How to Drive a Rental Moving Truck
Although you might have decided to DIY your move, don’t forget that it’s accompanied by its unique set of challenges. The biggest one of them has to be driving the moving truck by yourself. Even if you’re a seasoned driver, the thought of driving a big rental moving truck can be overwhelming and intimidating. Of course, many people will tell you that driving a moving truck isn’t very different from driving a car, but the risks associated with driving an unfamiliar giant vehicle through unfamiliar lands can be definitely scary.
But don’t let all these anxious thoughts pull you down! Yes, a moving truck is way bigger than a car. However, once you get familiar with all the blind spots, blinkers, buttons, and so on, you’ll get comfortable driving it. To make the process of driving a rental truck easier for you, we have put together a quick guide that summarizes all the things you need to keep in mind. So go through our guide on how to drive a rental moving truck and have a safe relocation trip!
Who Can Rent A Moving Truck?
Before we tell you all about some great tips and tricks to drive a rental moving truck, let us first come back to the basics and help you figure out whether you’re eligible to rent a moving truck. You should know that there are some requirements that you must meet before renting a moving truck. Anybody can rent a moving truck if the following needs are met:
1) Minimum Age Requirement
Most of the moving truck rental companies require you to be above a certain age to rent out a moving truck. A majority of the moving companies will be okay with you renting out their moving truck as long as you’re 18 years and above. However, it would be a good idea to call up the company to enquire about their age-related rules before finalizing them.
2) Valid Driving License
You cannot rent a moving truck if you don’t possess a valid driver’s license. Rarely does a company require you to have a commercial driver’s license. Even so, it would be wise to call or check online about the kind of license you need to have to rent a truck from a particular company.
3) Proper Identification Proof
Apart from the driver’s license, you will need to keep other forms of identification proof handy before renting a truck. Accepted forms of identification are Social Security card, passport, and credit card.
4) Proper Coverage
Accidents can’t be predicted and you don’t want to shell out an exorbitant sum of money if the truck and your possessions are damaged during the move due to an accident. It is always best to purchase additional coverage from the rental company in case your existing auto insurance policy doesn’t cover your move.
Before Driving The Moving Truck: Tips and Advice
Renting a moving truck does not mean that you pick a random date, a random vehicle, and set out for a relocation trip whenever you please. Renting a moving truck involves a lot of planning and there are several things to consider before driving a moving truck. Here are a few pointers to consider before you set out on your relocation trip.
Choose The Right Truck For Yourself
Choosing the right truck for your move is an essential and extremely important decision you need to make at the very beginning of your move. If you rent a truck that’s bigger than your requirement, then your belongings would move inside the truck during the trip and get damaged. Not to mention that you get stuck with driving a much bigger vehicle than necessary.
If you choose a truck that’s too small, you might not be able to fit all your belongings in it and have to drive to and fro from your house to your new house multiple times. Talk to your rental company, examine your current house, and assess the quantity of the belongings you need to move in order to rent the right size of the truck.
Examine The Tires Of The Truck
You’re going to have a hard time driving if your tires are punctured or don’t have enough air in the tires. If you want to know the right PSI for your truck’s tires, you can either ask your moving company or check whether the sticker stuck on the inner part of the driver’s side door mentions anything about it. You can always use a gauge to easily check the air pressure of your tires before you start driving the truck.
Ensure That The Signals And Lights Are Working
Before starting to drive the truck, it would be advisable to make sure that the headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and other essential functions are working properly. Turn them on and off a few times to check whether they work properly every time. Checking your signals and lights will not only ensure your and other travelers’ safety while driving, but it will also keep you from getting a ticket.
Make Note Of The Gas Level Of Your Truck
Calculate the distance of your move beforehand and make sure that you have enough gas in your truck. Many times, a truck rental company requires you to return the truck with the same amount of gas the truck had during the time of pick up. If you forget to refill the gas tank, the company might even end up penalizing you. A good idea to avoid these problems would be to note down the gas levels or to take a picture of the gas gauge during the time of pick up.
Inspect The Truck For Damages
The truck rental companies have strict policies when it comes to the damages sustained by their trucks. They will penalize you for any newly sustained damages (interior or exterior). That’s why inspect the truck thoroughly from inside and outside when you pick it up. Note down all the scratches and dents the truck has from before you picked it up. Clicking pictures of the truck from all possible angles would be a good idea to avoid paying unnecessary fines to the truck rental company.
