How to Drive a U-Haul

Driving a U-Haul presents an entirely different set of challenges than driving a car. Here's how to drive a U-Haul safely and well.
Written by Nicholas Wilson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
If you're
moving houses
or transporting some belongings,
renting a U-Haul
van or truck could be a good solution. If you've never driven one before or if you routinely drive a very small car, then it is going to be very different than what you are used to driving.
It's possible for the average driver to drive a U-Haul well and safely if you know how.
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Preparing to drive a U-Haul

Do a vehicle inspection

Before you ever drive the truck, you should do an inspection to make sure that nothing is awry.
Make sure that the tires are inflated and in good condition, check the headlights and brake lights, make sure that nothing is loose or otherwise compromised, and check that the storage portion of the truck will properly close and securely latch.

Pack the U-Haul wisely

Because most people who drive a U-Haul fill it to max capacity with belongings, you should know that
how you pack the truck
affects how it drives.
In the first place, try to balance the truck as much as possible. For example, don’t put all your heavy boxes on one side and the lighter ones on the other. This will affect how well the vehicle handles.
Secondly, make sure your belongings are secure. If you hear lots of clanging and noticeable shifting while traveling, then you are going to be more anxious, which makes driving more difficult.
If the shifting is serious, you could break items or make it difficult to open the storage area when it comes time to do so.
MORE: How to get cheap truck insurance

Driving a U-Haul

Drive at an average pace

You don’t have to drive slowly, but you certainly don’t want to speed when you are driving a U-Haul.
The faster you travel, the greater the chances you could lose control and not regain it. Drive slower than you normally would at first, and once you get acclimated to the U-Haul, you can adjust your driving habits to your level of comfort with the vehicle on your trip.
Make sure you follow any speed guidelines set out by U-Haul for the specific vehicle you're driving. There may be a limit for how fast your vehicle should go.

Stay back from other vehicles

Trucks stop much slower than passenger cars do, so the last thing you want to do is tailgate.
You could cause a serious
, and it is much safer for everyone involved if you maintain a reasonable distance from other vehicles.

Try to stay in your lane as much as possible

If you need to switch lanes, go ahead and do so. But generally, it's a good idea to stay in one lane, especially when you're on the highway or interstate.
This will minimize the opportunity for accidents, and it will also keep your belongings from shifting unnecessarily.

Be aware of traffic rules that now apply

Traffic rules that don’t apply to cars may now take effect since you are driving a truck.
For instance, if you are traveling on a toll road, trucks often have to use different lanes to pay or even pay higher rates than small passenger cars. You should look up your route and determine if there are any unique situations you could encounter. If you are prepared beforehand, you won’t be in a panic when it comes time to make a weird lane shift or take an alternate route.

Use your common sense

The most valuable advice is simply to be smart and keep your wits about you.
Don’t forget you are driving a large truck and that you have to adapt your driving habits accordingly depending on the situation and what sort of places you’ll be driving in and through.
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Frequently asked questions

Is it hard to drive a U-Haul?

Driving a U-Haul isn't hard. In fact, it's just like driving other bigger vehicles, and an experienced driver should have no problem driving a U-Haul once they get used to it.
Make sure you follow safety tips given by the company when doing so, and don't make any risky moves while driving.

How old do you have to be to drive a U-Haul?

You need to be 18 years old to rent a U-Haul truck, but you only need to be 16 years old if you're just renting a trailer. Either way, you will need a government-issued drivers license.
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