What is Dimensions of 53 FT Trailer – Standard Size, Weight, Length and Legal Restrictions of Semis!

Facts about Weight of Semi Truck

A detailed guide on the Dimensions of a 53 FT Trailer

The biggest trailer that can be used by a semi-truck is usually 53-foot. Selecting the right size of load for cargo can help to manage your shipping costs.

By understanding the dimensions of a 53 foot trailer, it’s possible to manage your shipping cost.

One of the easiest ways of understanding the size and cargo capacity of a semi-truck is by contacting the trailer provider as there are differences in truck trailers depending on the manufacturer, load requirements, and regulations of the state road.

However, it can also help to have a general idea of the truck.

Size of a Standard Semi Trailer Truck

The U.S Department of Transportation has set the standard length of a trailer as 48 to 53 feet.

Commercial autos, semi-trailers, and tractor hauled trailers have a maximum width of 102.36 inches and a height of 13 by 14 feet. It’s worth noting that the federal government hasn’t set a limit on the dimensions that states can allow for semi-trailers.

This is why there is a huge variation in the length and the height. But on the other hand, the width is usually standardized.

There are a few exceptions such as when a trailer requires special rear-view mirrors that extend beyond the tractor’s length.

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Dimensions, Length, and Freight Weight By the Type of Trailer

Semi trailers aren’t all designed for the same use. This is why there is a difference in the dimensions and load weight depending on the cargo they will be hauling.

Here are some of the common dimensions of different types of trailers.

Flatbed trailers

The flatbed trailer is designed to haul a maximum of 48,000 pounds but tri-axle trailers can haul a maximum of 65,000 pounds making them suitable for heavy cargo.

The dimensions of a flatbed trailer are usually:

  • Length: 48 ft to 53 ft
  • Width: 8.5 feet
  • Height: 8.5 ft

Learn more about Flatbed trucking, dimensions and benefits here!

Dry Vans

The weight of the dry vans ranges from 42,000 pounds to 45,000 pounds depending on the particular van. When it has a tri-axle, the dry van can haul 63,000 pounds. The dimensions of a dry van trailer are usually:

  • Length:48 to 53 feet
  • Width:8.2 feet
  • Height: 8 feet

Refrigerated trailers

The refrigerated trailers are designed for the transportation of products that are temperature-sensitive such as dairy goods, farm produce, and other foods.

These trailers have a max freight weight of 42,000 to 45,000 pounds for the standard refrigerated trailers while the tri-axle has a max freight weight of 63,000 pounds. Some of the common dimensions of a refrigerated trailer are:

  • Legth:48 to 53 feet
  • Width:8.2 feet
  • Height:8 feet.

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The standard lowboy trailers with 2 axles have a maximum freight weight of 40,000 pounds.

However, users can add a trailer to haul a maximum weight of 95,000 pounds depending on the number of axles the trailer has. Some of the common dimensions of lowboy trailers are:

  • Length: 24-29.6 feet
  • Well height:18 to 25 inches
  • Width:8.5 feet
  • Freight height allowed:11.5-12 feet
  • Legal Overall Load Height:14 feet

Step decks

Step decks have a maximum freight weight of 48,000 pounds for the standard trailer and maximum cargo weight of 65,000 pounds for the tri-axle. The standard dimensions of a common step-deck are:

  • Length of 48 feet to 43 feet
  • Width of 8.5 feet
  • Height of 10 feet

What Are The Dimensions Of a 53″ Semi-Trailer?

While semi-trailers have different lengths that range from the 28 HCs (High Cube) to the 53 feet dry van, their width is usually standardized.

When considering a trailer of 53 feet, the dimensions will vary slightly from the interior to the overall body.

But generally, 53 foot trailers have interior dimensions of 630 inches by 102 inches by 13 ft 6 inches(length x width x height) These dimensions don’t include the driver’s cabin.

On the interior, the semi-trailers have dimensions of 47.6 long, 98.5, wide, and 108 inches high. The door opening at the back has a width of 94 inches and a height of 102.

The capacity of 53 ft semitrailers is usually 3,489 cubic feet and they weigh 13,500 lbs. The standard dimensions of a trailer can, therefore, be summarised as:

  • Length: 28 to 53 foot
  • Width:96 to 102 inches
  • Height: 12.6 to 13.6 ft
  • The capacity of 2089 cubic feet to 3489 cubic feet
  • Door types: Roller/Swing doors
  • Maximum weight: 45,000 lbs can be hauled by a 53 feet trailer
  • Overall length:80”
  • Total weight:80,000 lbs.

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What is the length of a semi-trailer?

What is The Length Of a Semi / Container?

Semi-trailers are usually named according to their size, usage, and length. Many people use semi-trailers and tractor-trailers interchangeably. Different states allow for tractor lengths of different sizes.

This means that there is a variation in the overall length of the semitrailer and cab combo. When pulling a trailer using a Straight truck, the total length of the two should be less than 65 feet.

Where the length exceeds this length, the state is allowed by law to use the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficient (INSTEA) to impose a limit.

What is the width of an 18 wheeler trailer?

The maximum width of an 8 wheeler is 102 inches, which translates into 2.6 meters. These are the standard width measurements of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). All trailers currently have an internal limit of 102.36 inches but this applies to the body or chassis of the big rigs.

