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Moving Advice Needed - U-haul trailer or moving company?

 
 
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:28 pm
I need some advice from people who have done this before, I'm sure there are some among us.

I'm trying to decide between renting a u-haul trailer, and driving myself to New Mexico or hiring a moving company and having my stuff moved. I have a very limited budget for this. Here are the considerations:

U-Haul

I've driven buses and trucks before, but never anything with a trailer. My car is a '93 Mercury Cougar and will need some mechanical work (brakes and tune-up) done on it to make the trip regardless of whether or not I'm hauling a trailer. I'll be driving alone in winter from Sacramento to NM via the southern route to avoid as much snow as possible. I'll have to hire people on both ends of the move to help me load and unload the trailer.

I'm okay with all of it except for the driving with a trailer part. How difficult is it driving with a loaded trailer, in winter, over mountainous roads? I understand the different concept for backing up with a trailer and making wide turns. Will I be putting my life in danger by being inexperienced with trailers? I'm also a little nervous about the overnight security of a u-haul trailer in motel parking lots along the route. I also don't know if I'll need snow chains for my car and or the trailer.

Moving Company

I won't be taking very many belongings so it will only fill a very small portion of the moving van. It is a LOT more expensive. I won't need to hire people to help load and unload. I will still need to get my car repaired for the trip and I'll still have to drive the same precarious route in winter and pay for the same amount of gas. I won't have to purchase a trailer hitch and have it installed. I'll still have to park overnight in motel parking lots but won't have to worry about the trailer.




So the main differences are the cost of the u-haul trailer, hitch and hiring moving help vs. the cost of hiring a moving company and having everything done for me. From research I've done, my guestimate is that the u-haul trailer will be about half the cost of a moving company.

The deciding factor for me is what your experienced advice will be about the ability of a novice trailer hauler to safely drive a loaded trailer in winter weather conditions over moutain roads.

Also, should I buy some snow chains for my car regardless whether there's a trailer hitched to it? If I use a trailer, do I need chains for it as well? Are they provided by u-haul?
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:38 pm
@Butrflynet,
Listening.

I could massacre my moving company but I found their depredations rather late, since they delivered to storage. I am so sorry I didn't watch them and record all.
The whole hurry **** is a blow by.

The whole approval on delivery thing is weighted for the hurrying delivery guys.

To think I thanked them...
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:43 pm
@Butrflynet,
Haven't been through your whole post, Butrflynet, but the southern road I took (10) to avoid snow wasn't all so mountainous. I wouldn't do the trailer, but I'm older and less ballsy than I used to be.

Ok, ok, I'll be quiet and read.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:44 pm
@Butrflynet,
A '93 Mercury Cougar? 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder? I don't think I'd try it with the 4-cylinder, unless it's a very small trailer and the car is in immaculate running order. How are your tires?
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:47 pm
@patiodog,
It is a 6 cylinder and has less than 50,000 miles on it, I'm the original owner but don't drive it much.

I bought 4 new tires when I moved to Sacramento 6 years ago. In that time, I've put less than 5,000 miles on my car. So, there isn't much wear on the tires, the age of the rubber would probably be a greater concern.
MontereyJack
 
  2  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:47 pm
I'm not sure I'd trust a 93 Cougar to make the trip. Towing trailers pound a car to hell, particularly if it's not in great shape to begin with. I know some RVs can tow small cars with a special hitch (or a dolly of some sort for the car to ride on). Maybe a UHaul truck, rather than a trailer, could tow your car too, so you drive the truck rather than the car. You might check with them what a truck would cost.

Long distance movers often will put several different families' possessions together to fill up one of their semi trailers. I know that's how my mom's things got back to me when she died--as just part of a truckload. I don't know if they calculate it differently if they lump stuff together. A large company that does a lot of long-distance moving might work out better than a smaller one where you might be the only one going to wherever you're moving. Don't know, but it's worth a shot in asking.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:49 pm
I'm with patiodog, I think. Unless it's an 8 cylinder, and unless it really is a very small load, I'd worry, particularly in the mountains. Can you go around them to the south. Arizona's nice this time of year.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:51 pm
Oh, well, you probably won't hit Arizona if you're heading to NM. Can you go thru Texas? Boring as hell, it's just mile after mile of mile after mile, but flat.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:53 pm
@Butrflynet,
Butrflynet wrote:

I need some advice from people who have done this before, I'm sure there are some among us.

I'm trying to decide between renting a u-haul trailer, and driving myself to New Mexico or hiring a moving company and having my stuff moved. I have a very limited budget for this. Here are the considerations:

U-Haul

I've driven buses and trucks before, but never anything with a trailer. My car is a '93 Mercury Cougar and will need some mechanical work (brakes and tune-up) done on it to make the trip regardless of whether or not I'm hauling a trailer. I'll be driving alone in winter from Sacramento to NM via the southern route to avoid as much snow as possible. I'll have to hire people on both ends of the move to help me load and unload the trailer.

I'm okay with all of it except for the driving with a trailer part. How difficult is it driving with a loaded trailer, in winter, over mountainous roads? I understand the different concept for backing up with a trailer and making wide turns. Will I be putting my life in danger by being inexperienced with trailers? I'm also a little nervous about the overnight security of a u-haul trailer in motel parking lots along the route. I also don't know if I'll need snow chains for my car and or the trailer.

Moving Company

I won't be taking very many belongings so it will only fill a very small portion of the moving van. It is a LOT more expensive. I won't need to hire people to help load and unload. I will still need to get my car repaired for the trip and I'll still have to drive the same precarious route in winter and pay for the same amount of gas. I won't have to purchase a trailer hitch and have it installed. I'll still have to park overnight in motel parking lots but won't have to worry about the trailer.




