How to Drive a Moving Truck

How easy is it to drive a rental truck?

If you're planning a DIY move, you've likely considered a rental truck. But renting a truck also means driving it — and that’s not exactly easy. While the basic controls are the same as personal vehicles, there are some key differences — like size and weight — that can make driving a rental truck tricky. Not everyone feels comfortable driving a large truck, so we’ve gathered some tips to help. We’ll also tell you about another option to move without having to drive a rental.

Man driving behind the wheel of a moving truck.


10 tips for driving U-Hauls and other moving trucks 

1. Plan the route ahead of time 

Before renting a truck, it’s a good idea to map out a route from your current home to the new one. With rentals, it’s best to stick to highways and major roads as much as possible because some backroads may not be wide enough for larger vehicles.  

Plan for any stops and look for places with parking available for a moving truck since these won’t fit in standard vehicle parking spaces. It’s also important to find out if you have to stop at weigh stations in any states you’ll drive through. 

2. Inspect the truck

Whether renting from U-Haul® or another company, examine the truck before hitting the road to avoid trouble along the way. Check the tires and test the windshield wipers in case of bad weather. It’s also helpful to document (and discuss with the manager) any interior or exterior damage to the truck so you won’t be charged for it when returning the vehicle. 

Note: Check with your car insurance policy to see if you have rental truck coverage. If not, consider purchasing coverage through the rental company. 

3. Familiarize yourself with the controls

It’s important to understand the dashboard controls, which will vary between truck models. Take time to find everything since controls can be different from personal vehicles.  

Here are some things to locate: 

  • Controls for adjusting mirrors, seats and the steering wheel 
  • Emergency brake 
  • Fuel gauge 
  • Heat and air conditioner (test them!) 
  • Ignition 
  • Lights and turn signals (have a friend help outside the truck) 
  • Locks and window controls 
  • Radio 
  • Speedometer 
  • Transmission controls 

4. Use caution when moving, backing up or parking

Moving trucks are much larger than standard cars, so you’ll want to be extremely careful when operating one. Know the overhead clearance and width of the truck to help avoid obstacles. And stay aware of surroundings and use the mirrors (and a spotter if possible) to check for blind spots when parking or backing up.  

Always set the emergency brake when parking. To park on a steep road, turn the wheels away from the curb when facing uphill and toward the curb when facing downhill to help anchor the truck and prevent rolling. If possible, find a pull-through parking space so you won’t have to back up. 

Note: Moving trucks only have side mirrors — no rearview ones. 

5. Allow extra space for turns 

Small passenger cars might be able to turn on a dime, but that’s not the case for moving trucks. Take turns slowly and allow more space, especially for right turns.  

6. Follow all traffic laws

Moving trucks are subject to the same laws as passenger vehicles, so be sure to obey road signs and traffic signals. Pay special attention to overhead clearance signs posted near underpasses, train tracks and drive-through windows to make sure the truck will fit.

7. Slow down  

While staying below the posted speed limit is always a good idea, you might need to go even slower when driving a large rental truck. Use caution when going around curves and drive slower during bad weather for your safety and to protect other drivers on the road.  

Some rentals may have governors installed to prevent you from driving above a certain speed. Check with the rental company to see if your truck will be governed. 

Suggested reading: How Fast Can I Drive a U-Haul Truck? 

8. Keep a safe following distance on the road 

Moving trucks, especially when full, take longer to stop than smaller vehicles. Give yourself plenty of room to brake gradually by not following other traffic too closely. Also, allow enough space if you need to pass someone — larger trucks will need more room (and time!) to overtake other vehicles.  

9. Take breaks 

It’s helpful to stop every couple of hours to stretch your legs. Driving long distances is hard work, so it’s important to rest to avoid fatigue and stay alert behind the wheel.  

10. Protect your things  

To safely move things in a rental truck, you’ll need to evenly distribute weight and tie down belongings with ropes or straps to keep everything from shifting during travel. If the weight in the truck isn’t balanced and belongings are not secured, things could get damaged while making a turn or a sudden stop. Avoid overloading the truck, which could cause an accident.  
During stops, lock the truck and try to keep it parked where you can see it. Always use a padlock to secure the loading area. 

Would you rather not drive a moving truck?

With a self-moving service like U-Pack®,  you can get all the benefits of a DIY move without the hassle of driving a bulky rental truck — all at a comparable price! With U-Pack, you handle the packing, loading and unloading, and then we transport your things.  

Get a free moving quote or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to a moving consultant. If you have any questions about driving a moving truck or moving with U-Pack, leave us a comment. We’re happy to help! 

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