A Guide to the Many Different Types of Semi Trucks (Diesel Trucks)

A Guide to the Many Different Types of Semi Trucks (Diesel Trucks)

Diesel Truck Repair | Repair and Maintenance | 05/14/2024
Written by Stacy Conner

Truck owners and prospective truck owners: thinking of your next diesel semi-truck? Don’t know where to begin?

We understand. Choosing which brand, type, and trailer-cab configuration can be daunting. But with the heavy-duty trucking industry poised to grow 7.9% over the next five years, you couldn’t have picked a better time to think about what types of diesel semi-trucks exist.

If you’re looking for what types of diesel semi-trucks exist, you’ve come to the right place. We’re Equipment Experts, Inc., Tacoma, Washington’s go-to fleet and diesel repair truck shop.

For the last 20-plus years, we’ve been providing fleet teams, drivers, and operators with top-notch diesel repairs, fleet maintenance advice, and preventive maintenance support.

If you’re in the market for a new diesel semi truck — or are just wondering what types of semi trucks exist — join us! In this guide, we’ll explore the many different types of diesel semi-trucks, their utility, and other key information needed to help you with all your semi-truck repair needs.

Let’s roll!

Defining semi trucks

A row of semi trucks lined up next to each other

Semi-trucks: despite their heft and size, it’s a wonder they’re called semi.

Before we explore the many different types of semi trucks on the market, we first want to understand what we mean when we say “semi” truck.

A semi-truck refers to a combination of two components:

  1. The tractor unit (which is where the truck’s cab is located)
  2. The trailer unit (which is attached to the tractor)

The truck area is where passengers sit, and the trailer area is where heavy equipment and goods are stored and transported.

The cool part about semi-trucks is that there’s one for virtually every need! With our newfound knowledge, let’s find out what our friends in the trucking industry have built.

We’ll explore the most common types of semi-trucks on the market in the next section.

The most common types of semi-trucks

Different types of semi trucks in a row

The most common types of semi trucks on today’s market include:

Day cab semi trucks

A day cab semi truck in a black-and-white style photo

Day cabs are some of the most standard semi-trucks on the market. These trucks contain an area for drivers and passengers to sit, and they may be equipped with rear windows.

Because they don’t have a sleeper cabin attached, operating in reverse tends to be easier. Day cabs are often used for shorter trips that don’t require overnight hauls.

These types of budget-friendly semi-trucks have shorter bodies and are easier to drive in narrow areas. Best of all, almost any trailer can attach to it, making it one heck of a desirable commercial truck.

Sleeper semi trucks

The tractor of a sleeper cab semi truck

If you’re looking for a semi-truck that can be taken on the road for days at a time, a sleeper semi-truck is the truck for your business.

Sleeper semis are built with sleeping quarters, helpful accessories, and other luxurious amenities. These trucks help people accomplish tasks for over-the-road hauling.

These trucks come in a variety of different sizes and styles. You can choose a simple sleeper truck with a basic sleeping area. Or, opt for an extended sleeping area with a full RV setup.

Like the day cab, a sleeper truck can be hooked up to a variety of trailers. Because of its flexibility and comfortable sleeping compartment (among other benefits), a sleeper semi-truck is a solid over-the-road truck.

Custom hauler semi trucks

A semi truck with a trailer parked on the side of a road with mountains in the background

Like its namesake, custom haulers are different from standard trailers and tractors.

If you want a specialized tractor with heavy-duty towing capabilities, say the word. With custom haulers, heavy lifting can be done. With custom haulers, you can even add sleeping quarters to the truck.

The benefit of opting for a custom hauler is that custom haulers tend to have some of the most powerful engines on the planet. These trucks help transport oversized loads and different types of cargo across long distances.

Custom haulers are a great truck choice because of their power and versatility.

Defining semi-trailers

A row of semi trailers parked on concrete

“So, why is the word ‘trailer’ used with the word ‘semi-truck?’” you might ask. Great question.

Instead of calling a truck a semi-tractor semi-trailer truck, we just call the combination of the tractor and trailer a “semi-truck” (also known as tractor-trailer).

While we’re on the topic, semi-trailers are what we call the trailers attached to the tractor. Semi-trailers have one job (and one job only): to haul distinct goods.

Fortunately, trailers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. For example, some carry refrigerated goods, and others carry livestock. Hook a liftgate up to one of them, and you’re all set to load and unload goods for most jobs.

Different types of semi-trailers

A flatbed semi truck trailer against a backdrop of trees and a light post

Different semis use different trailers. As a result, becoming familiar with the most common types of semi-trailers can help you with your fleet operation.

The most common types of semi-trailers include:

While not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most common semi-trailer types on today’s market. Find the right one for your fleet operation, and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful fleet operation.

A close-up picture of the Peterbilt insignia on a black truck grill

Now that we’ve got our bearings on the different types of trucks and trailers, we want to explore which are available in today’s market. The following are some of the most popular semi-truck brands you’ll have access to when buying or leasing a semi-truck.

With these companies, finding the right semi-truck and trailer for your needs is easy. The tough part is knowing how to budget for preventive maintenance and what’s needed to keep your fleet running long and strong.

Did you know?

Over-the-road trucks can log over one million miles before being retired. How many miles have you driven in your life?

The right service for all types of semi trucks

A descending row of Equipment Experts semi truck repair technicians smiling with arms folded

Different types of semi trucks exist for different needs. The most common types of semi trucks include:

Whether you operate a slop-nosed truck or a lowboy trailer, every truck driver needs a sidekick. At Equipment Experts, we pride ourselves on being that sidekick. We help semi-truck drivers, operators, and fleet managers by conducting quality fleet and truck repairs for all their needs.

Whether you’re a fleet manager building out a preventive maintenance program or a truck driver in need of an emergency mobile repair, trust the Experts for sound truck repairs and fleet advice. To schedule a visit or learn more about what we do, contact us today!

We look forward to getting to know you and better serving you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Semi Trucks

An Equipment Experts, Inc. employee, Michael, standing with arms crossed against an truck trailer

What are the different types of semi trucks?

The different types of semi trucks — also known as tractor-trailers — include:

Other types of trucks exist — like dump trucks and tanker trucks — but these trucks fall under the above-mentioned categories.

What are the most common types of trailers for semi trucks?

The most common types of trailers for semi trucks include:

A trailer makes it possible for a trucker to better load and unload cargo, carry heavy loads, and travel long distances with large volumes of freight. Like all machinery, a trailer can break down.

We recommend reaching out to a specialized diesel mechanic if you ever need fleet service on a trailer.

Which type of truck maintenance is best for each type of semi truck?

The answer depends on your needs.

With the right service and maintenance, your semi-truck can log up to 1,000,000 miles. We recommend servicing your truck every 15,000, 30,000, 100,000, 150,000, and 200,000 miles for system, oil, and parts-related repairs.

You can maximize the life of your semi-truck by sticking to a solid preventive maintenance plan that’s either miles-based or time-driven.

How often should I service each type of semi truck?

Consider servicing your truck every 10,000- 20,000 miles for engine oil, filter changes, and lubrication top-offs. Depending on whether you operate in warm or cold weather, you’ll want to adjust the frequency of each service accordingly.

If ever you’re in doubt about what needs servicing on your truck, one of the members of our Expert team would be happy to troubleshoot the issue with you. Give us a call anytime.

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