How Much Weight Can A Semi Truck Pull

How Much Weight Can A Semi Truck Pull

How Much Weight Can A Semi Truck Pull

Semi-truck weight limits are essential for road safety and infrastructure preservation. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

Factors Affecting Weight Limits

  • Truck Type: Single axle semis typically have a 20,000-pound limit, while double (tandem) axle semis can handle up to 34,000 pounds.
  • State Laws: Regulations can vary slightly from state to state.
  • Federal Limits: 18-wheelers generally have a maximum loaded weight of 80,000 pounds (including cargo).

Cargo Payloads by Trailer Type

  • Flatbed trailers: Up to 48,000 pounds
  • Dry van trailers: 44,000 to 48,000 pounds
  • Refrigerated trailers (Reefers): 42,500 to 44,000 pounds

Types of Cargo 18-Wheelers Transport

Semi-trucks are incredibly versatile. They commonly transport:

  • Boats
  • Furniture
  • Refrigerated goods
  • Motor vehicles
  • Dry goods
  • Building materials
  • Construction equipment
  • Hazardous gases and liquids

Choosing the Right Truck: It’s important to select a semi-truck and trailer combo that matches your cargo type.

For example, flatbeds are excellent for large equipment, while tankers are essential for liquids.

Other Names for Semi-Trucks

  • Big Rig
  • Semi-Tractor Trailer
  • 18-Wheeler
  • Tractor-Trailer
  • Semi-Trailer Truck

Variations in Semi-Truck Design

Not every 18-wheeler is the same! They’re designed with specific purposes in mind, so you’ll find differences in shape, size, engine power, and trailer configurations.

Consider the nature of your work when making a selection.

Weight Limits and Drop Axles

While most semis are capped at 80,000 pounds, trucks with drop axles may be able to haul up to 105,000 pounds depending on your location’s road regulations.

Cargo Weight Distribution

Weight isn’t spread uniformly across a semi-truck’s wheels. Cargo placement matters! A central load will burden the center wheels more.

Generally, steer axles handle around 12,000 pounds or 6,000 pounds per tire.

How Semi-Trucks Are Weighed

  • Truck Stations: Third-party scales can measure axle and overall weight for a fee.
  • Shippers: Some shippers have on-site scales.
  • Government Scales: Located at state borders and entry points.
  • Mobile Weigh Stations: Set up by state transporation departments.
Truck TypeMaximum Weight Limit
Single Axle Semi20,000 lbs
Double (Tandem) Axle Semi34,000 lbs
Federal Limit for 18-Wheelers (Loaded)80,000 lbs
Trailer TypeTypical Cargo Payload
FlatbedUp to 48,000 lbs
Dry Van44,000 – 48,000 lbs
Reefer (Refrigerated)42,500 – 44,000 lbs

Consequences of Overweight Loads

Exceeding weight limits increases the risk of accidents, damages roads, and shortens the semi-truck’s lifespan.


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