Trucker Lingo, Truck Guide, Truck Definitions
There are so many ways to call the same thing or slight differences in how truck manufacturers, distributors, truck dealers and truckers call different types of trucks so we added a list of trucking terms, their definitions, and some synonyms. Further along, we will add the Spanish terminology.
According to General Motors, a truck is a “Vehicle designed for carrying entire load; GVW rating indicates truck capacity. GCW will also apply if a trailer is to be pulled behind the truck. GVW and GCW ratings are maximum at the ground including vehicle, payload and all equipment. A load capacity chart for each model indicates basic equipment needed for each GVW and GCW.”*1
Trucks can be:
Single Units with 2 axles and 4 tires, 2 axles, and 6 tires or 3 or more axles and at least 10 tires.
Truck Trailer Combination
US DOT or United States Department of Transportation classifies trucks based on their GVWR. The purpose of these classifications is for Safety Regulation, Registration Purposes, and Commercial Designation.
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): It is the maximum weight that can be carried by a vehicle including the truck itself, the fuel, the driver and everything that he or she carries. Means the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single motor vehicle.
GVW: Gross Vehicle Weight: It is the maximum Vehicle Weight that a vehicle can carry.
GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating): It is the maximum weight that can be carried by a combination vehicle. Means the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a combination. In the absence of a value specified by the manufacturer, GCWR will be determined by adding the GVWR of the power unit and the total weight of the towed unit and any load thereon.
GCW (Gross Combined Weight): It is the maximum weight that can be carried by a combination vehicle.
GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating): The maximum weight that can be carried on an axle.
Many brands specialize on different GVW. For example brands that specialize in trucks with lower GVW can be Ford, GMC, Chevy or Chevrolet, Mitsubishi and Isuzu.
For trucks with higher GVW common brands are International, Hino, Freightliner, Volvo, Mack, Kenworth and Peterbilt.
Truck Manufactures also during the years have had joint ventures. For example a GMC W4500 is the same as the ISUZU, because of the joint venture that they had.
Some Ford trucks like the LCF has International engines.
Truck Classification based on GVWR
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) or US Census Bureau for the Vehicle Weight Classes & Categories classifies trucks based on their GVWR or GVW and they rank from Class 1 to Class 8 from lighter to heavier:
Light Trucks – Class 1 to Class 3 – GVWR to be less than 10,000 Lbs.
Class 1: <6,000 Lbs GVW
Class 2 – 6001 Lbs – 10,000 Lbs
Medium Trucks – Class 4 to Class 6 – 10,001 to 26,000 Lbs GVWR
Class 3 – 10,001 to 14,000 Lbs GVW,
Class 4 – 14,001 Lbs to 16,000 Lbs GVW,
Class 5 – 16,001 Lbs to 19,500 Lbs GVW,
Class 6 – 19,500 Lbs to 26,000 Lbs GVW,
Heavy Trucks – Class 7 – 26,001 Lbs GVW to 33,000 Lbs
Usually, Heavy Trucks carry under 36,000 Lbs GVW. but they can carry much more.
These trucks require a special license called CDL or Commercial Driver License and it can have a different endorsement.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) bases the CDL driver’s license requirement on the GVWR, but the Department of Tax Collector in the State of Florida allows registration based on the registered GVW. For that reason, in the state of Florida an owner of a truck can choose to register that truck for under 26,000 Lbs GVW and in that situation no CDL Drivers License is required. That is not allowed in many other states.
Heavy Semi Trucks – Class 7 to Class 8
Heavy Semi Trucks carry weight in excess of 26,000 Lbs GVW and drivers are usually required a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate.
