Semi trucks, also known as semi-tractor-trailer trucks, are known for the giant trailers they tow behind them. The trailers don’t have front wheels and are only mobile once attached to the truck. They are one of the largest vehicles on the road. How much does a semi truck weigh?
Semi trucks without any trailer attached to them have a weight ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. If a trailer is hooked, a semi truck can weigh roughly 35,000 pounds. In the United States, the maximum weight allowed by law for a semi truck with a loaded trailer is 80,000 pounds.
Read on to learn more about semi trucks, their weight, and more.
How Much Does a Semi Truck Weigh?
Semi trucks that don’t have trailers attached to them weigh about 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. If a trailer is hooked, a semi truck can weigh approximately 35,000 pounds. In the United States, the maximum weight allowed by law for a semi truck with a loaded trailer is 80,000 pounds.
So, how heavy is a semi truck? It depends. There are several weight variations, and they all depend on various factors.
How Much Does a Semi Tractor Weigh?
A semi-tractor is the part of the truck where you will find the engine. So, if you’re curious about how much a semi truck weighs without a trailer, the measurement includes the weight of the semi-tractor.
But the weight of a semi truck without a trailer all depends on the type of truck. The average ones can range from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. The truck engine alone weighs roughly 3,000 pounds.
However, some trucks have larger engines, bigger fuel tanks, wider sleeper areas, and more gear. In which case, these are heavier than the regular semi trucks.
If you can’t imagine how heavy a semi truck is, think of the size of a car. An average car typically weighs between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds. This means that a semi truck weighs more than six times as much as an average type of car.
How Much Does an Empty Semi Truck Weigh?
To give a clearer picture of how much an empty semi truck weighs, let’s focus on an 18-wheeler semi truck.
If an 18-wheeler semi truck is empty, its weight is approximately 35,000 pounds. That means there’s a trailer hooked to it, but it is not carrying any load.
If it is carrying freight, the weight depends on several factors. One factor is the type of freight it is carrying. Another factor is whether the load is full or partial.
In the United States, there is a law which the Federal Highway Administration implements on weight limits. For instance, the total weight of an 18-wheeler truck should not exceed 40 tons or 80,000 pounds. That should already include the weight of the cargo, trailer, and tractor.
Oversized or overweight semi truck loads may be allowed, but this is a special case. They can only operate after getting a special permit to travel.
How Much Does a Semi Truck Tire Weigh?
Tires are undoubtedly among the most important parts of a vehicle. It has a great impact on road safety and automotive performance.
On average, a semi truck tire weighs 110 pounds. To compare this with the average tire of a passenger car, a semi truck tire is 90 pounds heavier. This is to ensure that trucks can successfully carry heavy cargo and withstand tough road conditions.
But the weight or size of semi truck tires has variations too. It all depends on the task at hand. For instance, trucks used for mining or agriculture tend to be heavier, sturdier, and more robust. That way, they are more capable of dealing with strenuous workloads.
Average Weight of a Semi Truck
On average, the weight of a semi truck is 33,000 pounds.
There are restrictions on the weight of semi trucks for safety reasons in the United States and other major countries. When the truck is heavier than the weight allowed by law, it can cause damage to roads and bridges. Unfortunately, this damage can cause road accidents.
An overweight truck can also cause severe damage to the truck itself. In addition, it can cause unnecessary wear and tear on major truck parts. This occurrence can also lead to road accidents.
This is why the United States Federal Highway Administration has imposed restrictions. And they implement them strictly, especially on all federally funded roads or highways.
There is a federal weight limit involving semi trucks and tractor-trailers. Years ago, the United States implemented that trucks could not weigh more than 73,200 pounds. In 1982, the U.S changed this to 80,000 pounds. The regulators wanted to increase the weight limit to 11,000 pounds in 2011. However, the legislation was disapproved and denied.
Average Weight of Different Semi Truck Class Sizes
Truck makers are all very familiar with the weight limits of tractors and trailers allowed in the United States. Weight allowances vary, and they all depend on vehicle class.
In vehicle classification, semi trucks belong to the following classification:
- Class 6 – Medium Truck
- Class 7 – Heavy Truck
- Class 8 – Heavy Truck
1. Class 6 – Medium Truck
Under the Class 6 – Medium Truck classification, the weight of semi trucks ranges between 19,501 and 26,000 pounds.
Typically, these vehicles consist of medium-duty commercial trucks. These include rack trucks, beverage trucks, single-axle trucks, and school buses, among others.
If your vehicle is under Class 6, you have to get a Commercial Driver’s License. Without it, you can’t drive one.
Among the vehicle models under this classification are the following:
- Ford F-650
- Peterbilt 330
- International Durastar
- Chevrolet Kodiak
2. Class 7 – Heavy Truck
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for Class 7 vehicles ranges from 26,001 to 33,000 pounds. In most cases, Class 7 trucks feature 3 or more axles.
