How Much Weight Can a Semi Truck Pull? (Know the Towing Capacity!)

Author: Rohan Paulos
Updated On:

A semi-truck is a typical load puller, Its primary function is to convey goods, and it can pull an incredible amount of weight. Semi-trucks can draw loads weighing several thousand pounds, thanks to the unique equipment connected to them, to increase the amount they can pull.

The amount of load a semi-truck can pull and carry depends on several factors – such as the size of the semi-truck and laws governing the movement of goods within the particular location.

That said, a semi-truck with a single axle can carry up to 20,000 pounds of load. A semi-truck with a double axle can carry about 34,000 pounds of load.

This article will explain the maximum weight a semi-truck can tow, the maximum distance a semi-truck can draw cargo, and what will happen if a semi-truck pulls the excess load.

Semi tractor pulling

What is The Maximum Weight a Semi Truck Can Tow?

A semi-truck with a single axle can carry up to 20,000 pounds of load. A semi-truck with a double axle can carry about 34,000 pounds of load. However, when you add the weight of the truck, the weight will move to around 80,000 pounds.

The weight of the semi-truck’s trailer also affects how much cargo a semi-truck can transport. For instance, when mounted on a semi-truck, an aluminum flatbed trailer can support heavy loads so long as it does not exceed the 80000-pound limit.

In some places, the maximum weight a semi-truck can tow depends on how many axles the semi-truck has. These axles are what carry the weight of the semi trucks and, subsequently, the load on them.

How Far Can a Semi Truck Pull Loads?

A sound semi truck with working engine components can pull loads between 750,000 and 1,000,000 miles annually. However, how far a semi-truck can pull loads depends on the diesel inside the engine and how other parts of the truck function.

Suppose the semi-truck’s engine and other components are working seamlessly. In that case, it will take a shorter time for a semi-truck to deliver its load. Generally, a much larger truck such as, 53-foot trailer dimensions and weight will pull or haul bigger then semi without trailer.

semi pulling side loader

What Happens Whenever a Semi Truck Carries Excess Load?

Semi-trucks are the primary transporter of cargo anywhere in the world. Semi-trucks are enormous and bigger than most automobiles, so several regulations have been passed at the state and federal levels to ensure safety. Overloading a semi-truck can lead to the issues listed below:

1. Tire Failure

Tire Failure

The growing demand for cargo transportation has resulted in semi-truck shortages. As a result, some businesses choose to overload their semi-trucks to reduce transportation costs while increasing payload.

Others even go as far as modifying the semi trucks to suit their needs. It’s important to note that such acts are detrimental to life, and you risk paying a fine when caught by traffic law enforcement agencies.

That said, loading your semi truck with excess weight for an extended period can make your truck move slowly. After a while, the semi-truck tires might get damaged, and the trucker might lose control.

2. Mechanical Failure

The manufacturer sets the weight limit that a semi-truck can handle, and a heavy load will strain some of the semi-truck components. The truck might develop technical faults when vital semi-truck parts become damaged. Excess loads exceeding the maximum limit can cause some of these mechanical parts to fail.

3. Damage to The Tarred Road

Damage to The Tarred Road

Only commercial semi trucks with a special permit can carry as much cargo as possible that weighs over 80,000 pounds. This includes the weight of the truck and the load.

A semi-truck weighing over 80,000 pounds can cause the tarred road to be damaged over time. Likewise, some road structures, such as bridges, have weight limits that road vehicles adhere to, and a semi-truck is no exception.

Tip: Because each semi-truck has a different carrying capacity, smaller semi-trucks should not transport the same cargo as larger ones to avoid issues.

4. Steering Failure

Heavy-duty semi-trucks take longer to stop compared to other smaller trucks. On wet and slippery roads, stopping power is significantly reduced, which increases the risk of severe accidents unless the driver is well-versed in dealing with such difficult situations.

An excess load on your semi truck’s trailer can make the semi-truck not move faster than expected. In addition, an overloaded semi truck may gain too much speed when descending a hill, which might cause serious accidents.

5. Increased Possibility of Road Accidents

Increased Possibility of Road Accidents

As stated before, having a mechanical failure in your semi truck can be highly traumatic. Some of these failures are caused by overloading. Once a semi-truck carries a load exceeding its required limits, there’s a high chance of a road accident.

6. Faulty Transmission

A faulty transmission system can endanger the life of the semi-truck driver and other road users. In addition to a transmission failure, an overloaded truck is more likely to experience an axle snap, in which some wheels lose power and stop turning even while the engine is still running.

7. Increased Pressure on Brakes

Excessive weight also degrades the braking system in a semi-truck. Remember that the load reduces the semi-trucks stopping power, so the driver must apply more force to the brakes to bring the semi-truck to a stop.

When the semi-truck carries a load that exceeds the maximum limit capacity, the driver will need additional pressure to drive and propel the semi-truck forward. When this pressure drops (especially on a slope), a brake failure might lead to loss of life.


Which Semi Truck Can Carry The Most Weight?

The most reliable semi-truck in the world as of today is the 700-horsepower Volvo FH16. It is designed to handle the most challenging transportation missions. Despite having 700 horsepower, the semi-truck does not consume excess fuel. It can carry loads that weigh up to 42,000 pounds.

The FH16 700 is a unique product in the global semi-truck market. It delivers a distinctive blend of efficiency and performance.

Increased Pressure on Brakes

Is The Weight Of The Load Distributed Throughout The Semi Truck’s Wheel?

When cargo loaders arrange load on a semi-truck, the weight of the cargo is distributed evenly among all the semi-trucks axles. How the weight will balance the semi-truck depends on the load arrangement and its position on the trailer.

For example, if you place the load at the center of the semi-truck’s trailer, the middle axles will carry the greater weight.

What is the Maximum Weight a Single-Axle Semi Truck Can Haul?

The maximum weight that the axle of a semi-truck is allowed to tow depends on the law regulating the loading of trucks in a particular location.

Generally, a single-axle semi-truck can carry a maximum of 20,000 pounds load. This weight is the standard for small semi-trucks. To ensure that semi-truck drivers do not exceed these maximum limits, the government mounted inspection points and measurement stations that verify compliance at the entrance of each state and strategic location.

The restrictions are in place to guarantee secure cargo transportation and prevent the load from breaking the axle because of excess weight.

How Are Semi Trucks Weight Checked?

Countries like the US have truck terminals with scales supervised by a third party, where semi-truck drivers check their load’s weight to determine the combined weight of the semi-truck and each axle unit.

In addition, some shipping companies at the ports have scales that enable these semi-truck drivers to measure their load before traveling. Also, the government installed weight scales at most states’ exit and entry points. Once semi-truck drivers get to the facility, they are required to park so that the officials can check the weight of their load and a semi-truck.

Steering Failure

What Types of Cargo Do Semi Trucks Transport?

Semi-trucks transport a wide range of items. Here are a few examples:

• Vehicles for transportation

• Dangerous liquids and gas

• Construction machinery

• Furniture Finished goods

• Refrigerated items

• Shipped goods from seaports

Materials for construction Semi-trucks are classified according to the type of cargo they transport. For instance, a flatbed semi-truck is the best option for transporting construction equipment. A tanker transports liquids such as petroleum and chemicals. Open and double-deck trailers transport new vehicles to dealerships.

In Summary

The weight a semi-truck can pull depends on several variables – like the size of the semi-truck and the relevant laws guiding cargo movement from one location to another.

We also mentioned what happens when a semi-truck carries too much load and things you should always look out for to avoid damaging your semi-truck and the environment.


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