U-Haul Truck Rentals Suck But They Are The Cheapest Around

Published 4/8/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

A quick visit to a few internet forums and online review sites and it's evident that there is a common shared consensus when it comes to truck rental experiences from the U-Haul moving company - they're all negative. You're be hard pressed to find a company with more pissed off customers that enjoy griping about the company than U-Haul (except maybe Comcast). It's rather hard to come to the defense of a company that has such a consistent history of delivering rickety equipment and bad customer service. Their cranky trucks are woefully under-maintained, driven well into old age, and their rental reservation policies are terribly unreliable. Even the media has targeted the company, accusing it of running an aging fleet of extremely high mileage and ill maintained trucks.

There's only a few positive U-Haul attributes I can point to. Their moving truck rental fees and prices are definitely one of the cheapest around, if not the most inexpensive choice. Also, you don't need to worry about being extra gentle or careful when using their vehicles. The dilapidated and run down condition of their trucks makes it easy for a beginner truck driver to break them in. You don't have to worry about scratching up the vehicle's paint or putting a stray dent in the fender. Even if you were to knock off a rear tail light by accident, who would notice? I'm joking of course - however, every U-Haul truck I've ever driven has always been covered with widespread dents and scratches, and equipped with barely working headlights and questionable dashboard electronics.

My U-Haul Do-It-Yourself Rental and Truck Driving Experiences

While I've never actually ended up upside down or in a traffic accident while driving a U-Haul truck, I've had several close calls and near missed due to faulty steering controls. Despite the mechanical troubles, what got me started with U-Haul originally was simply - affordability. Since college, I've moved frequently - more than six times. As a cash strapped student, I didn't have much money to spend on moving so I had to do it frugally - thus most of my moving operations have been do-it-yourself jobs involving a beat up U-Haul and a small team of cheap labor buddies.

While I had other truck rental options such as Penske or Budget at my disposal, it's hard to deny U-Haul's lower prices. For most people, U-Haul is the only truck renting game in town as the company seems to have franchised locations everywhere. They also don't seem particularly picky about maintaining uniform quality control or appearance among its franchisees. I've rented from U-Haul locations that looked more like abandoned gas stations or junkyard lots than a well oiled business establishment. They say you can't tell a book by its cover - but with U-Haul you can. The appearance of their franchised stores and uncaring staff speak volumes.

The first time I ever made a reservation for a U-Haul truck, I showed up with my reservation paper in hand only to discover that the U-Haul franchisee no longer had my particular truck size on reserve. All they had left was a vehicle one size larger than I had requested. What was the point of making a reservation if they had no intention of honoring it I demanded? They offered to give me the larger rental truck as consolation. Rather than fight it out, I took it. For many, this might have been a great bonus, except in my case, I purposely ordered a smaller U-Haul size model because I did not have that much stuff to move. Ultimately, most of the extra space went to waste and I ended up paying more money for gas. U-Haul trucks are terrible gas guzzlers - the bigger they are, the more they consume. I literally could see the oil gauge creep slowly towards empty whenever I drove.

However, my most harrowing U-Haul renting experience happened during my busy weekend move from Washington D.C. to Baltimore for graduate school. The U-Haul truck I received was an ancient and disgusting mess. Half eaten potato chip packets, along with empty soda and water bottles littered the floor. The seats were dotted with cigarette burns and covered with mysterious grease stains. Not only that, the exterior shell of the vehicle was dented and scratched like it had been through an Iraqi war convoy. The radio and air condition were completely busted, and the side mirrors wobbled precariously and uncontrollably. The vehicle was simply a breakdown or blown tire waiting to happen. The worst part didn't hit until I pulled the clanking U-Haul contraption off the lot. Immediately, I realized the power steering was shot. Without power steering I had to manually use both arms and hands to forcibly guide the steering wheel towards where I wanted to go. It was like trying to steer a bumper car or a go kart - not an easy task. Navigating the narrow and tight turns of local downtown streets was next to impossible but somehow I managed to bring the vehicle there and back in one piece, but not without a lot of sweat. I complained angrily to the manager afterwards but got nothing back except for a simple - "yeah we'll have to look into it and fix that."

The Only Reason Why I've Stuck With U-Haul - They're Cheap

The greatest and perhaps the saddest reason why I've stuck with U-Haul over the years despite my experiences is because they help me save a lot of money on moving costs. I've compared their prices to that offered by their competitors such as Penske, Budget, Ryder, and Hertz, but U-Haul is still the more affordable choice. In the world of do-it-yourself truck rentals, U-haul is still the K-Mart choice. Even though the company sucks, if you want the cheapest of the cheap and don't mind toughing it out, then U-Haul is your obvious death trap, I mean - low priced winner. Now that I'm working and no longer a student though, I can thankfully afford to go elsewhere.

