19 Different Types of Trucks – Do You Know Them All?

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Several semi trucks on the highway


Trucks are some of the strongest vehicles in existence because they are built for moving the heaviest things every built or ever born.

Whether it’s livestock, boats, machinery, equipment, or produce, if it has to go by road, it’s going by a truck. Trucks are even made to transport entire hauls of hard drives between Amazon Headquarters because it’s faster that way to transport data.

So whatever you may think of them, there’s still a certain novelty and objective usefulness in driving trucks.

Types of Trucks

Related: All types of vehicles

Pickup Truck

Red pickup truck on dirt road

Pickup trucks are about the only truck for households.  However, they’re very popular. The Ford F-Series is the best-selling pickup truck followed by Chevrolet Silverado then the Dodge Ram pickups [source: BusinessInsider.com].

While I don’t own a pickup, there have been times I wish I did.  We haul bikes and kids gear around quite a bit so it would be handy to just chuck it all in the back instead of trying to finagle it into the hatch of our crossover.

When you include SUVs and crossovers under the term “truck” the entire truck category is growing like crazy making up 69% of family vehicle sales [source: Autoweek.com].

Australian Road Train

Australian road train

The longest road train ever is a truck pulling 112 trailers.  That’s long for a train, never mind a truck.

Road trains aren’t used much except in Australia where the road from coast to coast is straight as an arrow which makes it possible to haul more than 3 trailers.

Boat Haulage Huge Boat being hauled away

There are small boats and large boats out there. And while an SUV or a large car can carry the small ones, the heaviest and the most prestigious ones can only be transported by small trucks or a specialized low loader named boat haulage. It is especially designed to hold the massive weight of a boat and primed for stability, not speed.

The average cost of a long haul can vary depending on the boat, but it usually varies between $600 and $1000. For small distances, it’s not uncommon to pay around $150 to $350.

Car Transporter/Car Carrier TrailerCar carrier trailer

This is a single-decker enclosed or double-decker open car carrier that has multiple spaces designed to hold cars in place during a long transit. They can be open or closed, with in-built ramps for loading and unloading the vehicles. These are usually used to ship cars from their manufacturers to the dealerships. These are different from flatbed trucks in that they aren’t equipped with loaders or winches. Instead, they rely on the vehicles to be loaded under their own power.

Cement TruckConcrete Mixers

A cement truck or concrete mixer is a truck that has a concrete mixer hooked up to it. It carries around the mixing equipment to deliver it to the places that need it. The revolving machinery mixes the cement and water to make concrete and pours it into the designated places. These can be on the pavement, in special molds, etc. The machinery allows the cement to maintain its liquid state for very long due to constant motion, hence giving the cement a longer lasting quality and a longer use period than if it were held in place. The cement is usually discharged from the rear and the drum it’s mixed in is made out of steel or fiberglass.

Chiller Trucks/ReefersRefrigerator Trucks

Chiller Trucks/Reefers are Refrigerator trucks that are fitted with cooling equipment to keep food and supplies fresh during transport. Commonly used to transport fruit, meat, and fish, Reefer trucks are cooled with ice or mechanical refrigeration powered with displacement diesel engines. They can also be cooled using dry ice or liquid carbon dioxide at high pressures.  These trucks were first produced in the 1920s and were fitted with complete insulation (high-density polymer foam) and better ventilation since then.

Higher pressurization techniques and more efficient cooling techniques have made these trucks more efficient throughout the last century.

Crane Trucks/Mobile CranesMobile Cranes

Crane trucks/Mobile Cranes are trucks that are fitted with a cable controlled crane. It’s mounted on crawlers. They are designed for easy mobility and have little or no need for setup or assembly. These trucks are usually fitted with a hook suspended by a wire rope. The wire ropes are operated by the prime movers that the designers have put in place. The transmissions can be hydraulic, electric, or achieved through internal combustion. The invention of these devices came about in 1870, before which the crane was confined to a single spot and had to be hauled to places that it needed to function in.

Crane developments over the years have included the adoption of an internal combustion engine in 1922 and the invention of a telescopic job.

Fire Truck Fire engine

A fire truck is built to carry the equipment needed to put out a fire at its source. It is usually fitted with hoses and sirens, and enough cargo space to house a crew of firemen. It is fitted with automated lifting ladders and breathing apparatuses such as masks and oxygen containers. This is kept alongside uniforms and protective clothing that the firefighters need to perform their job effectively.

It also has first aid kits and walkie-talkies or two-way radios so that the firemen can communicate with the proper authorities to take swift action. The fire truck can also house water and pumps to fight the fire while there are options to connect the hose in place with a fire hydrant at the scene of the fire.

Tow TruckWheeler

A tow truck or a breakdown lorry or a recovery vehicle is a truck that is used to move a vehicle that is being impounded, wrongly parked, disabled, or indisposed in any other way. The truck may be brought in when a law is being broken, or an accident has occurred, or when infrastructure has been damaged, and a vehicle has to be extracted from the situation. It is very different from a car trailer carrier in that it doesn’t move vehicles for the purpose of basic transportation; it just moves them from places that puts them in danger, or making it the danger.

Tow trucks were first invented in 1916 in Tennessee when a car was pulled out of a creek by six men using ropes. Adjustable booms are now used to recover vehicles from ditches and similar situations.

Learn about the different types of tow trucks here.

