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How Many Yards does a Dump Truck Hold?

Matt at Centex Excavation
Author: MattPublished: March 19, 2023 Updated: December 26, 2023 • Filed Under: Equipment and Machinery

Moving construction material from one place to another can be a difficult task, but with the right equipment it doesn’t have to be. Dump trucks are an essential part of any construction project and come in a variety of sizes and styles, each designed for different types of hauling needs.

From small dump trucks that can hold up to 15 cubic yards of loose materials all the way up to semi end dump trucks that can haul as much as 70 cubic yards of various construction materials, there is something for every job.

But before you decide which type of dump truck is best for your project, it’s important to understand the different types of truck beds available and how much material they can safely carry. This will help you understand how many yards can a dump truck hold.

Type of Dump TruckCapacity (in cubic yards)
Standard dump truck8 – 25
Super dump truck20 – 30
Semi-trailer bottom dump truck21
Semi-trailer end dump truck20 – 70
Transfer dump truck15 – 40
This table shows the rough capacities for various types of dump trucks.

How to determine dump truck capacity.

There are countless variables and important factors that go into determining the exact capacity and total volume of a dump truck, such as size of the truck, material being loaded, and shape of the bed.

You may be tempted to calculate the dump truck load by doing some simple math based on the dimensions. But keep in mind, most dump trucks can’t carry a load at full capacity. So we have to take an extra step to get the dump truck’s capacity (rough capacity, not actual capacity).

We can determine the rough dump truck load by measuring the width, length, and height of the truck bed then dividing that in half.

An example of determining capacity.

So, for example, our favorite truck bed used on our equipment is the 19′ Load King Tri Axle dump truck. It measures out at roughly 7′ wide by 7′ high and 19′ long. They do make a 16′ long model, but we’re going with what we have on hand at 19′.

You then multiply those (7 x 7 x 19 = 931). That is in cubic feet but we want cubic yards since cubic yardage is the standard in the industry. So we then divide by 27 cubic feet (that’s how many feet in one cubic yard) to get the total cubic yards of material the bed can even possibly hold. In this example, that’s 34 cubic yards.

Of course, that’s if the bed was filled to the brim. But most of the time you can only fill it about half way with material before you exceed the weight capacity of the truck itself.

Also keep in mind that the weight limit of various dump trucks varies based on the manufacturer specifications. So be sure to check the weight limitations and weight rating for whichever dump truck you’re using.

So for the Load King, we’re looking at around 17 cubic yards of material (34 / 2 = 17).

This just happens to be what the spec sheet of the Load King calls for – 17 cubic yards.

For our example, this is one of the larger dump trucks with a fairly high weight rating. Most dump trucks weight capacity will be a bit lower.

Capacities of various dump trucks.

There are several variants of dump trucks, each with their own capacity limits. Here is a brief overview of the various capacities for the most common dump truck sizes—

Standard dump truck.

In our example above, we highlighted a standard dump truck. These are typically the most common type of dump truck, and they come in many shapes, sizes and weight capacities. The capacity range for these trucks typically starts at around 8 cubic yards, up to as much as 25 cubic yards.

Super dump truck.

These behemoths are like a standard dump truck on steroids. They boast larger beds, increased weight capacities and are designed to carry the heaviest of loads. These tri-axle dump trucks range from around 20 cubic yards up to as much as 30 cubic yards in capacity.

Semi-trailer bottom dump truck.

These trailers come in a standard 40′ configuration. You may find some smaller or larger, but that is the standard size. This industrial belly dump truck is designed for hauling large amounts of material over long distances, and the standard size can haul 21 cubic yards of material.

Semi-trailer end dump truck.

Another style of dump truck is the semi-trailer end dump truck. This type of truck has a large trailer that connects to the back of the vehicle and supports a much larger bed size, allowing for greater capacity. These trucks can range from 20 cubic yards up to as much as 70 cubic yards in capacity.

Transfer dump truck

This style of dump truck is usually a standard dump truck with a cargo trailer attached. In the industry we sometimes call this a tandem dump truck. Essentially it allows the dump truck to transfer a larger load from one location to another. These trucks can range from 15 cubic yards up to as much as 40 cubic yards in capacity.

Considerations for hauling material.

Just because you can fit the material in these full size dump trucks doesn’t necessarily mean you should fill them to the brim. It’s important to remember that your dump truck has a weight limit and it shouldn’t exceed this limit for safety reasons. Also, when hauling material over long distances, be aware of uneven weight distribution on the truck bed because this can make it much harder to control the vehicle while driving.

Weight capacities.

The bed itself typically doesn’t have a weight limit. The truck bed itself is steel and can hold just about anything you throw at it.

However, the truck itself has a weight limit, and this is what you want to pay attention to. Different models of dump trucks have different weight limits, so be sure to check the specifications of your particular model when determining how much material can be safely loaded into it.

For example, the Freightliner 108SD semi dump truck GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) is 69,000, or 34.5 tons. You wouldn’t want to exceed that capacity when hauling, no matter what type of dump truck you’re using.

It’s important to remember that the weight limit of your particular truck also depends on how much fuel and other equipment you have in the vehicle. Be sure to factor this into your calculations when determining how much material can safely be loaded onto your truck.

Weight distribution.

When you’re loading up a dump truck, it’s important to consider the weight distribution. Uneven weight can cause the truck to become difficult to control when driving, and can also cause excessive wear on certain components of the vehicle.

In order to ensure that your load is evenly distributed, you’ll want to make sure that any loose material is loaded onto both sides of the bed in equal amounts. This will help to maintain balance and make it much easier to control the truck when driving.

Remember, it’s okay to make multiple dump truck trips in order to safely transport your construction material. You may have to upgrade to a full size dump truck if you’re trying make fewer trips for your construction project.

How many cubic yards do you need for your job?

Whether you need a small dump truck or a semi end dump truck is determined by the amount of material you need to move for your project.

Now that you have an idea of how many cubic yards the typical dump truck can haul, you can decide which size and style of dump truck is right for your job.

Hauling 14 cubic yards of dirt? You might want a standard dump truck. If you’re needing 80 cubic yards of sand and crushed limestone for a driveway, then you might need a few trips with a tri-axle dump truck or maybe even a semi dump truck.

Just remember to factor in the weight capacity of the truck as well when making your decision, as this will determine how many trips you need to make and if you’ll need a larger truck.

About the Author

Matt Avatar

Matt

Excavation Expert

Matt is a highly experienced heavy equipment operator with over two decades of experience in the construction industry. His expertise covers a wide range of machinery and project types, and he is known for his focus on safety, efficiency, and problem-solving. Matt's commitment to delivering high-quality work within deadlines and budgets has made him highly respected at Centex Excavation and the excavation industry.

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