To U-Haul, or not to U-Haul?
August 16, 2006 1:17 PM   Subscribe

In about a year, I'll be moving from Waco, TX to Los Angeles. Is U-Haul my cheapest option?

I'll probably need at least a 17-foot truck, maybe even a 24 footer.
posted by JPowers to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Compare it with Penske and Budget, too. I recently moved 2000 miles in a 17 footer and Penske was cheaper than U-haul.
posted by mattbucher at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2006

get quotes from ryder and hertz penske as well, which are the chief competitors in that market.

personally, I'd go with ABF U-Pack though and save yourself the headache of driving the bigass truck. U-Pack is a ton cheaper than a full moving service, but will be spendier than renting a truck.

Driving a 17-foot truck SUCKS. Enjoy the drive in a regular car or better yet take the train.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2006

U-haul is notoriously bad. If you do rent a truck, rent from someone else.
posted by adamrice at 1:34 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Hertz offers a discount (10%?) to AAA members. I've heard that it's honored for Penske rental too, so that could help tip the scales.

I agree that driving the 17 footer sucks. But the 24 footer feels a lot more solid and is a surprisingly smooth ride even for a notice. I drove one of those suckers for 3500 miles, through a blizzard no less. No problems. Just make sure you're giving yourself lots of padding on the gas budget for any rental. At either size, they're terrible gas hogs.

When you pickup the truck, make sure you force them to document every flaw, ding, and other bullshit 'damage'. For a vehicle of that size, getting charged for something you didn't do will put a big hurt in your wallet.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2006

notice novice
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2006

We drove from Boston to Atlanta recently in a Penske. The truck was brand new. Compared to some of the junk box UHauls I've rented before I was very very happy with Penske. By searching online I was also able to find a discount by making my reservation through a non Penske site.
posted by Constant Reader at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2006

Uhaul has terrible customer service - do a google search on Uhaul complaints. I would never rent a uhaul.
posted by Melsky at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2006

I recently rented a truck for a ~400 mile move, and went with Budget over U-Haul. The price was almost the same, but Budget let me choose a pick-up time and location, whereas U-Haul said they would call me 48-24 hours in advance of my pickup time and let me know where I could get the truck.

I have heard horror stories about this policy of U-haul (maybe here?), and decided it wasn't worth the potential hassle.
posted by blind.wombat at 1:52 PM on August 16, 2006

A second vote here for AGF U-Pack. I used them three years ago for my move from Seattle to Orlando, and again a year later for my wife (who at the time was still my fiancee) for the same move. Both times went flawlessly, and it was substantially less expensive than renting a truck. Throw in the fact that you don't have to *drive* the truck, and it's a deal you can't beat.
posted by Lokheed at 2:01 PM on August 16, 2006

Er, that's ABF U-Pack. Dang fat fingers.
posted by Lokheed at 2:10 PM on August 16, 2006

Anecdotal story - the last uhaul I rented had a huge crack in the rusty frame, right under where the cab and the box were joined together. I showed them, but they said it was the only truck available. Once I was done with the truck, and I was taking it back, I drove it really hard over a couple speed bumps and the parking lot lip in hopes of breaking it in half. Alas, she held up.

Hope that's not the one you rent...

With regard to real advice, I'd second the ABF Upack service. It's great, and it comes out cheaper once you figure in the gaserline, and it's not scary like driving a massive, poorly-maintained truck. However, I'd stick with a well known brand name, like ABF - I've heard horror stories about small companies holding your stuff hostage over additional costs, etc.

And if you're already thinking about this a year in advance, I get the feeling you'll find a good deal!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:12 PM on August 16, 2006

U-haul sucks.

I've rent U-Haul twice (once for 1100 miles and once for in town move) and both times the truck was a pile of crap. I've also used Penske trucks (about 1400 miles) and they were fine.

But with gas prices and other costs I'd seriously consider a moving firm. Doing it yourself isn't much cheaper anymore.
posted by schwa at 2:21 PM on August 16, 2006

Agreed: U-Haul might be cheap, but their equipment is poorly maintained, and god forbid you ever break down in the middle of nowhere. You will not get help, and they'll attempt to charge you for the extra time taken. We've had much better luck with Penske, though the rates were slightly higher.
posted by moira at 2:32 PM on August 16, 2006

Echo everyone else here. Do not use U_Haul. Their trucks are crap and their customer service is poor.

