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What to Know About Renting a Moving Truck

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Choosing a rental truck requires a keen eye for detail. Instead of grabbing the biggest one you see, pause and assess your actual requirements. Armed with the right information, you can select the ideal truck size, pack it effectively and return it in the same condition you received it. Consider this your playbook on how to rent a moving truck that best suits your needs.

How to Determine Your Truck Size

Okay, picking a truck is a bit like picking shoes. Too small and everything feels squished; too big and things just bounce around. So, how do you find the perfect fit?

Start by counting. Think about how much stuff you’re moving. Is it just your bedroom or the entire house? Next up, have you tried tools like Penske’s Truck Wizard? This is your truck-picking helper, guiding you to the right truck size based on your stuff. Other companies offer similar tools or rental truck size guides based on the number of rooms, square footage or item volume.

But here’s a golden rule: when in doubt, go bigger! Overloading is a no-no. You don’t want to be on moving day and finding out your comfy couch doesn’t fit! Also, a quick side note for those taking their car along: some trucks can tow. If that’s you, it might change the truck type you choose so keep that in mind.

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How to Choose the Right Rental Company

Choosing where to rent a moving truck can feel daunting because there are so many options. And some differ a lot too.

Here’s a tip: don’t just go with the first one you see. Look around. You’ve got big names like Budget and U-Haul, but there are others in the mix too. Look over the reviews. What are people saying? Better yet, got a buddy who recently moved? Ask them for a recommendation. Sometimes the best tips come from family and friends.

And for our Earth lovers out there: some companies are going green. More companies are using cleaner fuels or eco-friendly trucks so keep an eye out for these options.

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Understand Rental Costs

With do-it-yourself moving truck rentals, there are various factors to consider when it comes to what’s friendly to your wallet. First, you have a base cost to rent it. Most companies have a daily rate. And then you’ll want to check whether they offer unlimited miles or charge you per mile (which can be a huge additional expense if you are traveling a long distance). But, keep in mind, the base price can change. Think about how airplane tickets are pricier during holidays. Truck rentals can be like that too, with costs shifting based on the day or season.

Now, besides the sticker price, sometimes there are additional fees, like if you return the truck to a different location, or if you need an extra pair of hands (for loading and unloading), dollies or furniture pads.

And oh, let’s not forget about gas! Trucks typically only get about 8 to 10 miles per gallon. So, while planning your budget, remember to save some cash for fuel stops too. You will have to return that tank just as full as when you picked up the truck.

After adding everything up but before actually making a choice, there is something else to consider. Some long-term storage facilities may offer a free moving truck with storage rental as a bonus. Wouldn’t want to pass that up if moving from or to a storage unit, right?

Pro tip: Penske has this sweet deal where they give free unlimited miles for one-way rentals in the U.S. which is definitely worth considering.

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Make a Reservation

Alright, so you’ve picked your truck and checked your budget. Now, it’s time to lock in that reservation. First off, timing is everything. You know those busy summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day? That’s when everyone seems to be on the move. So, if you are planning to shift during that time, better schedule a moving truck early — it’s a hot ticket.

Now, did you know weekdays might be kinder to your wallet than weekends? Yup, pricing can fluctuate based on the day you pick. It can be worth checking out if your dates are flexible. Then, once you’ve got your date set, get that moving truck quote in writing and double check everything. Make sure the rental company has the right truck size for you and that it really is available on your moving day.

Oh, and always, and we mean always, peek at the fine print. Check the company’s rules on cancellations or changes. Some are cool about it with no extra fees, while others might have a little ‘gotcha’ clause. Knowing this ahead of time will save you some potential headaches later.

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Picking Up and Returning the Truck

Now, onto the pick-up and drop-off game. First on the list: paperwork. Don’t forget your driver’s license and a major credit card. Those are the golden tickets to get behind the wheel. 

Before you speed off, check out the truck from all angles. You don’t want to miss any dings, dents or scratches and be blamed later for someone else’s oopsie.

Next, note that returning the truck on time is very important. If you bring it back late, you might get slapped with a late fee so plan wisely.

Are you traveling a long way? Most rental companies will let you drop off the truck at a different spot closer to your destination. If it’s an option, see whether it affects your overall cost.

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Insurance Options

Insurance for moving truck rentals, like all insurances, is a safety net. Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey, my credit card has got me covered!” — it’s best to be sure by checking with your company first. Many credit cards might not jump in to save the day when it comes to rental trucks.

Before you start shelling out your hard-earned cash on the insurance they offer, take a moment to check what your existing coverage includes. Are you fully knowledgeable on what your home and car insurance really cover? Because sometimes there can be gaps. And you don’t want any surprise holes in coverage.

