Common Trailer Types Used in Trucking

The trucking industry plays a crucial role in transporting goods across the country and around the world. To transport different types of freight, the industry uses a variety of trailers designed to meet specific cargo requirements. The dimensions and physical properties of the cargo being transported can determine the type of trailer chosen. These factors can include size, weight, temperature, whether it’s a solid or liquid, and method of loading and unloading.

Here are the most common types of freight trailers used in the trucking industry:

Dry Van Trailers

Dry van trailers are enclosed trailers with a rectangular shape and a roof designed to protect cargo from the elements and theft. They have rear doors that swing open for loading and unloading. Dry vans are available in different sizes, from 28 to 53 feet, and can haul up to 45,000 pounds of cargo. These trailers are the most common type of freight trailer used in the industry, and they can transport a wide range of goods, including consumer goods, food, and electronics.

Refrigerated Carriers (Reefers)

Reefers are temperature-controlled trailers designed to transport perishable goods, such as food, medicine, and flowers. They feature a refrigeration unit that maintains a specific temperature range and insulated walls to keep the cargo fresh and prevent spoilage. Reefers are available in different sizes and can haul up to 45,000 pounds of cargo. These trailers are equipped with insulated walls, doors, and ceilings to maintain a consistent temperature and can be set to different temperature ranges depending on the cargo’s requirements.

Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are open trailers with a flat platform for transporting oversized or oddly shaped cargo, such as construction materials, heavy machinery, and vehicles. They have no sides or roof, making it easy to load and unload cargo from any angle. Forlkifts can unload cargo from either side, while overhead cranes can grab items from above. Flatbed trailers are available in different sizes and can haul up to 48,000 pounds of cargo.


Tankers are specialized trailers designed to transport liquids or gases. There are two main types of tankers: dry bulk and liquid. Dry bulk tankers are used to transport dry commodities such as grains, cement, and coal, while liquid tankers are used to transport liquids such as fuel, chemicals, and food-grade products. Tankers can range in size from 20 feet to 53 feet and can haul up to 50,000 pounds of cargo. They are designed with reinforced walls and a sealed container to prevent spills and leaks.

Step Deck Trailers (Drop Deck or Lowboy Trailers)

Step deck trailers are also called drop deck or lowboy trailers. These trailers resemble flatbeds but feature a lower deck to accommodate taller cargo and an upper deck for smaller items. The lower deck allows drivers to transport taller items without applying for additional permits. Step deck trailers are designed to transport oversized or overweight cargo, such as heavy machinery, industrial equipment, and building materials. Step deck trailers are available in different sizes and can haul up to 48,000 pounds of cargo. They come in different configurations, including standard step decks and double drop decks.

Right Trailer for the Job

Each type of freight trailer has its unique features and specifications to suit different cargo requirements. For example, dry van trailers provide a secure and weatherproof environment for general freight, while reefers offer precise temperature control for perishable goods. Flatbed trailers are ideal for transporting oversized cargo, while tankers are designed for transporting liquids or gases. Step deck trailers are perfect for oversized or overweight cargo that requires a lower deck for transport.

The trucking industry uses a variety of freight trailers to transport goods across the country and around the world. Each type of trailer has its specific features and cargo requirements. By understanding the different types of freight trailers and their uses, shippers and carriers can choose the best option for their cargo and ensure safe and efficient transport.

Truck and Trailer Parts at Iron Wing Sales

Need replacement parts for heavy duty trucks and trailers? Iron Wing Sales carries a large inventory of parts such as fifth wheels, hitches, couplers, lighting accessories, and more. At Iron Wing Sales, we are your global parts resource. Our inventory contains a range of genuine OEM parts, including New Old Stock (NOS) and other hard to find parts. We have parts from SAF Holland, Truck-Lite, Grote, Bendix, and other manufacturers in-stock and ready to ship now. Browse our heavy duty truck parts inventory categories or use the search function to search using part #, description, or manufacturer. Contact us with any parts inquiries via email at: or by phone at: 216.912.9089

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