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U-Haul Trailers: Information and Alternatives

June 9th, 2014 - 9:38 AM

Everything You Need to Know about U-Haul® Trailers

Several circumstances may have you considering renting a U-Haul trailer: If you’re moving a small amount of stuff, if you want to drive your own vehicle and tow your belongings, or you have a large move that won’t quite fit inside the largest rental truck. We’ve researched, and today we’ll talk a little about what we’ve learned about U-Haul trailers, answer some commonly asked questions, and then provide some alternatives that may better suit your needs.

Info about U-Haul trailers

What are the sizes of U-Haul trailers?

U-Haul has a variety of different types of trailers. 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:

  • 4’ x 8’
  • 5’ x 8’
  • 5’ x 10’
  • 6’ x 3’9”
  • 6’ x 12’

They also offer utility trailers. These are open trailers that you might use to haul things like building supplies, landscaping materials, etc. Because of the open design, they’re, they’re not  ideal for hauling household goods. The U-Haul utility trailers come in the following sizes:

  • 4’ x 7’
  • 5’ x 8’
  • 5’ x 9’ (with ramp)
  • 6’ x 12’
  • 6’ x 12’ (with ramp)

U-Haul also offers tow dollies, auto transport trailers, and motorcycle trailers.

How much stuff fits into a U-Haul trailer?

As you would expect, the capacity of the cargo trailers depends on the size you select. The 4’ x 8’ U-Haul trailer has just 142 cubic feet of space, and holds a maximum of 1,600 pounds. The largest trailer, the 6’ x 12’ holds 2,480 pounds with 396 cubic feet. So it’s important to consider the size and the weight of your items before reserving the equipment. The amount of stuff you can load into the trailer also depends on the curb weight (weight without cargo or passengers) of your vehicle and the lowest rated component of your hitch system.

Does towing a trailer affect my driving speed?

If you decide on a U-Haul trailer, it’s important 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.

Is trailer sway an issue when towing a U-Haul trailer?

Have you heard of 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.

You can read more about trailer sway here.

What type of tow hitch do I need to tow a U-Haul trailer?

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). Most U-Haul trailers require a 1 7/8” or 2” hitch ball, and must not exceed hitch ball height of 25”. Your vehicle must also have external mirrors on both sides.

Can I tow a U-Haul trailer with my vehicle?

There are restrictions as to what vehicles can tow trailers from U-Haul. For starters, SUVs and Jeeps must have hard tops. They won’t rent a trailer to a soft top vehicle. Also, U-haul won’t rent a trailer to a Ford Explorer. You can check with your local dealer to see if your vehicle is able to tow a trailer.

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

As you probably know, rates are calculated differently for in-town moves and one-way moves. In-town moves are priced for renting the trailer for a set amount of time. For one-way moves, U-Haul combines trailer size, your origin, destination, and date. You get a set number of days to complete your move. And if you don’t use your designated days, there isn’t a discount.

How does towing a trailer affect my gas mileage?

When towing a U-Haul trailer, be prepared to pay more at the pump because your gas mileage will be affected; it takes more power to pull a heavier load. 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.

I’m worried about running out of room in my rental truck, so I want to rent a trailer. Is that my best option?

Driving a rental truck can be difficult. Driving a rental truck while towing a trailer is even harder. If you’re worried about running out of room with your rental truck, instead of renting a trailer, consider U-Pack. U-Pack offers 28-foot commercial trailers or small ReloCubes for moving. The loading space of a U-Pack trailer is similar to that of a 26-foot rental truck plus a 10-foot rental truck. And the best part is that you only pay for the space you use. So, if you don’t need the entire truck, you don’t have to pay for it. U-Pack handles the transportation, so you can drive in the luxury of your own vehicle, without having to worry about towing a trailer behind.  When you move cross country, prices often compare to truck rental – especially when you factor in the cost of fuel and your time driving.

What are my alternatives to towing a U-Haul trailer?

As you can see, if you’re not comfortable traveling while pulling a U-Haul trailer, there are affordable alternatives available. U-Pack allows you to pack, load, and unload without having to drive a rental truck or pull a trailer.  You pay only for the space you use, down to a 5 ft. minimum in the trailer, or one ReloCube – it holds a little bit more than the U-Haul 5’ x 10’ trailer (the U-Haul trailer is about 230 cubic feet of loading space, and the ReloCube about 306 cubic feet). So, if you’re moving at least one room of furnishings, U-Pack is an excellent solution!

Now, if your reason for considering a U-Haul trailer is because your long-distance move is really small, you may consider a U-Pack terminal-to-terminal move. With this option you save big by loading and/or unloading at the closest 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!