Unsafe U-Haul Trailer Rentals in Washington.

Well, the first thing I did was read Rob’s account of what happened to him and his wife and their experience with a U-Haul rental trailer.

I have a similar account that could have been just as frightening had it not been for the fact that I was using a very heavy duty tow vehicle.   As it turned out though, the tow vehicle ended up suffering as a result of having been used to pull this U-Haul trailer that my wife and I rented and mind you, paid cash for up front. 

This story starts back on February 15, 2010.  This was the day that my wife and I went to the local U-Haul dealer and picked up the auto-transport that we had reserved.  My tow vehicle at the time of picking it up, was a 1978 Dodge Power Wagon Club Cab W150.

For those that don’t know what this means, is that this truck is a heavy duty half ton 4×4 truck.  As I mentioned earlier, My wife and I went over there and paid cash for the rental.  In addition to paying cash up front, I was told that I would need to run my debit card for “reservations purposes”.  I did this grudgingly, and we then got the trailer hooked up to the truck by the local yard guy. 

After getting home with the truck I ran in to some mechanical problems with it and after spending the following day trying to get it fixed, I ended up having to use my wife’s truck in order to be able to stay on schedule.  My wifes truck, which to this day, I will tell anyone that asks, was my only saving grace from having fatal or near fatal accident, is a 1997 Ford F350 crew cab 4×4 diesel.  I connected my wifes truck to the trailer in the exact same manner that the yard person hooked up our other truck.  I then loaded the car as was instructed by the U-Haul yard person.  I then again checked all of the lights making sure that all signals running lights and brake lights worked.  After warming up the diesel, I then left for the interstate on my way to Minnesota.  The trailer from the beginning as I soon found out, was going to give me problems. 

The trailer, for the entire trip as I found out, pulled to the right.  The pulling wasn’t as noticeable at first, but as time went on and the outside temperature changed along with any changes road surface (such as ruts in the road, grooves, etc.) or precipitation on the road, the trailer wanted to pull to the right badly.  As night wore on and the road became colder, the trailer would want to pull more and more to the right.  Most times as the weather got colder during driving whether it was daytime or nighttime, you had to reduce speed from the posted 55 mile an hour speed limit posted on the fender of the trailer to a slower speed. There were times during the trip, that I had to slow down to 40 miles per hour for fear that the trailer would start fishtailing and would cause the truck to jackknife if I was to drive at the posted speed on the trailer.  To make a long story short, after many frustrating miles, I finally made it to my destination in Minnesota.

My return trip is when it really got interesting.  I finally made it to my destination in Minnesota on the morning of February 21, 2010.  After taking a couple hours in the morning to rest after the long trip, I started my way over to the local dealer to drop off the trailer.  As fate would have it, my mother called my cell phone about a family emergency which made it necessary for me to come back to Washington with the trailer and my car in tow.  This is where things started really getting interesting.  On my way back, I was pulling over to fill up at a truck stop in Des Moines when the brake booster pump failed on the truck.  This made the truck undriveable until it was repaired or replaced as you were unable to brake.  Once that was repaired late that afternoon, I was back on the road and on my way again. 

My next interesting experience was when I was on my way driving toward Laramie WY.  Keep in mind what I was saying at the beginning of the story about the trailer pulling to the right all of the time.  It was at this time driving toward Laramie, that I encountered black ice.  And naturally, I was going much slower than the posted speed on the trailer, which I was traveling at 35 miles per hour.  I was driving up the pass when the trailer started pulling to the right badly causing the truck to fishtail and almost jackknife pushing the truck toward the edge of the road. The trailer was clearly within the lane line during the time this started.  I slowed down, corrected and then tried applying some power to the rear wheels again.  Again when I did this, the truck now traveling at no more than 20 – 25 miles per hour, the trailer again started pulling the truck off the road, causing a fish tail and another almost jackknife. 

Because of the problems with the trailer, the rear wheels of the truck alone were not able to keep the truck and the trailer on the road.  The trailer constantly was wanting to pull off of the road and pull the truck over with it.  It was only when I was able to safely pull to the side of the road and put the truck in to four wheel drive, did things get safe enough again to travel down the road.  As it was, even in four wheel drive, I was only able to travel between 25 – 30 miles per hour before the trailer once again would want to start pulling again. 

I am convinced, that had I not had a four wheel drive truck, with a heavy diesel engine at that, and being able to run in four wheel drive, I would have had either a serious or fatal accident.  There was no way that with a 2 wheel drive truck, that there would have been any chance of being able to drive anywhere without being in a serious crash or fatality. 

