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How Much Does a Semi Truck Weigh?

The legal weight for an 18-wheeler is 80,000 pounds.  This is without any overweight or oversize permits.

  • 18-wheeler weighs 40 tons
  • 18-wheeler weighs 80,000 lbs.
  • 18-wheeler weighs 36,287 kg.
  • The average car weighs about 5,000 lbs.
  • Semi engines are 6X heavier and larger than car engines.
  • Average semi has 400-600 horsepower, compared to 100-200 horsepower for cars.
  • Semi engines can hold 15+ quarts of oil, compared to 4-6 quarts for cars.
  • Semi engines have 12+ gears, compared to 4-5 gears for cars.

As you can see, semi trucks are absolutely HUGE compared to typical passenger vehicles, as these statistics from Truckers Report prove.  That’s why semi drivers must earn a special truck driver’s license rather than being allowed to drive with only a regular DMV driver’s license.

How Much Does a Semi Truck Weigh: Factors That Affect Weight

There are several factors that affect how much a semi truck weighs.  Some of these include:

  • 1. Is the trailer full or is it carrying a partial load?
  • 2. Is it licensed to carry an oversize load?
  • 3. Is the trailer empty?
  • 4. Is there more than one trailer attached to the cab?

All of these factors determine how much a semi truck weighs.  So, a person needs to gather this information to get the precise and accurate weight of any individual semi.

Types of Loads Semi Trucks Carry

Trucks are either rigid, rigid in combination (short, medium and long) or prime movers (tractor units), in short or multi-combinations, according to Driver Knowledge Tests.  There are several types of loads:

  • Automotive haulage
  • Boat haulage
  • Dry goods
  • Flat beds carrying large bulky items
  • Furniture
  • Livestock
  • “Reefers” or refrigerated containers and trucks that carry frozen or temperature-sensitive goods
  • Tankers that carry liquids like milk, petroleum or chemicals
  • Tippers or dump trailers that carry building materials or concrete

Driver Knowledge Tests goes on to say that, as well as those specific types of trailers, there are delineations:

  • Semi-trailer: has one axle group near the rear and an attachment to a prime mover at the front
  • B-double trailer (also called a B-train): it’s the lead trailer in a B-double combination and has one group of axles at the rear which have, above them, an attachment for a following trailer, plus at the front it has an attachment for the prime mover
  • Pig trailer: one group of axles near the middle of the load, and drawn by a drawbar
  • Dog trailer: one axle or group at the front which steers and another axle or group at the rear that doesn’t steer. It’s drawn by an A-frame drawbar.

Did You Ever Wonder How Heavy is a Semi Tractor?

The times that we wonder how heavy a semi tractor is tend to be when we’re gazing out the window during a road trip or when we’ve been involved in a vehicle crash with a semi truck.  Because semis are so heavy, truck accidents tend to be deadly or cause severe injuries to the drivers and passengers in cars.  The semi truck’s weight causes an incredible amount of damage and injury.

Another thing to keep in mind about semis is their braking distance.  The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCSA) says that trucks traveling 65 mph can take up to two football fields to stop!  FMSCSA offers these tips:

  • The stopping time and distance for a truck or bus is much greater than that of smaller vehicles.
  • Stopping distance increases with a heavy load or in road conditions such as snow, ice or rain.
  • A fully loaded truck traveling in good road conditions at highway speeds needs a distance of nearly 720 feet to stop.
  • Never suddenly cut in front of a truck as it reduces the truck’s allowable safe stopping distance.

How Much Does an 18-Wheeler Weigh?

Here’s a really good point – all semi trucks are not created equal.  Some are 18-wheelers, some are double-truck trailers, and in a few states triple-truck trailers are allowed!  So, we can start by asking how much does an 18-wheeler weigh, but to get a truly an accurate weight we must explore oversize loads and multiple trailers, too.

When imagining just how big a semi truck is, let’s compare it to an average car.  We all know the size of a car.  Here are some statistics from Truckers Report:

  • An average semi weighs 80,000 lbs., compared to a typical car weighing 5,000 lbs.
  • A semi truck has 1,000-2,000 ft. lb. of torque, compared to a car that has 100-200 ft. lb. of torque.
  • A semi engine is designed to go 1 million miles before an overhaul or rebuild, compared to a car engine, which is designed to go about 150,000 to 200,000 miles.
  • Semi engines are designed to run nonstop, which means the only time you shut them down is to service the engine or change the oil, or to follow anti-idle laws.
  • Semis typically have turbo chargers and air-braking systems, whereas cars usually do not.

How Much Can a Semi Haul?

When calculating the total weight of a semi truck, we not only need to know the weight of the truck but we also have to ask ourselves how much can a semi haul?  Because the total weight of the vehicle includes the truck and its cargo.

Semi-trailers are generally about 53 feet long, minus the cab. Add the cab and they’re about 70 to 80 feet long. The maximum load that they can haul is 80,000 pounds, which means you subtract the weight of the cab from 80,000 to determine the weight of the cargo. Australia is the exception to this rule. If you’re “down under,” you’re allowed “road trains,” which is a tractor with four trailers attached to it hauling about 300,000 pounds, according to Truckers Report.  Can you imagine that?

Contact Guajardo & Marks Today

There are a lot of interesting facts and figures to know about semi trucks, including that they are dangerous when you’re in a truck crash on the road.  Not surprisingly, a heavy truck fares much better than a car does when these vehicles collide.  If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a truck crash, a skilled and experienced attorney at Guajardo & Marks can help.  Call a lawyer after a truck accident at 972-774-9800.  We offer a free initial consultation.