What Is The Difference Between A Semi-Truck And A Tractor-Trailer?


What is the difference between a semi-truck and a tractor-trailer? To get the answers, you shall get to its details. Often you would hear people taking the names simultaneously, however, know that these are different. Both of them perform the job of transportation of goods. So, let’s begin with the blog.

A small intro to a semi truck

What is the difference between a semi-truck and a tractor-trailer? Before learning about them, you shall first understand semi trucks. You must have seen the logistics company using different trailers and trucks. In the same way, they use semi trucks. Therefore, it would run down your query for it.
What is a semi truck? A semi-truck comes under the category of a powerful truck. Thus, it includes an engine with a high power rating. It can include a trailer or a tractor. However, the engine gets installed in either the trailer or tractor it attaches to. So it can run independently without connecting a trailer or a tractor. Then, it would easily carry the goods even when the transportation distance is great.
If you simplify the semi vs tractor trailer, you can connect a semi truck to any vehicle at its front, unlike a tractor trailer. The truck pulls the loaded cargo container connected to the tractor. In addition, the truck would bear the entire vehicle’s weight on its own. Thus, you won’t have to worry about its weight management system. Now, let’s introduce you to a tractor trailer.

An intro to a tractor trailer

What is a tractor trailer? This query often comes to your mind while reading about them. In general, the tractor trailer expands into two parts; one is the semi trailer, and the second part is a tractor. The tractor gets coupled with the trailer. So, the engine of the vehicle refers to the tractor part. In comparison, the trailer is like a cab carrying the goods. Hence it is a large container at the back of tractors that allows easier transportation f goods.
Similarly, the tractor trailer would carry and transport heavy goods long distances. Also, the tractors expand to different shapes as well as sizes. These are large enough to accommodate huge quantities of goods. Thus, in a single trip, it can carry the complete consignment without making any multiple trips.
The manufacturers design them so that the vehicle is a safe mode of transportation. The size and dimensions of the tractor trailer are great for it to absorb the shocks during transportation and traveling. Hence, its cargo remains safe and fixed to its original position. Now let’s start a comparison of a semi truck vs tractor trailer.

What is the difference between a semi-truck and a tractor-trailer- The differences

Many times people consider both of these vehicles the same. That’s because of their usage purpose; sometimes, their structure is similar. To know a few differences, read below tractor trailer vs semi truck.

Number of axels

A semi truck gets designed to carry heavy loads. Therefore, it requires a great number of axles to enhance the drivability of these trucks. Also, it helps to balance the weight it carries. A semi truck might include three axles.
In comparison to this, a tractor-trailer would have a greater number of axles. This difference is because it connects a trailer with a tractor. Thus, depending on its usage, it could have up to five or fewer axles. Thus, this difference is common in the tractor trailer vs semi truck argument.


Another major difference reflects the sizes of the two vehicles. A semi truck might be approximately 72 feet long. In addition, it can have a width of feet and a height of 13. Remember that the dimensions mentioned here are just random dimensions for trucks. You might find some trucks with different dimensions.
When you talk about a tractor trailer, the sizes may vary. Well, it depends upon the number of trailers that you connect to the tractor. In case you connect two trailers, then the overall dimensions double up. It can have a length of 56 feet or more.


Below you will find the different types of both vehicles.

Types of semi trucks

There are some types of semi trucks that you shall check.

  • Dab cabs semi trucks

The size of the dab cabs is small compared to any other type. The front unit of the truck is quite small and feasible for the driver to use fully. It comes with a few axles.

  • Flat roof sleeper semi trucks

To carry heavy loads, it is a perfect choice. You can consider them to have a larger size than the dab cabs truck.

  • Slope nosed trucks

Well, it includes two compartments. One compartment you see is for sleeping and the other for storing the goods. It will allow you to have a smooth ride because of the efficient suspension systems.

  • Mid roof sleeper

The roof of this semi truck is much more rounded than any other truck. Also, the roof has a great height.

Types of tractor trailers

With tractor trailers, you can find the following common types.

  • Tipping trailer

The trailer typically gets designed with an efficient hydraulic system. Thus, when you try to unload the goods it carries, the trailer tips, and the goods unload in a tilted way. You can manage the angle at which it begins the tipping.

  • Non tipping trailer

As its name suggests, a non-tipping trailer does not include a hydraulic system. Therefore, it does not tip over for the unloading of the goods. Hence, experts won’t recommend you buy this type of trailer!

  • 3-way tipping trailer

This particular trailer tips in three different directions. Hence, it is one of the most useful types. You can efficiently load, unload, and tip the goods to an angle.


What is the difference between a semi-truck and a tractor-trailer? The blog helps you in clearing your doubts regarding their comparison. You can select the one you want to buy depending on your requirement.

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