If you want to be a commercial driver, it’s important to learn the different dump truck classifications. After you start working in the industry, you should be able to categorize your work vehicles. Keep reading to learn how to classify dump trucks like a professional, including the advantages each truck type offers. 

How Are Dump Trucks Classified? 

You can guess a dump truck’s class based on factors like its weight, payload designation and whether a commercial driver’s license is required to operate it. The truck classification system is concerned with the way manufacturers label these vehicles based on the guidelines. 

Details about the following factors will make identifying a truck easier: 

1. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) 

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the total weight of the truck combined with its maximum capacity when loaded. The GVWR includes the fuel, passengers, maximum cargo and structure of the truck. A commercial vehicle’s GVWR can indicate its class and several other aspects of its operational capacity. 

Any equipment you need to haul will also figure into the GVWR, so it’s important to know what precautions to take. You might have to dress your truck with signs that indicate when you are hauling an oversized load or stop at weigh stations during your drive. These weigh station checks ensure all commercial drivers are transporting a safe amount of cargo for the roadway. 

2. Permit Requirements 

You are required to have a permit to operate or purchase certain trucks for your business. The permit requirements will also indicate if you need to stop at a weigh station when traveling between locations, regardless of the truck’s GVWR. 

It is important to note that hauling an oversized load might require a specific permit. 

3. Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) also has standards that commercial truck drivers must abide by. For example, any vehicle weighing more than 10,001 pounds requires a DOT number on either side. 

4. Maintenance Requirements 

When you take your vehicle in for service, the auto shop will require certain tools and equipment to work with a high-weight class. This is why knowing the weight class is important. A Class 7 vehicle might also require a bay type or size so the technicians have enough room to work on it. 

5. Hours-of-Service (HOS) Laws 

For all vehicles that weigh more than 10,001 pounds, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the hours you should operate your vehicle on a given work day. The Interstate Truck Driver’s Hours of Service intends to ensure the safety of commercial vehicle drivers and all others on the road. 

6. Specific Licensing 

If you drive a vehicle that weighs more than 26,001 pounds, you will need the required driver’s license. The regulations apply to three different dump track classes and depend on what you’re transporting. 

The dump truck classes are: 

  • Class A: Vehicles that weigh 26,001 pounds or more when towing over 10,000 pounds. 
  • Class B: Vehicles that weigh 26,001 pounds or more when towing another vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds or less. 
  • Class C: Vehicles that weigh 26,001 pounds or more when transporting passengers or hazardous materials. 

What Are the Truck Classifications? 

Below are the categories used as weight classes for dump trucks: 

1. Light-Duty Trucks 

Light-duty trucks run from Class 1 to Class 3, which is also where most non-commercial vehicles fall. Any truck fitting in this range is considered light-duty. Work vehicle options include cargo vans, SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans. 

A small vehicle might weigh half a ton or operate at higher than a light-duty capacity, but a commercial vehicle typically has traits that distinguish it from an average light-duty pickup truck. Commercial trucks are usually larger, with the best engine for the grade, and they may or may not have a standard or extended cab. 

Most vehicles in this range are used to carry light cargo or for utility work. Industry professionals might drive a light-duty truck when working as independent contractors in construction, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, painting or another industry. 

The light duty weight classes are: 

  • Class 1: Any vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds or less. 
  • Class 2: A vehicle that weighs between 6,001 and 10,000 pounds. 
  • Class 3: A vehicle that weighs between 10,001 pounds and 14,000 pounds.  

2. Medium-Duty Trucks 

This category includes vehicles from Class 4 to Class 6. Many medium-duty vehicles are commercial trucks. The lower classes include some non-commercial vehicles, like full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs. If you drive a passenger van or super-duty pickup truck for commercial use, it probably falls in the medium-duty category. 

Other vehicles that fall into this classification are box trucks, delivery trucks and walk-ins. 

The medium duty weight classes are: 

  • Class 4: A vehicle that weighs between 14,000 and 16,000 pounds 
  • Class 5: A vehicle that weighs between 16,001 and 19,500 pounds. 
  • Class 6: A vehicle that weighs between 19,501 and 26,000 pounds. 

3. Heavy-Duty Trucks 

This category covers Class 7 and 8 and includes big rigs and other large commercial vehicles. Class 7 vehicles usually have three or more axles. You can find garbage trucks, buses, large moving trucks, small semis and city street cleaning vehicles in this category. 

Heavier trucks that fit into the Class 8 category are sometimes called “severe-duty.” Dump trucks, cement trucks and big rigs fit into Class 8, with popular brands being Kenworths, Freightliners and others. 

Class 8 also has weight limits and restrictions, but they are determined on a case-by-case basis. Many states may grant an exception for the commercial vehicle’s GVWR using the Federal Bridge Gross Weight (FBGW) formula. You might also get an exception for your per-axel limits. 

You can safely travel the interstate if you abide by the FBGW formula. If you need to drive an oversized load vehicle, you might have to obtain a special permit and travel on specific routes designated for oversized loads. 

The heavy-duty weight classes are: 

  • Class 7: A vehicle that weighs between 26,001 and 33,000 pounds. 
  • Class 8: A vehicle that weighs more than 33,000 pounds. 

Find the Right Dump Truck for Your Needs 

At Load King, we have a variety of pre-owned trucks, tools and accessories for commercial vehicles. We carry quality items for professional drivers and fleets. Browse our selection of new and used dump trucks or consider a dump truck rental for your short-term needs. 

If you need more information about commercial trucks, contact us to learn more!