How to rent a moving truck
Some people prefer to rent a moving truck rather than pay full-service movers. Do-it-yourself moves have some drawbacks, but those with the ability can save a significant amount of money by moving themselves. If a DIY relocation is the right move for you, read on to see how it’s done.
- Whether you’re moving the contents of a studio apartment or a large home, you should be able to find a moving truck that works for you.
- Aim for a truck that has 10% more room than you think you’ll need.
- Ask the rental truck company about insurance coverage — in most cases your car insurance will not cover your moving truck.
- When budgeting, don’t forget to factor in costs like gas, lodging, packing supplies and insurance.
Rental truck sizes
Most rental truck companies offer three to five truck sizes. A good rule of thumb is to pick a rental truck with 10% more room than you think you need. When in doubt, consult consumer reviews or speak to a representative at the truck rental company.
|Truck size||Average volume||Average gas mileage||Weight capacity||Good for|
|10-12 feet||425 cubic feet||12 miles per gallon||3,250 pounds||Studios|
|15-16 feet||825 cubic feet||10 miles per gallon||5,400 pounds||One-bedroom homes|
|17-20 feet||950 cubic feet||10 miles per gallon||6,000 pounds||Two-bedroom homes|
|22-26 feet||1,675 cubic feet||10 miles per gallon||10,000 pounds||Three-bedroom homes|
What to consider when renting a moving truck
Keep the following variables in mind when planning your budget and deciding whether it’s worth renting a moving truck:
- Move size: The smaller the move, the easier it is to use a rental truck. Larger moves require larger trucks, which are harder to drive and cost significantly more.
- Move distance: For a long-distance move, renters need a truck that can fit all their possessions. It's possible to use a smaller truck for local moves if the renter is willing to make multiple trips.
- Gas prices: The cost of fuel falls on the renter, so calculate this expense as part of your budget. Some rental trucks get less than 10 miles per gallon, even when empty.
- Additional fees: Insurance, packing supplies and packing tools cost extra.
- Truck comfort: For cross-country moves, comfort is especially important. Driving a rental truck with an uncomfortable seat across multiple states isn’t advisable. Read reviews to see which trucks are most comfortable and how long and far most renters can drive in a day.
- Driver age: You don’t need to be 25 to rent or drive a rental truck, but most companies require the driver to be at least 18.
- Local regulations: Check to make sure it’s legal to park a rental truck at your starting point and destination for an extended period of time.
- Lodging costs: If a move takes multiple days, factor in the cost of lodging during your trip.
- Number of people moving: Most rental trucks fit two people. If you need to bring more people, factor alternative transportation into your budget.
» MORE: How to make a moving budget
How much does a moving truck cost?
As of publishing, moving across several states in the summer might cost you around $1,000, including gas and full-coverage insurance.
Below are some estimated costs for various routes. These estimates are for weekend moves in the summer with full-coverage insurance and an estimated gas price of $2.50 per gallon.
|Move type||Example||Truck size||Average cost|
|Local||Within Oklahoma City||12-foot truck||$100|
|In-state||Dallas to Houston||16-foot truck||$450|
|Interstate||Indianapolis to Kansas City, Missouri||22-foot truck||$900|
|Cross-country||New York to Los Angeles||26-foot truck||$4,250|
» COMPARE: Best one-way truck rentals
Rental truck insurance options
We recommend purchasing insurance for DIY moves. Car insurance and credit cards typically don't provide rental truck insurance, but check with your providers to be sure. If you need additional coverage, purchase it through the rental company or an independent party.
Common types of rental truck insurance include the following:
- Damage waiver: This type of insurance relieves the renter of responsibility for damage to the rental truck. These policies vary in coverage, so read the fine print. A damage waiver may also be called a collision waiver, personal damage waiver or limited damage waiver.
- Supplemental liability insurance: This insurance protects renters against damage claims made by other people. The usual amount of coverage is $1 million.
- Personal accident and cargo insurance: This covers costs related to personal injuries, death or damage to items in specific situations. Be sure to ask about exclusions when signing up for this type of plan.
- Personal effects coverage: This coverage protects the financial value of your possessions in the rental truck if they’re stolen or damaged in an accident.
- Auto tow protection: This insurance protects the trailer you’re towing. Make sure you know the deductible before signing up.
» MORE: Is moving insurance worth it?
What is the cheapest moving truck rental?
Prices vary by company, route, season and city. To find the cheapest moving truck rental, compare prices by requesting quotes from several reputable moving companies. Other factors, such as availability and consumer reviews, are also significant when deciding which rental truck company is best for you.
Are movers or a rental truck cheaper?
It’s cheaper to rent a truck than to go with a full-service moving company. Just keep in mind that additional fees add up quickly. It also usually takes longer to move yourself.
Do moving trucks have to stop at weigh stations?
Typically, only commercial trucks have to stop at weigh stations. However, laws differ by state. Look up your state laws or ask the rental company for advice.
What’s the gas mileage on truck rentals?
Gas mileage for empty trucks ranges from 6 to 14 miles per gallon. However, a truck's fuel efficiency significantly decreases once you load it with thousands of pounds of household items.
What’s the biggest moving truck available?
The biggest moving trucks commonly available are 26-foot box trucks. These trucks hold about 10,000 pounds of belongings. That’s equivalent to about eight rooms’ worth of furniture and possessions.
How far in advance should I book my rental truck?
It’s best to book a rental truck between one week to one month in advance. Some moving truck rental companies don’t guarantee availability. If that’s the case, a representative might contact you the day before to let you know a truck isn’t available.
How do you pack a moving truck?
If you want to pack everything yourself, here are some tips:
- Disassemble all furniture.
- Use moving straps, quilts, boxes and dollies.
- Layer the items based on weight. Start with the heaviest, most durable items on the bottom. Load your medium-size items next. The lightest items should go last, and smaller items can fill in the empty spaces.
- Protect your mattresses — place them in a protective mattress bag to keep them safe.
- Roll up rugs.
- Keep your essentials within reach.
- Rest as needed.
Once you’ve packed your moving truck, drive safely. Know your clearance when going under bridges, respect speed limits, and keep your distance from other drivers. Moving trucks don’t brake or handle like cars, so give yourself extra room and time on the road.
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