U-Haul Auto Transport Trailers have become a go-to option for short, medium, and long-distance moves. Upon first glance at a U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer, one might assume that the device can’t handle much weight.
While minimal in its design, U-Haul Auto Transport Trailers can tow up to 5,290 pounds of weight. To give some context on that weight figure, a 2019 Ford F-150 has a curb weight of 4,913 pounds.
People love the U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer due to its:
- Easy access loading ramp
- Security chains and tire straps
- Automatic brakes
- Tilt-out fenders for easy door access
Before you secure a U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer, it’s essential to understand the tow vehicle requirements.
What Are the U-Haul Tow Vehicle Requirements?
Tow Vehicle Requirements are set in place so you can protect your vehicle and yourself during transport. There is a list of prerequisites that need to be met before you can book transport.
The main list of tow vehicle requirements for using U-Haul Auto Transport Trailers includes:
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Lowering driving speed to 55 mph or below
- Shift weight to the front of trailers
- Making sure lighting and external mirrors are functioning.
- SUV’s needing a hardtop attachment
- Not exceeding the maximum hitch ball height of 25.”
- Minimum hitch ball weight of 25.”
- Towing system with a minimum weight-carrying rating of 5,000 pounds
Lastly, your tow vehicle needs to:
- Weigh at least 3,500 pounds
- Equal or exceed at least 80% of the combined trailer and vehicle weight
- Always have operational lighting that’s linked to the trailer
While everybody understands the importance of driving with a seatbelt and functional brake lights, technical terms such as “hitch ratings” may sprout confusion.
Here’s what you should know about a vehicle’s hitch system rating:
What Is a Hitch System Rating?
U-Haul defines a hitch system rating as the maximum weight you can tow with your configuration. Its lowest-rated component measures the strength of a hitch system.
It’s essential to compare the maximum tow weight ratings of your:
- Ball mount
- Hitch ball
As we touch on above, your hitch rating will be the lowest weight rating among these components.
When you identify the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can tow, the next step is to select the right kind of equipment. Tongue weight and gross trailer weight will help you figure out what type of equipment to choose.
Now that we’ve defined what a hitch system rating is, let’s quickly touch on hitch types and parts.
What Are the Different Hitch Types?
There are ten primary types of vehicle hitches. It’s vital to understand how each type of hitch performs so you can find the right fit for your tow setup. Aside from car transport, hitches are commonly used to move canoes, cargo, and bikes.
- Bolt-on trailer hitches directly attach to the tow vehicle as well as the trailer.
- Custom trailer hitches are highly recommended for a smooth towing experience as they’re tailor-suited for specific vehicles. The closest hitch type to custom trailer hitches is OEM (original manufacturer parts) produced by the people who manufactured your car.
- Fifth wheel hitches are class 5 trailer hitch that mounts within the plate of a pickup truck’s bed and a pin on the trailer.
- Fixed tongue hitches feature a tongue that can’t be removed.
- Gooseneck hitches are similar but different to fifth-wheel hitches in that they mount a ball in the bed of the pickup to create a coupler on the trailer.
- Pintle hitches tend to be used for heavier vehicles such as military, construction, or other industrial equipment, so chances are the average person won’t need to utilize this type of hitch.
The last three styles of hitches we will be covering include:
- Receiver style hitches
- Round tube hitches
- Weight carrying hitches
Receiver style hitches are hitches with a receptacle and tend to hold inserts such as bike racks.
Round tube hitches are the most aesthetically pleasing hitches as they contain a lower weight while still maintaining their strength.
Lastly, weight carrying hitches are used for smaller trucks that contain a max tow rating of 5,000 pounds. A square under a truck’s bumper or a ball on a truck’s bumper is a reliable indicator of a weight carrying hitch.
We’ve covered the necessary requirements and equipment needed to rent a U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer, and it all sounds great, but are there different options for transporting a vehicle?
What’s the Difference Between a Car Trailer and a Tow Dolly?
Tow Dolly’s serve as a cheaper alternative to car trailers but aren’t recommended for transporting vehicles long distances.
Dollies involve loading the vehicle’s front two wheels onto the device’s half-size trailer while the other wheels continue to stay on the ground.
Loading a car on a dolly is trickier than trailer loading. When you load a car onto a dolly, only two wheels of the vehicle are attached to the device.
With a trailer, all four are on board.
You’ll achieve a smoother driving experience with a trailer than dollies because trailers have brakes and the ability to operate in reverse.
We recommend going with a car trailer due to an easier loading and driving experience if your budget can accommodate this option.
We’ve paid compliments to car trailers to mitigate the experience of loading a car for transport. Now it’s time to explore into how you go about loading a vehicle on U-Haul Auto Transport Trailers.
How Do I Safely Load My Vehicle Onto a U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer?
Safely loading your vehicle onto a U-Haul Auto Transport Trailer includes lining up the transport and tow vehicle on an even surface, prepping the auto transport trailer, loading the car onto the carrier, then securing the vehicle before take-off.
Let’s breakdown these steps in more detail:
How Do I Line Up the Transport and Tow Vehicle?
First, make sure the parking brake is activated on your towing vehicle. After the parking brake is switched on, verify that the trailer’s coupler and safety chains are linked to the towing vehicle. You should by no means begin loading a car that is not 100% attached.
How Do I Prep the Auto Transport Device?
First, free the tire straps from the ratchets by pulling the ratchet handle upward before pulling the latch toward you. After you remove the latch, the straps will be released to lay them flat on the deck of the trailer. The next step is to lower the driver’s side fender by releasing both latches and rotating it down. Lastly, release the latches holding the ramps in place and extend the ramps out fully.
Now that you’ve prepped, it’s time to load.
How Do I Load the Vehicle Onto the Transport?
There are four steps involved in loading a vehicle onto the transport. Center the car, have someone guide the loading process to the side, drive slowly up the ramp, and activate the parking brake when the vehicle’s tire rests against the trailer’s first stops.
How Do I Secure My Loaded Vehicle?
You’re almost at the finish line! To secure your vehicle, align strap ratchets with the center of your tire and move the straps up over the front tires before moving the strap the ratchet spool’s slot. After at least six inches on the strap has passed through the spool, tighten up the ratchet, and apply the security chains to the frame.
Finish up by lifting and sliding the ramps into the auto carrier to engage the latches and re-raise the driver’s side fender before securing the latches.
If you’d like a visual example of how to load a vehicle onto an Auto Transport Trailer, U-Haul has a clear and quick tutorial video with positive public feedback:
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.