So the main differences are the cost of the u-haul trailer, hitch and hiring moving help vs. the cost of hiring a moving company and having everything done for me. From research I've done, my guestimate is that the u-haul trailer will be about half the cost of a moving company.

The deciding factor for me is what your experienced advice will be about the ability of a novice trailer hauler to safely drive a loaded trailer in winter weather conditions over moutain roads.

Also, should I buy some snow chains for my car regardless whether there's a trailer hitched to it? If I use a trailer, do I need chains for it as well? Are they provided by u-haul?






My takes - no on snow chains if you do 10

Which precarious route are you talking about? I didn't find 10 precarious.
I didn't know my cell phone didn't work there, though until I tried to call - but that was an old california cell. Still, cell phones don't work in great spaces in New Mexico.

Me.. I'd say get someone to drive the goods, much as I think I hate them all.


Butrflynet
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 10:57 pm
Right now, the list includes a double bed, couch, a floor lamp, several computers and printers, a desk and chair, and about 30 boxes of clothes, tapes, books, discs, tools and few small kitchen appliances and dishes; and maybe a couple of large plants.

I'll be having everything else either sold or donated to charities.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:03 pm
You had the geography right the first time MJ. I'll be driving south from Sacramento and then heading east through Arizona to NM.

Osso, don't we hit moutains between AZ and NM? I haven't looked closely at the route yet. I'm still stuck on the decision point of doing it myself or hiring a company.

Sounds like there is concern about my car (I'm concerned too, which is why I'm taking it in for new brakes and a tune-up. It acts like it is missing a cylinder when idling. It also needs an oil change and smog check.)
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:07 pm
Unless you're really, really attached to the couch and bed they're taking up a large percentage of the total, they're not that expensive (you can probably even find some free with a couple day's effort on craigslist when you get to NM), and it'd probably cost about as much, when all is said and done to move them as it would to replace them there. It might even be cheaper to UPS a lot of the boxes and just fill the car really full, and let the UPS guys sweat getting them to your door. I think UPS has an online calculator of costs. Hmm, come to that I think the postal service uses somebody like FedEx to deliver some of their stuff now, and I know they have an online calculator. I think they also have a book rate (or they call it something like a media rate now).
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:07 pm
@ossobuco,
Ah, to equivocate -

people told me to take - 10 - and it was great. I can't testify to the highway history. Several folks told me to take 10 instead of 40 - that was in very late december.

Today it has been warm here. Hard for this new person to predict.
roger
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:12 pm
@ossobuco,
If she has a lot of books, you might mention having found it cheaper to mail them at the USPS book rate than paying a mover.
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:15 pm
Chuck the bed and couch and you might be able to fit everything in one of those really small UHaul trailers--I think they start at something like 4' by 4' or 4'x6'. Check your glove compartment and see if you still have the owner's manual. Most of the ones I've seen will tell you what weight the car can safely haul (and then haul less, if you're worried about the car). And I think you're also supposed to load the trailer so the weight is over the axles and more toward the hitch end than the back end. If you've got a lot of cartons make sure they can't shift from side to side or from one end to the other, which can unpredictably screw up your car's handling if it happens and you don't realize it.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:19 pm
re: Roger
My sister and brother-in-law gave me a gift certificate to the Strand Bookstore in NYC for Xmas, and books are HEAVY. Couldn't carry them back to Boston myself, so she mailed them from the post office. I think their media rate covers not only books but tapes, videos, CDs, etc., all of which tend to accumulate and weigh a lot, so, yeah, I think she should definitely check the P.O.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:20 pm
@Butrflynet,
I drove a 91 volvo, but so what..

I don't remember actual mountains between arizona and NM - but I am used to california statewide driving. I suppose they were there. I don't remember grapevine type grades. Still, don't trust me.

I don't remember being afraid. There were lots of turn off points and lots of cars going by.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:24 pm
@roger,
I think I did via email, but dunno...
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:26 pm
@Butrflynet,
On 40 you will have to pass through Flagstaff, and snow is always possible but usually not long lasting.

0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Mon 26 Jan, 2009 11:49 pm
I've thinned it down so that I'll have 2 boxes of books and another 2 boxes of tapes, discs and and CDs, and another 3 boxes of photograph albums. The rest will be clothing, paper documents, and other crap. I mailed two of the boxes of photograph albums to myself from Boston when my dad died and it cost me about $60 for both. I also had a heavy cedar chest sent to me (forgot to include that in the list of stuff I'm bringing) from his place that cost $90 to have a special crate built and sent via DHL. I can probably thin down the boxes of clothes to 10 boxes. And the kitchen stuff might get thinned down to 5 boxes.

The replacement costs for the bed and sofa will be more than the cost to include them in the move I think. That's where the trade off is. I don't have the money to replace necessities so I need to take the bare basics with me via the cheapest but safest way possible. If I could afford to replace my car, I'd leave it here and fly there. But, that too is not in the cards.

I'm not afraid of the drive, what I'm fearful of is what MJ mentioned, having the contents of the trailer shift while driving and having it fish-tail all over the road, resulting in a possible loss of control, especially if the roads are icy. (I've witnessed a couple of those and they aren't pretty.)

I was kind of hoping someone would talk me out of the U-haul route, but I could not justify not using it because of the price difference. My car is iffy, but I was willing to make the attempt anyway. I think I've reached a decision. Thanks for the input, everyone!

It sounds as if doing it myself is going to be risky as far as my car being able to make the trip while hauling a trailer. Guess I better start calling some moving companies so they can give me an estimate and reserve the dates.
 

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