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Driving a Uhaul with a trailer

Hello! I am a 26 year old woman I am driving a 14’ foot Uhaul from NY to florida with my best girlfriend (neither of us have much experience with cars) while trailering my jetta behind (on a trailer where all four car tires are off the ground). I have never driven a truck of this size ( I have driven an F150 many times), and I have never trailered anything before. People are telling I am crazy, is this an impossible plan? I of course will go slow and be very careful… is this doable or more of a job for an experienced driver??

Just never back up. The trickiest thing is backing up. If you get stuck in that situation find someone who can back it up for you.

Just take it slow and easy. The U-Haul trucks are easy to drive, but don’t expect them to drive like your car…ESPECIALLY while towing. Give yourself plenty of room. If you pass someone…remember that you have a car behind you.

I don’t think you’ll have trouble with the truck itself. If it’s diesel, make sure you don’t go to the wrong pump. These trucks aren’t always that well maintained and they don’t stop quickly even when they are, so definitely don’t tailgate. Ask them to double-check the tire pressures in front of you when you pick it up. Running that far on underinflated tires would be unsafe and would add to your fuel cost.

As for the trailer, do you know the technique for turning while backing up? If not, you’ll need to read up on that and practice in an empty parking lot. Your friend should get out and help to direct you. You probably want to avoid situations where you have to back up in the first place.

These trucks sometimes leak in heavy rain. You might want to cover certain items with plastic dropcloths or keep them off the floor.

If you happen to be coming from central New York, I’d suggest looping around Washington on I-81, I-66, and US 17. The Beltway wouldn’t be fun. Definitely take the bypasses around Richmond and Jacksonville.

If you don’t have a GPS system with points of interest, consider buying the book “I-95 Exit Information Guide” at

As for gas prices, South Carolina will be the cheapest, so fill up there if you can. Also, Georgia will probably be a little cheaper than Florida if my past experience holds.

It’ll be a bit of an adventure, but you’ll have fun.

you should be fine ! stop and go traffic can be a problem sometimes. you definately have to remember that the truck and trailer are big,long and heavy. That means be very aware of your surrondings. Stopping can catch you off guard,too It willtake you longer to stop than it would in your jetta, so give yourself plenty of space and time. Once you hit the hiway you should be fine just dont make any sudden evasive moves and you will be fine Good luck and be safe!!!

Mike’s advice is good. I would add that it would be best if you could practice driving a truck with trailer. You need to remember that your side mirrors must be consulted at all times, and particularly when changing lanes. Rear clearance for truck and trailer is required. Drive 55 for good control; increase your speed gradually as you gain experience on the road, or not at all. Ny to Fla is all interstate, so you have some room for some small driving errors. Consider arranging your trip thru DC at 3-6 am or after 7 pm.

Stop at truck stops and places with large parking lots, even if prices are more expensive. Keep driving forward as much as you can.

Everyone who drives a big truck and trailer rig has to have a first time. A long, mostly Interstate highway trip is going to be easier than around town. Think ahead when you are driving. Avoid situations where you would have to back up. Avoid situations that might require sudden stopping or swerving. Don’t pass anyone if you don’t really have to, and if you do have to remember the extra length of the trailer back there. You may not always see it in your mirrors.

Let me reiterate: THINK AHEAD

You’ll be fine.

Just use common sense and you’ll be fine. What you will discover is that you will not even notice that trailer and car is there. It’s a piece of cake.

Obey the speed limit, use care in traffic because a heavy load requires more stopping distance, and the most important of all; just don’t cut corners. You will need to swing out a bit.

I went with my son a few years ago and helped him when he moved up to Colorado. His wife drove one car and we went in a 24 foot U-Haul with an attached trailer with car on it and had no problems even with one that size.
As mentioned, backing up can be a pain for the inexperienced.

What I would suggest is that when you arrive in your general area that you stop in a parking lot and unload the car. Take the trailer, drop it off at the U-Haul office, and then drive the truck to the destination for unloading. Makes it much simpler by eliminating that trailer as quickly as possible.
After a 100 miles behind the wheel it will all become second nature. Enjoy your trip.