Load Up The Truck Properly
Loading up the truck properly entails distributing the weight of your belongings evenly in the storage space of the truck. Loading up the heaviest objects near the walls and the cab part of the truck while filling up the rest of the space with lighter objects is a good thumb rule to follow. Even distribution of weight ensures that you don’t face any difficulty while driving the truck, especially in mountainous terrain.
You may also read our article on Hiring Movers to Load a Truck?
Plan Your Route Beforehand
If you’re going for a long distance move, do not try to wing it on the spot when it comes to choosing the route you plan to follow and add to your anxiety. Figure out which route is the shortest or the roads of which route are the easiest to navigate while driving a moving truck.
Try To Foresee Your Problems
You never know what kind of situations you might encounter while driving a rental moving truck. Although there’s a high chance that your travel will be smooth and there won’t be any major difficulties, you don’t want to be under-prepped and be surprised when things go wrong. Account for all such situations (for instance, weather, traffic, terrain, money) and have a backup plan ready just to be safe.
How To Drive A Rental Moving Truck: Tips And Advice
Adjust Your Rear-View Mirrors
Navigating a moving truck is difficult and not adjusting your side mirrors would add to your difficulties. You need to be well aware of your surroundings while driving a truck, especially because a moving truck has a heavier body. Angle your side mirrors in such a way that they cover most of the blind spots and help you see most of what is happening behind your truck. If you’re traveling with someone and plan to drive in turns, do adjust the mirror every time you switch drivers.
Don’t Forget To Release The Emergency Brakes
When the moving truck is parked, it is most probably parked with its emergency brakes engaged. Do not forget to release the emergency brake at any cost before starting to drive if you don’t want to damage your vehicle. Most of the trucks have hand-operated emergency brakes where you simply have to press the button and lower the brake lever. On the contrary, some vehicles have emergency brakes near the driver’s left leg and they need to be operated by the foot.
Be Conscious About What Gears You Are Using
Don’t panic when you get into the driver’s seat of a big vehicle like a moving truck and apply the wrong gears. Most of the moving trucks use an automatic transmission system which means that you simply have to shift the gear to ‘D’ or ‘Drive’. Depending on your truck, you might have to push the gear shifter away and then pull it down or you might have to press a small button to shift the gears.
Change gears according to the terrain so as to make sure your truck is running properly (for example, using lower gear while driving up a steep slope). Check whether your company rents out automatic or manual vehicles and rent a truck according to your preference.
Don’t Accelerate Your Truck Quickly
This might seem like we’re stating the obvious but let us tell you that your moving truck is not a racing car. The movement of your truck will feel sluggish and slow at the beginning. It will take the truck some time to build up to your desired speed due to its heavy body and gigantic size.
Accelerating too quickly will lead to a massive increase in the fuel consumption of the truck and you ideally wouldn’t want to empty your pockets on gas money during your move. Moreover, your belongings also might experience jerks and move due to the sudden change in the speed, and damaging them is the last thing you want to do.
Don’t Slam On The Brakes Suddenly
Just like accelerating your moving truck quickly is a bad idea, recklessly slamming on the brakes of the truck is also a big no-no. Naturally, a big and heavy moving truck filled with all of your life’s belongings won’t work the way your normal car works. Applying the brakes hard too suddenly would most probably cause damage to your belongings and also throw your moving truck completely off-balance.
You could even lose control of your truck which could lead to an accident, especially when the weather is really bad. That’s why always apply the brakes early on to give your moving truck some time to slow down before you come to a stop. Keep this in mind while you approach traffic lights or intersections while driving your rental moving trucks.
Make Wider Turns
Owing to their gigantic sizes, moving trucks require a lot more space to make turns as opposed to your standard car. Most of us are not used to making turns while driving a large vehicle because of which it becomes all the more important that you focus on making safe turns while driving your moving truck.
Whenever you decide to make a turn, start applying the brakes early on and give your truck some time to slow down gradually. If you think that the turn is somewhat difficult, you can simply stop your truck and make the turn cautiously. Don’t forget to use your turn signals before you make the turn. Lastly, use your side mirrors to determine the space your truck will take while making the turn and make a wider turn to avoid bumping your truck in the pavement or other cars.
Maintain A Safe Distance From Other Cars
As you already know, hitting the breaks suddenly and stopping your truck is a bad idea. That’s why it’s important that you be mindful of the distance you maintain between the truck and the other cars on the road. Even if you slam on the breaks suddenly, your truck probably won’t stop immediately and you might end up crashing into the car that’s in the front.
Because of all this, it’s always advisable to maintain at least a 4-second distance from the car that’s in front of your truck. In case of bad weather, make sure that you increase the distance between you and the other cars.
