What Size Moving Trailer Do You Need for Your Move?

Jenny Willden
Researcher & Writer
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Published on August 21, 2019
6 min read

At a glance

DIY-ing your next move? If your vehicle can handle towing (and you’re up for driving), renting a moving trailer can be one of the most affordable ways to get your stuff from point A to point B. But choosing the right size and type of trailer for your move can be tough.

You’ll need a trailer that fits all your belongings and matches the towing capacity of your car or truck.

moving trailer on a car

From enclosed cargo trailers to open utility trailers, this guide breaks down how to pick the right trailer to get you, your family, and your stuff to your new home so your move goes off without a hitch (pun intended).

Here are a few things to consider:

  • How much weight your vehicle can carry
  • What you're hauling
  • Which type of moving trailer you need

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How to choose the right trailer for your move

How much weight can your vehicle carry?

Before you choose a trailer, you’ll need to know the maximum weight of cargo and passengers you can safely carry in your SUV, car, or truck. Your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the total combined weight limit, including all passengers, fuel, fluids, and cargo.1

Light Bulb

You can find your vehicle's GVWR number listed in the driver-side door frame or your car’s owner’s manual.

When you go to choose a trailer, you also have to factor in tongue weight (how much force a trailer places on your tow hitch). The tongue weight factors in as part of your cargo, meaning you won’t be able to load the full weight capacity of your vehicle with your belongings.

This additional info will help you figure out how much stuff you can add to your vehicle and how much you’ll need to put in a trailer.

Here’s an example: a 6,000-pound heavy-duty truck with a 7,300-pound GVWR, can carry 1,300 pounds. However, a 200-pound tongue weight would reduce what you could carry in your truck to 1,100 pounds.

If you know the weight of all the belongings you’re moving, you can use this information to determine what size trailer you need to haul everything else beyond that weight limit.

What type of moving trailer do you need?

Moving trailer type

Trip distance




Open or enclosed

Enclosed, lockable

Open, not lockable


What it’s best for

Household goods

Bulky furniture, lawn equipment, rugged items


Moving trailer types

Cargo trailer

Available in a variety of sizes, cargo trailers are aerodynamic and lightweight to save fuel during your drive.

Plus, cargo trailers are enclosed to fully protect your belongings from weather or road debris, and they allow you to lock everything safely inside.

Utility trailer

For towing odd-sized cargo, tools, and landscaping materials, an open-top utility trailer is often the best choice. While you probably wouldn’t want to use one for your Crate & Barrel couch, a utility trailer is great for large or sturdy items like patio furniture, yard tools, and your fancy Traeger grill.

Utility trailers aren’t ideal for long-distance trips because they don’t protect your stuff from damage or theft.

Auto trailer

Auto trailers are a solution for relocating your car when you prefer not to drive or ship it. While most companies require you to tow an auto trailer with one of their rental trucks, U-Haul offers tow dollies and car carriers that you can pull behind a personal vehicle.

What size trailer do you need for moving?

The best trailer size for your move depends on how much and what kind of stuff you’re hauling. Moving trailers come in a variety of sizes, from a small 4 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer (best for a handful of boxes) to a 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer (ideal for your lawn equipment or ATV).

Compare cargo trailer sizes

Cargo trailer size*
Weight limit (lbs.)
Home size
What it fits

4 ft. x 8 ft.


Single bedroom or dorm room

Small personal items, boxes

5 ft. x 8 ft.


Studio apartment

Twin beds, loveseats, small tables

5 ft. x 10 ft.


1- to 2-bedroom apartment

Queen-sized beds, couches, dining room furniture

6 ft. x 12 ft.


1- to 2-bedroom home

L-shaped couches, pianos, queen-sized beds

*Based on U-Haul’s trailer sizing

  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer: Holds up to 1,600 pounds and is great for college students packing up their dorm rooms or anyone moving a few pieces of furniture.
  • 5 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer: Fits furnishings for a basic studio apartment: a loveseat couch, chairs, a kitchen table, a twin bed, etc.
  • 5 ft. x 10 ft. cargo trailer: Holds a small apartment worth of items: a queen-sized bed, a couch, chairs, boxes, electronics, and square dining room tables.
  • 6 ft. x 12 ft. cargo trailer: Holds up to 2,500 pounds and several rooms of furniture, including L-shaped couches, pianos, and more bulky items. May hold up to a two-bedroom home if you’re a minimalist.

For homes with a lot of furniture and two to four bedrooms, you’ll need a full moving truck. Find a truck that meets your needs on our Best Moving Truck Rental Companies list.

Compare utility trailer sizes

Utility trailer size
Weight limit (lbs.)
Home size
What it fits

4 ft. x 7 ft.


