If you’re moving just a small amount of stuff, or you have a large move that won’t quite fit inside the largest rental truck, you may be considering using a U-Haul trailer to move your stuff across the country. Today we’ll talk a little about U-Haul trailers, and then provide some alternatives that may better suit your needs.
U-Haul Trailer Sizes
Let’s start by talking about size. To move household goods, you would probably be looking at the U-Haul “Cargo” trailer. If that’s the case, they come available in the following sizes:
- 6’ x 12’
- 5’ x 10’
- 5’ x 8’
- 4’ x 8’
- 6’ x 3’9”
Just keep in mind that in order to tow, your vehicle must have an adequate hitch system – the receiver hitch, ball mount and ball. You’ll also need to know your hitch system rating (it can usually be found on a label on the hitch) the hitch ball rating (it can be found on the top of the ball or around the base of the shank), and the ball mount rating (it can usually be found on a label on the mounting plate or along the shaft that goes into your receiver). The amount of stuff you can load into the trailer will depend on the curb weight (weight without cargo or passengers) of your vehicle and the lowest rated component of your hitch system.
Be Careful with A U-Haul Trailer! The Dangers of Towing
If you decide on a U-Haul trailer, be certain to educate yourself on how to tow a trailer safely before you hit the road. U-Haul will tell you never to tow a trailer in overdrive and to always reduce your speed to under 55 mph.
And here’s a big concern with towing a trailer – trailer sway. What is trailer sway? It’s the fishtailing movement that happens when a trailer begins to sway behind a vehicle. 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 control. Common problems that can cause trailer sway include underinflated tires, improper weight distribution in the trailer, improper hitch adjustments, downhill descents, and using an inadequate towing vehicle.
Things to do to avoid trailer sway:
- Know the weight limits on your U-Haul trailer (it’s a good idea to weigh your trailer at a weigh station before your trip to make sure you are towing a safe amount).
- Load heavier items toward the nose of the trailer (60% in the front, 40% in the back).
- Keep speeds under 55 mph.
- Make sure tires are properly inflated.
- If swaying occurs, take your foot off the gas pedal. Do not brake or speed up.
Gas Mileage When Towing a U-Haul Trailer
When towing a U-Haul trailer, be prepared to pay more at the pump because your gas mileage will be affected. Because you have a heavier load, it will take more power to pull it. And the power in your vehicle comes from gas. How will your gas mileage be changed when towing? Fueleconomy.gov states that every 100 pounds of extra weight will decrease fuel efficiency by 2 percent. So a full U-Haul 6’ x 12’ trailer could weigh close to 4,400 pounds, decreasing fuel efficiency by up to 88%! If your vehicle gets 30 mpg normally, it may only get 6-10 mpg while towing a U-Haul trailer! On a long-distance move, all that fuel can really add up.
U-Haul Trailer Alternatives
If you don’t feel comfortable traveling while pulling a U-Haul trailer, there are affordable alternatives available. U-Pack is a moving service that allows you to pack, load, and unload – and U-Pack does the driving. You pay only for the space you use, down to a 5 ft. minimum in the trailer, or one ReloCube (it holds about the same amount as a U-Haul 6’ x 10’ trailer). So, if you’re moving at least one room of furnishings, U-Pack is an excellent solution!
U-Pack delivers door-to-door, or you can save even more money by doing a terminal-to-terminal move. This is where you load and unload your belongings at the closest ABF service center.
Checking prices for a U-Pack move is easy – just enter the basic information about your move online, and you’ll see the price instantly.
If you have questions about how U-Pack compares to U-Haul trailer rental, leave a comment below. We'll be happy to help!