Renting a moving van is often the first reminder that the next few hours will be spent packing up heavy, breakable, priceless, dusty, and/or irreplaceable things. Many people who have to move long distances certainly appreciate the option of renting a van versus multiple trips with a pick-up truck or family car. There are many things to consider before choosing a van to rent, including its size, mechanical condition, and any extra moving aids provided by the rental company.
One of the first factors to consider when renting a moving van is the overall size of the anticipated load. A van that proves to be too small for the job can end up costing more in the long run, while one that's much too large can also hit renters in the pocketbook. Take a good look at the amount of items you'll need to move in one trip. Use a measuring tape for larger items such as furniture or appliances, and also measure the dimensions of the moving boxes you'll use for small items. This should give you some idea of how much cubic space you'll need in the van so that you can choose one that just exceeds your estimate.
Another consideration when renting a moving van is mechanical condition and fuel efficiency. Undercover investigations by journalists have revealed several problems with rental vehicle maintenance, so be sure to choose a reputable moving company or trusted rental agency. Visually inspect the engine compartment, tires, and brakes for any signs of obvious damage. Make sure the fluid levels have been maintained. Some moving vans run on diesel fuel, which may or may not provide a significant savings in fuel costs. For long trips, look for amenities such as air conditioning and cruise control.
Ask the rental agent about extra moving aids available to renters. Most of the major moving van companies provide hand trucks for hauling appliances and furniture, for example, and there should be at least an extension ramp at the rear of the van, if not a mechanical lifting device. Many rental agencies also include padding for use between heavy items and glass. There should also be lengths of rope or canvas strapping to secure the load. Some moving van rental agencies may also sell packing boxes for smaller items and heavy duty packing tape to secure them.
You should also consider any necessary financial deposits and legal driving requirements. Renting a moving van is much like renting any other vehicle, so expect to show proof of insurance or consider purchasing temporary coverage at the time of rental. Some family members may not be qualified to drive the moving van, so a driving schedule may have to be discussed. Also, ask the rental agent about penalties and late fees if the van is not returned by a specific time. Find out where the approved drop-off points close to your final destination are if you don't plan on driving the van back to your starting point.