moving faster than 40 mph, never pass on curves or hills, and never use the passing lane on an interstate.
  • Always set the emergency brake when you park. Turn wheels toward the curb when you park downhill and away from the curb when you park facing uphill.
  • Try to find drive-through parking spaces that don't require you to back out, or ask someone to direct you from the side at the rear of the vehicle if you have to back up.


"Moving into Your New Apartment, Moving Truck Rentals",

"Process of Elimination – A Look at Rental Truck Sizes",

"How to Choose the Right Size Trailer Rental",

"Trailer Hitch Classes: About Rear Mount Trailer Hitches", Dale Wickell,

"Moving Truck Safety",


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