If anyone knows interstate 80 west to Laramie, they would know that there is little or no place to pull over and stop on the pass going to Laramie.  Meaning that if you did try to stop you would have to stop on the road and possibly cause a multi-vehicle accident.  Going through the pass with the truck in four wheel drive was the only way I was able to keep the truck and trailer on the road without the trailer pulling both the truck and the trailer off the road and over the embankment. 

Had my wife been driving, even with her years of experience, this is possibly what may have happened since she would not have known how correct for the problems the trailer was causing and could have more than likely been in a fatal accident.  I am not trying to toot my own horn, but I feel that it is only because I am an experienced driver that has been driving since I was 16 and seen and experienced and know how to correct for problems and have been professionally trained to do so (I am a professionally trained truck driver).

But, this was not the last of my problems.  Driving in to the gorge in the rain, I further experienced the trailer wanting to pull heavily to the right.  My speed through the gorge was no more than 45 miles per hour at any given time due to the trailer pull finally reaching my destination back home again on February 26, 2010. 

 As I mentioned earlier, not only did the trailer pull to the right, it also caused problems for the truck itself.  The surge brake on the trailer was not working which was very readily apparent when trying to brake and slow down going down-hill on a pass. The entire weight load of the trailer and my car were being placed on the truck itself with no help to be had from the trailer.  As a result, the front rotors of the truck will need be replaced.  And I also believe, that since there was no help from the trailer for stopping it also cause a premature failure of the brake booster pump.  The brake booster pump cost $410.00 to replace on a on site service call.  The replacement of the rotors is also going to be very expensive as well although I do not yet have the cost for that. 

To add insult to injury, after returning the trailer to the U-Haul dealer that it was originally rented from, my wife and I were told that the trailer could not be checked in until someone from U-Haul maintenance looked it over to see if there was a problem with it or not.  My wife called the U-Haul dealer the following Monday and was told that nothing wrong was found with the trailer and that the dealer had rented the trailer out the following day after my wife and I returned it. 

In the meantime, 2 weeks later in the early morning of 03/14/2010, I was looking at the online transaction register for my debit card and saw that another $230.00 had been charged against it by U-Haul when the card was just supposed to have been used for “reservations purposes”. 

Since my wife had been speaking with and working with U-Haul reps up to this point on my behalf while I was traveling, she called U-Haul later that day during business hours to find out what the charges were about.  My wife was told by the U-Haul rep she spoke to that the trailer was never officially checked in, and that we were charged for the rental additionally from the time we had dropped it off until it finally went over to U-Hauls Clackamas shop on 03/13/2010, to be checked over by what I am sure are U-Hauls crack expert staff of maintenance personnel. 

Not only were we charged for the additional time that U-Haul never checked it in, but it had gone out and been rented the following day after we dropped it off so it ended up being rented and some other poor sap ended up being charged for a piece of crap that had not yet been looked at.

 Not to get too disjointed with the story, I’d like to insert some other details that my wife found out from speaking to U-Haul’s Roadside Assistance staff on my behalf while I was traveling.  What my wife was told by Roadside Assistance when she called was that the trailer that was rented to us, was not rated for road speed in excess of 45 miles per hour even though the logo on the trailer fender stated it could go up to 55 miles per hour. And additional to what Roadside Assistance was saying about the speed limitation of the trailer, they also said that they were not willing to come out and look at the trailer while I was on the road with it because it was only rated for 45 miles per hour loaded. 

We were further told by the local U-Haul rep when we turned in the trailer that because of all of the problems we encountered with the trailer, that we would not be charged for the use of the trailer for the trip back.  And, that after U-Hauls crack team of experts looked at the trailer, we would have their answer as to whether the trailer had any issues and to whether we would be getting any additional refund to the $660.00 cash we had originally paid up front. 

And when we returned the trailer, the person who checked it in when they went out to look at the trailer with us, admitted in the yard and pointed out where the trailer was mis-aligned, but when they went back in and called and spoke to a manager over the phone, that person made no mention or even was willing to acknowledge to the manager over the that the trailer tongue to the trailer frame was mis-aligned as they had admitted first seeing when they had gone out with my wife and I to check in the trailer.  Oh, I just took a quick look at what it was going to cost for replacement rotors, and that’s without the labor, is anywhere from $50 each to $142 depending on what type of four wheel drive rotor is currently on the truck.  And like I mentioned before, this is before labor. 

One other thing I would like to mention is that during my travel in every state I went through, because of the speed that I was limited to because of the trailer, I was pulled over by the State police of that state and warned about driving too slow and being a hazard on the interstate. 