Single room

Lawnmowers, tools

5 ft. x 8 ft


Single room

Twin beds, bulky furniture

5 ft. x 9 ft. with ramp


1–2 rooms

Queen-sized beds, bulky furniture, large tools

6 ft.x 12 ft.& 6 ft. x 12 ft. with ramp


Several rooms

Queen-sized beds, ATVs, golf carts

  • 4 ft. x 7 ft. utility trailer: Ideal for yard projects or small in-town relocations.
  • 5 ft. x 8 ft. utility trailer: Good for local moves and bigger home improvement projects.
  • 5 ft. x 9 ft. utility trailer with ramp: Good for loading and towing ATVs, golf carts, or heavy appliances (thanks to a fold-down ramp).
  • 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer: Comes with a low deck and tie-downs that secure large items in transit.
  • 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer with ramp: Holds your heaviest and most awkwardly shaped items.

Open utility trailers are not ideal for carrying that Restoration Hardware dining room table that you spent way too much money on. They’re actually designed for quick, in-town moves or items you don’t mind exposing to the elements. Think tools, patio furniture, and grills—not grand pianos and heirloom furniture.

More moving trailer FAQs

What size trailer do you need for moving a vehicle?

Instead of paying an auto transporter to get your car or motorcycle to your new home, why not haul it yourself? To rent a car carrier from Penske and Budget you must also rent one of their moving trucks to tow that carrier.

If you don’t need a whole truck’s worth of space, U-Haul is your best bet: U-Haul is the only company that allows you to tow a car behind your personal vehicle.

Use this guide to determine which type of vehicle trailer you need.

What size trailer do you need for moving a vehicle?

Vehicle trailer types

Tow dolly: Tow dollies are best for front-wheel-drive cars and can be pulled behind your personal vehicle or a moving truck. Note that two of your wheels will be on the road, which may be less than ideal for long-distance moves.

Car carrier: Car carriers are better than tow dollies for long-distance moves, but they do cost slightly more. Most car carriers have a loading ramp, automatic brakes, security chains, ratchet-operated tire straps, and tilt-out fenders in case you need to access your car while it’s on the trailer.

(Also keep in mind that with a max towing capacity of 5,290 pounds, you may not be able to haul your souped-up pickup).

Motorcycle trailer: Tow a motorcycle near or far with this trailer. It comes equipped with a loading ramp, a built-in chock to help stabilize your bike’s front wheel, and tie-down rings to secure heavy motorcycles in place.

Utility trailer with ramp: For ATVs, multiple motorcycles, golf carts, or oddly sized vehicles, a 5 ft. x 9 ft. utility trailer has an EZ-load ramp and can be towed behind a personal vehicle or moving truck. It also includes tie-down rings and an integrated motorcycle chock support to secure and stabilize your bikes in place.

Boat trailer: You probably won’t find a boat trailer for rent at any major moving trailer rental company, but you can get a pickup truck from U-Haul or Enterprise that is capable of towing your boat on its own trailer.

Is there a right way (and a wrong way) to load a moving trailer?

Yes! Putting items in your trailer in the wrong order or failing to secure them properly can cause your cargo to shift, slide, and even break. Here are a few tips for loading your moving trailer:

  • Load heavier items first and toward the front of the trailer (closest to the car).
  • Place light items on top and toward the back (near the door).
  • Use tie-down straps to secure your stuff before you tow your trailer anywhere.
New around here?

If you’ve never towed a trailer before, watch U-Haul’s safe trailering demonstration (or request an in-person demo) first to assure you’re loading your cargo correctly. A good rule of thumb is the 60/40 rule: put 60% of the load weight toward the front and 40% toward the back.

Where do you get a hitch for your vehicle?

Your car dealer can most likely install a hitch on your vehicle, but you may nab a better deal at U-Haul (our top pick for professional hitch installation).

On U-Haul’s website, enter your vehicle year, make, and model to learn about available hitches, pricing, and accessories. Let the technicians at the install center know what you plan to haul so they can outfit your ride properly.

Bonus: trailer hitches sold and installed at a U-Haul Moving Center include a lifetime warranty that covers damage due to collision, theft, jackknifing, or overloading.

Recommended resources

People also asked. . .

If you think your load is too big to fit in a moving trailer, read our Best Rental Truck Companies list to find more options for your DIY move.


  1. Isaacs and Isaacs, “What Does GVWR Mean?”
Jenny Willden
Written by
Jenny Willden
Jenny’s been writing stories since she first picked up a pencil and is lucky to call it her profession. She’s lived in five U.S. states (and counting) and uses her mishaps to help you master your next move.