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Terminal Tractors: The Essential Truck with Many Names

A terminal tractor is essential to the operation of a modern distribution center. Yet, despite this fact, the phrase “terminal tractor” itself is relatively unknown. Other common terms for this type of vehicle include:

  • Yard jockey
  • Yard horse
  • Yard bird
  • Yard goat
  • Shunt truck
  • Spotting tractor
  • Spotter truck
  • Mule
  • Hostler truck
  • Yard dog truck

While the names vary, the purpose of this versatile vehicle remains the same: to move cargo trailers safely and efficiently from one loading dock to another, without leaving the facility itself.

What a Terminal Tractor Is and What It Does

No matter what term you use, all terminal tractors share the following characteristics:

  • A short wheelbase with a stout rear axle for strength and maneuverability.
  • A 360° view of the surroundings.
  • A fifth wheel coupling with a built-in lifting mechanism to attach and detach the semi-trailer.
  • An offset cab made from heavy gauge steel and designed for one occupant.
  • A low-speed, high torque diesel or alternative fuel engine ­- because terminal tractors are intended for low-speed work, they typically have a top speed of around 25 miles per hour.
  • A sliding rear door for easy movement in and out of the cab.
  • A simple connection system for attaching and detaching the semi-trailer in minimum time.

Together, these features allow the truck to maneuver around the facility despite tight surroundings and constant in-and-out traffic.

Where Are Terminal Tractors Used?

As you can see, terminal tractors are a specialized type of vehicle intended for specific tasks. They’re most often found in the following types of facilities:

  • Warehouses
  • Shipping ports
  • Truck terminals
  • Rail yards
  • Intermodal facilities

The need for terminal tractors is expected to grow steadily as the economy expands and more goods are purchased from online venues like Amazon.

Why Renting Your New Terminal Tractor Is Better Than Buying

The best way to add these excellent vehicles to your fleet is to take advantage of the terminal tractors for rent at Big Truck Rental. Here’s why:

  • To enjoy substantial savings over the cost of an outright purchase – freeing up your limited capital to invest in other priorities.
  • To meet temporary, seasonal, or short-term demands – renting your equipment allows you to scale your operations up and down as needed.
  • To free yourself from worrisome maintenance hassles – when you rent from us, we stay on top of long-term upkeep and repair, not you.
  • No worries about long-term commitments – when your rental period is over, you can either renew the agreement or simply turn the vehicle in and walk away, whichever you prefer.

We’d love to tell you more about our truck rentals and the advantages they provide. Get in touch with us today for your free estimate. You’ll soon be on the road to higher profits and lower operating costs.

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