Also, when I called the local U-Haul store the trailer was rented from and explained that I was going to need the trailer longer than the 7 day rental and asked that they note this information on the rental log so that I didn’t get pulled over for a stolen trailer, the U-Haul rep told me that there was nothing they could do and that I would need to contact the store that I was supposed to drop the trailer off at and let them know.  This was not possible to do other that to leave that store a message since they were closed on the Sunday that I had to turn around and drive back.  I never received a call back from that store even though I gave my cell number 3 times in the message.  Also after my wife had spoken to U-Haul at 1 instance she was told that the local rep that we rented the trailer from should have given me the 800 number to reserve the trailer for the trip back which the local rep never did. 

In closing, I wish there were more laws in place that governed rental companies from renting faulty equipment that has the eventuality of killing someone using it.  There also needs to be regulations in place that place strict fines and penalties on companies that do.  U-Haul is the absolute worst when it comes to their equipment and I will never ever rent another piece of  unsafe crappy equipment from them again.  And anyone that reads this, should take this story very seriously because it is very much a true story and that if anyone does rent from U-Haul should know that they run a serious risk of injury or death using their equipment. I can’t believe in this day and age ……….companies can get away with putting peoples lives in danger! There’s no amount of compensation that can bring back a loved one killed by their inability to keep equipment in good working order.

I. & V.Z.

6 Responses to “Unsafe U-Haul Trailer Rentals in Washington.”

  1. Kathy McGrade says:

    I too have had a terrible accident caused by a flat bed trailer having rusty bearing, a torn leaf spring equilizer, and the surge brake actuator had been installed wrong so it had no braking. I lost both my diesel 2500 tow vehicle and the diesel 2500 on the trailer. Given I was traveling towards the grapevine (steep descent coming out of Los Angeles) I’m actually lucky the accident happened when it did, only 1 mile onto the freeway. The smartest thing I did was to have the trailer inspected immediately after the accident, and then that inspected substantiated by a second inspection. I now need to learn the path forward to full compensation for my two trucks, tow fees, equipment loss, and time loss. If anyone of you reading this have been through the process and might share your story of the legal aftermath, I’d be appreciative.