Typically, Class 7 vehicles include city transit buses, garbage trucks, and street sweepers. There are also furniture trucks that fit in this classification.
Among the recognizable semi trucks under Class 7 are the following:
- GMC C7500
- Peterbilt 337
- Peterbilt 220
- Ford F-750
3. Class 8 – Heavy Truck
All other heavy trucks that do not fall under Class 7 most likely form part of Class 8. These include exceedingly huge trucks with a GVWR of more than 33,001 pounds. Sometimes, Class 8 heavy-duty trucks are also called “severe duty” trucks.
Examples of Class 8 trucks are dump trucks and cement trucks. In addition, big rigs such as Peterbilts, Kenworths, and Freightliners also fall under this classification.
Among the Class 8 vehicle makes and models that we are familiar with are the following:
- Kenworth T660
- Kenworth T600
- Freightliner Cascadia
Again, how much does a semi truck weigh? The weight of a semi truck fluctuates depending on whether the trailer is full of cargo. A semi truck pulling an empty trailer weighs about 35,000 pounds, whereas a semi truck with a fully loaded trailer weighs about 80,000 pounds.
How much does a semi truck weigh without a trailer? A semi truck without a trailer weighs about 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. A semi truck with a trailer weighs about 35,000 pounds. In the United States, the maximum weight allowed by law for a semi truck with a loaded trailer is 80,000 pounds.
Normal Dimensions of a Semi Truck
Obviously, the size of the vehicle also affects its weight. For an average semi truck, the length is roughly between 70 and 80 feet. Its average wheelbase measures approximately 245 inches. Whereas its height is typically 13’6”.
Knowing these dimensions is important. It can help you determine how much load your truck can carry.
In essence, longer trucks are used for carrying flat loads. At the same time, taller trucks are used for carrying stacked loads. Suffice it to say that it all depends on what type of cargo a truck is designed to carry.
Truck makers are very familiar with the weight limits. That way, they could also comply with road regulations and adhere to the needs of their clients.
They provide load and weight recommendations that truck drivers need to follow strictly. This will prevent drivers from overloading their trucks. But, most importantly, it will prevent the occurrence of road accidents.
Overweight Semi Trucks
It was in 1982 when the federal government implemented the law prohibiting trucks weighing 80,000 pounds from traveling. But how about the trucks that weigh more than 80,000 pounds that have long been operating even before the law?
Trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds operating even before the 1982 law can continue traveling. This is because they are outside the scope of the new law. However, those vehicles manufactured after 1982 must strictly comply with the law.
But if you have an oversized truck, there’s a chance that you can still use it. All you have to do is to get a special permit from the authorities. Your permit application will still be subject to approval. It isn’t easy to have one approved. But once it is, you can freely use your oversized truck without any hassle.
Should Truck Weight Limit Be Further Increased?
Legislators tried to increase the weight limit in 2011 but failed. But several truck drivers believe that the US should increase this figure soon.
Truck drivers argue that there are benefits to having an increased weight limit. First, it will increase highway safety as well as driver safety. Second, Truck travel will be more efficient and effective.
However, not all truck drivers agree to this. There are also several disadvantages to imposing an increased weight limit.
One disadvantage is that businesses will have no choice but to invest in new truck fleets. Second, the new fleets may cost more to fuel them. Lastly, it might be less cost-efficient since shippers are not willing to pay higher for bigger loads.
Apparently, there is a great need to weigh all the pros and cons before imposing new regulations. At the end of the day, it has to be beneficial to everyone.
How to Calculate the Weight of a Semi Truck
It is not difficult to measure and determine the size and weight of semi trucks. In the United States, there are 3 main types of weight recognized by the federal government.
These include the following:
- Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
- Gross Combination Weight (GCW)
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
Let’s briefly discuss each one of them:
1. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
The Gross Vehicle Weight refers to the weight of the loaded vehicle. This means that it includes the total weight of the vehicle and the total weight of its load.
2. Gross Combination Weight (GCW)
As for the Gross Combination Weight, this does not only include the trailer’s weight or semi-trailer. It also includes the maximum load weight suggested by the truck manufacturer.
3. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating refers to the overall weight of the truck when it is fully loaded. This includes a full gas tank.
Conclusion – Semi Truck Weight
Semi trucks that don’t have trailers attached to them have a weight ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds. If a trailer is hooked, a semi truck can weigh approximately 35,000 pounds. In the United States, the maximum weight allowed by law for a semi truck with a loaded trailer is 80,000 pounds.
I hope this article has shed some light on semi truck weights. It’s important to be familiar with truck weights. That way, you’d know whether you are or you are not complying with the regulations imposed by the United States Federal Highway Administration.
When you don’t have an overloaded truck, you prevent creating road and bridge damages. Aside from that, you prevent the occurrence of road accidents.