I have used both Penske and Budget. I was pleased with both. Drove a Budget truck ( the largest size ) with a trailer attached carrying a car 1500 miles and it was easy to drive.

If you end up having to pay a little more for Budget or Penske it will be worth your while. Reducing the chance of alot of frustration and anger. Good Luck.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 3:01 PM on August 16, 2006

I've never used them but in researching my recent move I've read a lot of endorsements of Penske and a lot of nightmares with U-Haul.

Another place you might want to check out for options is the message board at MovingScam. There are a lot of good reviews and advice on whom to steer clear.
posted by any major dude at 3:10 PM on August 16, 2006

Another vote for Penske. Their locations aren't as plentiful as U-haul, but they are cheaper and more reliable. I made a move from TN to DE wiht Penske, and no problems.
posted by kimdog at 3:20 PM on August 16, 2006

Agh. Avoid U-Haul. Not only did they delay my move a few years ago by several days because of the aforementioned reservation thing (the word seriously seems to mean nothing to them), my father who was driving the truck said he was fearful for his life several times because the brakes didn't seem to work half the time. U-Haul may be cheap, but it's because they cut corners like crazy on maintenance. My next move, dad insisted on "anything but U-Haul", so we went with Penske and couldn't have been happier.
posted by wanderingmind at 3:39 PM on August 16, 2006

Uhaul has terrible customer service

I'll have you know I once worked in customer service at U-Haul. And I agree.
posted by scottreynen at 3:53 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I made the mistake of using U-Haul during my last move (~ 6 months ago, about 100 miles), and I will never make that mistake again. Nothing went right.
  • I couldn't get through to customer service. Ever. I would be put on hold for 15 minutes, only to have someone come on long enough to say that they were too busy to help me, then hang up. This happened to me three separate times. I never ended up getting through to customer service.
  • The day before I was supposed to pick up my truck, they called to inform me that they didn't have one for that day (though I reserved it 10 weeks in advance), and that I would have to pick up a truck somewhere else on the present day to get a truck at all. This was after they put me on hold (remember, they called me) for 30 minutes until I had to hang up and call them back (luckily they had given me a different number to call than the standard customer service number, or I would have been out of luck; see above). I had to race down to some other location, convincing the local rep to please stay around long enough for me to pick up the truck, as his location was supposed to be closing about the time the customer reps referred me there.
  • I had to pay for the extra day of having the truck, even though they said I wouldn't have to. I also got charged some ridiculous amount (relative to the supposed cost of the rental) for dropping the truck off at a nearby location, since my specified dropoff location had no after-hours drop-off facilities, with no backup option. I couldn't fight these charges, because I could not contact customer service to even initate the complaint (see above).
The list goes on, but I find that just thinking about it starts to make me unspeakably angry again. I would strenuously recommend against renting from U-Haul. No money saved will be worth the almost certain punishment you will go through to do so.
posted by Brak at 5:30 PM on August 16, 2006

The engine on my U-Haul truck actually caught on fire. Just sent up a flame on the highway. CRAZY.
posted by goofyfoot at 5:36 PM on August 16, 2006

I dug out this blog entry I rem reading a while ago:

What's interesting is the replies that might be from U-Haul employees:

Friends rented from U-Haul last summer. They ended up with a truck smaller than they requested. Found out if the truck was back later than 4pm they would be charged $150. We got the truck there at 3.50pm and waited a whole friggin' hour before they could review the contract and check the truck for damage.

The girlfriend rented from budget once (got a van) and they were much better.
posted by zaphod at 8:41 PM on August 16, 2006

A fourth/fifth/whatever for ABF U-Pack. Really can't be beat for the price, and the move (DC -> Austin) went very smoothly.
posted by laz-e-boy at 9:37 PM on August 16, 2006

i rented a 17-foot u-haul van today for a cross-town move of a dining set, because of the $19 per day initial cost, but after milage fees + top off the gas, the total cost came to $72. i should have let the furniture company deliver for a $100, and save 2 hours
posted by growabrain at 7:36 PM on August 17, 2006

I was going to post my U-Haul experience, but it's almost exactly the same as Brak's. I would rather carry the entire contents of my house on my back, uphill, in the snow, across the country, than deal with U-Haul again. They will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2006

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