  2. Shawna says:

    I agree, no amount of compensation can bring back a loved one. Here’s what happened to my husband and I:
    On 10/21/14 my husband and I left Orting, WA in a 26’ U-Haul truck and were traveling to Mandan, ND. The next day as we were driving through Lookout Pass on the Idaho/Montana border, a bearing failed causing the front drivers side wheel to completely come off the truck. The wheel continued to dangerously roll downhill, almost cleared the median into eastbound traffic, bounced back across the road, and fell down a steep 300’ cliff and landed in the middle of the St. Regis River. Thankfully the wheel didn’t kill anyone in the process and had it come off a few miles sooner on one of the sharper corners my husband would have gone off the cliff and been killed. He pulled the truck off the road as far as he could but there was a guard rail preventing him from getting the truck entirely out of the lane; as he pulled the truck over there were two semi-trucks side by side quickly approaching him. Somehow, the truck in the right hand lane was able to slow down and pull into the left lane, narrowly missing the U-Haul. This bearing failure nearly created a huge accident and multiple deaths. We immediately called 911, U-Haul roadside assistance, and set out cones to help people safely navigate around the truck. A Highway Patrol officer arrived shortly after to investigate and found that not only was the accident was 100% U-Haul’s fault, but that this type of accident was a common occurrence and U-Haul frequently fails to properly maintain their trucks.
    That evening our rental truck was towed to Haugan, MT and we drove our car to Missoula, MT to spend the night. We were told by roadside customer service that the truck would be towed to Missoula in the morning and U-Haul would either pay for a moving company to transload our belongings into another truck or pay us $500 to do it ourselves. We elected to have a moving company do the work because it was a huge task to unload and reload a packed 26’ U-Haul, a job that took us a day and a half to complete in the first place. The next afternoon a moving company from Butte, MT arrived and was ready to transload the truck. At that time U-Haul informed us that we were supposedly in breach of our contract and needed to pay the full rental price of $1200 before the moving crew would be allowed to begin working. When we rented the truck in Puyallup, WA it was originally booked as an in-town rental. When we picked up the truck, before we signed the agreement, we spoke to the employees about our situation- if we were able to sell enough of our belongings we would rent a storage unit, return the truck to the same location, and come back at a later time to get our belongings; otherwise we would have to load everything and take the truck to Mandan, ND. The employee assured us it was okay to do a one way rental and we would simply pay per mile when we arrived at our destination and that no change to the contract needed to be made. Had we not been given this false information we would have changed the contract to a one way rental once we made a decision based on our needs. Also, the first truck that we rented from the Puyallup location made it 5 miles before we had to return it. The truck wasn’t even fit to be used for an in town move; it was barely able to make it up a small hill and backfired and jolted so violently it’s amazing my husband didn’t get whiplash.
    We were on a very limited budget and had jobs and sign on bonuses waiting for us in ND but because of the delay caused by a faulty truck, we weren’t able to get to our destination on time and didn’t have the finances to pay $1200 at that time. U-Haul stated we couldn’t get on the road until the full price was paid and we were basically stuck in Missoula. In addition, we had little money for food and after much debating we were told we would receive a $10/person food allowance, which is absolutely absurd and we haven’t even received that amount. We are professional athletes and need to consume high quality food and protein, not a cheap meal at a fast food restaurant. We elevated the issue to Terry Schaub, President of the Montana division who turned out to be the rudest, most awful person I’ve ever spoken to. This is a man that will tell the media and quote “Say yes with a smile, and always treat customers as you wish to be treated and you will succeed” yet tell a customer that he doesn’t care their husband almost went off a cliff and died and had they stuck to the contract they wouldn’t have been there in the first place. He went on to say that we had two options-pay the $1200, transload the truck ourselves, and be on our way or have our stuff put into storage in Bozeman at our cost, leave the truck, and continue to ND. He refused to give us a hotel room for the night and portrayed himself and his company in the worst possible way. Never have I dealt with anyone as unprofessional as Mr. Schaub. He is a true disgrace to the company but I’ve come to find out that U-Haul as a whole is truly is a representation of his attitude. They’ve shown how little they care about their customers and do absolutely nothing to resolve a huge error on their part. The employees that leased the truck to us weren’t even questioned about the matter and are being allowed to spread lies to other customers with zero repercussions.
    After that conversation we were left with no option except spreading the word of how badly U-Haul handles business. After various posts on their Facebook page we were contacted by a member of media relations. We reached an agreement of a free rental truck and either a moving company or $500 to do it ourselves. We were given 2 codes for VIP certificates and told to go on the website, book a moving company using those codes, and it would be paid for. I went to the website provided and could not get the codes to work. I called a representative and was told that the codes do not work on their website and I would have to pay out of pocket. I reached out to the company that was originally hired to do the work and they refused because they felt it wasn’t worth their time to travel that far. I spend the entire morning of the 23rd on the phone with several U-Haul representatives and media relations, all of whom failed to arrange a moving company or even bother to call me back.
    Finally, at 1pm we decided we couldn’t wait any longer and needed to do the work ourselves. We had already exceeded our food and lodging budget and were losing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars’ worth of wages by not being in ND. We began the daunting task of unloading a packed 26’ truck and reloading all our belongings into another truck. Because a majority of the boxes were located at the front of the truck, everything needed to be removed and set outside so that the boxes could be loaded into the front of the new truck. Around 4:30 pm, as most of our belongings were setting in the parking lot, it began to rain, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Not only were most of our belongings-keep in mind this is our life- soaking wet, we were exhausted, wet, cold, and injured. During the horrible process and trying to beat the rain, I broke a toe and my husband badly cut his hand. We finally completed the task at 8:30pm and got on the road. I spoke to customer relations again and let them know what happened. We were promised $500 for our work and were told we would have it the following week. We waited an additional week without a response from U-Haul. Finally, on 11/6/14 I was told by media relations that the $500 we were promised was denied by the Regional President and Traffic Control Manager Kim Merow and Milton Neumann. I was given their phone number which didn’t work; I was then given a correct number and have been unable to get in contact with Kim. I’ve left numerous messages with her receptionist that has assured me she would call back. I called today and was told that Kim’s not in that office; when I inquired which office she worked out of the receptionist then said she was in that office but works out in the field all the time and is unreachable; I asked for an address to send a letter and was told she couldn’t release that information; I then asked for her email address and was told she didn’t have one. This is a blatant lie; you can’t tell me a Regional President for a major nationwide company in 2014 doesn’t have an email address. She is clearly avoiding the issue and hoping we will go away and forget about what was promised to us.
    It is appalling the way U-Haul operates and continues to operate. Unfortunately, we are not alone in our complaints. I’ve done research and seen so many reports and complaints from other customers that it’s a wonder this atrocity of a company is still in business. There are even websites in place that walk you through how to file legal action against U-Haul. The officer that did our police report stated life threatening accidents are a common occurrence with their trucks. The worst part is that U-Haul SIMPLY DOESN’T CARE. They don’t care that their truck shouldn’t have been on the road and almost killed my husband, they don’t care that we lost job opportunities and thousands of dollars, they don’t care that our belongings were ruined by the rain and by the huge jolt when the wheel flew off driving down a mountain, they don’t care enough to return a phone call and try to provide any sort of customer service. Their representatives are poorly trained and every department will give you false information and continually give you the run around. I spoke to a friend that drove through the same mountain pass last week and saw a U-Haul with a missing back wheel. This needs to stop before people are killed. Perhaps U-Haul doesn’t care if their customers are killed, but we care and will take whatever steps we can to ensure people know the truth and choose companies that provide safe rental trucks. I just can’t believe that after their truck almost kills someone they wouldn’t at least offer a discount or paid for trip—that’s the very least they could do. Our friends and family and 3,000+ Facebook followers have been informed and vowed not to rent from U-Haul in the future. U-Haul has lost tens of thousands of dollars in future business all because they refuse to handle business and attempt to make things right.
    We will continue to damage U-Haul’s reputation by informing people as well as various newspapers and the Better Business Bureau about how U-Haul operates. This behavior is not acceptable and U-Haul needs to be held accountable for their actions (or should I say lack of action).

