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Chapter 12:

Renting a Truck

For those of you who choose to hit the road, renting and driving a truck or moving van could be as challenging as finding a good moving company. Read the following tips on how to deal with it the best way:

1.     Choosing a truck

2.     The price of renting a truck

3.     Requirements

4.     Other issues

5.     Driving tips

Choosing a truck  

Renting a truck and doing everything yourself is usually a cheaper alternative to hiring a full service moving company. For that reason many people choose it for their moving needs. However, when renting a truck it is not always easy to make the right choice.

Timing. During the peak season such as the summer months, or during the weekends, trucks lease out quickly. Make sure to book a truck at least one month before your planned move.

On the day of the move arrive at the rental truck company early to avoid delays. It can get pretty busy and you wouldn't want to loose time waiting in line.

Get quotes. Make sure to get several quotes from different truck renting companies. To get the right quote you will need to know the size of a truck that will be sufficient for your move. Quotes are discussed in the following topic.

Contract and insurance. Make sure you understand your rental agreement. You can ask the rental representative to explain all the details. Check the insurance policy, and purchase it. Note: rented trucks usually are not covered by driver's credit card or his/her own auto insurance policy.

Test your truck. Upon completion of all the paperwork, make sure to test drive the truck for 30-40 minutes. When testing the truck, pay attention to:

Storage. In case you need to store your items, check with the truck rental companies if they offer free storage. Note: Not all truck rental companies, even if they are under the same company name, have storage facilities. Be sure that you are provided with a phone number and address of the truck rental company where you will be leaving the truck and storing your goods.

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The price of renting a truck  

The price of renting a truck varies from company to company and from day to day within the same company because it is based on availability and demand of trucks. Therefore, rental fees can change depending on the days of the week, the times of the month and the time of the year. It is usually more expensive to rent on weekends, at the end of the month and during warmer months.

Trucks can be rented for do-it-yourself moving for local, in-town moves where the truck is picked up and returned to the same facility, and one-way moves, where it is picked up from one location and dropped off at another.

Local rentals. Locally, some companies rent by the day for a flat rate per size of truck. Other companies rent by a daily rate and a per-mile rate. Again, this can vary depending on availability and demand so it is advised to make a reservation and lock in a price.

One way long distance rentals. One way rentals are also based on availability on trucks where the consumer is picking it up and the demand where they will be dropping it off, so prices can vary a lot. The number of days and miles the truck is rented are established by the destination, with extra days and miles charged.

Deposit. A deposit is required before renting a truck. Some companies insist upon a credit card deposit, others will accept a cash deposit.

Penalties. To avoid penalties, clean out the truck and make sure the tank is refueled when you have reached your destination.

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Driver's License. The requirements for renting a truck vary by company, but all renters must have valid drivers' licenses. If the renter is handicapped, they must bring proof that the person who will be driving is licensed.

Driver's Age. Some truck rental companies require the driver be 18 years old, 21 years old or 25 years old.

Personal responsibility. The person who rents the truck is responsible for the truck in case of an accident or theft, even if someone else is driving the truck. Some companies allow more than one person to be covered if arranged in advance and/or for extra fees.

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Other issues  

Insurance. Most auto insurance or credit card policies that cover regular rental cars won't cover moving vans so it can be wise to purchase special coverage from the truck rental company.

Moving supplies. A hand truck or a dolly will save your back from the stress of lifting heavy objects. It will also speed up your moving process by allowing you to carry more on each trip to or from the truck. Furniture pads will save your furniture from the scratches and dings moving can produce.

Rental truck companies also rent and sell additional moving supplies. They rent hand trucks, dollies and moving pads, and sell packing materials, boxes, tape, rope, etc. They also rent towing packages to tow a vehicle behind the truck.

Car towing. Towing your car can reduce stress because both of you can ride together in the comfort of your truck. Two car-towing systems are also available, safe and simple to use. A car carrier carries your entire car on a trailer that attaches to the rear of your truck. This is recommended for four-wheel drive and all-wheel vehicles. A tow dolly is recommended for front-wheel drive vehicles; it lifts the front wheels off the pavement and pulls it behind your truck.

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Driving tips  

If you have never driven a truck before, consult the following tips to have a safe drive to your destination. The most important thing to remember is that a truck needs more space and time to react than your personal vehicle does.

Get To Know Your Truck: Familiarize yourself with the truck before driving it. Adjust the seat and mirrors. Know the location of all controls and switches, including lights, turn signals, windshield wipers and the horn. Then, go for a test drive. You might want to start in an empty parking lot to get a feel for how the truck handles.

Obey All Traffic Laws: Use your turn signals, control your speed, use headlights, pass with care and buckle your seatbelt.

Avoid Parkways: Trucks are not allowed to drive on parkways, so make sure you plan your route accordingly. The fines for driving a truck on a parkway are huge, and there is a good chance that you will get stuck under some low bridge.

Speed: Posted speeds for trucks is slower than for cars, so it may be best to drive in the right lane with slower moving traffic.

Turns: You will need to make wider turns.

Stops: Trucks need more time to stop than cars. Brake early and don't tailgate.

Lane Changes: Make sure your rear and side view mirrors are properly adjusted, allow enough distance for safe lane changes.

Clearance and Low Bridges: Know how tall your truck is and be alert to bridges, underpasses and canopies at gas stations, hotels and banks. Watch out for low bridges and avoid them.

Backing Up: Don't attempt to back up if you are carrying a car hitch, it may jackknife. Find ample space to turn around if you need to back track in the city, such as a big parking lot. When necessary, have someone outside the truck to guide you.

Refreshments: Forget about fast food drive-thrus. Park the truck by a curb and go inside to get your burger and fries.

Hotels: If you're planning to stop for the night, call hotels ahead of time and ask if they have truck or RV parking.

Gas: Gas up when the fuel gage registers half full. Remember, not all gas stations sell diesel fuel, which most of the trucks require. You wouldn't want to get stuck in the middle of the desert!

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