Moving day is fast approaching. You’ve got everything packed and ready to haul; in fact, the stuff is already in the back of your rented U-Haul truck. There’s only one problem: you’ve never driven a U-Haul truck before and aren’t sure how hard it will be.
Driving a U-Haul is much easier than it looks. Most modern box trucks have automatic transmissions, so you don’t have to worry about clutching and shifting. You can instead focus on doubling down on every safety precaution you take while driving a car, ensuring you and your belongings are safe.
Some safety precautions you should take include driving slowly, making wider turns, braking sooner, parking in large areas, and passing with care. In this article, I’ll discuss all of these in detail and also explore exactly how hard it is to drive in a U-Haul in further detail. If you’re concerned, don’t worry – all driving a U-Haul takes is a little extra care.
How Hard Is It To Drive a U-Haul?
This section should really be called “how easy is it to drive a U-Haul truck?” Because truth be told, it’s more a piece of cake than it is something to stress about. If you’re an experienced driver, you should have no trouble at all.
It is not hard to drive a U-Haul truck. Driving such a truck is about being extra cautious. This means you need to follow the traffic laws more rigidly and be very mindful of how big the truck is. You should always be ready with the brakes, and always watch your tunnel clearance.
A U-Haul truck isn’t a race car, nor are you starring in an epic remake of Smokey and the Bandit. So please don’t drop the hammer to find out how fast this mamma can go. Instead, let’s examine some of the most important things to know about driving a U-Haul.
Key Things About Driving a U-Haul
Asking yourself, “is U-Haul hard to drive?” Here’s what you need to know about driving a U-Haul. We’ll check them off one at a time, so you’ll feel like a pro by the end. All set? Let’s begin.
I’m going to start by stopping. Quite paradoxical, I know, but rolling down the highway in a 7-ton truck can be a bit intimidating for those who’ve never done it. Always keep in mind that these vehicles require extra stopping time. U-Haul recommends at least 4 seconds between your grill and the car in front of it. I personally feel safer with 6. But whatever your preference, the message here is simple: give your U-Haul truck time to stop.
You can rent U-Haul trucks from regular pick-ups to 26-foot (7.9 meters) box trucks. The box trucks will require extra room to turn; otherwise, you could jump a curb and even run over a road sign. The longer your vehicle, the wider your turns need to be. Just don’t go so wide that you crash into some poor guy waiting in the opposite lane.
Going Up and Down Hills
So you’ve read along this far but still feel a little shaky about that nagging question: is it hard to drive a U-Haul? Time to take a deep breath. Because going up and down hills happens to be the hardest thing about driving U-Hauls.
And it’s still not that hard. When going uphill, shift the truck into low gear and climb at a steady pace that doesn’t overly tax the engine. Take the entire hill in low gear.
To go downhill, slow the truck first, then shift into low gear and coast down on engine power. Don’t ride the brake pedal. Riding the brake pedal heats the rotor pads and reduces stopping power. It also causes unnecessary strain on the whole braking system. Use the pedal only when necessary.
When a truck driver doesn’t make sure his rig has enough clearance to fit through a tunnel, the results are amusing – for people on the internet. Most of us have seen videos of trailers crashing into railway overpasses, and some of us may even have had a chuckle.
However, the results aren’t amusing for the driver. If you’re about to drive through a tunnel in your rented U-Haul, be sure to read the clearance heading, which is usually stamped directly above the tunnel. If the heading is lower than the height of your truck, find another route.
Trim 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) off whatever is posted. Most cities will not bother to change the clearance heading after a road is re-tarred. So if the heading reads 9’10” (3 meters), it may be something more like 9’4″ (2.8 meters). To avoid ugly crashes, drive carefully when approaching a tunnel.
I mentioned parking earlier in this article. However, it’s worth saying again that U-Haul trucks love wide open spaces. Anything so large would have to.
As you back out of a space, check those side mirrors. Roll down the window and lean out if you have to. If you’re riding with a friend, use him or her as a spotter. If parking to load or unload the truck, allow some clearance from the curb. This will give you an easy spot to anchor the ramp.
Is It Hard To Drive a U-Haul Cargo Van?
So we’ve answered the question: Is driving U-Haul hard? Nope, it’s not – and driving a U-Haul cargo van is even less difficult.
Driving a U-Haul cargo van is as easy as driving a regular van. It is a standard cargo van. About the only extra thing to be concerned with is how much weight you’ve got in the back.
Cargo vans from U-Haul are about 9’6” (2.9 meters) long. This makes them suitable for small moves over short distances but don’t expect to cram entire houses in the back. As with any U-Haul rental, allow for extra stopping time and wider turns. That’s all there is to it.
How Hard Is It To Drive a U-Haul With a Car?
U-Haul rents tow dollies and auto transport trailers. In both cases, the car is being towed by the U-Haul truck. This can be intimidating, and you may be wondering just how hard it will be.
Towing a car with a U-Haul is easy after a bit of practice. Once you get a feel for maneuvering the extra cargo, your confidence will soar. Just don’t get too cocky behind the wheel. Even so, always drive U-Haul trucks with extra attention to road safety.
Once you’re comfortable driving with a trailer, don’t abandon caution. A U-Haul truck with an auto transport can total almost 50 feet (15.24 meters) long. So drive with extra care. Make wider turns and give yourself plenty of stopping time.
The same goes for tow dollies. A U-Haul tow dolly transports lighter vehicles with only the front wheels off the ground (the rear wheels remain on the road). Don’t tow rear-wheel-drive vehicles with a U-Haul dolly without disconnecting the drive shaft – otherwise, the car’s transmission will be damaged, even if you put the transmission in neutral.
You can find a complete set of U-Haul tow dolly instructions here.
Is U-Haul easy to drive? Yes, indeed it is. Even in the bigger box trucks, you’ll not find yourself overwhelmed for long. The keys to remember (other than the ones that start the truck) are: Drive more slowly, allow extra stopping distance, and pay close attention to overhang clearances. Have a safe trip!