How Much Does a Semi Truck Weigh? (What is Fully Loaded Semi Tractor Trucks Weight)?

Author: Rohan Paulos
Updated On:

Looking to know how much does a semi truck weigh when empty and loaded? Semi 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 semi truck weigh as well similar large rigs such as 18 wheeler and how semi truck weight is determined.


How Much Does an 18 Wheeler Weigh When it Has a Load?

What is the gross weight of a semi truck or an 18 wheeler weight 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.

The gross weight limit is set by the Federal Regulations and is enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – FMCSA – in all United States.

How Much Do Semi Trucks Scale – fully laden vs unladen weight?

So, how much does a fully loaded semi weigh? Averagely 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.

Do note that, 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 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. Also, read how much weight can a semi truck pull facts!

Double trailer truck haulage

What is Semi Truck Weight – and, Weight of Tractor 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. RELATED: What does it cost to hire heavy duty truck rental?

Semi trailer truck head

How Many Tons Is A Semis?

How many tons does a semi truck weigh? On average, however, the semi truck weight in tons is up to 12.5 tons. Various factors, including the type of semi trucks and the freight it’s hauling, determine the weight of a truck in tons.

The average truck weight in tons is an indication of how much the vehicle can weigh. However weight of a truck in tons for smaller Class 1 and 2 A & B trucks ranges between 3 tons to 7 tons.

How Much Does a Cab Scale?

The tractor, without a trailer attached is called the CAB and generally weigh between 12,000 / 17000 and 16000 / 21000 LBS. While weights of semi cabs depends on manufacturer’s models.

It is noteworthy that newer models and brands now weigh even lighter then older ones as they come constructed with lightweight materials.

What is Truck Unladen Weight

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.

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.

Semi trailer truck back view

What is Semi-truck Weigh When Empty?

The unladen weight of a semi truck is dependent on a number of factors, including the number of gears, engine size, fuel tank size, and sizes of the sleeping and driving compartment.

Putting everything into consideration, the average weight of an empty semi truck can vary between 10,000 lbs and 25,000 lbs. The average weight of empty semi truck and trailer is slightly higher!

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.

Parked semi trailer trucks

What is Weight Distribution and Importance?

When it has to do with semi trucks, it’s not just the weight of the vehicle you consider, but also how that weight is judiciously spread around to optimize for road balance and overall safety.

We achieve optimal weight distribution by using a weight distribution calculator. When the weight and size of the cargo are inconsistent, unequal weight distribution results inside the semi-truck. This can lead to semi truck instability and poor braking performance.

How Much Does A Truck Scale In KG?

The average weight of a truck in kg depends on the type of truck, which goes on to influence the size. We’ll take a brief look at them for context. 

Dump trucks. A light-duty dump truck can be anywhere between 3628.7 kg and 4535.9, medium-duty dump trucks can weigh up to 20,000 kg, and heavy-duty trucks can be as heavy as 64,000 kg. 

Semi-trailer trucks. This is the most popular type of truck, and they weigh anywhere between 3,000 kg to 8,000 kg, depending on their capacities and sizes. 

Red trailer truck on the move

Cargo trucks. They also come in varying sizes, thus they weigh differently. Their weight range is between 4,500 kg and 90,000 kg. 

Pickup trucks. The weight of a pickup truck is mostly influenced by engine size and vehicle length or size. They typically weigh between 3,000 kg and 4,500 kg. 

Delivery truck. They weigh almost as much as pickup trucks, up to 6,000 kg. 

Generally, light-duty trucks weigh between 3,000 kg and 4,000 kg, heavy-duty trucks can weigh more than twice as much as light-duty trucks, and heavy-duty trucks can weigh up to 72,000 kg. 

S/N Truck Type Weight Range (kg)
1.  Dump truck 3,500 – 64,000
2. Semi-trailer truck 3,000 – 8,000
3. Cargo truck 4,500 – 90,000
4. Pickup truck 3,000 – 4,500
5. Delivery truck 6,000


Average Commercial Rig Weight Limits by States?

In several ways, on both state and federal levels, roads in the country are regulated for safety and performance purposes.

The legal weight limits for trucks and semi trucks are one of the ways these regulations occur. 

The United States federal weight limits are 20,000 lbs per axle, 34,000 lbs per tandem axle group, and 80,000 lbs gross vehicle weight (GVW). States, on the other hand, set their respective limits (see the table below).   

S/N  State Weight limits
1. Michigan  164,000
2. Florida  147,000
3. New York 143,000
4.  Montana  137,000
5.  Utah  129,000
6.  South Dakota  129,000
7.  Nevada  129,000
8. Iowa  129,000
9. Arizona  129,000
10. Ohio  127,400
11. Massachusetts  127,400
12. Indiana  127,400
13.  Missouri  120,000
14. Kansas  120,000
15.  Wyoming  117,000
16.  Colorado  110,000
17.  Washington  105,500
18. Oregon  105,500
19.  North Dakota  105,500
20.  Idaho  105,500
21. New Hampshire  103,000
22.  Maine  100,000
23.  Nebraska  95,000
24. Oklahoma  90,000
25.  Hawaii  88,000
26.  New Mexico 86,400 
27. Vermont  80,000
28. South Carolina  80,000
29. Rhode Island  80,000
30. Pennsylvania  80,000
31. North Carolina  80,000
32.  New Jersey  80,000
33.  Maryland  80,000
34. Georgia   80,000
35.  Connecticut  80,000
36.  Remaining states [0]

The Average Weight of a Tractor Trailer Laden and Empty?

