November 5, 2021
BY BEAU BECRAFT
The roads we travel daily are utilized by working vehicles of all shapes and sizes. From a crew cab work truck headed a few miles up the road to a new jobsite to an 18 wheeler traversing countless miles, each of these workhorses are grouped into their own specific, designated class.
Eight classes of commercial motor vehicles exist in the United States. These classes/segments are divided into three “sub categories” based on their gross vehicle weight rating (learn more about GVWR here). These sub categories are defined as light duty, medium duty, and heavy duty.
Ahead, we’ll take a look at the segments and classes into which these vehicles fall. Whether you’re simply curious how these classifications work or you’re a tradesperson thinking about which vehicle class is best suited for your line of work, we’re here to educate with a quick overview.
The light-duty commercial truck segment consists of classes 1, 2, and 3.
Class 1 trucks have a GVWR of 0 to 6,000 pounds. Trucks in the class 2 category are defined by a GVWR of 6,001 to 10,000 pounds. Those in the class 3 segment have a GVWR of 10,001 to 14,000 pounds.
Vehicles in the class 1 category include typical passenger/daily driver vehicles such as minivans, pickup trucks, and SUVs. There is some crossover with class 2 vehicles, which also includes cargo vans, heavier trucks (such as ¾ and 1 ton models), and step vans (like parcel delivery vehicles).
Class 3 trucks can also fall into the medium-duty segment and includes walk-in vans as well as box trucks.
The medium-duty group includes classes 4, 5, and 6.
Class 4 trucks have a GVWR range of 14,001 to 16,000 pounds. Those ranked as class 5 trucks boast a GVWR of 16,001 to 19,500 pounds. And class 6 trucks feature a GVWR of 19,501 to 26,000 pounds.
Some of the most common class 4 trucks include larger box vans and walk-in vans used for last-mile or bulk delivery services. Class 4 also includes landscaping and utility-type trucks like those used for tree-trimming and electric services.
Class 5 trucks are composed of bucket trucks, and the aforementioned box and walk-in vans.
In the class 6 segment, you’ll find rack/stake trucks, single-axle vans, beverage trucks, school buses, and stake bodies (such as those used by logging/timber operations).
The heavy-duty category is made up of classes 7 and 8. Those who operate vehicles in this classification are required to possess their Class B commercial driving license (CDL) to drive them.
Class 7 trucks have a GVWR ranging from 26,001 to 33,000 pounds while class 8 vehicles weigh in with a GVWR of greater than 33,001 pounds, which includes all tractor-trailers.
Examples of class 7 vehicles include propane gas trucks, garbage trucks, tow trucks, and city transit buses while some of the most common class 8 trucks are fuel tankers, dump trucks, cement trucks, refrigerated vans, fire trucks, and semi trucks.
It’s important to note that each vehicle class requires a different set of operating requirements depending on your state and local guidelines. Always take time to make sure you’re up to date and compliant with all regulations, rules, and laws. To assure you’re prepared to hit the road, visit the US Department of Transportation website to stay informed.
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