Semi Trailers Vs Full Trailers

Oct 30, 2019 Miscellaneous By ___

If you’re in the market for a trailer, we bet you’re overwhelmed with the options and the technical specifications being thrown at you. To help make this process a little easier, we at Trailers of Texas have compiled this guide to explain the difference between a semi-trailer and a full trailer. Hopefully, this will help you figure out which one of these is more suitable for your work. If you need any additional information, come to our Houston location and have a chat with our friendly staff.

What Are The Definitions?

A semi-trailer doesn’t have a front axle and a large portion of its weight is handled by a road tractor unit. It usually has “legs” (landing gear) that are lowered to keep it upright when it’s uncoupled from the unit. This detachable trailer’s brakes are engaged automatically when it’s unattached; only the truck’s air pump releases the brakes to make it move. The length of this trailer cannot exceed 57 feet on interstate highways unless you get a special permit. If you’ve linked two smaller semi-trailers together, you shouldn’t exceed the length of 63 feet.

A full trailer has both front and rear axles, as well as a drawbar firmly attaching it to the hauling unit. These commercial freight trailers are usually 40 feet long and can move vertically in relation to the hauling unit, which controls the direction of the front axle. Semi-trailers don’t transmit any great load to the towing vehicle and are often used with farm tractors. These trailers are permanently attached to their towing vehicles and can’t be detached easily.

What Are The Properties?

Both semi-trailers and full trailers can be attached to other semi-trailers for additional hauling capacity, referred to as “doubles” or “triples.” Semi-trailers can generally carry larger loads and provide a better load ratio between tare and laden weight. Their longer cargo beds make them perfect for carrying longer materials.

If you’re going to be driving on snowy roads, a semi-trailer will provide better traction due to the weight on the drive axles of the tractor unit. Since full trailers have a cab, they’ve got their own commercial cargo capacity, while a semi-truck needs a road tractor to become a cargo vehicle.

When it comes to navigating, a semi-trailer has a smaller turning circle than a full trailer, which makes it more manageable. Having a single turning point also makes reversing easier for a semi-trailer. However, they have a higher center of gravity, making them more likely to tip over than full trailers, which have a more rigid construction. Because semi-trailers are detachable, they’re not fixed tightly to the tow vehicle. This makes them prone to jackknifing when not driven carefully. For this reason, anti-lock brakes have been mandatory for semi-trailers since 1997, reducing the number of jackknife crashes.

What Are The Uses?

Often, full trailers are used by businesses that have to make deliveries to multiple locations, where only a portion of the cargo is unloaded. They’re mostly used for shorter distance transportation to factories, warehouses, terminals and ports. In comparison, semi-trailers are often used to transport an entire load to one given destination. This also means that they’re used to transport heavier and larger loads than full trailers.

It’s easier to move semi-trailers around loading and docking areas with the help of tugs, yard dogs and shunts, which are easier and cheaper to handle than full tractor units. Their detachable nature also makes them easier and faster to use during loading or when trunked between loading depots. Because they’re detachable, semi-trailers are easier to replace in case of a mishap, unlike full trailers which involve a lengthy delay.

We hope this guide helps you decide which trailer you need! If you have any doubts or questions, come to Trailers of Texas in Houston to talk to one of our expert technicians. We’re proud to serve all of our Texas customers in the cities of Katy and The Woodlands.