Flat-bed Trailer Flat bed lorry

A flatbed truck or a flatbed lorry is a completely flat level bad that has no sides or roof. It allows for the loading and unloading of goods and is used to transport very heavy loads that aren’t in need of proper or delicate handling. It is not used for goods that can be damaged due to rain and for abnormally large loads that require huge spaces.

The bed of the trailer is literally that, completely flat. And since that is the case, the loads are tied down to the surface with ropes. The truck is often equipped with hooks so that tying down is much easier than simply tying tight knots. Improperly fastened loads can slide off during transport which is why flatbed trucks are becoming less and less popular as of late. They have become a dying breed of once proud trucks.

Furniture Trucks Furniture Delivery trucks

Furniture trucks are built to load and unload furniture. They are used to move houses and to move huge hauls of furniture from manufacturers to dealerships. The furniture trucks aren’t particularly sturdy or strong, but they serve a vital purpose. They are equipped with a ramp or a lift gate if required. The drivers help as much with the lifting as they do the driving.

Highway Maintenance TrucksHighwway repair trucks

Highway repair trucks or highway maintenance trucks are equipped with very special features that allow a single person to stand on the back and place cones on the highway. This allows for specific strips of the highway to be isolated for repairs to be carried out. The trucks also have a retractable crash barrier and high-intensity lighting so that work can be done in the dark. The truck is also equipped with all sorts of tools and cargo space so that the appropriate materials can be hauled over for repair.

Livestock Trucks Livestock lorry

Livestock trucks are used to transport animals to and from farms. It is a vehicle that is built specially to hold on to livestock and to hold them in place. Some are even fitted with special equipment so that they stay in place and are well fed. The trucks are usually open slightly from the back or the top so that the livestock can get daylight and air and not be confined into a small space. This often makes them restless. While not the strongest trucks, they are some of the sturdiest since they need to transport heavy animals.

Logging Trucks Timber Lorry

A timber lorry or logging truck is used to carry large amounts of timber between far off destinations. They have integrated flatbeds or discrete tractor units so that they are configured to spread loads between tractor units and a dollied trailer.

The first one was built in 1913 to carry logs that were cut down near river beds to the city or to nearby towns. Due to the beginning of World War I, the timber industry faced huge amounts of demand, and more and more logging trucks were built to serve that demand more efficiently.

Snow PlowsSnowplow

Snow plows are used for one purpose, and that is to plow through the snow that has accumulated on the roads in order to provide a clear passage for cars. It is used to remove snow and ice from outdoor surfaces which are serving transport purposes. This term is used to refer to vehicles that mount devices to plow through the snow but aren’t directly built for it. They are categorized as winter support vehicles as well.

Smaller snowplows are used for sidewalks or footpaths, and underbody scrapers are mounted on vehicles in urban centers for nearly the same job as snowplows

The snowplow was first used in the 1840s and was pulled by horses. The first mechanically run plow was built in 1913 and was designed to meet the requirements of New York city streets.

Tankers Tank Trucks

A tanker is often used to transport liquid or liquefied material. This can be in the form of oil, gasoline, water, liquid chemicals or fertilizers and pesticides. The containers are often insulated, pressurized and designed for single or multiple loads. The tankers are very difficult to drive because they have a high center of gravity. They can be extremely dangerous as well because of the spillable cargo they carry.

Tipper TrucksDump Trucks

A tipper truck or dump truck is used to transport loose material like sand or gravel or demolition rubble. It is usually used during construction and major building projects to transport raw material for mixing or for crushing. It is equipped with an open box bed and is hinged at the rear end so that it can tip upwards and unload the material efficiently.

Dump trucks have been in use since the 19th century in Europe. The designs have gotten more industrial while the originals were often pulled by horses and used to dump the refuse from farms. Hydraulic lift gates were added in the 1910s and were used during World War I for supplies and eventually became popular for use in mining and construction operations.

Trailer TrucksFull trailer

A full trailer is a term that is used in the US for a freight trailer that is supported by the front and rear axles that are pulled by a drawbar. The same vehicle is known in Europe as an A-frame drawbar trailer. It is nearly two and a half meters in width and almost 35 to 40 feet in length.

Freight trailers are used to move heavy supplies long distances. They can be used to move furniture and supplies, or they can be used to move huge shipments of raw material. There are entire companies built on freight movements and make a lot of money moving large volumes hundreds of miles away. Expect to be charged $2000 or more for moving house through a freight trailer.

Box Truck Cube Truck/Cube Van

This is a chassis cab truck that has a cuboid or box-shaped cargo. Most box trucks have cabins that are separated from the cargo, but some have doors that lead to the other two areas. Most box trucks and vans differ in their structures due to this very reason, the former having no connection between the chassis and the cargo box and the latter having one. The trucks are usually 10 feet to 26 feet long and can range from a cargo space of 12,500 lbs to 33,000 lbs. They have garage door like rear doors that roll up and are used by companies for transporting home appliances, furniture, etc.

Trucks have been built to carry everything from huge vehicles, food, condiments, oil and gas, water, furniture, and even huge pieces of machinery. They are literal metal beasts that travel through long patches of road every day to get essential supplies for industries to use and entire towns to survive. They are an essential part of the human ecosystem and employ a huge percentage of the world’s workforce. They are a representation of the working class like no other vehicle is and are a symbol of human ingenuity and intelligence to boot.






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