The difference between a Heavy Truck and a Semi Truck is that the Semi Trucks are a combination of vehicles made up of a powered truck and a detachable trailer or more than one trailer instead the Heavy Trucks are only one piece the Cab the Chassis and the box on top of the chassis or flatbed or any other body is attached to the Cabin part, but different from the Medium Trucks can carry over 26,000 Lbs, sometimes have Air Brakes and require a special drivers license
Truck names and their definitions can be:
It is the short version for Semi Truck Trailer. It is the combination of a tractor unit (or truck tractor) and a trailer to carry freight. A powered truck can hook up to one or more semitrailers. The way that the Semi Trailer attaches to the Tractor is by a hitch called Fifth Wheel. The name comes from Semi-Trailer because the load is partly being carried by its own axles and partly by the pulling tractor, tractor-trailer or rig
Some people even shorten it even more by calling it a “Semi”.
Others call them 18 Wheelers because as you will see below the standard ones will have 10 wheels in the tractor side and 8 wheels on the trailer.
Big Rig that consists only of the semi-trailer truck, semi truck with out trailer, the power unit or the tractor by itself.
A semi truck or tractor without carrying or operating the trailer. It is the tractor by itself. This term is often used to differentiate how the insurance covers a semi truck based on its conditions. For example, an insurance may cover the semi truck while is loaded but you may need to get Bobtail Insurance.
In the West Coast, many people call Bobtail Truck a Straight Truck or Box Truck.
Here is the side view and underside view of a Conventional Semi Truck or Conventional Tractor Trailer also called 18-wheeler or semi-trailer truck. You can see the 18 wheels. 2 tires in the front under the Engine compartment, in this case, this is a Sleeper Tandem Axle Semit Truck, so 8 more tires above the Fifth Wheel and finally the last 8 wheels in the back of the semi trailer. Under the semi truck, you can view the axles, drive shaft and differentials in orange.
- Tractor Unit, Semi truck, Big Rig, Bobtail
- Semi Trailer (It is detachable)
- Engine Compartment
- The Driver Cabin
- Sleeper (Daycabs do not have this part)
- Air Dam – Some are low rise, mid rise or high rise
- Fuel Tanks
- Fifth Wheel Coupling
- Enclosed Cargo Space in a Dry Van or Reefer Trailer
- Landing Gear – legs for when the trailer is detached
- Tandem Axles
Configurations of the Tractor Unit or the Semi Truck:
Standard Sleeper or Conventional Sleeper:
This one is the standard Over The Road (OTR) widely used in the US. It has an engine and hood over the front axle in front of the cab, and it has a Sleeper area in the back for the driver to be able to sleep. Berth or Bunk is that sleep compartment behind the truck driver seat.
“Sleeping compartment mounted behind a truck cab, sometimes attached to the cab or even designed to be an integral part of it.” *1
Conventional w/o Sleeper, Daycab Semi or Day-Cab Truck: This is a standard semi truck that has the engine and hood over the front axle in front of the cab, but it does not have the sleeper compartment for the driver to sleep. Frequently are lighter, consume less fuel and easier to maneuver than the Sleepers.
Cab Over Semi Truck or Cabover Semi: These ones have a flat nose cab with the driver sitting in front on the top of the front axle. They are not very comfortable for the drivers and they are not very common in the US.
Daycab Truck vs Sleeper Truck:
It depends on your needs. Daycabs trucks have some advantages. A Sleeper Truck is a bigger truck and some places won’t be as easy to back into as a day cab is. You will have to swing wider. If you don’t have to be Over The Road every night you can research the hotel rates in your area. If you can find $50 to $60 Rooms you may be better off getting a room instead of spending at $ 3/gallon * 10 Hours @ 1 gal/Hr You are looking at $30 just for fuel a night plus the wear and tear of the engine idling all night, plus breakfast and showers, not to mention the cost of the extra weight on the truck.
In the other hand some of the advantages of the Sleeper Trucks are the savings and easy access of sleeping in your cabin. You can get an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) to avoid idling, and even though these units are pretty expensive they can pay for themselves and you don’t add that wear and tear to you Tractor.
