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U-Haul Trailers: Information and Alternatives

August 13th, 2015 - 3:06 PM

Everything you need to know about U-Haul® trailers​

There are several reasons why you might rent a U-Haul trailer for your long-distance move. Perhaps you're moving a few household goods and want to tow a trailer behind your car. Or maybe you have a large move that won't quite fit inside the largest U-Haul truck.

The information below is designed to help you decide if a U-Haul trailer is ultimately the best choice for your move, or if there's a better alternative that will suit your needs.

u-haul trailers

U-Haul trailer options

U-Haul offers two types of trailers: cargo and utility. Because it's enclosed, the cargo trailer is designed for moving household goods. Because of its open design, the utility trailer is geared more toward hauling things like building supplies, landscaping materials, etc.

U-Haul cargo and utility trailers

In addition to rental trailers, U-Haul offers car tow dollies, auto transport trailers, and motorcycle trailers.

Note: U-Haul requires customers to be 16 years old or older with a valid driver’s license to rent a trailer.

U-Haul trailer sizes and weight specifications

Trailers come in a variety of sizes and weight restrictions.

Cargo trailer dimensions and weight limit:

  • The 4’ x 8’ trailer has a 1,650 lb. limit
  • The 5’ x 8’ trailer has a 1,800 lb. limit
  • The 5’ x 10’ trailer has a 1,550 lb. limit
  • The 6’ x 12’ trailer has a 2,480 lb. limit

Utility trailer dimensions and weight limit:

  • 4’ x 7’ trailer (1,770 lb. limit)
  • 5’ x 8’ trailer (1,890 lb. limit)
  • 5’ x 9’ trailer with ramp (1,650 lb. limit)
  • 6’ x 12’ trailer (2,670 lb. limit)
  • 6’ x 12’ trailer with ramp (2,110 lb. limit)

How much will fit into a U-Haul trailer?

The 4' x 8' cargo trailer (the smallest U-Haul trailer) has 142 cubic feet of space and holds a maximum of 1,650 lbs. The 6' x 12' cargo trailer (the largest U-Haul trailer) holds a maximum of 2,480 lbs. with 396 cubic feet. Aside from trailer size, the number of articles you can load into the trailer also depends on the curb weight of your vehicle (the weight without the cargo or passengers), and the lowest rated component of your hitch system.

How fast can I drive while towing a U-Haul?

U-Haul recommends keeping your speed under 55 MPH when towing a trailer.

How does towing affect my gas mileage?

Because it takes more power to pull a heavier load, you can expect to pay more at the pump when towing a U-Haul trailer. Fueleconomy.gov states that every 100 pounds of extra weight will decrease fuel efficiency by about 1%. So, a full 6' x 12' U-Haul trailer could weigh close to 4,400 lbs. (gross vehicle weight). That would decrease the fuel efficiency by up to 44%! If your car gets 30 MPG normally, it may only get 13 MPG while towing a U-Haul trailer. And if you're moving long distance, those fuel costs can add up. 

What about trailer sway?

Trailer sway is the fishtail movement that happens when a trailer begins to sway behind the vehicle towing it. It's something to be aware any time you pull a trailer behind a car. Minor sway is normal, but improper vehicle care or improper loading can result in unsafe trailer sway. When this happens, the vehicle can drift across lanes or even lose total control. To prevent trailer sway, U-Haul recommends loading 60% of the cargo weight in the front half of the trailer box and top properly inflate tires.

What does U-Haul require for towing?

If you choose to pull behind a rental truck (like the one pictured below), you shouldn't have any requirements for towing, since U-Haul trucks are equipped to haul their trailers.

U-Haul truck with trailer

Keep in mind that rental trucks generally are not equipped with rear-view mirrors. You'll need to rely on your side view mirrors to ensure safe passing.

If you chose to tow behind your personal vehicle, there are quite a few requirements:

  • U-Haul must approve your vehicle. Read why U-Haul won’t rent a trailer to a Ford Explorer.
  • The curb weight of your tow vehicle should be around 80% of the loaded weight.
  • A hitch system and lighting connections are required. The hitch system includes the receiver hitch, ball mount, and ball (you will need a particular size hitch ball for each size trailer).
  • Your vehicle must have external mirrors on both sides all lights must be operable.
  • If your vehicle is an SUV or Jeep, it must have a hard top.

How much does it cost to rent a trailer from U-Haul?

U-Haul bases all one-way move rates on the trailer size you choose, the distance between your origin and destination, and when you’re moving. You also get a set number of days to complete your move (there’s no discount for returning the trailer early). If you pay by cash, a $60 deposit plus the rental rate is due when you pick up your equipment.

Are there any alternatives to towing a trailer?

Yes! U-Pack® is an excellent alternative to pulling a U-Haul trailer. U-Pack allows you to pack, load and unload just like you would a trailer, but you don't have to drive. Because U-Pack drives, you're free to drive your personal vehicle or catch a quick flight. Here's how it works:

  • U-Pack delivers a moving trailer or ReloCube to your home.
  • You load your items inside.
  • U-Pack drives your trailer or Cube to your destination.
  • You unload, and U-Pack picks up the equipment.

Talk about convenient and easy! And the best part? U-Pack is affordable, with rates that often compete with truck rental. U-Pack bases your price on how much space you use in the trailer, or how many ReloCubes you use. One ReloCube is ideal for a small move, holding a little more than the U-Haul 5' x 10' cargo trailer (the 5x10 trailer is about 230 cu. ft. and the Cube is 306 cu. ft.). Paying based on the linear footage you use makes the moving trailer an excellent option for any size move!

Get a quote from U-Pack to compare to U-Haul trailer rental

You can get a free moving quote online to see how much U-Pack costs, or by calling 800-413-4799. Every quote includes the driver, fuel, and transportation. Compare U-Pack prices to renting a truck and trailer or towing behind your vehicle -- you may be surprised by the savings!

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