Practice, practice, practice, as they say. Find a big lot like a WalMart and put the truck through it’s paces and get the feel of it. when in an unfamiliar situation with the truck and trailer you will habitually function as you would with your car and you need to retrain your subconsious actions for the truck. In the parking lot ; notice how the trailer follows the turning arc much more to the inside than you’re used to . mentally or with cones or cardboard boxes, mark a place in the lot a get used to how close/far away you need to be to corner safely. , get to know your mirrors - just how far back is the end of the trailer. , practice backing even though you can prabably make the trip by planning you stops so as not to need to back up. , SLOW & EASY when driving this rig. don’t try to keep up with hiway traffic. just stay over to the right lane ( hwy ) and plan your lane way ahead in the city so you can ease over a lane at a time as traffic permits. If they hook up the trailer for you, watch and notice how things are done or ask them to let you do it from the start and guide you. Make certain all lights are functioning correctly, truck and trailer, turn signals are going to be your best friend in traffic. At hiway speed DON’T SWERVE like you might in your car. If it’s a dog in the road…oh well, and if it’s an item or pot hole drive with your eyes well ahead to ease around it. If you do need to swerve over to miss something, DON’T swerve back…ease back into your lane. Have Uhaul’s emergrncy number on speed dial along with all of your other contacts. . . . . .SLOW & EASY and practice…and you can do this. :))

I would like for you to gain some experience driving the truck without the trailer connected,when it feels right add the trailer.

Great advice from all. Now, can you get the truck from Uhaul early enough to give this advised practice time ? You might also ask the Uhaul place if they have someone to assist in training. When in Florida, if you’re around the Port Charlotte area, My daughter is there and might be of assistance. But give me another post on that.

If the truck is going to be loaded up pretty heavily, be aware that traveling down steep long hills will be a new experience for you. Down shift at the top of the hill before speed becomes an issue. If you let yourself get up over 75mph on the way down a long hill it can be a little scary trying to slow down without destroying your brakes.

THe post about down hill at speed brings up a big safety issue I had’nt mentioned. TRAILER SWAY is an accident causer especially for a novice and pretty hard to describe in writing how to overcome sway. First off make sure the trailer is balanced - weight forward. The position of the car on the trailer can be adjusted to get about 60% weight forward. Uhaul can help load it but watch and learn as they do. on a long trip like this there might come a time that you need your car off and back onto the trailer. If the trailer does begin to sway back and forth dot’t just tromp on the brake, it accentuates the sway ( completely against intuition ). Depending on speed, degree of sway , and other traffic conditions, a slight speed up and slightly steering into the direction of sway will convince the trailer to follow you and then slow down easily. There are lots of other perameters to this that make it hard to describe. But, on a long down hill…SLOW & EASY.

Now, print out all these posts, check off each piece of advice as you practice and…HAPPY TRAILS :slight_smile:

Ken is EXACTLY right when he talks about ensuring you have the trailer loaded with 60% of the load weight forward.

Trailer sway is otherwise referred to as ‘fish-tailing’ and if not brought to a safe stop and the load weight corrected, can (and usually does) result in the driver finding him or herself out in the rhubarb. Hopefully NOT on its side.

One other detail: under NO circumstance should the driver ‘rubberneck’ while moving this vehicle.
Should something happen during those seconds, you will NOT have a chance to correct.

Judging from Kens’ post I’d say he has some experience driving such combinations.

My post is based on 27 years of driving everything from a one ton truck with a welder behind (You want to talk about a PITA backin’ one of those up) to a tractor with a 45 ft box trailer (The easiest to back up IMHO).

I want to remind you to check the straps/chains holding the car.Probably best to have a pro chain the car down.If not a pro someone who knows what he is doing,and watch the technique.

I wouldn’t go over 55mph with that thing under any circumstance. U-Haul trucks are the most ill-maintained oldest trucks on the road. Last time I used them (And I do mean last) I was given a 15-year old truck with 200,000 miles on it no working emergency brake and questionable steering. Thank god I just needed to go 5 miles with it to move my friends things.

Here’s some fun reading for everyone:,0,77395.special

Go for it! Don’t turn off the road unless you you can see beforehand how you will get back on! A spotter in the cab with you will help. Take lots of breaks. Often malls and shopping centers are the best placed to stop. Trucks have to get into them and back out so there is usually an easy way. If you are staying at motels, call ahead and ask if there is a place you can park without backing up. If there is any hesitation on the other end, make another call.

I think you are making the right choice in staying away from tow dollies. I think trailers are much better having towed with both.

Another possibility: skip the trailer and one of you drive the car separately (in a convoy). Get your friend listed as a driver for the truck and you can swap off every few hundred miles. The only drawback is that you can’t chat while driving (but that may be a good thing if you’re both inexperienced); there will be plenty of time at rest stops and at night to chew the fat. Just work out some kind of light signals and whoever’s in front keep an eye on your friend in back. Whoever is in back can be reminded to keep adequate distance between the two of you for safety (especially if the car’s in front) and keep morons from tailgating you.

Watch out for carports. The tops of U-Haul trucks hit them all the time. Whenever you stop, check the hitch hookup. We’re all crazy to some degree. You can be too. You have to get there somehow.

I drove a Ryder truck from northern VT to Wash. DC and almost drove the route the way I did with a car… some roads are posted NO TRUCKS eg. the garden state parkway. As others have said plan trip. My biggest fear with the manual transmission was rolling backwards when trying to start on a hill…