Single Axle: Single axle trucks are the most common term to describe a truck with only one drive axle. It doesn’t apply to the steer or trailer axles. Single axle trucks are great to have when maneuvering into tight spaces. They do turn quite nicely. Usually, Single Axles can carry a gross combined weight of 65,000 Lbs with up to a 240 gallon fuel capacity.
Mostly they will have 10 or 13 speed overdrive manual transmission and a 370 to 510 HP Engine.
Sliding 5th wheel is also usual, as well as air ride rear suspension.
Some people also call them “Single Screw”
These trucks are more economical to operate. They are lighter, easy to maneuver and fewer tires to replace.
Tandem Axle: When the truck has 2 drive axles or 2 set of axles. They have 2 wheels under the cab and two axles in the back of the truck with 8 wheels, 4 per axle. They are designed to handle heavy loads. They have 80,000 Lbs gross combined weight and up to 300 gallon fuel capacity. They can have manual or automatic transmission but the demand is higher for the manual transmission. They have multiple engines with up to 560 HP. 435 HP is the average engine horse power.
You can find:
Single Axle VS Tandem Axle:
The answer is pretty simple. It depends on what you are trying to carry and the location. If you are carrying heavy loads you will need a Tandem Axle, but if you don’t need to carry that much weight, want to keep the semi truck cheaper and operations cheaper and would prefer higher maneuverability opt for a Single Axle.
Yard Trucks: A tractor that moves trailers around a warehouse or distribution center. Some people also call it Yard Mule, Mule, Spotter Truck, Yard Goat, Spotting Tractor, Terminal Tractor, Yard Jockey.
A big advantage of having this in a yard is the quick ability for the driver to lower and raise the trailer that he or she needs to move without getting out of the cab. They are smaller than the regular semi trucks. They have a short wheelbase and a hydraulic fifth wheel allowing them to be more efficiently moving the trailers around and increasing the maneuverability
They are generally off road vehicles and their max speed is about 25 miles per hour.
A Semi Trailer is a detachable trailer use for hauling a load or freight. They attach to the front of a semi truck or tractor that has the wheels to support it while is attached and they have wheels at the rear end.
“Truck trailer supported at the rear by its own wheels and at the front by a fifth wheel mounted to a tractor or a dolly.” *1
The mechanism or device that attaches and locks the tractor trailer to the semi truck is the fifth wheel. The center of the fifth wheel hooks to the trailer’s kingpin.
Types of Trailers:
Dry Van or Semi Trailer
A rectangular enclosed non-climate controlled trailer that carries general cargo, including food and other products that do not require refrigeration. Usually, loads and unloads through the rear doors. It is a trailer without the front axle. It is the box that only has wheels on the back and hooks to the power unit in the front so it can be moved. The standard Dry van is 53ft even though the real dimensions are 630 inches(Length) x 102 inches (width) x 110 inches (height). The minimum size for the Dry Vans is 48ft.
Refrigerated or Reefer Trailers: A refrigerated and insulated box trailer with a heating or more often cooling unit (reefer) attached to it. Mostly they are used to haul meat, frozen foods, produce, flowers, etc.
“Reefer – Refrigerated trailer with insulate walls and a self-powered refrigeration unit. Most commonly used for transporting food”. *1
Auto Transport or Car Carrier Trailers: It is a trailer that regularly carries new or used passenger vehicles. Depending on the model they can carry more or fewer cars.
Curtain Siders Van Trailers, Tautliner: They are like the dry van trailers but the sides instead of been wood, fiberglass or metal, they are a waterproof heavy tarp that can be rolled down to ease the load.
Flat Bed Trailer or Flatbeds: It is a trailer with no sides or roof.
Step Deck, Drop Deck Trailer or Lowboy: It is a flatbed trailer that the deck drops after it attach to the fifth wheel of the semi truck unit. They usually do not have sides or roofs. They are often used to carry machinery or other tall loads.
