Tractor literally means “to pull”, and refers to vehicles that are used to pull loads. A tractor trailer is a towing engine that is attached to a trailer. Tractor trailers are also known as big rigs, semis, or 18-wheelers. The word tractor may also be used to describe farm equipment that is used to automate agricultural tasks. For ease of reference, this article will inform on tractors that are used to haul trailers.

Types of Tractors

Tractors are most commonly used for hauling heavy loads in a trailer across an area. What exactly the load is may vary greatly, so the tractor and trailer may be equipped with different features geared towards transporting the load safely and conveniently. The weight of the load and the amount of distance that will be covered must be taken into consideration prior to beginning a haul. Tractors have a weight limit, exceeding that limit is unsafe. There are certain licensing requirements for drivers to legally operate vehicles that can tow over a certain capacity. These laws may vary from state to state.

Work Tractors

Work tractors are used for hauling loads across a state or country, in most cases. Tandem axle work tractors can haul upwards of 48,000 pounds, single axle work tractors slightly less. These are the tractors most commonly seen on highways hauling trailers filled with furniture, grocery store stock, restaurant food and equipment, and retail supplies.

Hot Shot Tractors

Hot shot tractors are designed for hauling lighter loads, typically within a state. These tractors are specifically designed to stay within weight limits to avoid special licensing requirements. Hot shot tractors can haul up to 18,000 pounds.

Yard Jockey Tractors

Yard jockey tractors are used to move semi-trailers in a yard, and are not designed for regular use on the road. There may be single or tandem axle options for hauling heavier loads. Trailer toters have specialized lifting equipment used to transport modular homes or trailers. Most tractors have the option of either forward or setback axles. Setback axles supply better weight distribution and allow for a smaller turning radius, but forward axles grant a smoother ride.

Top Tractor Manufacturers

Tractors must be designed with quality parts to assure safe usage for a long period of time. Tractors are typically purchased by businesses that intend to use the tractor every day. The top tractor manufacturers are International, Freightliner, Peterbuilt, Mack, Kentworth, and Volvo. Any company that sells tractors for long-haul use must be conscientious of the quality of vehicles and parts, as the company may be liable for accidents caused by faulty or defective parts.


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