As you look over the insurance options, consider these:

Damage waivers. May remove some of the liability you face if the truck gets damaged.

Supplemental liability insurance. If you accidentally bump into someone else’s car, this could help.

Personal and cargo policies. Because you want protection on both you and your belongings.

Auto tow protection. You’ll want this only if you’re towing your car, of course. Just don’t overlook it.

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Driving and Safety

Driving a large vehicle for the first time? Before you hit the open road, spend a little time driving your moving truck in a safe space — find an empty parking lot and practice turns, stops and even parking.

If the forecast calls for rain or snow, make sure you keep your lights on, change speeds slower than you normally would and increase your following distance. Also, if there are detours or road works ahead that don’t allow large vehicles, take them seriously. And when on unfamiliar routes, drive as if guiding a toddler — slowly and cautiously.

Since you’re new to trucks, here’s a special safe driving tip: Keep an eagle eye out for those sneaky low bridge overhangs.

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Maintenance and Breakdowns

Before you set off, make sure every part of the truck is in its place and working well. Slide out that loading ramp. Does it feel sturdy? Good. Double-check other parts of the truck as well.

A moving truck break down can happen. But knowing that the rental company has your back? That’s gold! Find out what kind of support they offer during moments that are less than ideal.

Many good rental companies offer 24/7 roadside assistance. So even if it’s 3 a.m. and your truck decides to stop in the middle of nowhere, help is just a phone call away. Especially if you’re new to big wheels, that’s a safety blanket worth having.

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Clean and Return the Rental Truck

Before you say your final goodbyes, give the rental truck a good clean. Vacuum the insides, wipe down the surfaces and ensure all your stuff (and trash) is out. Otherwise, the rental company might send you a cleaning bill.

And hey, don’t forget about the gas. Remember how much fuel was in there when you got it? Aim to match that when you return it because you often will pay more for fuel expenses if the rental company has to fill the tank than if you stopped at a gas station yourself. Unless you are a fan of extra charges, which we doubt. Plus, keep an eye on those miles. Some companies might charge more if you go over the allowed limit.

Now, the final stretch. Meet up with a company rep to walk around and inspect the truck. Just like you did at the beginning. Any dings or scratches? Let’s hope not. If there’s damage, brace yourself for some fees. Then, when everything’s checked and settled, you can confidently hand over the keys, knowing you’ve ticked all the boxes.

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Additional Tips and Considerations

So, you’ve got the basics down. Now, here’s some extra wisdom to make your move smooth as butter.

First up, don’t be shy about asking your rental company about packing supplies. Boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, dollies… the works. These little helpers will protect your belongings and save your back for an additional fee.

Next, make sure you pack your moving truck efficiently and everything is evenly spread out. Weight distribution is a big deal. If your truck leans more to one side, driving can feel a lot more stressful. 

Crossing state lines or venturing to a new country? Do a quick check on the driving permits and regulations. Each place might have its own set of rules, so better to be in the know than get caught off-guard.

Lastly, remember that some rental companies have age minimums. If you’re under 25 and looking to rent a moving truck, make sure you meet the age criteria. For our global travelers, different countries might have different driving license rules. So, double-check before you make the trip.

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How to Rent a Moving Truck: A Recap

Let’s do a quick touchdown on the top 10 golden nuggets for how to rent a moving truck:

  1. Assess your belongings and use rental truck size guides and other online tools to decide the right size for your move.
  2. Not sure where to rent a moving truck? Read reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations.
  3. Wondering about the total cost of renting a moving truck? Take into account daily rates, mileage and those sneaky added fees on top of the standard moving truck quote.
  4. Schedule a moving truck early, especially in summer, and always double-check all the details.
  5. Upon pick-up and return, bring your driver’s license, do a truck check and make sure to return it on time.
  6. Need extra insurance for moving truck rental? Your credit card might not be your hero here. Better go over all your options.
  7. Get packing supplies, declutter your home, pack smart and load with the heaviest items first, always balancing the load.
  8. Do a test drive, watch out for low bridges and take it slow on new roads or challenging weather.
  9. Thoroughly check the truck out before leaving and write down whom to call in emergencies.
  10. Bring back a tidy truck, watch the fuel and be aware of extra mileage charges.

Feeling better equipped for your big move? You should! Every journey starts with that first step, or in this case, that first box. With this guide in hand, you are more than ready so here’s to your next adventure.

May your move be smooth, your boxes light (well, lighter than they could be!) and your new chapter everything you’ve hoped for. Onward and upward!

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Categories DIY Move