Dump Trailer: It is a bucket like a trailer with an open top for loading used in combination with a semi truck, where the trailer itself contains the hydraulic hoist. It is commonly used to transport loose material like sand, crush concrete or rocks. There are a couple different types End Dumps and or Side Dumps.
Cab and Chassis Trucks:
It is a truck that only brings the cab and the chassis or rails behind it. The common use of these trucks is for its customization based on the person or company’s needs. You can add or incorporate basically any truck body on top of the chassis, like a van body or a box, a flatbed, etc.
Another reason why these trucks can be very popular is when you have a custom body in good condition and you are starting to have problems with the truck, we can help you with the purchase and financing of the a cab and chassis truck, and also we can help you remove the old body from your previous truck and adapt it to the new cab and chassis truck. We are very experienced doing this work. Feel free to call us.
Used Truck Configurations
There are four configurations
Standard Cab Truck: a regular engine compartment and 2 door Cab with a driver seat and or 1 or 2 passenger seats.
Extended Cab Truck: A 2 door cab with an extra space in the back. Usually used for Pick up Trucks
Crew Cab Truck: a 4 door cab with two rows sitting. It is great for Landscaping companies that have a whole crew to go to do a job
Cab-Over Truck or Cabover Truck: It can be a 2 door or 4 door cab but the important part is that has the engine compartment under the cab, specifically under the driver and passenger seat.
Types of Used Trucks:
Box Truck or Straight Truck:
It is a Truck that has a dry rectangular box on the truck frame. A Truck can have general purpose box or a specialized body such as Reefer Box or Insulated box.
There are different sizes and types of boxes. Some standard sizes are 10ft, 14ft, 16ft, 18ft, 20ft, 24ft, and 26ft.
Box Trucks can come with a Single Axle or a Tandem Axle. Typically, Single Axle Box Trucks can have up to 26,000 Lbs GVW and mostly they are automatic and the Tandem Axle Box Truck can have up to 54,000 Lbs GVW and regularly they have a manual transmission.
Here is an example of a Single Axle vs a Tandem Axle Box Truck
Single Axle Box Trucks can be Light Trucks between Class 2 to Class 3 with a maximum 14,000 GVW. Examples of these trucks are the Ford Hicubes, GMC Hicubes, Chevy Hicubes and/ or the Isuzu Cabovers or W4500 GMC Cabovers.
If the GVW is between 14,001 and 19,500, or Class 4 and 5 they are still Medium Trucks but usually smaller and easier to maneuver than the next category Class 6. The Box sizes tend to be between 10 ft to 16 ft. Common examples of Class 4 and Class 5 Medium Trucks are International City Star Cabovers,
Fuel Type: Some box trucks have Gasoline Engines and other has Diesel Engines. Mostly the heavier trucks will have a Diesel Engine, lighter trucks have Gasoline Engines. More about the advantages and disadvantages of Diesel engines and Gas Engine further down.
Types of Used Box Truck Bodies
Box Truck Bodies have different dimensions especially important on the 18 ft Box Trucks and over, including the 26ft Box Trucks. Generally speaking, they can be either:
Commercial Box Truck Bodies: Commercial Box Trucks cross members at the bottom of the box are between 12 inches to 18 inches which can handle forklifts. Usually, they are 8ft 6’ (102) width vs 96 inches and the inside height is a minimum of 96” up to 103”. Commercial Box Trucks can come with a lift-gate, a ramp, a combination or neither of them.
Moving Box Trucks Bodies: The cross members on a Moving Box Truck are 24 inches space apart and they cannot handle forklifts. They are 80” height vs 102” for commercial box truck bodies and the inside height is 96”. Mostly Moving boxes have ramps.
Hi Cube Van, Hicube Truck, Cutaway Truck: It is a crossover between a box truck and a cargo van. Hicube Trucks or Cutaway Trucks the box is 10ft, 12ft, 14ft or 16ft.