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13 Responses to “U-Haul Truck Rentals Suck But They Are The Cheapest Around” 

  1. Mrs. Micah says:

    We used U-Haul to get down here. It wasn't too bad. But nothing to write home about. Someday when we're rich we'll use movers.

  2. penske says:

    Rent Penske, you would be shocked to see there is not that much of a difference. And the small amount there is you will save in gas alone. The trucks are newer, clean and the employees actually care. If it does not bother you to put your belongings in a death trap then you should not even move them.

    You are putting yourself, everyone on the road and all of your items at risk.

  3. grn_i_grl says:

    Uhaul is horrible. We were moving from St. Paul, MN and had reserved a truck. We were told to call back 24 hours before we were to pick it up, so I did and was told the nearest truck available to us was in Brainerd, MN which was like 150+ miles from our house. When I asked what the point of reserving a truck was I was told I am just reserving a truck not the pickup location.

  4. Lorraine says:

    We used U-haul to make our move in MA and the customer service was great.
    We rented two 26 foot trucks to move our house to another house in MA. We
    had no problems and the trucks ran fine. It was the cheapest way out and I'd
    do it again. I noticed the ones complaining took the cheap route, if they want
    better.....pay for it! I can't believe people would slam them about their trucks
    being dented- Who dented them! The one's who Rented them.....LOL Let's have
    some common sense here.

  5. Luke says:

    I have to call BS on this... I am a Budget Truck Rental dealer. We are often if not always cheaper on both locals and one ways than UHell.

    People perceive us to be more because the equipment is nicer but its really not the case. I can always beat a UHell deal if I want to.

    ALWAYS check around and compare prices when you rent. Never assume one is cheaper than the other.

  6. mian says:

    i want to move with my family from 3161-eglinton ave east to edmonton with luggage.so pl. give me the estimate

  7. Raymond says:

    Mian,

    I'm not a UHaul Truck Rental Service. You might want to call UHaul directly or visit their website for a moving van price quote. And another thing...all of my posts are directly mostly at Americans. I'm not sure if UHaul offers truck rental services are available in Canada.

  8. Donna D. says:

    Well, I have to say I had a bad experience with the online registration. But the local dealer worked with me to make things right. But, will not know for sure until I get to Texas, leaving this weekend from Connecticut. Do not trust the online registration, they reel you in and then once you get to the location, it seems as though your basically stuck, because you have a deadline already. But, like I said, the local dealer worked on making things right, so we shall see! The truck did not have any dents either, LOL!

  9. Raymond says:

    My feeling is that UHaul centers seem to vary widely in quality from location to location. There doesn't seem to be any real uniformity among the various Uhaul truck rental facilities the way you'd except franchises like McDonalds for example, to be.

    I've seen a few nicer places...but on the whole, most of the places I've come across are decrepit mom and pop run operations with fleets of dented out wrecks, or ancient looking gas stations doubling as a Uhaul truck renting lot. But I guess in life, you get what you pay for. Uhaul trucks are definitely cheap, but they are like that due to their complete lack of frills or conveniences.

    Donna, I hope you make it to Texas in one piece. Let us know if you get a flat or if your engine suddenly cuts out..heh

  10. Dennis M says:

    Hmmm I wonder Raymond why all the yanking to the American's ? When you know nothing about Canada____________________________all of my posts are directly mostly at Americans. I'm not sure if UHaul offers truck rental services are available in Canada. Are you blonde or just "dumb" !

  11. Zac says:

    We were going to rent U-haul, but we were told that the price you see is only for a 5 hour rental. Why pay $30 for 5 hours when you can pay $80 at Penske for a bigger truck, better gas milage and get it for 24 hours.

  12. budgettruckrentals says:

    ARTICULATED mini loaders use articulated steering which doesn't damage tyres, reducing maintenance cost and downtime. The whole front end of the loader pivots to turn the mini loader in the direction required. Articulated steering isn't hard on tyres, the ground, the operator (particularly if he is sitting on the rear of the mini loader - this is critical to the right choice in buying a mini loader, that the operator sits on the rear of the mini loader, every major manufacturer now has they operator sitting on the rear chassis of the mini loader) or on the mini loader. Skidsteers on the other hand must generate a lot of pressure in the other wheels to force the whole machine to skid and turn around on the spot.

  13. Vasyl says:

    But someone came up with it:) and very well

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