When to Use the U-Haul Truck Overdrive

by Louise Balle

If you have an overdrive switch on your car, you may be wondering what it is and how it affects your car's performance. Overdrive is a feature that actually benefits your car by improving its gas mileage and allowing your engine to take a bit of a break in certain cases.


Overdrive is similar to an additional gear for your U-Haul truck. When in overdrive, the engine turns less because it doesn't have to work as hard. That means a lower RPM while driving and better gas mileage.

Some people may believe that overdrive is best for extreme driving situations, but it should really only be on in normal driving conditions. Alternately, when you are faced with tougher driving conditions, such as a tow or inclining and declining roads, the truck engine will have to work harder. This is when overdrive should be turned off.

Driving on the Highway

The best time and place to use your U-Haul truck overdrive is when you are coasting on a highway. Highways are usually level planes free from excessive hills and curves that would cause the truck engine to work harder. Also, when driving on a highway, you have the ability to set a cruise control on your U-Haul truck that will allow you to continue traveling at the same speed throughout. While driving on a highway, your RPM meter stick will usually stay in the same place, because your engine is not working as hard.

When you're driving in the city, putting your engine in overdrive won't work, because there are frequent stops, speed changes, curves, turns and changes in elevation that will require your engine to turn faster to keep up. As soon as you accelerate at a green light, your engine will go faster. When you make a turn, you will slow down and then accelerate again. So it is best to keep overdrive off in city driving situations, and on when driving on the highway.

Driving in the Country

Another situation in which you should keep overdrive on is when you are driving through the country in your U-Haul truck. Country roads are usually empty, even and straight--ideal for overdrive. There is little chance that you will have to stop or change your speed to deal with others on the road. So if you're on a cross-country drive, you definitely want to put that overdrive switch to good use.


If you are renting a U-Haul truck in an area that is very hilly throughout, such as the mountainous areas of the Western United States, it is a good idea to keep the overdrive switch off. This is because the U-Haul truck's engine is going to have to work harder to deal with the continuous change in elevation. If your engine isn't getting enough power to go up a steep incline, your U-Haul truck could possibly roll backward. You definitely don't want that to happen with a truck full of goods.


Thankfully, some of the newer models of U-Haul truck have an automatic overdrive that activates when needed, without having to be manually turned on or off by the driver. This eliminates the need for a driver to decide when it is appropriate to use overdrive. Renters can enjoy better gas mileage, and the U-Haul company vehicle experiences minimal wear and tear.

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