To add to that, try to avoid overtaking other vehicles at all costs, especially if it’s a hilly terrain or the roads are very narrow. The amount of time and acceleration your truck will take to overtake another vehicle will not be the same as your standard car. Prevention is certainly better than cure, so refrain from speeding up and overtaking as far as possible.
Don’t Miss Out On The Truck-Specific Road Signs
Now that you’re driving a moving truck, remember that you’ll have to keep an eye out for truck-specific road signs that you’re used to merrily ignoring when you drive your car. The three types of road signs that you particularly look out for are the lane restriction signs, weigh station stop signs, and overhead clearance signs. You may read our article on Should my Moving Truck stop on Weigh Station?
Depending on what state you are driving in, you might not be allowed to use the left lane. Keeping an eye out for the lane restriction signs will save you money spent on paying off tickets. Similarly, you wouldn’t want your truck to get stuck under a bridge or in a tunnel, right? That’s why overhead clearance signs should not be missed out on. Finally, also be mindful of the speed limit signs while driving a moving truck. Ideally, always drive at a speed that’s 5-6 miles per hour below the specified speed limit.
Change Lanes With Caution
There’s a reason why people are scared of driving moving trucks and don’t consider it to be an easy task. You should know that moving trucks are not equipped with a center rear-view mirror because of which your side rear-view mirrors become your sole best friend.
Changing your lanes becomes a tough job that needs to be done cautiously because of all this. You can try to keep up with all that’s happening behind your truck by using the tiny blind spot mirrors that are attached to the side mirrors of your truck. Additionally, never change lanes before using the right signals. The vehicles behind you might crash into you if you suddenly decide to change lanes without giving the appropriate signals.
Drive Slowly In Bad Weather
If the weather turns out to be bad on your moving day, remember that the road visibility is probably going to be extremely poor. If it is raining or snowing, the roads also might be very slippery. As a result of this, driving the truck at a fast speed would be a complete no-no. Drive the truck at a slower speed and maintain a larger gap between your truck and the other vehicles on the road.
Don’t Drive For Long Stretches
Driving is a tedious task and the driver will naturally get tired and drowsy after driving for long stretches. If you’re going for a long distance move, it’s extremely crucial that you take breaks every now and then, get off the truck, and stretch your body for a few minutes. If the trip will take you more than 12 hours, it would probably be a good idea to not embark on this trip alone.
Switch drivers every 6-7 hours to avoid fatigue. If you feel drowsy while driving, find a parking spot for your truck, rest for a while, and then continue driving. Similarly, remember that it is illegal to drive (be it a truck or your car) if you’re drunk or under the influence of intoxicants.
Be Very Careful While Parking
If you think parking your car in a parking spot is difficult, then parking a moving truck is going to be a challenging task for you. Owing to its size and weight, parking a moving truck will require your utmost concentration and caution. In order to avoid getting anxious, try to avoid backing up altogether and search for drive-through parking lots. If you can’t find one, find someone to stand behind the truck and guide you while you back up and park.
Don’t forget to use the side rear-view mirrors to gauge what’s happening behind the truck while parking. Once you are parked into the spot, engage the emergency brakes without fail. If you’re parked on an uphill slope, turn your tires away from the curb. Similarly, when you are parked on a downhill slope, make sure that your tires are turned towards the curb. For easy parking, always use parking lots or other spots that are well-lit.
See also: How to Safely Unload a Moving Truck
There you go! Those were some of the most important things that you need to keep in mind before and while you drive a rental moving truck. Although you might feel a little bit anxious, let us assure you that there is nothing to be scared of if you’re a cautious driver. Sure, driving a moving truck might feel a little bit weird at the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty soon once you start driving. Now that you’ve read through the article, we hope that you’re better prepared for your next DIY rental truck move.
Also Read: How to Pack a Moving Truck
Can You Drive Your Own Moving Truck?
Fortunately, rental moving trucks are not considered commercial vehicles by the law which means you don’t need to possess any special license to drive a rental moving truck. To sum up, yes, you can drive your rental moving truck as long as you have a valid driver’s license.
How Does Renting A Moving Truck Work?
The process of renting a moving truck is pretty simple. You first choose the truck (either online or by visiting the location) that would be able to carry all your belongings. If it’s a short-distance move, you’ll have to pay according to the mileage and the number of days you keep the truck with you. If it’s a long distance move, the truck rental companies offer you an estimate that includes a fixed number of miles and rental days.
Can I Rent A Moving Truck With A Suspended License?
No, you cannot rent a car or a moving truck legally if your driver’s license happens to be suspended.