  3. Tony Ruiz says:

    Uhaul is a scam, though they look professional and efficient. I’m preparing a large suit against them to be filed in the Los Angeles area where I rented three large trucks for my AZ move. The a/c in the lead truck I was driving quit just after I filled up to leave for my new home, and they finally referred me to a Uhaul place in Palm Desert, near Palm Springs where the dumb mexican (I’m also of mexican descent so don’t start) ended up threatening my life after wasting half a day there; this guy couldn’t have fixed a tire on a toy wagon. He threatened my life when I had Uhaul tell him to release the unrepaired truck. I got in to Prescott about 3am, lost my unloading team and had the fly the 3 drivers back. I don’t drive anymore.

  4. Tony Ruiz says:

    I’ve got a whopper of an abuse case; was even threatened with death and a beating. I’m 73 and rented 3 trucks for my move from CA to AZ. The air conditioning went out on the lead truck, the one I was riding in, as we filled up to make the drive. I suffered indescribably and have respiratory and vision problems ending in a heart attack last week. I couldn’t reach their ‘hotline’ until the dealer finally called for me and they called me.

    I was reaching the Palm Springs area, with my driver and dogs suffering; we even had to turn on the heater full force to avoid overheating. Amazing. They directed me to their Palm Desert area shop, where the owner stopped everything to work on ‘my’ truck, resented it and it showed. He wouldn’t tell me anything about his progress, then after about 4 hours I called Uhaul to tell him to release the truck; I could wait no longer. He threatened my life then said he would ‘beat me up’ when I left his ‘office’. I called the cops for police escort off the premises.

    The grades out of Phoenix were as bad, and I moved the dogs to the 2nd truck back; they were dying, and it took a lot of box moving but we saved them. We were extremely late arriving in Chino Hills, I had to hire a LaboReady crew to offload and send the drivers back in an expensive Avis one-way rental. We had go stay overnight in a hotel but got no rest. The entire schedule was woven to include my wife driving a truck and trailer with our livestock but that went all to hell also, needless to say. It was an absolute fiasco, and physically harmful at many levels.

    The ‘regional manager’ doesn’t respond to my emails or calls and I’m going after them in Riverside CA Superior Court for actual and punitive damages.

    Can you help me post this on your site?

    Tony & Lynda Ruiz
    775 N Son Shine
    POB 5309
    Chino Valley AZ 86323

  5. Joe Hutzel says:

    I have a dangerous trailer that I rented in frostburg Md. I have offered to pay a one way cost instead of the local rate that I contracted for but U-Haul wants to charge me 1,576.00 for a what they call a LNR and advised me to avoid this charge I am to pull this trailer Back to Md. I explained the trailer has no brakes and its really hard to keep it on the road. They replied to either transport it to md. or pay 1,576.00 no exceptions. This trailer is very dangerous and risking peoples lives but U-haul has thier policies. This company should be forced out of business. They have no concern for human life. All they see is dollar signs. They are self insured so if the trailer kills someone their attorneys will find a way out of paying. I will never use this company again, and I have filed an insurance claim for the damage this trailer has done to my truck’s brakes and stabilizer bars. I’ll let you know if they pay but, I’m almost positive they won’t.

  6. UHaul Sucks says:

    Sadly, an all-too-typical story of U-Haul’s unsafe, poorly-maintained equipment and horrible customer service.

    Never pay U-Haul in cash; use a credit card ALWAYS. Then, immediately file a dispute with your credit card company.

    Be prepared, because U-Haul will screw you. If you are still alive when you complete your move, consider yourself lucky, but fight like hell to get those credit card charges reversed so at least your move is for free!

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