The GVW on these Cutaway Trucks is between 10,000 Lbs and 14,500 Lbs.
Generally, they are automatic and have gas engines.
They have the cab that is a Ford 3500, GMC G3500, Chevy 3500 and an attached body that cannot be separated from the cab. In the case of the box trucks, the cab and body are separated and the box sits on top of the frame separated from the cab, the cutaway trucks or hicube trucks the cab is attached to the truck as a unit.
Cabover Box Trucks or COE (Cabover Engines) Box Trucks; It is a box truck that has the engine compartment under the cab, specifically under the driver and passenger seat. They are very popular in urban or city environments as they have a high maneuverability and can get into tighter spaces.
In the US the most common Cabover Box Trucks are 16ft, they are automatic and normally the are diesel engines but sometimes they can be gas too.
The typical manufactures are GMC W4500, Mitsubishi Fuso, Isuzu NPR, International City Star, Nissan or UD.
Step Van, Walk In Trucks or Multi Delivery Vans: Sometimes they are also called Walk-in Vans. They are like a cargo van but you can step inside of them. The Step Vans can be Light or Medium trucks with a variety of GVW including 16,000 Lbs GVW.
They have a very wide usability including delivery goods, like bread etc, they are very popular with plumbers and electricians and they are set up as snack food trucks, ice cream trucks or full kitchen food trucks.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Diesel Fuel vs Gasoline Fuel:
- The biggest advantage of Diesel Fuel is the longevity of the Engine. A Gas truck with more than 300,000 miles is very unlikely, where that standard for the Diesel trucks stands out at 500,000 miles. A well-kept Diesel Engine will have a longer life expectancy and longevity. In addition, the remaining value of a Diesel Truck at the time of sale will always be higher than a similar Gasoline Truck.
- Diesel has more energy density that gas, consequently, it will release more power and offer more fuel economy per every gallon of fuel. Diesel Engines get better fuel economy.
- With regards to the Horse Power:
|HP= T*RPM /5252 Where:
HP: Horse Power
RPM: It is the engine speed
5252: It is radians per second
|In conclusion, for a gas engine to pull a heavy load, with less torque, needs to spin at faster rpm
As a consequence, the higher the engine speeds, the higher the wear and tear, in addition, to create more heat and burns more fuel.
The increased heat and wear call for increased maintenance.
|Diesel engines produce much more torque and they do it at a low rpm.
As a consequence, less wear and tear, less heat buildup, and less stress.
- Finally, Diesel Engines are intended to work. The metal used is denser, components are sturdier, and they have large capacity oil and coolant reservoirs built right in.
- A more durable engine is much less likely to fail.
- An oil change in a Diesel Engine is more expensive than a Gas Engine because one requires about 8 qts (diesel) of oil vs 5 qts of oil (gas) but again the goal is tight to the fact that your engine needs to improve lubrication, it will take less time for the oil to become contaminated, more oil will be absorbing the heat, which will result for the engine to last longer.
All these considerations are very important when purchasing a new used truck as even though the used gas trucks will be cheaper up front it, is important to consider the costs down the road, how much harder that truck will have to work, and the losses to employee production due to the dependency on the used truck.
A Dump Truck is a truck chassis with a dump body mounted into the frame. The bed of the truck is operated or raised and lowered by a vertical hydraulic mounted under the front of the body allowing the load to slide out of the cargo area. The bed also can be raised by a horizontal hydraulic ram & lever arrangement between the frame rails, and the back of the bed is hinged at the back of the truck. By law, all loose loads are required to have a screen extended over the bed to minimize the loss of debris over the other vehicles or the roads.
Some Flatbed Trucks have hydraulics that allows them to dump the cargo area.
Dump Trucks can be single axle, tandem axle, tri axle or even they can have up to 5 axles. Prices are directly related to the GVW that they can carry, frames and engines. A Certain number of axles always remain on the road but sometimes they have supplementary axles that can be raised or lowered to improve maneuverability. This type of dump truck is called lift axles or drop axles.
