Things to Know About Driving a U-Haul Truck

Jul 10, 2017

U-Haul truck on the road.

If you have never driven a moving truck, you might feel intimidated by the idea. It’s easier than you may think. Like anything else on moving day, you’ll do fine as long as you plan and research. Here are some things to know about driving a U-Haul truck.


Customer using Truck Share 24/7

After deciding which moving truck is right for you, you’ll want to get behind the wheel as fast as possible. Using Truck Share 24/7, a self-service program that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week! You can pick up the vehicle day or night, even when locations are closed, without speaking to a representative. Move on their own time and skip lines so you can get onto more important tasks. The best part? It’s all done right from your phone! Download the U-Haul app on your iPhone or Android to get more use out of this feature.

Click here to learn more about Truck Share 24/7.

Before Driving

Before driving a U-Haul truck, be sure everything is loaded correctly. The safest way to pack is by putting heavy items, such as appliances and large furniture, in front of the truck (closest to the cab). You’ll also want to adjust your mirrors and familiarize yourself with the vehicle controls, so you aren’t trying to figure them out while driving. Ensure you understand how to operate the transmission shift, parking brake, headlights, and windshield wipers. Lastly, remember to fasten your seatbelt!

Click here for a more detailed guide about how to load your moving truck!

On the Road

Many variables are involved when driving any vehicle, especially when traveling long distances. Take these driving and handling situations into consideration.

General Driving Tips

  • Slow down: U-Haul trucks are heavy vehicles, especially while they’re fully loaded. Meaning it will take you longer to stop than it would in a regular car or truck. So, be cautious and slow down early! Allow at least 4 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you need help calculating this, start counting when the car in front of you passes a fixed object. If the front of your vehicle reaches that object before the end of 4 seconds, you need to increase your distance. Kick that up to 5 seconds when driving in adverse weather, such as rain, fog, or snow.
  • Pass with caution: You will need more time and distance because the truck is longer than the average vehicle. Please be patient! Never attempt to pass another vehicle if it’s a close call. Also, don’t pass on hills or curves.
  • Be alert: Never drive if you feel tired. And don’t use distracting items, such as cell phones, while driving.
U-Haul truck turning.

Handling Terrain

Be cautious while driving a moving truck, especially on certain terrains like hills or sharp corners. Let’s go over some tips for handling each type.

  • Hills: Shift into a lower gear to prevent the truck from jerking due to the engine lugging when going uphill. This will improve your truck’s gas mileage and avoid engine overheating. BEFORE going downhill, slow down and shift the transmission into a lower gear, let off the gas pedal and allow the engine to help you control your speed. DO NOT RIDE BRAKES on a downgrade.
  • Road shoulders: If your truck begins to go off the paved roadway, don’t panic and don’t turn the wheel sharply or apply the brakes. Get your foot off the gas pedal, slow down below 25 miles per hour, then gradually return to the road. Watch for traffic and allow yourself some time to get back over.
  • Sharp corners: Do your best to avoid turning too sharp at corners, specifically in gas stations and parking lots. Because the truck is longer, its rear will track inside where you initially turned and may sideswipe a vehicle or object. To turn successfully, drive slightly past the corner before turning or turn wider than you would in a car.
  • Steep driveways: When driving on steep or angled incline transitions, the rear bumper may drag or get stuck, particularly after loading. The parking brake also may not hold on excessively steep slopes. Avoid driving or parking on steep inclines, park in an alternate location.


A disturbance is improper handling, oversteering or other deviation of the truck’s intended path. That can occur when one or more things happen, such as improper loading, steering inputs, excessive speed, crosswinds, passing vehicles, rough roads, tire blowout, trailer sway or whipping, etc.

If a disturbance occurs, do NOT:

  • Steer or brake — release your foot off the gas pedal to slow down.
  • Speed up


  • Remain calm
  • Hold the steering wheel in a straight-ahead position
  • Pull off the roadway and get all occupants out of the truck
  • Check that the cargo is secure and tires are properly inflated
  • Make sure tires are in good shape and all lug nuts are tight
U-Haul truck driving down road.

Driving Checklist

A lot happens during the moving day, so here is a quick checklist you can use at each stop to ensure safe travel.

Backing and Loading

  • Check behind the truck for pedestrians or obstructions
  • Secure load in the cargo area
  • Close and securely latch the cargo door

At Stops

  • Firmly set parking brake
  • Shift the transmission into park and turn the engine off
  • Check connections if towing a trailer
  • Check tire condition
  • Check that all lights are working
  • Remove keys and lock the truck

In conclusion, if you are cautious and mindful of these tips, driving a U-Haul truck will be easy!

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Editor’s Note: This blog was last updated in November 2017 and has been refreshed and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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