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How to Calculate Moving Truck Gas Cost

A driver fills up his moving truck with gas.
Alexandru Nika / Getty Images

When creating your moving budget, it’s important to leave room for hidden costs. An often overlooked one is the cost of gas. Filling up the tank of a commercial truck isn’t the same as pumping a few gallons into your car. So to be prepared, use a gas calculator that factors amounts of gas for both vehicles plus the distance of your move.

Things to consider when estimating fuel cost

There are several factors you’ll want to think about when you’re estimating the fuel cost of your move:

  • Gas prices: Look up the latest averages for gas prices across the country. Typically, the 10-foot van and 16-foot truck use regular gas and the larger trucks, like the 24-footer, use diesel fuel.
  • Truck rental fuel efficiency: This can usually be found on your truck rental’s website. In general, smaller trucks (10 through 14 feet) usually average around 12 miles per gallon, medium trucks (15 through 19 feet) average about 10 miles per gallon, and larger trucks (over 20 feet) will get about 8 to 10 miles per gallon.
  • Towing: Adding a trailer or car to the back of you moving truck will decrease your fuel efficiency by about about 25%.
  • Distance: How many miles will you be going on your move? Remember, the number of stops and detours you make will all increase your mileage. It’s a good idea to add at least 50 miles to your estimate.

Trying to determine what size truck you’ll need? Figure it out with MYMOVE’s guide.

Estimating your moving truck’s gas costs

When you have all your numbers ready, divide the number of miles you’ll be going (leaving some extra room for detours) by the MPG for your size truck. Remember to decrease your fuel efficiency by about 25% if you’re towing a car. From there, multiply the number of gallons you need by the average gas price. Here are some real-world examples using a 10′ U-Haul truck, which gets an estimated 12 MPG:

RouteMilesGallons neededCost*
Boston to Los Angeles3,033252.8$931.13
Cleveland to Seattle2,456204.7$753.99
Charlotte to Phoenix2,141178.4$657.29
New York to Dallas1,597133.1$490.28
Philadelphia to New Orleans1,272106.0$390.50
Portland to San Francisco68557.1$210.30
Chicago to Detroit33127.6$101.62
Orlando to Tampa13411.2$41.14
*National average of $3.684 (as of 09/22/22)

Remember: You’ll need to return that truck with a full tank. So how much will this cost you? Small to medium moving trucks have a 30 to 40-gallon tank, larger trucks have a tank that’s between 50 and 60 gallons. If you have a truck with a 50-gallon gas tank and gas is averaging $4 a gallon, it will cost you $200 to fill the tank before you turn in those keys.

If thinking about all that math makes your head hurt, use the fuel cost calculator from AAA.