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Toronto Rental Trucks

Toronto Rental Trucks: Where's the Real Discount?

Unless you've got a friend with a pickup willing to make a few trips or you're hiring professionals, come moving day it's time to turn to the rental truck. U-Haul, Budget, and Discount seem to have the personal moving market blanketed, but Penske and Ryder have locations too.

The appeal of do-it-yourself moving is purely economical; renting a truck is cheaper than hiring a moving company. And instead of using the fuel efficient four-wheeler to get the job done, a rental truck offers the opportunity to get the whole ordeal of moving over and done with. And the last time I checked, mattresses don't fit in cars.

I've come to the conclusion that the names Discount and Budget aren't really a reflection of pricing, but that at least U-Haul is honest with theirs: you will definitely do all the hauling.

U-Haul has earned a reputation in the US and Canada alike that just because you have a reservation doesn't mean you'll actually have a truck when you show up at the appointed time. Even though they dangle what is potentially the cheapest price in front of you ($30 and 80 cents/km), it is only a good deal if the truck is there for you come moving day. Plus, even though the website advertises this as a 24 hour rate, if you want the truck on a weekend, especially the first or last weekend of the month, don't count on getting it for more than 8 hours.

Budget reliably has trucks to fill reservations, but the price may not be worth it, especially over short distances. Budget, like Discount, works on a shift system. So for around $130 you get 100km and 8 hours. Discount gives half the kilometres and only 5 hours for $140. Full price breakdowns are below.

I like to be able to get a truck the night before to either load that night, or to be able to get started first thing and not have to go deal with picking up a truck in the morning. Unfortunately, the shift system doesn't allow for this unless you buy two shifts, something U-Haul doesn't allow and something Budget and Discount just charge you double to do. In other words, none of the big three are suited for this.

Enter Penske and Ryder. Both offer a truck for 24 hours, although Ryder may not reliably do so. Penske is a real premium base rental price, but less per km, while Ryder is slightly higher than U-Haul, including the km charge, but if you get it for 24 hours, is potentially the best deal, especially if you catch one of their many web specials. For those looking purely at the final price U-Haul will likely be the cheapest, but for me, I'll pay about the same or a little more (but less per hour!) for the peace of mind that I can take my time; for a short move especially, Penske won't cost any more, and may be less, than Discount or Budget.

The other factor is definitely location. U-Haul, Budget and Discount all have more locations than Penske and Ryder, so it may not be worth driving across town to get the truck. One thing to keep in mind is that the trucks have to be returned to the same location they're picked up, so it doesn't really matter if you pick a spot close to where you start or where you end.

Prices vary considerably, and may at times be negotiable, based on when you want the truck, what size you get and so on. For my recent move I was looking for a 16 foot truck, give or take a few feet. Expect smaller trucks to cost a bit less and larger trucks to cost a bit more. Also, the timing varies based on what day of the week and if you want an overnight or morning time.

Here's a price breakdown, with the cost per hour shown based on 50km of use, not including any extra taxes or insurance.

Budget - $130, 8 hours, 100km included, 50 cents per extra km ($130; $16.25/hr)
Discount - $140, 5 hours, 50km included, 50 cents per extra km ($140; $28/hr)
Penske - $100, 24 hours, 50 cents per km ($125; $5.21/hr)
Ryder - $50, 24 hours, 90 cents per km ($95; $3.96/hr)
U-Haul - $30, 8 hours, 80 cents per km ($70; $8.75/hr)

Top left photo by manny diller and top right photo by trbpix.

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