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Tips on How to Rent a Moving Truck

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If you've opted to do a DIY move, you may want to consider these tips on renting a moving truck. A low-cost alternative to hiring full-service movers, truck rentals are a great way to save some money; however, they also require planning and research.

How to Rent a Moving Truck

The following tips will help you understand how to rent a moving truck and find the best service at affordable rates.

Determine the moving truck size

The first step to renting a moving truck is determining what size truck you need to rent. This will depend on the size of your home and the volume of your belongings. While your needs will vary depending on how much furniture or other large items you're moving, here's an idea of the moving truck sizes you'll need:

  • 26': 4+ bedrooms
  • 22': 3- 4 bedrooms
  • 16': 2 - 3 bedrooms
  • 12': 1-2 bedrooms
  • 10': studio or small one-bedroom apartment

You can also call rental truck companies with a description of your shipment to get a recommendation for the truck size best suited for your move.

TIP: It's a good idea to rent a truck at least 10 to 15 percent larger than what you think you'll need to ensure you will have enough space.

Request for quotes

Before choosing a rental truck company, it's important to shop around. Call at least three to five companies to compare available services and costs. Rental truck costs may be determined by:

  • The size of your truck
  • The distance you are traveling
  • The number of days you use the truck
  • The need for a one-way rental (for long-distance moves) vs. a local, round-trip rental
  • The time of year you move

Most rental companies will require you to replenish the fuel before returning the truck, otherwise you may get charged an additional fee. When receiving estimates from rental truck companies, be sure to ask questions about any extra charges you may incur.

Questions to ask the truck rental service

  • What is included in the price?
  • What is the cost per mile?
  • Are there extra costs per day I have the truck?
  • Is it more expensive for a one-way move?
  • Are there any discounts available for the time period I'm moving?
  • How much gas needs to be in the tank when I return the truck?
  • Can I cancel my reservation and, if so, how far in advance do I need to cancel?
  • Is there any cancellation fee?
  • Do you require a deposit?

Ask about rental truck insurance

Depending on your auto or home insurance policy, you may or may not be covered in case of an accident. Be sure to find out in advance so you can inquire about the coverage of the rental truck insurance. The company may also offer you additional damage coverage for your cargo.

Ask about your insurance options and the cost of each plan - make the optimal choice for the distance of your move and the value of your cargo. Check with your homeowner's insurance for possible coverage of your goods before purchasing a policy from the truck rental agency.

Do a background check of the company

One of the most important tips on renting a moving truck is to conduct a background check on any truck rental service you are considering for hire to ensure they are reliable and legitimate. Read online customer reviews and check websites such as and for complaints about unethical companies and poor business practices. Some examples of truck rental scams include requesting a deposit without holding a reservation, adding on hidden fees, and claiming false damage to a truck after its return.

Reserve the truck on time

Truck rental reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance. However, if you are moving during peak season (June through September) you should reserve the vehicle at least one month in advance. Moving services are in high demand during the summer months and may book up quickly.

When reserving the truck, the company will need to know:

  • The truck size you wish to rent
  • The distance of your move
  • Your pickup and drop off locations
  • The date and time you plan on picking and dropping off the vehicle

Depending on your method of payment, you may be asked to pay a deposit upon reserving your truck.

Arrange the moving accessories

A DIY move involves lifting and loading very heavy objects, so try your best to use tools that make it easier. Firstly, always rent a moving truck fitted with appropriate equipment like ramps, roll-up doors, and liftgate.

Secondly, you will need some accessories to protect and safely load your goods, furniture, and appliances. You can rent these items from your rental truck agency - ask about your options and prices when receiving your estimate.

Some essentials include:

  • Moving pads/blankets : These are used to wrap and protect furniture and appliances from scratches, dents, and dings
  • Dolly/hand truck : This useful tool makes it simple to maneuver your most cumbersome items such as refrigerators, couches, and washers/dryers. You can even use them to transport high stacks of boxes
  • Straps : Straps are used to support heavy items carried manually to limit strain on your back

Things to check / inspect when renting a moving truck

When you arrive at the agency on the pick-up day, be sure to thoroughly inspect the vehicle before signing any papers.

Check the truck's exterior and interior for any damage, specifically scratches, dents, dings, or fabric rips and stains.

Verify that any and all current damage to the vehicle is noted on the inspection sheet.

Check the mileage and the level of the gas tank on the vehicle and ensure that it is accurately recorded in the paperwork.

Test drive the truck and make sure everything is in working condition. Check the breaks, steering, headlights, brake lights, windshield wipers and windows. Any damage should be noted on the form so that you don't end up liable for it when you return the truck.

Check the size of the truck's storage area and make sure that it is large enough to fit all your items.

Check the loading ramp that fold down from the back of the truck and ensure that all parts are functioning properly in order to prevent you from having to return the truck in the middle of your loading process.

Sign the rental agreement

Sign the truck rental agreement and keep a copy with you during the move. Make sure you read everything carefully before signing the documents. You should also have copies of the inspection report and insurance forms. After your move is complete, be sure to retain these documents in a safe place in case any disputes arise later.

Load the truck

Loading the truck can be tricky but if you have enough manpower and appropriate tools, it can be easily managed. You just have to make sure that the boxes are placed in a way that their weight is evenly distributed throughout the storage space.

Keep the documents ready while driving

Since you have to drive the truck yourself, you will need certain documents like driver's license, insurance papers, and so on during transit. Make sure that you have all the necessary documents when you start the drive.

Return the moving truck

Typically, you can return the moving truck to the rental company's closest location, especially if it's a long-distance move. Make sure that you return the truck in as good a condition as it was at the time you rented it and with the same amount of gas.

The key to properly learn how to rent a moving truck lies in identifying your needs and correctly following our step-by-step guide, from figuring out what size truck you need to returning it to the company in a good condition.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on October 29, 2013

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