Tips for Dry Van Loading

Securing a load properly in a dry van trailer is paramount for keeping both people and cargo safe. Many accidents can be prevented if the rules are followed regarding securing cargo.

Properly Distributing Dry Van Trailer Weight

It is important when operating a dry van trailer that you have correctly distributed the weight. Having the proper weight distribution can help reduce the risk of damaged freight along with wear and tear on your truck. Also, some states have laws regarding the weight limits, and law enforcement monitors these weight restrictions closely

Ensure that you have the correct loading equipment before you begin loading your trailer. Proper loading equipment can include a hand truck or forklift. When loading the cargo, pay attention to the two axles under the truck. These are made to hold approximately 43% of the total truck’s weight. The other 14% should be evenly distributed between the front axle that supports the cab and the engine

Once you begin loading your cargo, if you have a full truckload, start by placing your cargo at the front of your truck and work your way back. Do not fill your trailer up; you will need to save some space at the back of the trailer. By keepingspace at the rear of the trailer, this helps prevent your cargo from falling out when you open the doors to unload. Space reduces pressure on the trailer doors and reduces the risk of products shifting while traveling down the road

According to the United States Department of Transportation regulations, trucks that have two axels can hold up to 34,000 pounds per axle. To prevent wear and tear on your tires begin loading a partial load startingat the front axle and stop before the second axle

Once you have successfully loaded your shipment, be sure to weigh your truck to ensure your weight is distributed evenly over each axle,and you’reare compliant with the state laws in which you are traveling to

Dry Van Loading Tips

Prior to Loading

  • Clean the trailer out
  • Inspect for any nails or sharp objects
  • Check for any holes –patch if needed


  • Ensure your shipment is secure and tight.
  • Load cargo evenly. Ensure that the weight is distributed evenly on both sides of the trailer.
  • Ensure that the trailer is not top nor side heavy.
  • Use correct securement when hauling poles, pipes, reels, or lumber to avoid any tears to the side, doors,or cab of the trailer.
  • Do Not load loose steel without using securements. Quickly stopping can cause the steel to slide through the cab of the truck or out the back doors.
  • Do Not load loose steel coils without proper securement.
  • Keep axels below 34,000 pounds.
  • Keep orders together –load your first stop last.
  • Load cargo based on the layout of the warehouse.
  • Load more substantialitems on the bottom and lighter items on the top.
  • Use pallet securements to avoid shifting while traveling.
  • Do not load small pallets on the floor alone –make sure all pallet heights are the same size.
  • Use fillers with shipments don’t fit properly on the pallet.

Distributing Weight on the Trailer Tips

There is no one way to distribute weight across the truck axles evenly. You can change the weight distribution by –

  • Moving the weight of the shipment lengthways –or move the shipment around once the truck has been fully loaded. This changes the weight between the drive axles and trailer tandems.
  • Moving the trailer tandems backward and forwards helps rearrange the weight between the drive axles and trailer tandems.
  • Moving the 5thwheel helps change the weight between the steer axleand drive axles.
  • Adding or losing fuel can help change your trailer weight on the steer axels and a little on the drive axels. This depends on how the fuel tanks are placed.

Weight Transfer Restrictions

Several influences can help lower the weight between the different axels on your truck. These include

  • The Bridge Law Formula restricts the top weight that can be carried on any axels depending on the number of axels and the spacing.
  • Federal Law restricts the top weight for axels and the gross weight of the truck to be 20,000 pounds per axel, 34,000 pounds for the tandem axels and 80,000 for the gross weight.
  • The allowed length between the trailer kingpin and the tandems determines how far you can move your tandems.
  • Your tire load rating will impact the highest amount of weight you can carry per tire.
  • The suspension system load rating also impacts how much weight you can carry per axle.

As a dry van driver, there are a lot of rules and tips to remember. Along with rules, there are a lot of decisions you must make to ensure you are compliant with state laws and you deliver an undamaged load. However, following these tips and tricks can help make loading a dry van trailer easier and legally.