How Heavy Is Semi Truck Weight When Fully Laden, Empty and Pulling Trailer Rig?

Can You Drive A Semi Without A CDL?

Semi trucks are usually the largest vehicles on the road.

While many of us understand how big they are, the majority of us don’t know how heavy they are.

Fortunately, we have created a guide that will help you to understand how much does a semi truck weigh and how weight is determined.

Note we have comprehensive semi trailer rental tips here!

What is the weight of semi tractors with no trailer attached?

Semi tractors refer to the towing part of the big rigs and can weigh anything between 10,000 and 25,000 pounds.

The weight of a semi-tractor depends on various factors such as the engine and fuel tank size, the number of gears of the vehicle, and the size of the sleeping and driving compartment.

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What is the weight of an 18-wheeler when it has a load?

An 18-wheeler refers to the semi-truck, tractor-trailers, or big rigs. So what is the weight of the 18-wheeler or semi-truck when it’s hauling a load?

This will mostly depend on the load it’s carrying. But according to the law, the maximum weight should be 80,000 pounds, including the weight of the whole big rig and its freight.

How much weight are semis able to haul?

The tandem axle semis can haul a maximum of 34,000 pounds. However, the single axle trailer can carry up to 20,000 pounds.

However, this weight limit includes the cargo and the trailer’s weight.

A container-style trailer when empty can carry 10,000 pounds.

Why There Is a Weight Limit on Trucks

Governments in all major countries have put a weight restriction on semi trucks. This is partly because of the need for safety.

The heavier these trucks are, the bigger the damage they cause. It’s usually hard for truck drivers to handle normal size load. 

But it gets worse for tracks with double or triple loads.

Another thing about heavy trucks is that they lead to a lot of unwanted wear and tear on major highways.

This is the reason why there are weight limits for trucks driven on roads funded by the federal government in the US.

This also applies to countries such as Canada and Australia. The goal is to prevent the truck from destroying the roads, causing the government to spend a lot of money on road repairs.

There is a federal weight limit on all commercial semi trucks as well as tractor-trailers.

No matter the road that the truck is driven on, it should not weigh more than 80,000.

This is as per the law that was enacted in 1982. Currently, truck drivers are arguing for an increase citing that:

  • It would increase the safety of the driver and the general highway safety
  • It increases effectiveness and efficiency

But the truth of the matter is that heavier trucks are usually more dangerous and less safe as compared to lighter trucks.

Some of the cons of increasing the weight limit are:

  • Companies may need to invest in new trucks
  • The trucks would consume more fuel
  • Shippers will not agree to pay more for bigger roads that could be cost-ineffective.

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Understanding the Gross Vehicle Weight and Gross Axle weight rating

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rate is the vehicle rating that applies to a vehicle that will fit in different categories from the everyday pickup trucks to the large tractor-trailers.

This weight is a key safety element for personal and commercial trucks. The GVWR is usually broken down into a single rating consisting of:

  • The base curb weight of the vehicle.
  • Weight of optimal truck accessories.

To determine the GVWR, you should add the trailer capacity to the trailer weight.

In this case, the trailer capacity is the weight that your trailer is rated to hold safely.

This weight is printed and displayed by the manufacturer on the truck.

This includes all the elements of the trailer and truck such as the body, engine, chassis, fuel, and accessories.

On the other hand, the trailer’s weight is the total weight of all items that your customers plan to haul in the trailer.

The Gross axle weight rating is also an important consideration. This mostly refers to the size of tires and inflation pressure as related to the single axle.

This means that each has its unique GAWR that is accompanied by the front wheel and rear wheel.

The operator should understand these figures as they relate to the overall safety of the whole truck-trailer combination.

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Laden vs. Unladen Weight

The weight of a semi-truck is usually measured in two ways. First, the weight of the truck and the trailer are combined.

The figure gotten is the unladen weight of the semi. On the other hand, is the laden weight is the weight of the truck when fully loaded.

The laden weight depends on the load. For instance, if the truck is carrying empty bottles of soda, it will weigh less than when carrying full sodas.

The maximum weight of the truck is usually determined by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) that specifics the maximum weight.

The GVWR takes into consideration the truck’s weight, fuel, cargo, passengers, and all the other details attached to the vehicle.

According to US Federal laws, semis should have a maximum laden weight of 80,000 pounds.

This figure may rise in the heavier-duty truck for safety but still, that doesn’t make it legal for them to exceed 80,000.

The semi tractor’s unladed weight can range from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds, depending on how powerful the engine is and its towing design, and if it’s a sleeper cab.

When unladen a 53-foot trailer can weigh around 10,000 pounds, and this represents a total unladen weight of around 35,000 pounds.

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Classes of trucks

Trucks can be categorized according to their GVWR.

The lightest classes of tracks consist of small vehicles such as minivans, pickup trucks, and SUVs.

These are usually personal and noncommercial vehicles even though pickups are used for commercial purposes.

Class 4 to 6 trucks consist of medium-duty trucks that have a GVWR of 14,000 to 26,000 pounds.

