Common Truck Trailer Types In The USA

America has a rich history of trucking innovation and culture thanks to its large landmass and highly developed logistics industry. Most heavy trucks on American roads consist of a tractor and a trailer linked together. There are many kinds of truck trailer in use on US roads. Here is a quick guide to the most common types.


The modern supermarket industry would be unsustainable without the vast army of refrigerated trucks needed to deliver perishable goods. Refrigerated truck trailers were invented in the 1930s – the brainchild of the pioneering African American inventor Fredrick McKinley Jones. Refrigerated truck trailers work by removing the heat from an insulated boxcar type space using a compressor and evaporator.


Flatbed trucks are commonly used to carry unusually sized and shaped loads. They need to be carefully loaded in order to prevent materials from flying off under highway conditions. Large scale farming equipment, military equipment and even whole prefabricated houses are transported on flatbed truck trailers around the world.

Dry Van

By far the most common kind of truck trailer seen on US roads, dry van trailers are essentially boxcars. They are enclosed, non-refrigerated rectangular trailers used for hauling non-perishable goods. Truckers after shipping work tend to invest in dry van trailers because they can find the largest quantity of hauling jobs listed on sites like Shiply. These simple trailers are the backbone of the road shipping industry and are not likely to disappear from highways any time soon.


Hotshot trucking is a kind of road borne shipping that involves the pulling of small loads behind a pickup truck. The trailers used by hotshot truckers are usually flatbed types that are specially designed to hook onto attachments inside the bed of a large American pickup. The main advantages of hotshot trucking are affordability and legality. You do not need a commercial trucking license to deliver items using a hotshot trailer, and the start up costs are far cheaper than those experienced by HGV drivers. Powerful pickup trucks have flooded the American vehicle market, and many of them are perfectly capable of towing heavy loads provided that they have been fitted with an appropriate hotshot trailer. The two most popular kinds of hotshot trailer are the gooseneck and bumper pull varieties. Gooseneck trailers are especially renounced for their high stability. Trucking loads carried by hotshot users tend to be items like farm machinery, high value cars and construction equipment.

Car Transporter

Although vehicle manufacturers like to distribute their products using rail and ship for as long as possible, the final leg of any new vehicle’s journey generally takes place on the road. Specialized car transporter truck trailers are derived from flatbed designs. They have several features that make them perfect for transporting wheeled vehicles. Ramps allow cars to be driven straight onto the trailer. Ratchet straps allow the cars to be safely stowed. Double decker designs allow vehicle shipping companies to make the most out of the limited space available on road-going truck trailers.