7 Common Types of Freight Trucks & What They Haul
Truck freight is responsible for 70 percent of all cargo that is transported in America. That’s over 10 billion tons each year. Various industries rely on freight trucks for transporting goods, but not all cargo can be transported using the same method. Fortunately, different types of freight trucks cater to different industry requirements for the transportation of goods, whether it’s domestically or globally.
Box trucks, flatbeds, step decks, dry vans, reefers, semi-trailers, and tankers are among the many types of freight trucks used. Each of these trucks serves a specific purpose in hauling and transporting different types of cargo.
What is a Freight Truck?
The freight truck is a larger machine that hauls goods from one location to the next. All freight trucks have two sections, the truck tractor in front which holds the engine and cab, and then a trailer in the back where cargo is stowed.
Truck drivers who wish to drive freight trucks must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) when the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds. Some types of freight, however, necessitate even more training and endorsements for the driver.
Types of Freight Trucks & What They Haul
There are seven main types of freight trucks, semi-trailers, flatbeds, step decks, dry vans, reefers, box trucks, and tankers, all of which haul different types of cargo.
Instead of carrying goods inside a closed trailer, a flatbed truck has a flat, open trailer without any roofs or sides. Flat-bed trucks are excellent for carrying oversized loads.
They are easier to load and unload than other freight trucks as well. Cargo is typically secured on flatbed trailers using straps. With an impressive load-bearing capacity and versatile cargo space, flatbed trucks are ideal for hauling construction materials, other vehicles, heavy machinery, oversized cargo, and even houses.
2. Step Deck
Like a flatbed truck, a step deck is an open trailer. The difference between the two is that a step deck is specially designed to haul tall cargo. Also called a drop deck or lowboy trailer, a step deck has two decks, with the lower deck designed to allow for more overhead clearance for hauling tall or oversized cargo. As a result, they are easier to load and unload. Step deck trailers are specially designed to haul tall and oversized cargo without additional permits. It’s also possible to transport additional goods on the other deck.
3. Reefer Trucks
Also known as refrigerated trucks, reefer trucks are truck freight with a trailer that is temperature controlled in order to haul goods that must remain within a certain temperature zone at all times such as food. While reefer trucks commonly haul loads that include perishable foods, they also transport things like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other hazmat materials, though not at the same time of course.
4. Dry Van
A dry van is a type of semi-truck that doesn’t have temperature control for its trailer. A dry van is completely enclosed by four walls and has a roof to protect goods from the outside elements. Many dry van trailers are 53 feet in length and can accommodate different types of freight. New truck drivers often operate dry van trucks because they’re common and only require a Class A CDL.
Dry van trucks commonly haul boxed cargo and pallets, which is why almost everything you have in your house was at one point transported by a dry van–this includes furniture, non-perishable food, and clothing.
There are two tanker trucks — dry bulk tankers and liquid tankers. Dry bulk tankers carry loose bulk dry goods and liquid tankers transport liquids and gasses. Rather than a boxy trailer, a tanker has a cylindrical tank that mounts onto a semi-truck. Tankers are more challenging to operate since drivers have to minimize sloshing.
However, the tanks also have compartments to help reduce this sloshing and carry multiple loads. The tank can be pressurized, insulated or refrigerated if the cargo requires it. Dry bulk tankers are designed to carry loose materials that drivers cannot transport any other way, including construction materials, such as sand, and powders or bulk foods, such as sugar and grain. Liquid tankers haul liquids of all varieties, including beverages, such as milk or wine, and chemicals, such as gasoline.
6. Auto Carrier
An auto carrier, also known as a car hauler or car transporter, is a type of freight truck that is specifically designed to transport vehicles such as cars, trucks, and vans. Auto carriers can vary in size and capacity, ranging from small trailers to large multi-level transporters that can carry dozens of vehicles at once.
Auto carriers typically have ramps or hydraulic lifts that allow for easy loading and unloading of vehicles. Some carriers are open-air trailers while others are enclosed, providing protection from the elements during transportation. Auto carriers are commonly used by car manufacturers, dealerships, rental companies, and individuals who need to transport their vehicles over long distances.
7. Dump Trailer
A dump trailer is a type of freight truck that is designed for transporting and dumping loose materials such as sand, gravel, and debris. Dump trailers are typically attached to a semi-truck or a heavy-duty pickup truck and are used in construction, landscaping, and agriculture industries.
Dump trailers feature a hydraulic system that allows the trailer to tilt and dump its load quickly and efficiently. Some dump trailers have a rear gate that can be opened to discharge materials, while others have a bottom gate that can be opened to dump the load. Dump trailers come in various sizes, from small single-axle trailers to large heavy-duty models capable of hauling several tons of material.
Nearly everything we touch was transported by a freight truck at some point. This heightened demand for transportation and logistics services means there are plenty of jobs out there for truck drivers.
There are numerous opportunities to specialize and haul different types of freight as well. No matter which type of freight truck you choose to drive or what you choose to haul, you’re sure to have a rewarding career as a truck driver.
No matter what type of cargo you need to transport, DRS Truck Sale has the perfect truck for the job. Contact us today to learn more about our selection of freight trucks.
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