On the other hand, class 6 trucks have a GVWR that ranges from 19,500 to 26,000 pounds and are usually the heaviest trucks that can be driven without a commercial driving license.

The bigger box trucks with a single axle are in this category and are commonly used by rental companies

The class 7 trucks consist of three axles and have a GVWR of 33,000 pounds.

On top of these box trucks mentioned, there are vehicles such as city buses and garbage trucks that are in this class.

Class 8 trucks consist of semi-trucks that have 3 axles and a GVWR of 33,000 pounds.

This is the heaviest class of vehicles according to the Department of Transportation.

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What Is The Weight Of Semi-Tractors With No Trailer Attached?

Stopping distance of semi-trucks

Even when unladen, semi trucks don’t stop as easily as the standard cars due to their heavyweight.

When moving on highways at a speed of 65 miles per hour, an average car comes to a stop at around 3000 feet.

But a fully loaded semi-travel can travel for as much as 600 feet before it completely stops.

The distance can even be bigger when you consider conditions such as snow, ice, and rain.

This is why you should avoid cutting off a semi in traffic and stopping abruptly before them.

This can lead to a dangerous situation that puts your rise at a risk.

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Weight of a semi-truck

The weight of a semi-truck depends on various factors.

For instance, semi-tractors can reach a weight of 25,000 pounds while the 18 wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

On the other hand, a semi trucker can haul 34,000 pounds.

But it’s worth noting that the semi-tractor refers to the part of the truck that has an engine.

The weight of the semi-tractor without the trailer or with the trailer attached depends on the kind of truck and can weigh from 15,000 to 25,000 pounds.

Some of the trucks that are usually on the higher end are those that have bigger sleeping areas, bigger fuel tanks, bigger engines, and more gears.

When you consider that an average car weighs between 4000 and 5000 pounds, you can see how heavy the semi tractors are.

Semi tractors have engines that are six times heavier than average car engines. On average, the engine of a semi weighs 3,000 pounds.

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Weight of an 18-wheeler

Generally, when an 18 wheeler has an empty trailer, it can weigh as much as 35,000 pounds. But what is the weight of an 18 wheeler with freight? This will depend on the kind of freight and whether it has a full or partial load.

Like we have already noted, In the U.S, the maximum allowed weight of an 18wheeler is usually 80,000 pounds, which is equivalent to 40 tons.

This limit was set to avoid road and bridge damage and applies to trailers, tractors, and cargo weight.

However, in some instances, special permits may be issued for oversized or overweight semi-truck loads.

What is the hauling capacity of a semi?

The weight that can be hauled by a semi depends on the kind of truck.

The types can range from the single axles to the double axel semis. The law allows single axles to haul a maximum of 20,000 pounds.

Also known as tandem axle, the double axel semis can haul a maximum of 34,000 pounds. The limit applies to the combination of trailer and freight weight.

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Cargos carried by semis

The cargo that can be hauled by semis will depend on different freights. Trucks that have flatbed trailers usually carry heavy construction equipment and other heavy and bulky loads.

The double-decker open car carriers usually transport new as well as used passenger vehicles.

On the other hand, tanker trucks are used to carry petroleum and other kinds of gases and liquids.

The common types of semis are the ones that have container/box types.

These usually carry some dry goods and other kinds of freight.

Therefore, there are varieties of items that are carried by semis. These include:

  • Cars
  • Boats
  • Refrigerated items
  • Dry items
  • Furniture
  • Construction machinery
  • Building items
  • Hazardous gases and liquids.

FAQs on semi-tractors without a trailer

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Does towing capacity consider the truck’s weight?

To determine the towing capacity, you should subtract the curb weight of the truck from the Gross Combined Vehicle Rating (GCVWR).

This is the maximum weight that the loaded truck can carry as well as the weight of the attached trailer.

What will happen if I exceed my truck’s towing capacity?

The maximum towing capacity isn’t something to take lightly.

When you exceed the weight that the vehicle is designed, this can cause a strain on the transmission and engine, accelerate wear and tear of the brake, damage tires and warp the chassis.

This could cause a catastrophic failure when driving that could lead to damage or injury.

How Much Weight Are Semis Able To Haul?

Is it possible to increase the truck’s GVWR?

Unless you are certified as a truck builder, there is no legal way of increasing the GVWR of your truck.

This rating comes from the manufacturer of the vehicle and is equivalent to the curb weight of the truck plus its towing capacity.

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Do bigger tires affect payloads?

When carrying heavy loads, bigger tires can help you get a better ride.

This is because some tires can handle the payload that your truck is rated for better than others. However, bigger trucks will not increase the payload of the truck.

Summary – How much does a semi truck weigh!

Like we have already seen, there are various ways of determining the weight of semi trucks.

When unladen, the lowest weight is about 25,000 pounds but this can rise to about 35,000 pounds.

While there are a few exceptions, we hope that this guide has given you an idea of the weight of these big and powerful vehicles.

Guide By: Auto Renting Tutors!