Typical Dump Truck Manufactures are:
– Ford and the models can be from the F250 to the F750, the majority single axle.
– Sterling Dump Trucks: Freightliner/Mercedes bought out the Ford heavy truck line and called them Sterlings. The last Sterling Truck was produced in 2009, but thankfully parts are genetics so they are pretty easy to find.
– International Harvester: From the IHC brand the models that usually are used for dump trucks are the Durastar or the Terrastar for tandem axles and the Workstar or Transtar for triple axles.
– Kenworth: Which the usual model will be the T880 with many different options.
– Peterbilt: The most popular models for Peterbilt Dump Trucks are 340 and 348
– Mack: Which the Granite Series is what is usually used for dump trucks. They offer a big variety of types, including tandem steer mixers, snow plow, rolloff, etc.
– Caterpillar: Because they specialize in a big variety of products other than truck they have many different configurations available.
Bucket Truck, Boom Truck, Cherry Picker Truck:
These are all a type of utility truck that is used to reach different heights safely. These trucks have a cab where the driver sits and steers an actuator arm or extendable arm that allows the bucket, cherry picker, work platform, man lift, basket crane, boom lift etc., reach or lift to different heights where the worker is. This platform can be mounted in different types of trucks including cargo vans and it has a hydraulic lifting system that is what allows it to reach the height needed. Bucket Trucks, Boom Trucks, Cherry Picker Trucks help workers access heights that otherwise he or she couldn’t. The personnel can also carry materials needed to perform the work at the needed height.
Bucket Trucks and/or Boom Trucks originally designed to use in the orchards to pick multiple fruits not only cherries, but today this bucket trucks have multiple uses, like for example set up Christmas light displays, set up banners or advertising and or maintaining them, window cleaning, exterior painting, and working on any type of trees. Other common uses are to reach the electrical equipment, cable television and phone cables on utility poles. Bucket trucks or boom trucks allow this job by repositioning the bucket for areas hard to reach in a safe manner vs a ladder or a scissor lift.
Alternative Specifications of Bucket Trucks or Boom Trucks:
Height: Bucket trucks are generally divided into 3 categories based on the working height:
- Less than 50ft Bucket Trucks
- 50-59ft Bucket Trucks and
- Over 60ft Bucket Trucks
Side Reach: This will be the distance that the bucket truck arm can move the bucket. Some bucket truck arms can rotate 360 degrees whereas others are limited.
Fuel Type: Diesel, Gasoline, and Hybrids. Diesel engines are heavier trucks and Gasoline for lighter trucks. Hybrids are the Bucket trucks that are powered by gasoline or diesel, but the hydraulic lift works on an electric motor. The advantage of this setting is the savings on fuel.
There are 3 Models of Bucket Trucks:
Telescopic Articulated Bucket Trucks: This type of bucket truck allows the operator to extend the arm to different degrees and distances giving him or her the flexibility to extended to the perfect working position. The arm extenders are layered within instead been a single solid part. They are very common in construction and forestry.
Over-Center Articulated Bucket Trucks: Like the previous one the boom also extends with arm extenders but differs from the previous that the boom is centered in the middle of the truck. This bucket truck is good for open unrestricted industrial and construction settings.
Insulated Bucket Trucks: This bucket trucks are usual with the electric companies. They have an extra level of protection against electricity, electrocution and electrical wires or other sources of electricity.
Bucket Trucks or Boom Trucks can also be Single axle vs Tandem Axle and the purpose of a Tandem axle is to allow an arm that can reach higher heights.
What are the differences between a Bucket Truck and a Boom Truck:
They are similar to the bucket trucks but one of the main differences has to do with the arm. An over-center boom is able to fold completely over its pivot point in both directions giving you much more flexibility in positioning. A non-over-center boom has a stopping point that limits how far it can be unfolded. Every boom has its own specifications.