Pros: Guaranteed ready when you are. No reservation hold on credit card.
Cons: Hard to drive. Cheap truck.
We recently did a company move so had a moving company load and haul our things for us. This makes the moving part easy, but we had to be flexible for their constantly changing schedules and going a couple of weeks without our belongings. For our move back, we decided to do it ourselves because we didn’t want to deal with the hassle. Cost also was a consideration. Renting the largest Penske truck, gas, insurance, and paying 2 Men and a Truck for professional movers to load and unload our truck still cost at least $2,000 less than a moving company.
Reservations can be made by phone, online, or going into the local pickup site. There seems to be a discount for reserving it online. AAA members also get a nice discount.
The Penske website does a good job of providing the user with all the information necessary to make an informed decision about the truck’s capabilities and costs related to reserving it for the time period the truck is needed. Finding the availability online is useful for planning as most people move over the weekend or certain times of the year. If the closest site does not have the vehicle in stock, other suggestions for locations are given. The vehicle can be reserved with a credit card in advance with no down payment or charge to the credit card until time of pickup. The reservation dates scan be changed with no fees as long as it’s done 48 hours before the reserved date. My Epinions review for Penske Online goes into greater detail about what can be done through the website.
Checking the vehicle out
I reserved the truck online so I had not spoken to the local Penske representative until I arrived to pick the vehicle up. The representative that we had was the owner of the particular location. She had been doing this for years and was very knowledgeable about the trucks and paperwork involved.
The representative was professional and friendly and informed us we were getting a new truck. We were already relieved to have a more favorable experience thus far than with the Uhaul brand we rented on an earlier move. She did a nice job ensuring we understood what the paperwork said before we signed it. She did not try to sell us more options.
We didn’t have to wait for anyone ahead of us and it did take very long to inspect the vehicle and sign the paperwork.
Towing Own Car
We were originally going to pull our extra vehicle from the rental truck to get it home. We scrapped that idea and I’m very happy because that would have been a nightmare. It would have cost even more for gas and added extra hours to our drive. We could barely get up the hills with the truck being loaded; 35 was the fastest speed at some points. A smaller truck probably would have worked out fine towing a vehicle but would have been quite the challenge for a larger truck.
Packing the truck (or outsourcing)
I tried putting a few things in the truck and realized it was a bigger job than I was going to be able to do. We called some professional movers to come load our truck. Good thing, otherwise there is no way we would have been able to get everything in the truck the way I would have packed it.
We were relieved that Penske padded our rental with extra days to complete our move because we were exhausted after loading day so decided to rest and wait until the next day to leave.
The truck has a ramp and it’s very easy to get thing in and out of the back of the truck. The back has cargo tie rails, but the rope or bungee cords will need to be provided by the user and are not sold through Penske. The user will also have to supply their own pad lock. We did rent some furniture pads from Penske and they were clean and looked like new. A hand dolly or appliance dolly is also available for rent from Penske.
Trucks vary, but the vehicle we were driving used diesel and was expected to get 8-12 miles per gallon. The capacity of the truck was 8,000 pounds. There was no way of knowing how much our items weighed.
Driving was the hardest part of the move. A warning light came on in the cab so my husband called the Penske help line. They were helpful and explained it was normal. After a few more hours the same light came on again. We were getting nervous that the truck may not make it. The help line was helpful at walking us through what to do to reset the light and what to look out for incase it was something more serious.
The whole point of renting from Penske was so we would have a reliable safe truck. The company boasts of newer vehicles. Indeed the options we had to choose from on the lot were brand new looking vehicles pretty on the outside but had 60,000 miles on it but felt it was acceptable mileage for a rental. We signed our paperwork believing we had a good truck. Ultimately we didn’t feel particularly safe in our truck once we started out. We had multiple warning lights coming on even before it was packed. The customer service line said to keep on going which seemed weird. We saw other Penske drivers along the way in various size trucks and more than one had a headlight out, and at least two were on the side of the road broken down. There were also other Penske trucks passing us on the mountains making us think there was something wrong with our truck as it barely moved at times.
There’s no other way to put it, driving this large vehicle on the interstate was a hazard. I felt it was extremely dangerous for us to be driving this vehicle through Atlanta and especially when we hit the mountains. It took a very long time for the truck to go from 0 to 70. Semi-trucks were flying by. Cars were more focused on texting than driving. The vehicle is very hard to correct and could easily get out of control. It is hard for the driver to see the little speeding cars that sneak up around it. Luckily we chose to drive around the mountains but the few we did encounter were very hard to get up.
It took us several more hours to get home than we anticipated due to slow driving speeds and extra stops for fuel. Stopping was also a bear because it was hard to find diesel and filling stations and fast food restaurants were hard to get in and out of.
There were a few too many close calls for my taste. That’s the nature of the 22-26’ vehicle. We will certainly think twice about moving cross country in the future.
Returning the truck
We returned our rental truck to the Home Depot. It was a painless process of telling the checkout representative and handing over the keys. She checked the gas gauge, took a quick look at the condition, and signed us out. The customer service was speedy and friendly.
Our experience with several different people at Penske was really good as far as customer service goes. The truck itself left a lot to be desired. The vehicle we rented was new so we thought that meant something but really didn’t. The vehicle was bottom of the line with not so many features. The price was as comparable to other brands. Penske has better customer service than U-Haul does, but the “new” rental truck was no better.