The questions, “how much does a tractor weigh?” and “how much does a tractor trailer weigh?” are very common.

The average weight of a tractor trailer empty is about 35,000 lbs. You should note that this is not the same as the tractor trailer gross weight.

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.

Flatbed trailer truck illustration

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.

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:

Industrial refrigerators at sea port

  • 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.

Triple hauling trailer truck

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.

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 truck you can drive without a CDL or without a commercial driving license.

Female trailer truck driver

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.

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.

Flatbed truck carrying tiles

What is the hauling capacity of a big rig?

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.

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 tractors without a trailer

What is the weight per axle on an 18 wheeler?

The 18-wheeler is also known as a semi truck. The steer axles of the semi truck, which is located at the front can ordinarily hoist between 12,000 lbs to 15,000 lbs—that means 6,000 lbs to 7,5000 lbs per axle.

Three back wheel of a trailer

What are acceptable 18 wheeler axle weights?

To comply with the federally permitted 80,000 lbs commercial truck weight limits, the two drive axles of a class-8 semi-tractor should hoist 34,000 lbs and less. This 34,000 lbs is shared 17,000 per axle and 4,250 lbs per tire. 

Explain weight per axle and how to calculate?

You must be sure that your semi truck can haul the freight you will be carrying before you set out on your trip.  This weight capacity is distributed evenly to each axle. The easiest way to calculate weight per axle is using the weight per axle calculator. 

But here’s how to calculate axle weight distribution manually: 

Wr= Wx CGf/ WB



WB: Wheelbase. 

W: Weight of the body (total weight being distributed). 

Wf: Weight on the front axle. 

Wr: Weight on the rear axle. 

CGf: Distance of center of gravity to the front axle.

Popular Volvo weight

Volvo semi trucks include Volvo VNR Electric Series, Volvo VNR Series, Volvo VNL Series, Volvo VNX series, Volvo VHD Series, and Volvo VAH Series. 

But the Volvo VNL series is the most popular, especially the Volvo VNL 670 weight and Volvo VNL 860 weight. It’s the standard semi truck for the long haul and is designed to serve a broad variety of options. 

S/N Volvo VNL Series Weight
1.  VNL 300 16,439 lbs
2. VNL 400 16,439 lbs
3. VNL 740 18,044 lbs
4. VNL 760 18,044 lbs
5. VNL 860 18,044 lbs

The semis weight limit in Canada

The 1970 Ontario Bridge Formula (OBF) brought about the concept of greater allowable weight and quickly became the way to control axle weights of heavy-duty trucks in Ontario.

The table below will cover the legal axle weights in BC, truck weight limits in Manitoba, and Maximum allowable weight in Ontario. 

S/N Location Tandem (kg) Tridem (kg)
1. British Columbia (BC) 9,100 17,000
2. Ontario  17,690 27,215
3. Manitoba 21,000 22,000

What is the legal single axle weight limit?

Federal law puts the single axle limit at 20,000 lbs. For axles spaced between 40 inches and 96 inches apart (tandem axles), the limit is set at 34,000 lbs and the gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit is set to 80,000 lbs. 

What is the max class 8 weight?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts the weight of an unladen Class 8 truck at 35,000 lbs and with cargo at around 40,000 lbs, but the load limit for class 8 trucks is 80,000 lbs.  

Why is laden weight regulated?

The primary reason weight limits were established was to protect the Federal investment in the Interstate System from gross destruction that would otherwise be caused by overweight/overloaded commercial trucks.

Also, it was to reduce the likelihood of an accident that may occur as a result of vehicular imbalance from overload. 

Truck transporting PVC pipes

The difference between laden and unladen weight

The unladen weight of a semi truck is the weight of the truck, including the truck’s body, trailer, and all other parts of the vehicle, when it’s not carrying passengers, cargo, or other items.

The maximum laden weight, on the other hand, is the actual weight of the semi truck and the load it’s hauling. 

What sanctions when heavy truck weight limits are flouted?

Every state has its sanctions for truck owners who exceed the set weight limits. In Texas, for instance, here’s their fine: 

S/N Overweight  Fine ($)
1.  Less than 2,500 lbs 100 – 500
2. 2,500 – 5,000 500 – 1,000
3.  5,001 – 10,000 1,000 – 2,500
4.  10,001 – 20,000 2,500 – 5,000

What weighs 80000 pounds apart from semis?

Of all the truck classes in the United States, there’s no commercial truck that weighs up to 80,000 lbs when it’s empty. But with cargo, the heavy-duty trucks from Cass 7 and Class 8 can exceed 80,000 lbs. 

What is the smallest heavy duty weight?

The smallest heavy-duty trucks with a weight range of 11,794 kg and 14,969 kg are from Class 7 and Class 8, and includes Autocar ACMD, Freightliner Business Class M2 106, Ford F-750[14], Hino 338, International MV, Kenworth K370, Kenworth T370 and T440/470, Mack MD, and Peterbilt 220 and 337/348.

Truck carrying two vehicles

Does towing capacity consider the 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 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.

Is it possible to increase the 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.

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 – What does semis-truck weigh!

Like we have already seen, there are various ways of determining the semi or 18 wheeler weight. 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 how much does a semi truck weigh.

Industrial refrigerators at sea port


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