Types of semi trucks - pros and cons of each 

Are you looking to rent or purchase a semi truck for your business? A semi truck is a great option if you need a large vehicle to load or unload cargo. Some options are built to withstand long distances while others feature smaller bodies for easier navigation. Picking the perfect semi-truck to use can make the ride a lot more enjoyable, especially if you are hauling overnight or for several days. 

What is a semi truck? 

A semi truck has two main parts: a tractor and a trailer. The tractor provides motor power while a trailer is the part that holds the goods you are hauling. It’s important to look at both parts to see what type of semi-truck works best for your needs. 

Some other important questions can be how long you will need the truck for (just for the day or overnight?), the type and weight of cargo you will be hauling plus any other extra features you would like to make the journey more enjoyable. 

Below are three of the more popular options for semi trucks plus pros and cons of each. 

Three types of semi trucks

Day cab 

What it is: A basic semi truck that has enough seating for a driver and one passenger. 

Cost: $ This is the least expensive option out of the three 

Pros: Rear windows make it easier to back up and navigate roads. If you need to drive through narrow or tricky roads, the short body makes it easier. 

Cons: Best for short trips rather than overnight since there are no sleeping quarters 

Sleeper trucks 

What it is: The best type of semi truck for long trips. This has a longer body than a day cab since sleeping quarters are included behind the driver and passenger seat. You can opt for a flat roof sleeper, mid roof sleeper or raised roof sleeper depending on how much room you need. 

Cost: $$ - $$$ (Cost can range on the type of sleeper truck available, ranging from least expensive flat roof sleeper to most expensive raised roof sleeper) 

Pros: Many different sizes and styles available depending on if you want a simple sleeping setup or a more spacious layout. 

Cons: Can be tricky to navigate on narrow roads due to its larger body. 

Custom hauler 

What it is: a customized semi truck that works with your wants and needs. 

Cost: $$$$ A custom build can run you a lot depending on the horsepower and interior modifications you require. 

Pros: Can add all the bells and whistles you want like sleeping quarters and extra frills. The powerful engine makes it best for oversized loads.

Cons: This option can be expensive according to the finishes and features you add on. 

Different Semi Trailer Types, Weights and Uses

When purchasing the trailer portion of a semi-truck here are a couple of different options available 


One of the most common and versatile types of trailers is a flatbed. They can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can haul virtually any item and are great for long distance journeys. Freight can be loaded onto the tip, side, or rear. Max weight of 48,000 pounds. 


A belt trailer has a rubber conveyor belt that runs through the length of the trailer. This makes it possible to unload cargo quickly without the driver needing to get out.  

Drop Deck

 Drop deck or step deck is a great option if you are hauling large items that exceed the normal height requirement. It’s very similar to a flatbed but has a lowered platform that makes it possible to load cargo that won’t fit in your standard trailer. Max weight of 48,000 pounds. 


Another great option for oversized loads is a low boy. Similar to a drop deck it has a lowered platform and can haul heavy items like automobiles, and heavy machinery. Max weight is dependent on the number of axles used. 


This is a great method to unload heavy and delicate cargo. Items can be loaded and unloaded easily using a hydraulic system. There are different kinds like side dumps, end dumps, and bottom dumps. A large dump semi truck can carry up to 28,000 pounds. 

Conestoga trailer

This is a type of flatbed that’s best for transporting fragile items. It has a hard shell and a tarping system to reduce the risk of damaged goods and is easy to load and unload. Max weight is 45,000 pounds. 

Now that you know what types of tractors and trailers you can use for your semi truck, here are some popular brands to purchase your 18 wheeler from: 

Trusted Semi Truck Brands 


This is the most commonly used semi-truck in the United States. Over 190,000 Freightliner semi trucks are sold in the U.S. annually. Mainly because they are less expensive to buy and operate compared to other big brands and have lower maintenance costs. Most of all they are known for their fuel efficiency. And if you are clocking on miles, this will save you money in the long term. 


Their semi-trucks have excellent build quality. Peterbilt semi trucks are more expensive than other brands but you get what you pay for. It has a ton of nice features that ensure driver safety. One of them is a lane departure warning if a truck is at risk of sliding into another lane. Peterbilt also has a higher resale value than other brands. 


Kenworth trucks are built by truckers with truckers in mind. They have a sleek contemporary design and smooth navigational technology. They are also really well insulated and their cabins are very spacious which makes them a great option for long trips.

We hope this guide helps you decide which semi-truck works best with your needs. With so many types and styles available you are sure to find one that works with your day to day needs.  Want to streamline your trucking business? Learn more about Rose Rocket, the #1 Rated TMS, and book a demo below.

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