Some states in the United States allow for the width to be extended beyond 102″. When special equipment such as rear mirrors, strap winches, and lights, could take the rig width to more than 110 inches.

For drivers to get a clear view of the highway, mirrors tend to stick out. If an 18-wheeler is 8.6 wide it uses the lane width of 12 feet, which is the width in the majority of highways.

To measure the width of a trailer, you should take the dimensions from the widest points. Where the wheels are outside the trailer’s frame, the width should be measured from the outside of one fender to the outside of the other fender.

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How much weight is a semi-trailer allowed to carry?

The laws on the maximum weight that a trailer can carry on state and interstate highways differ from one state to the other. For instance, the law in North Carolina limits the weight depending on the axle, the commodity being transported by the trailer, and the road network of the area.

This will also depend on the weight limit for bridges. The single axle trailers are allowed to carry a maximum of 20,000 lbs. The trailer with a tandem axle is allowed to carry a maximum of 34,000 lbs.

The state of North Carolina also has put the limit on Gross Vehicle Weight as 80,000 lbs. An extra weight of 10 percent is allowed for other vehicles apart from those that have a single axle, tandem axle, or GVW limit or those that use interstate highways.

According to fhwa.dot.gov, single axle trailers are exempted for up to 22,000 lbs when transporting some commodities within a maximum distance of 150 miles on non-interstate highways.

The tandem axle trailers can reach 42,000 lbs while the Gross Vehicle Weight can reach 90,000 lbs. An annual limit of 90,000 lbs is also allowed in the state for trailers that have a minimum wheelbase of 51 feet.

However, the vehicles aren’t allowed to use roads and bridges that can easily collapse under the weight. The limit for the five-axle semitrailer is 94,500 lbs. The limit for the six axles is 108,000 lbs while the limit for the 7 axle trailers is 122,000 lbs.

Number of trailers that can be hauled by a semitrailer

According to the laws for trucks and trailers in North Carolina, semi-trucks can pull a maximum of two trailers. According to the regulations, these trailers can only be hauled on interstate highways.

The trailer to be hauled this way shouldn’t be more than 28 feet. However, there are a few exceptions for trailers that were made after 1982 with a length of 28.5 feet.

The law of the state allows the hauling of 53 feet semi-trailers on the primary highways of the state. However, the combination should meet the federal and state length requirements.

There is also a requirement for the combination to comply with the weight restrictions of the axle. One of these restrictions is that the distance between the kingpin of the trailer and its rearmost axle shouldn’t be more than 41 feet. Similarly, the distance shouldn’t exceed 41 feet for the tandem axle.

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Trailer restrictions in North Carolina

Going by our example above, there may be a limit on the use of semitrailer or truck-trailer combinations in North Carolina. One of the requirements is that the semi-truck should be attached firmly. This ensures that vehicles that haul and the trailer don’t snake on the highway.

According to the laws on trailer dimension in North Carolina, the overall length of a semitrailer shouldn’t exceed 60 feet.

The standard trailer should have a length of 48 feet and a width of 102 inches including the mirror and 96 inches without the mirror and such specialized equipment.

If a hitch is used to attach a trailer to a truck, a safety chain should be attached to increase the hold of the truck. This is for all trailers unless the semi-truck is connected using a fifth wheel.

How to Determine Your Trailer Tow Limit

If you would like to tow safely, you should understand how to hitch your trailer well. Understanding your trailer tow limit will also help keep you safe on the road. There are a few factors that will help you determine this. These include:

  • Gross trailer weight (GTW). If you exceed the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle, this will add strain on the engine of the tow vehicle and the drive train, increasing the chances of maintenance problems for the tow vehicle and air pressure problems with the trailers. If the trailer weighs too much for the two-vehicle, this will result in instability problems.
  • Gross vehicle weight Rating (GVWR). This refers to the weight of the vehicle with its cargo.
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). This is the weight that is allowed for both the trailer and the cargo. This weight is usually posted on the VIN label of the trailer. You can find this label on the side of the driver’s cab.
  • Trailer weight. Refers to the weight of the trailer when fully assembled. You can get this weight by weighing the trailer at a truck stop.
  • Payload capacity. This is the weight capacity of the trailer. To get this figure, subtract the weight of the trailer from the GVWR.
  • Tongue weight. This is the weight of the trailer that gets transferred to the two vehicles through the gooseneck or tongue of the trailer.

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After understanding these factors, you can now easily determine a safe load limit. First, you should find the VIN label that will indicate the GVWR and the GWAR. This label will show you the maximum cargo capacity.

You can therefore carry as much cargo as what is specified on this placard.

But remember that the total weight of the trailer when fully loaded shouldn’t be more than the listed GVWR. Ensure that the trailer is properly loaded and the right air pressure on the Vin label is followed.

What Is The Width Of An 18 Wheeler Trailer?


Understanding the trailer dimensions can help to prevent the overloading of your trailer. This can also help to increase your safety on the loads.

To stay on the safe side of the law by avoiding exceeding the tow weight, you should know the dimensions of your truck. Fortunately, you can use this guide to help you to understand the dimensions of a 53 feet trailer. Safe Hauling!

By Team: Auto Renting Tutors!